Establishing the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Eco-Village

A discussion about MOTHER EARTH NEWS Eco-Village, the community is being designed to create minimum adverse effects on the planet while it's inhabitants enjoy a high standard of living.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
January/February 1978

Learn about the future plans for the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Eco-Village.
Photo By Fotolia/atm2003


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A discussion of our ideas for the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Eco-village "community of the future".

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS Eco-Village

With the November/December 1977 Issue, we completed eight full years of putting this periodical together. And for at least six and a half of those eight years, we've been talking and dreaming about someday establishing a MOTHER EARTH NEWS "Eco-Village."

Now, as we've envisioned it, MOTHER's Eco-Village will be a real "community of the future." A community designed to fit into its environment so well that [1] It and all the people and animals which live there will have an absolutely minimum adverse effect on the planet and [2] everyone who lives there will enjoy a far higher standard of living than Is possible in a typical pollution-ridden, crime-infested, crowded, dehumanized, modern" city, town, or village.

Well, we still aren't quite ready to rush out and buy 500 or 1,000 acres and start construction of such a community (unless, of course, someone wants to lay about ten million dollars on us). But we are getting ready-right now to purchase, maybe, 20 or 50 or 80 acres and begin a very small-scale mini-version of that community.

What we currently envision is a piece of property large enough for our most ambitious solar, wind, water, and other "alternative" energy experiments . . . plus plenty of space for a wide variety of wholistic gardening and farming projects . . . plus the room we need for controlled tests of low-cost, do-it-yourself, energy-efficient housing designs . . . plus enough acreage for tests and trials and experiments with 18 or 20 other MOTHER EARTH NEWS type fields of interest.

And eventually, of course, we hope we'll learn enough (that is, make every mistake possible!) on this first mini-version of our Eco-Village . . . so that we'll be able to build our real community of the future without making many mistakes at all. (That'll be the day!)

Anyway, we've been so long struggling toward the establishment of even this first experimental mini-community . . . and we constantly have so many people driving hundreds of miles out of their way to visit us down here in the mountains of North Carolina . . . and we constantly receive so many letters from good folks who ask If they can come and work with us for a while . . . that we'd now like your opinion about one particular expansion of MOTHER's services which we're thinking of trying to offer.

What we're thinking of doing you see is bringing in a steady stream of the world's best, most experienced, and most knowledgeable ecologists, environmentalists, and wholistic gardeners . . . experts on solar energy, wind and water power, wild foods and foraging, livestock care, and do-it-yourself decentralist entrepreneurial ventures . . . and acknowledged authorities on all the other subjects that MOTHER makes it her business to cover. And, naturally, we intend to pick these individuals' brains and use all their finest ideas as we develop our first mini-community.

But why stop there? As long as we have the Helen and Scott Nearings (self-sufficient living), the Paul Ehrlichs and Dave Browers (ecologists and environmentalists), the Jack Henstridges and David Wrights (low cost energy-efficient housing), the Alan Chadwicks (wholistic gardening), and other people of that caliber here . . . why not set up a series of seminars, workshops, and work/study programs that will allow you to come and learn from and study with and work shoulder-to-shoulder with them?

Why not indeed? And that's exactly what this part of this issue is all about. Call it a blatant appeal for your opinion, if you like . . . or a reader survey on the matter . . . or a market test . . . or whatever you like. Frankly, we don't care what you call it. But we would like to hear from you.

And, more specifically, we'd like to know whether or not you're interested in this particular idea of a MOTHER EARTH NEWS Eco-Village at all. And, if you are, what subjects you'd like to see covered by the program . . . how long a seminar, workshop, or work/study session you'd like to attend . . . and what time of the year you'd prefer to do that attending. A tear-out card is supposed to be bound into this issue facing this page to make it easier for you to feed that information to us, and we hope you'll zip out the card, fill it out, smack on a stamp, and mail it off to us posthaste. Before you do, however, here are a few more facts that may help you make up your mind:

[1] The names used above are used merely as illustrations of the kind of people we intend to work with as we develop our first research facility. We have not yet contacted or asked — in anyway — any of the people mentioned above to be part of this program. We darn sure will contact all of them and a great many other individuals with the same kinds of talents, knowledge, and dedication toward preserving the planet — however, if you folks "out there" show enough interest.

[2] In the beginning, everyone attending these seminars, workshops, and work/study programs will have to make do with "ordinary" motel rooms, camping facilities, and restaurant food while staying here in MOTHER's home area. As time goes on, however, and we put up more and more solar-heated buildings, grow larger and larger "organic" gardens, etc., it should be possible for attendees actually to stay right on site, live in solar-heated and -cooled rooms, eat "organic" foods, etc.

[3] Each seminar, workshop, and work/study program will be of an "intensive" nature. That is: We expect to cram more into our one- and three day seminars than most attendees will be able to absorb comfortably. We expect to actually build and operate things in the three-day seminars and one-week workshops. And we plan on having our one-month work/study groups completely construct some really big projects (whole houses or groups of houses, water power plants, etc.). Full sets of explanatory manuals, operating papers, lists of suggested further reading, etc., for the seminar, workshop, or work/study program will be furnished to each participant to take away with him/her at the completion of every class.

[4] Each participant will be responsible for arranging his or her transportation to and from these programs and — at least in the beginning — for taking care of his or her own quarters, meals, and other personal needs while in the Hendersonville, North Carolina area. The only exception to this will be mid-day meals . . . which will be furnished as a part of each seminar, workshop, and work/ study program so that as much time as possible can be devoted to the classes every day.

[5] Although the final figures are sure to vary somewhat depending on the individual subjects involved, number of attendees, economic conditions in general, etc., a very rough preliminary analysis indicates that this program will be priced out about this way: individual one-day seminars, from $80 to $120 . . . three-day seminars, $180 to $240 . . . one-week workshops, $200 to $350 . . . and one-month work/study programs, $400 to $750. All fees payable in advance on a first-come, first-served basis.

So there it is. The next step is up to you. We're not going to push the idea from this end because obviously the institution of a program of this magnitude means a great deal of additional work for us. if you good folks really want to support and be part of something that will allow you to gain valuable "hands on" experience in a wide variety of MOTHER-type subjects directly under the guidance of recognized experts in the field, however, we'll do everything in our power to make it happen.

What'll be your pleasure?


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Post a comment below.

 

Daniel Greenberg
11/12/2010 10:26:39 AM
Thanks for sharing this inspiring vision. It is one I and others have also been trying to manifest for years. In your research, I encourage you to check out two organizations: (1) Living Routes (http://www.LivingRoutes.org), which partners with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst to offer study abroad programs based in ecovillages around the world. I founded this organization in 1999 and we have had over 1,000 alumni on semester, summer, and January programs so far. (2) Gaia Education (http://www.gaiaeducation.org), which is a UN recognized NGO developing curricula and programs for "Ecovillage Design Education". I have also had the privilege of helping start this organization and over 60 month-long programs have been offered in ecovillages around the world. I should add that, more than any actual coursework, what we find transformative on these programs are the immersion experiences within human-scale communities trying to develop new "stories" around who we are in relationship to each other and the planet. So, I would also encourage you to build your community first as students will learn more from who you are than what you teach. Best of luck with this endeavor and I hope to stay in touch around its progress. In community, - Daniel








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