Larry White has issued the following invitation to fellow EVNJ members:
Greetings fellow Ecovillagers! You are receiving this email because you have shown a strong commitment to living in an Ecovillage here in the Garden State. At our December holiday gathering, we announced a new initiative to jump start an initial Ecovillage in the Garden State. It involves working within the current Real Estate paradigm, with investors and future residents pooling money together to begin serious negotiation for a property after the investor/owner group does some preliminary work to establish the vision and parameters of the proposed community. Diversity will be achieved by establishing rental units within the community for those that don’t have the disposable income or real estate assets to invest.
The community will have the aspects of an Ecovillage that we all know and love; cooperative governance, a “green” ethos, regenerative and shared practices and structures, community rituals and activities that bind us together, outreach to the local community for residents and value added business or service, and education to help foster more Ecovillage development.
Initially, we are seeking at least 21 folks that can commit a minimum $1000 cash and a promissory note stating that they have an additional $24,000 in liquid assets that they can commit to a down payment on a property that the group agrees to pursue. That gives us $21,000 for legal/RE expenses in creating a legal entity and finding a property, and $500,000 for a down payment. Legal documents will be drawn up, and the investment group will include a way to come in or out without penalties. There will be risk involved, and there will also be an ROI for folks who want to invest but not live in the community. No one will be forced to invest in a community that they are not aligned with as an investor or resident. No significant funds will be spent without group approval, and the necessary ground work of vision and mission statements will precede any legal engagement beyond advice and the initial document binding investors to the project.
Those that have the means will have a vote in the process. We can discuss how to open that process to the location we choose and the “renter” residents. We recognize that this is not ideal, and would prefer a more egalitarian model, but that is a long game, and we want to act now. We feel that we can be supportive of more egalitarian efforts from the position of a viable, functioning first Ecovillage in New Jersey. We may also find that this approach, playing within the confines of the current Real Estate paradigm, may be easily replicated.
If you are committed to changing your lifestyle and becoming and Ecovillage pioneer in New Jersey, and have the financial means to be an investor/owner, please join us on Sunday, January 14 from Noon to 4 pm. We will have our usual potluck lunch and do some initial brainstorming. At 2 pm, we will be joined by a prominent real estate developer in NJ who has worked with us in the past on two properties we were pursuing. He has innovative ideas about how to acquire a property, and expertise that could answer questions arising from our brainstorming session. At the end of the meeting, folks will be asked to sign a commitment letter for time and money to form a cooperative to create the first Ecovillage in New Jersey!
We apologize for the short notice. If you are able to attend, please RSVP, and we’ll send you the location. If you are unable to physically attend, but have time between 1 and 4 pm on Sunday Jan. 14, please email us and we’ll send you a link to join us virtually through a ZOOM videoconference. This will not be the only opportunity to join the initiative, but it will be the first! If you are willing and financially available, please join us on January 14 from 12 to 4 pm.
Also, save the date of Feb. 11 for our usual Monthly Meetup. Details to follow!
For my part, I’m personally happy to support this initiative also, and think Larry should be commended for taking the lead here. Victoria & I used a version of this approach to jumpstart a real estate development project in Canada, and it can certainly work here. The key is having people step up to this opportunity, and commit to having a stake in the outcome. It will certainly require a lot of discussion and further explanation, and a lot of work from a lot of people — but together we can work out the details and make it happen. If there’s a will, there’s a way; which is a short version of Margeret Mead’s famous quote about a small group of committed individuals being the only ones able to make a difference.
I’m copying this into an email to our mailing list and posting it to our web site. It’s not a message that’s intended to bring out a crowd, but we just want to make sure that those who should know about it are aware of it. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested in being a serious participant. Thanks, Jonathan Cloud