Category Archives: 05. transition world

k. What Makes an Ecovillage?


Liz Walker of Ecovillage,; Ithaca, USA
2010, 9 min 49 sec

Liz Walker describes in the interview the ways in which Ecovillage at Ithaca entails a working model of the five following main aspects.

1. Green Building

Ecovillage at Ithaca features clustered housing units, which allows for considerable land conservation when developing. The community managed to fit 30 homes into each acre of land. The ecovillage also utilizes passive solar design in their buildings’ construction to help regulate internal temperature throughout the year. Passive solar generally involves facing the windows of a building to the south to allow as much sunlight in as possible (buildings in the southern hemisphere below the equator would face north instead). An overhand is built over each window in such a way in the summer months, no direct sunlight enters the windows since the sun is higher in the sky. However, during winter months, the sun is lower in the sky and the sunlight enters directly into the house. The buildings are also super-insulating, and retain the heat that is absorbed. The result is a home that costs considerably less to heat and cool throughout the year.

2. Alternative Energy

As expected, Ecovillage at Ithaca incorporates solar and wind energy into their community design, and all the roofs in the community are specifically designed to support solar panels. They also use solar hot water heaters and are in the process of creating a system which connects the solar heated water throughout the entire community.

3. Local Food Production

Considering all the land Ecovillage at Ithaca saved by using a clustered housing model, they have created large organic gardens and even a garden solely dedicated to seasonal berries. Their gardens feed roughly 1000 people per week in the ecovillage and the city of Ithaca.

4. A Strong Sense of Community

Ecovillage at Ithica is an intergenerational community, meaning that there are people of all ages living there. They share several meals a week in the community building dining hall and the clustered housing design encourages people to actually take the time to get to know their neighbors. As Liz says in her interview, what is created is a sense of extended family.

5. Education

Ecovillage at Ithaca has an educational non-profit which conducts seminars and holds workshops explaining the ecovillage lifestyle. They also have University backed work-exchange programs, where students can earn credit for working on the community’s organic farm. There is even a member of the ecovillage who started a sustainability-focused high school in the city of Ithaca called New Roots School to impart the concepts familiar to ecovillage life.

While this interpretation of what an Ecovillage is is just one woman’s opinion, it rings true to ecovillage modality, and I for one find Liz’s five points to be integral to truly creating an ecovillage. While Ecovillage at Ithica is still a work in progress (as are all ecovillages), it is an exceptional model of what could be achieved as the world moves toward a more sustainable model of development.

m. Indian Community Tackles Food Security Issue


Next World TV, Sohail Rahma; Surat, India
2012, 2 min 26 sec

Imagine the convenience of take-out food every day but for less money than you would pay to cook at home or order from a restaurant. Here is a brilliant solution: members pay in to a collective community kitchen where meals are distributed daily in the community by the kitchen chefs. In Surat this is happening right now with beautiful results, ensuring food security for all, while liberating women from the daily grind.

n. Seed Communities: Ecovillage Experiments Around the World


Karen Litfin, University of Washington; Seattle, USA
2011, 8 min 40 sec

Curious about the leading edge of green living? How do these new social forms organise themselves? After travelling to ecovillages on five continents, professor Karen Litfin shares some gleanings about how these seed communities might help us to create a sustainable future. Located in cities and rural areas, ecovillages of all kinds have plenty to teach us about sharing resources.

o. Jason Roberts


Next World TV, TEDxAustin; Austin, USA
2012, 15 min 19 sec

How can we drive change in our communities and move past stagnant committees and outdated regulations? In this talk, activist Jason Roberts of Build a Better Block encourages us to stop waiting around. Even if that means painting on our own crosswalks and blackmailing ourselves into action.

Roberts is responsible for some of the most outrageous initiatives, going out of his way to break every outdated, pro-automobile ordinance in a neighborhood in order to show people, just for one weekend, what kind of transformation is possible.

p. Start Something Together


Transition Town Totnes; Totnes, UK
2011, 6 min 47 sec

Neighourhood groups in Totnes explain how the award-winning Transition Town Totnes was just the start of plans from a community orchard, clothes swaps, gardening days to film clubs, saving money, cutting carbon and strengthening their neighbourhoods. Starting with only 2 groups of neighbours, now they are 56 to co-ordinate recycling efforts, share seeds, dig community gardens, organize swaps to exchange belongings, invest in solar energy, make community meals and plan a fruit tree orchard.