The Website of the
Eco-Village, and Cohousing
Assoc of New Zealand

A national 'clearing-house' to link people, projects and the global Eco-village community
To facilitate sharing of 'how to' type
information resources
A focal point for initiatives to further the Eco-Village movement in NZ

This update:
From the big picture to local successes


Home Page Editorial Summer 2001
For me the new year has brought something of a stand-back-and-look at the big picture. I've been reading a book by Ray and Anderson (2000), entitled Cultural Creatives: How 50 million people are changing the world. Their message is that the madness of modernity which we see (mostly) all around us, is in fact now hanging by a thread with something like only 51% of Americans still subscribing to the 'more is better-climb the ladder value-exploit the earth' value system. The recent US presidential election was perhaps a bit of a symbol of this trend. A growing subculture of people are becoming dedicated to the environment, consciousness, relationships and community, and these 'creative' people now make up a staggering 26% of the US population. The authors see this as the beginning of a fundamentally new culture which brings hope for us as a species in a world that is currently stressed and near practical limits. Worth a read.

In the Eco-Village world it was Bill Mollison who articulated quite early on that a million eco-villages is one of the things the world needs most urgently. This is abruptly juxtaposed against modernity's admiration of big cities and its technologies which will overcome resource limitations. However new villages as with a new culture take time, and there is much to be learnt, with little but our own hearts and minds to guide us.

In celebrating the stepping stones and successes this quarter I want to mention about Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood's recent groundbreaking. After more than 5 years in planning, construction of its 32 homes has now begun. This is a neighbourhood which is being built mostly at once as compared with a lot style development, and utilises rammed earth construction, and a extensive collection of innovative services. While it can be argued that 30 homes does not a village make, as a building block it is a huge effort indeed involving significant dedication and cooperation. You can see some photos on their website

Other notable successes are Valley Farm who have managed to renegotiate their purchase agreement and retain a magnificent piece of land. Also the Auckland Housing Association has finally stitched up a very favourable deal with the Auckland City Council who have financed around 15% for the 100 or more Freemans Bay ex council houses. The Public Trust has funded the balance and Kimberly from AHA reports that this is a milestone in bank funding, where a group has essentially been loaned the millions of dollars to buy the houses and all without separate freehold titles.

Around summer solstice I visited Tui in GoldenBay, which was a real inspiration in terms of how a local community of people can function successfully both in terms of practical governance and management and in terms of a sustainable egalitarian social system, which embodies relating skilfully and respectfully honouring each individual and in wondrous celebration of the seasonal transitions. Robina McCurdy from Tui is doing some really great work in the organic/PC/ecovillage education front, among other things establishing a 1 year training course for local youth. (Dont forget the 4 week Designing Sustainable Communities course in Feb 26)

My other inspiration from the Nelson region was the thoughtful, long ahead of its time, way the Riverside village is laid out. Way back in the Ecovillage darkages (c1940s) a young architectural student devised an almost by the book cohousing plan for the community. The plan was for the most part implemented and to this day remains probably only one of a couple of NZ's older intentional communities that was built on a clustered basis. As a planner I was interested in how they got around the one house per 40 acre philosophy prevalent both then and still largely now. In the beginning they had to get a number of 'departures' as resource consents were known in those days to build each new house. After that they simply got the rural land rezoned residential and commercial! and in fact the houses are still on one title. The common agricultural land surrounds just as it was with the successful medieval open field villages.

A couple of bits to wrap up. A handy little book entitled Ecovillages in NZ and Australia has come out which is available from GEN Oceania. Also from GEN their Millennium Newsletter is definitely worth a read if you haven't got to it -- a great catch up with the global ecovillage scene. The NZ Sustainable Land Development Handbook has gone out to council consultation stage and public release is expected to be in March of this year. We are hopeful that councils will take some ownership of this work to enable a set of national design standards and recognised solutions for would-be ecovillagers and thoughtful developers etc. On the developers theme I should mention Nelson's Silkwood which is a new NZ equivalent of Australia's Kookaburra Park. Interesting use of freehold titles and common garden areas.

Lastly it feels worth reiterating that IMHO Gilman / Context Institute (1991), Eco-Villages and Sustainable Communities is still the authority on ecovillage development. I think it is still available or try library interloan. And a few more websites for the latenight owls... Envirolink, CentralWonan, Idealist, ILSR, Damanhur

Till Autumn,

Peter Scott :-)


Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood:
Turning the sod ceremony.
Nov 2000

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