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Ecovillages are people-based initiatives to model sustainable, low-impact, human settlements. They are applicable to both rural and urban settings and accessible to all. Eco-villagers utilize green energy technology, ecological building techniques, and human-scale design to reduce exploitation of natural resources, facilitate community self-reliance, and improve quality of life.
They are about the creation of new settlements as well as retrofitting existing villages and urban areas. An eco-village is designed in harmony with its bioregion instead of the landscape being unduly engineered to fit construction plans. By thinking in terms of bioregions, sustainable settlements are planned considering water availability, the ability to grow food, and accessibility.
Many projects use the principles of permaculture for creating integrated, interactive and efficient systems for structural planning, food production and social needs in their community. Eco villages are human scale, (somewhere where you can feel you know the others in your community), fully featured settlements, (comprising housing, businesses, agriculture, culture, etc. as appropriate to the local setting), in which human activity is integrated harmlessly into the natural world, supports human development and can be continued into the indefinite future.
Robert Gilman’s Definition of an Ecovillage
After working as an astrophysicist for NASA twenty-five years ago, Robert Gilman decided that "the stars could wait, but the planet couldn't." Since than he has devoted himself to the study of global sustainability, futures research and strategies for positive social change. He and Diane Gilman are cofounders of the Context Institute and In Context Journal. Black Leader’s Coalition gives credit to Robert and Diane Gilman for the Ujima District Template.
What is an Ecovillage?
An ecovillage is;
The eco-village challenges. The first is the physical layer, biological systems: wastewater treatment, food production, animals, etc. Then the built environment: the buildings, roads, etc. These are really important parts of what an ecovillage is all about, and in some ways perhaps the easiest parts. Underneath is the human part: the economic system and the governance. All these parts must be brought together.
In order to work out the practical economic parts communal glue is mandatory: spiritual, emotional, cultural, something that enables you as a community to hold together when you go over inevitable rough spots.
The communal glue for Ujima Districts is economic and cultural support for Descendants of Enslaved Africans.
Model Ecovillage Guidelines for Development
The Guidelines below were developed by the future residents of an Ecovillage at Ithaca, California. The substance of this document was developed over the course of nine months and involved the input of over 100 people.
Ecovillage at Ithaca held four Land Use Planning Forums from September '92 to March '93 in which future residents, architects, landscape architects, students, professors, planners ecologists and energy experts met in task groups. This document is a compilation of what emerged from the Planning Forums. These are meant to be taken as guidelines rather than rigid requirements.
The Ecovillage Board of Directors approved this document on October 7, 1993.
Residential Neighborhood Guidelines
Ujima District Commercial Center
THE FOUR PILLARS*
“The 40 Acres and a Mule” is comprised of a city square block “four pillar” Ujima District.