EcoVillage at Ithaca - Back to Basics

Uploaded by trukapipa on 25.01.2009

One of the things I found I really liked here is
not just that you're living with people who you feel comfortable with but
the idea that people want to know each other.
[people walking]
We're really reaching multiple crises with global climate change and with economic instability
--it's like a roller coaster out there--
and species extinction and fossil fuel prices are rising
and food prices are rising and more and more people are being
thrown into terrible poverty around the world.
So we all need to be looking at how can we live as if the planet mattered.
How can we live as if our fellow human beings mattered.
What I think that means is we all need to take a serious look at
what kinds of changes can we make in our lifestyles to support the environment
and also support community.
EcoVillage at Ithaca is a non-profit organization and also
a model ecological village here on West Hill in Ithaca.
We have sixty different families here who live in their own homes.
But because the homes are attached, and because they're very densely clustered together
we find that we interact a lot with each other.
In fact, that's really part of the purpose of this place-- is to create a strong sense of community.
There's a lot of variety of people here
with lots of different interests.
It's pretty invigorating to be around
people who are so involved in so many different ways.
And the whole concept behind cohousing is that
it combines the best of both privacy
--because people own their own private homes--
but in a very wonderful community setting.
So if you ever want privacy you just go into your home and shut the door,
and if you ever want community you come out and talk to your neighbors
and have a meal with them, or your kids play together,
or have a cup of coffee at the picnic table in the middle of the community commons.

We are also demonstrating various alternative energy.
We have passive solar homes. They are super insulated.
They are all duplexes. They are smaller than average homes.
What I changed was realizing how good it can be to have neighbors.
We have a duplex along with Joe and Michelle Nolan
that's a straw bale house.
Then we often come together on a weeknight for a community meal
and different people take turns cooking.
We made vegetables stew with veggies picked from West Haven farm.
It was a lovely time. There were about seventy five people who came to dinner,
including the children.
So it's a great sense of camaraderie that happens and it's a wonderful way
to unwind at the end of the day.
We have two organic farms.
One was started back at the very beginning of EcoVillage.
Jen and John Bokaer-Smith.
Their farm is called West Haven Farm.
You can see their produce at the local farmers market,
but they also sell to two hundred families
around the Ithaca area as a Community Supported Agriculture farm.
A CSA is kind of a win-win farm in which
that consumers win by getting a share in the harvest of the farm every week.
They get the freshest organic produce around.
And the farmers win because they sell the shares in the farm
at the beginning of the growing season.
So they get capital when they need it.
[Look at this. This is bigger than my head! I love it!]
I've been a carpenter for quite a long time now,
almost thirty years.
Mostly build houses, additions.
A stake.
We're making some raised garden beds.
It makes it so that the ground doesn't erode away.
We found we instantly have
more space to garden -- it's great!
Now we can grow really nice carrots.
And we have another farmer, Katie Kreeger, who has a berry farm.
And it's the first u-pick organic berry farm that's also a CSA in the country.
We built the dehydrator as one way of storing food.
We always look at the bottom; this is where the cold air comes in.
All the openings are screened to keep bugs out.
So the cold air goes in, circulates through here,
there is the glass on top so the sun is just shining directly in
and makes the box get hot.
And then on the sides there are these two little vent holes,
one on each side.
And then the back has this door that you can open if you need more ventilation.
You can have it part-way open or all the way open.
It has a little latch on it to make it a little easier.
If you want to get to the fruit that opens up
and there's one of two screens.
[child on scooter]
So there are a lot of different possibilities there.
Nobody is going to be doing everything,
either with transportation or food or other alternatives.
But we can each try something.
It's not that you want to just be comfortable and in an easy place to be
but that you want to know who your neighbors are.
I found that really refreshing.
It makes it so much easier to be with people when you know them,
and you know they care about you, and you care about them.