Taking a New Direction

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Over the past several months we’ve been exploring a new approach to “ecovillaging,” founded on a sustainability-based cooperative model developed by Joel Rothschild and the Ecovillagers Alliance.

Steve Welzer had reached out to Katie McCamant to find the closest “graduate” of the 500 Cohousing Communities program, and this turned out to be Joel, who is that and a lot more as well. He is part of a wider Ecovillagers Alliance, and has a more comprehensive view of the process than we had conceived of before, one which effectively seeks to build a committed, well-informed, and fully-democractic community before identifying a suitable project. And by a “suitable project,” he believes strongly that this should be not be a “greenfield” ecovillage but one that reuses and revitalizes workable urban neighborhoods. And our goal should be to transform the wider community by demonstrating the power of the cooperative business model and engaging local residents and their neighbors to be part of this New Cooperative Movement.

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The Story So Far… A Brief History of EcovillageNJ

It may be helpful to anyone interested in becoming a member of Ecovillage New Jersey to get a brief sense of the group’s history, current status, and intended future.

Over the past few years, two key groups became interested in creating a network of ecovillages in New Jersey and/or Eastern Pennsylvania.

  • Steve Welzer, the founder of the EcovillageNJ Meetup group, had been working to create an ecovillage at Delane Lipka’s Mt. Eden Retreat.
    • Following Delane’s unexpected death, and because Delane’s heirs were not supportive of the project, the Mt. Eden site was no longer feasible.
    • However, Steve continued to host Meetups.
  • Victoria Zelin and Jonathan Cloud, founders of the Center for Regenerative Community Solutions (CRCS), had been working with a group in the New Hope, PA area from about 2012 through 2014. The group consciously stopped meeting after an off-site weekend retreat, where members realized that one issue could not be reconciled:
    • Some people wanted the group to focus on Ecology, and not require any participation in spirituality;
    • Others wanted the group to share spiritual values and practices as its primary concern, with sustainability as a secondary purpose.

In 2015, after each of these efforts fell through, Victoria and Jonathan joined Steve in a renewed effort to start one or more ecovillages in New Jersey. In 2016, a group of people from South Jersey got together to plan their own ecovillage, and created their own Meetup group; Steve usually attends the South Jersey EcoVillage meetings, as well.

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Financial Disclosure (End of Summer 2016)

As of this writing, the account contains $6,028.51, representing donations from members (of the Central/Northern NJ Ecovillage Meetup) and a small amount of interest from our credit union account. There have been no withdrawals so far, though these amounts are owed:

  • Steve is owed $270 for 18 months of the Meetup subscription, which is currently $15 a month, since March 2015, when the bank account was opened.
  • CRCS is entitled to a 5% fee for overhead ($301.43 as of September 2016)
  • $130 of the money donated was targeted for support of the Ecovillagers Co-op
  • Mara is owed $25 for paying the meeting fee at the library in September

Of course there is also a great deal of time and effort which is not accounted for financially, including an extensive search for suitable properties, site visits, and the extended negotiations for a property in Andover Township.

South Jersey Meetup Launched

A sub-group of our project has started holding its own Meetup gatherings in South Jersey. The next one is scheduled for June 18.

South Jersey Ecovillage Meetup

Glassboro, NJ
73 Communitarians

We’re a sub-group of the “Ecovillage New Jersey” project. We’ll be holding meetings and looking for parcels of land in the southern part of the state.Ecovillages are communit…

Next Meetup

Let’s celebrate the summer solstice!

Saturday, Jun 18, 2016, 4:30 PM
6 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

We’re considering a property purchase

We have an exciting opportunity to purchase a property in Sussex County. Members of our group who have seen it think it would be ideal for cohousing. The land backs up to a beautiful nature preserve and it’s pre-approved for multi-family zoning. We’re anticipating being able to construct a variety of residential units with pricing in the range of $175,000 to $300,000. Let us know if you’d be interested in seeing the property.

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EcoVillage New Jersey Meetup

Hightstown, NJ
328 Communitarians

There are ecovillages in most states in the U.S. and in many countries around the world. Let’s create the first ecovillage in New Jersey!

Next Meetup

Passive House Standard on Display (re-scheduled date)

Saturday, Jun 18, 2016, 12:00 PM
3 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

Cohousing Planned With Town of Boulder, CO

Thanks to Peter Sullivan for passing this along:

From: NextworldTV <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 9:09 AM
Subject: Cohousing Planned With Town of Boulder, CO
To: Peter <[email protected]>

Peter

At the Wild Sage co- housing development in Boulder, Colorado, the future residents co-ordinated with the town for an 8 year planning period to create an intentional community within a new housing development.

An intentional cohousing group, in effect, jump started a whole new urbanist community for 330 homes. Continue reading

NY Times Feature on Cohousing

On April 24 there was a featured article on the editorial page of the New York Times about how cohousing might be a desirable option for single people. It ends, though, by saying: “. . . homes that combine privacy with community and sociability . . . that combination sounds pretty attractive for anybody . . .”

The article should have mentioned that there is no such option, yet, in the whole New York metropolitan area! That’s why we’re confident that, if we can get our ecovillage built, there will be considerable demand to purchase units and become part of such a unique community.

Here are excerpts from the New York Times article:

While many single people are quite happy to live alone, it’s not always easy. When Kate Bolick first lived in her own apartment, she said, “it felt unbelievably exciting to be simply living by myself and master of my own domain. But then maybe at around the seven-year mark it started to feel kind of repetitive and lonely.”

Many single people relish their autonomy and don’t necessarily want to be part of a couple. But some would like another option, a way to have companionship without entering into a romantic relationship. That might mean roommate groupings more stable than the 20-something variety. Or it might mean a larger community that mixes shared and individual space. “Cohousing” communities around the country typically include private homes surrounding a common house where residents can gather for meals and other activities.

Americans who want to live communally face obstacles like zoning laws — and housing designed for nuclear families. Removing some of the barriers would give our growing population of single people the opportunity, at least, to decide if living with other people works for them. It might also encourage Americans in general to think more creatively about our homes, our cities and our social networks. Many single people want homes that combine privacy with community and sociability. That combination sounds pretty attractive for anybody, single or not.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/opinion/what-the-single-ladies-have-wanted-for-more-than-a-century.html

Regenerative Cohousing

Download our latest brochure: RegenerativeCohousing (2Apr2015)regencohousing

From Jonathan Cloud and Victoria Zelin:

While we’re working hard on what we expect to be an avalanche of PACE projects once the new law is passed, we’ve been giving serious consideration to where and how we might want to live during this next few years of our lives. Like many others in our age group, we’re officially “empty-nesters,” and are looking to live “more lightly” on the land. We’d also like to be part of a genuine community, where we have deeper relationships with our neighbors, and can work together to bring about more rapid social change.

This has led us to a growing interest in intentional communities, ecovillages, and cohousing. The most practical and least controversial of these is cohousing, where a small neighborhood of 10-35 families share a large common facility, and live in smaller-footprint individual homes around this common space

Cohousing

Cohousing itself is not new; pioneered in Denmark in the 1970s, it was introduced into the U.S. by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett more than 35 years ago. There are more than 700 cohousing neighborhoods in Denmark today, many in other European countries as well as Australia and New Zealand, and close to 150 in the United States, with another hundred or so in various stages of development.

New Jersey is something of an anomaly in having no completed cohousing developments. In our view there is considerable interest and potential for development. And it is a uniquely appropriate vehicle for the kinds of “regenerative community solutions” we are seeking to introduce to NJ communities in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Creating diverse, walkable, and socially cohesive neighborhoods is worthwhile in itself, but it takes on a larger purpose in the context of a regenerative vision for local communities. Cohousing neighborhoods can serve as vehicles for innovation in designing a sustainable future, and then sharing the most successful outcomes.
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