Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage: Building Connections in Cincinnati

Based on the work of Imago, a grassroots environmental education nonprofit, Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage is transforming one of Cincinnati’s oldest districts into a sustainable neighborhood.

  • Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage
    More than 110 households make up Cincinnati's Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage.
    Photo by Jessica Gaitan
  • Cob Oven
    Members of Cincinnati's Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage often gather for play and work, from biking to building a cob oven.
    Photo by Nancy Sullivan

  • Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage
  • Cob Oven

Located in Cincinnati’s historic Price Hill district, Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage faces challenges familiar to any older urban neighborhood. In June 2004, Jim and Eileen Schenk invited several neighbors to consider pooling resources to strengthen the neighborhood’s ability to deal with potential disruption from such sources as climate change or economic breakdown. Their grass-roots ecovillage was born that night.

The neighborhood had been hit hard by the recession, and changing demographics led to exodus, foreclosures and vacant properties. The newly organized ecovillagers began buying these blighted houses, and then rehabbing and selling them to new homeowners. The strategy succeeded, and the ecovillage, now at 110 households, may expand to another street because it lacks sufficient housing to meet the many requests from potential new members.

Though Enright Ridge’s residents come from a variety of faith backgrounds, they share a similar spiritual approach: The Earth is sacred, and humanity’s success depends on honoring that reverence in their daily lives. Residents promote sustainable living practices, tend rain gardens and forest gardens, plant trees, build walking trails through the woods, create shared rituals, and offer educational programs focusing on sustainability.

“We strongly believe in the need to revitalize our cities,” Jim Schenk says. “For practical reasons, it makes sense for humans to stay clustered in a geographic area, but we need to lead ecologically sensitive lives there. The urban ecovillage is a good way to do this — using existing houses and infrastructure.”

By organizing as a nonprofit, Enright Ridge has been able to secure funding to purchase and rehab foreclosed or badly dilapidated houses in the neighborhood. So far, in addition to the 110 households, they’ve fixed up 13 houses — making many energy-efficient upgrades. Some of the larger buildings were multifamily units that they’ve offered as rentals — a choice that has enabled younger and lower-income families to move in. The plan is to rebuild from within the neighborhood boundaries, one home at a time — and it’s working.

Some members have hired a farmer to grow a variety of crops in backyards and vacant lots for a CSA program. He’s moved to the ecovillage and helps residents grow their knowledge base beyond simply working a community garden. “People can buy into the CSA, trade their labor for shares, or volunteer their time to learn how to farm by working with ‘their’ farmer,” Schenk says.

9/1/2015 10:07:57 AM

If many people work together to develop the sustainable awareness and with this aim, if they work for taking care of nature by creating organic gardens in the community and use all eco friendly products for their any need, they can keep a sustainable environment in the whole community. The more the idea of Permaculture will be spread among different society and countries, the more it will encourage others to take care of the nature and ultimately we will find a green sustainable world. Rancho Delicioso Eco Village http://www.ranchodelicioso.com

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