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EcoVillage at Ithaca


Lawrence F. London, Jr.
Title: EcoVillage at Ithaca

EcoVillage at Ithaca

2nd neighborhood group forming - see our News Page!

Register for Permaculture Workshop May 9-11!

In 1991, a group of people interested in developing a new kind of community-oriented and ecologically sensible neighborhood formed in Ithaca, New York. Soon, this group acquired a beautiful 176 acre site, about two miles from downtown Ithaca, Cayuga Lake, and Cornell University. They formed a plan to build five neighborhoods around a village green, while preserving at least 80% of the land as agricultural open space, woods, and wetlands. A location at the city's edge was thought the best place to demonstrate an alternative development model to "suburban sprawl". Development Guidelines for EVI were created in Land Use Planning workshops by over 100 persons, including future residents, architects, landscape architects, students, professors, planners, ecologists and energy experts.

Permaculture techniques, including orcharding, agroforestry, and aquaculture will help to maximize the self-sufficiency of the village. Other future plans include on-site wastewater treatment via a natural marsh system, greywater recycling, and composting. Eventually, a Visitor Center will be constructed, which will also support education & research activities. Already there are educational programs in ecology and agriculture at EVI for local youth.

A group of 30 households formed a cooperative to create the first neighborhood. This group is called the EcoVillage Cohousing Cooperative, because they are planning to utilize the Danish Cohousing model. The Coop broke ground in September 1995, and will be compeletely moved in by the end of 1996. This first neighborhood will consist of 15 duplexes clustered around a pedestrian courtyard. The houses will be highly energy-efficient due to a super-insulated, passive-solar design, and a shared hot water heating system. Decisions of the EVCC are made through a consensus process. The Process Committee prepared a document describing our meeting structure, 'The Relationship of Process and Task at Meetings'.

Two future residents are currently operating an organic farm on the EVI land. "West Haven Farm" uses the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, where subscribers share the crop risks with the farmers. Another future resident, Judy Green, wrote an article on the importance of agriculture in the EVI vision.

EcoVillage at Ithaca is affiliated with Cornell University through CRESP (Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy). Through this relationship, EVI will benefit from the expertise of academia, and export it's experiences to the world. A recent project of EVI/CRESP was the 3rd International EcoCity Conference in Yoff, Senegal, the sister-city of EVI. Hundreds of experts and government officials from around the globe came together to share ideas on creating and maintaining sustainable cities and villages.

A good article on the evolving concept of ecovillages is 'The Eco-Village Challenge' by Robert Gilman.

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