A Cluster Of Eco-villages

Stories from sustainable community projects around the world

One of the articles in Living Together (IC#29)
Originally published in Summer 1991 on page 15
Copyright (c)1991, 1996 by Context Institute

There are so many eco-village projects under development, and they are springing up so quickly, that we were hearing about new ones right up to the day we closed this issue. Not all eco-villages are fabulous successes, of course – many projects never leave the drawing board or the meeting room. But the eco-village movement, like science, thrives on experimentation: we can learn as much from what doesn’t work as from what does. Here we present a representative sample of eco-village and community projects, some established, some just getting started – and one in the odd state of being finished, but practically unpopulated.


CRYSTAL WATERS

Founded: 1985

Population: 131 (approx. 85 adults), plus an average of 20 visitors at any one time

Contact: Max Lindegger, 56 Isabella Ave., Nambour, Queensland, Australia 4560, Tel. (61) 074/412 749, Fax (61) 074/417 250

Crystal Waters – the world’s "first intentional permaculture village" – is located on 640 acres adjacent to the Conondale Range National Park in Queensland, Australia. Clean water, a mild climate, and a rich variety of agricultural and natural resources attracted a group of community pioneers to the site in 1985. They later contracted with top Australian permaculture designers Max Lindegger, Robert Tap, and Geoff Young to develop plans and legal documents for the creation of a true permaculture village. Those plans have become a reality, and many observers believe that Crystal Waters – though still in the process of being developed – is one of the best examples of a working eco-village.

"Permaculture" is a hybrid word coined by the Australian designer, environmentalist, and zoologist Bill Mollison to refer to a system of "permanent agriculture" designed to cooperate fully with natural processes (See "Permaculture: Design for Living" in IC #28). The word "permaculture" has since moved into general use (some who use it want to distance themselves from the often controversial Mollison) and Crystal Waters’ designers also credit the influence of the earlier work of Ian McHarg, author of Design with Nature.

"More than just a food supply system," write Lindegger and Tap, "a permanent agriculture is a cornerstone whose influence permeates our needs and life in a rural village." They see their goal as "developing a village community that aims for a diversity of food and energy sources, economic enterprise and social activity that will lead to more stability – less susceptible to severe changes, be they environmental, political, economic or social."

When complete, Crystal Waters will be home for up to 300 people on 83 residential lots and include a wide range of agricultural, light industrial, educational, service, and other activities.

Anyone can live in Crystal Waters – it has no screening process, nor any particular political or religious identity. There are, however, by-laws and design features intended to maintain Crystal Waters as a quiet, culturally vital, and ecologically sustainable community. The village has a "live and let live" philosophy and includes Buddhists, Ba’hai’s, and fundamentalist Christians all living together harmoniously. What holds it all together? Lindegger feels that "a desire for the community to succeed" is a very important part of the "glue", noting that over 800,000 Australians have left the large urban centers in recent years to escape rising crime, violence, and pollution. Crystal Waters residents are determined to prove that "Permaculture Villages" are possible.

The community employs a simple code of ethics: "Care of the Earth; Care of the People; and Dispersal of that which is surplus to our needs." Non-sectarian "Quiet Areas" (sometimes known as "sacred sites") were set aside in the design stage and are used by all the residents for religious observations, meditation, contemplation, or other similar activities.

While community life is very important to villagers, the emphasis at Crystal Waters is very much on physical design. Comprehensive design plans and criteria have been codified for every stage of the project according to permaculture design principles. To illustrate, the Crystal Waters Owner’s Manual spells out detailed guidelines for development and provides tremendously detailed information – on everything from building methods to common insects – to help abide by them.

But while there are rules at Crystal Waters, there are no clear structures for enforcing them. Instead, says Lindegger, the community uses "a combination of adulation and peer pressure," together with "painfully open discussions, where people hear things about themselves that they may not want to hear," to enforce regulations. A council of "Elders" – people judged to possess "maturity, common sense and understanding"- is also elected to resolve conflicts and avoid outside arbitration or litigation.

While the village is not completely self-sufficient economically, many businesses do operate out of Crystal Waters, including consultancies, two nurseries, a word processing/secretarial service, a catering business, artists, crafts people (e.g. furniture makers), herb growers, building services, and publishing concerns. In addition, educational classes are offered in permaculture, paper-making, vision improvement – "you name it," says Lindegger.

The village itself also operates a co-op that owns about 5% of the land, rents camping equipment to visitors, runs the village market, and re-invests its profits, with a long-term plan of using co-op funds to help start new small businesses.

Permaculture involves careful planning for energy, waste, and water, and Crystal Waters embodies this principle to a high degree. For example, lots are chosen for maximum winter sunlight access, sufficient area for absorbing septic effluent, the possibility of being supplied by gravity-fed water, and so on. Recycling and composting are strongly encouraged within the village.

Water was considered "perhaps the most important design criterion." Drinking water is provided by roof-trapped rainfall collection systems, while utility water is drawn from holding tanks fed by a creek that runs through the property. Dams are planned to create ponds for recreational use, flood mitigation, aquaculture, and positive micro-climatic effects.

Electricity still comes from local utilities, but in limited quantities – about 2,000 watts per household. Residents must plan to install low-consumption appliances and systems into their households (houses are privately owned and built). They are also encouraged to consider installing photovoltaic systems and battery banks, with access to main utility power as a back-up. Needless to say, energy efficiency, good insulation, and alternative fuel use are very common practices.

The community’s underlying design philosophy involves the creation of "a human-scale park-like environment where people rather than cars predominate." Crystal Waters is "designing a village to fit the landscape" rather than landscaping a village. Natural building materials – such as adobe, CINVA rammed earth, and stone masonry – are strongly encouraged, both for their advantages in passive solar design and their environmental friendliness, which includes the possibility of reuse in future construction. The community also encourages simple building methods, and round timber pole construction in particular.

Cultural activities within the village are "organized by anybody," says Lindegger. A regular Sunday morning tea attracts 30-50 people. Aikido, meditation, and home brewing groups have formed. And occasional "working bees" are organized to cut back local weed, often involving as many as 60 people working together. The designers planned for such spontaneity by leaving several open, level spaces in well-chosen spots (these remain community property) to encourage people to gather in the tradition of the wells, churches, and plazas of villages in other times and places.

The comprehensive and successful application of permaculture principles at Crystal Waters is easily its greatest strength. The village is well on its way to realizing its intention to become a fully self-reliant and ecologically sound human settlement. As Lindegger notes, "It is all connected to permaculture."

But can it live up to expectations? People arrive with very different ideas of what permaculture is, what a village is like, and who will be living there, notes Lindegger, and so far the turnover in the village has been no different than in any suburban neighborhood.

Finances are also a challenge, as they usually are for any eco-village development. The whole project has been privately funded, and as Lindegger remarks, "The only thing governments did for us was to throw large hurdles in our way that we had to overcome."

While the village is already exemplary, Lindegger envisions it eventually becoming "not only self-reliant, but non-parasitic" in terms of its food production and energy use. But the more critical challenge to Crystal Waters may lie in continuing to develop its community "glue." Once the physical design and construction is complete, the key to sustaining Crystal Waters’ accomplishments will be in the other meaning of the word "permaculture" – in nurturing not just a permanent agriculture, but a permanent culture as well.

– Alan AtKisson


SOLTA ECO-VILLAGE NETWORK

Founded: 1988

Population: Variable (tourist accommodations)

Contact: Mr. Milivoj Burica, Director of Jugoplasika, 58 430 Grohote, Island Solta, Yugoslavia, Tel. 38 58 654 106.

Like many other Mediterranean islands, both the cultural and environmental heritage of the Yugoslavian Island of Solta have suffered from depopulation, emigration, underdevelopment, and tourism development pressures. The island has been besieged by public and private sector alike, producing a pattern of unplanned, haphazard development. The natural environment has been degraded by developments such as rest homes and hotels, and private tourist developments have also become major pollutants.

In response to these threats to their traditional ways of life and development, a group of residents, assisted by sympathetic architects, sociologists, anthropologists, demographers, eco-activists, and journalists, have come up with a proposal for development of the island that would treat its natural and cultural heritage with reverence and respect. One of the central elements of this plan is the development of a network of eco-settlements as a means of integrating recreational and educational aspects of tourism with the traditional way of life on Solta.

Solta is a region well known for its limekilns, cultivation of olives, wine growing and endemic herbs. Forty years ago one fifth of the population was engaged in these activities and lived off the income generated from the olive industry, wine growing, and lime. Due to the onslaught of depopulation and tourism, these activities were increasingly abandoned in the 1950s and 1960s.

The eco-settlements would revive this old Soltanian craft by using the existing olive mills, wine cellars and lime pits, or building new ones. Ten to fifteen houses will be built, in the model of traditional Soltanian architecture, close to the limekilns. In addition, there will be a central communal building in each settlement.

Each of the houses will consist of two units – one for a villager, and another for a guest who, throughout his/her stay in the village, will be actively engaged in all the aspects of olive collecting or lime-burning. Traditional Soltanian wooden ships, "trabaculas," would also engage the guests as active seamen, to help with taking care of the loading, transport and discharging of the lime cargo. Guests would shift every 15 days, in groups of 40 persons at the most, which amounts to a total of approximately 1,000 guests per eco-settlement per year. In the first year of operation, an eco-settlement for about 40 guests will be established; within four years, five such settlements are envisaged.

Active protection of the architectural and natural heritage of Solta will be an integral part of the entire project. An educational program, aiming at comprehension and understanding of the area itself, will be a requisite component of this new approach to the development of tourism. In an experimental phase, a summer school for students of architecture, sociology, and the like was begun in the summer of 1990 to educate young practitioners in eco-tourism. Students will study interaction networks, habitats and history of the local community. They will also be "experimental" guests in eco-settlements. It is hoped that this approach to eco-tourism and eco-education will rejuvenate traditional industry on the island, while at the same time incorporating sensitive tourism development adapted to the needs of the people.

– European Local Environmental Information Clearinghouse

The Clearinghouse has information on a variety of eco-village and environmental projects; write them at 393 Corn Exchange Bldg., Manchester, M4 3HN, England, Tel. 061-839-1989.


SOLDIERS GROVE

Population: 622 (1980 census)

Founded: 1978

Contact: Community Development Office; PO Box 121; Soldiers Grove, WI 54655, 608/624-5209.

Today’s Soldiers Grove, America’s first solar town, got started because of a flood. The original Soldiers Grove was built on the floodplain near a water-powered sawmill on the Kickapoo River in Wisconsin. After several major floods damaged the central business district and a temporary dike was breached on Fourth of July weekend in 1978, a new, solar town was built on higher ground.

Government agencies rejected relocation as "socially unacceptable," but the town’s residents had had enough. They took control of their future and developed a grassroots relocation plan that resulted in revival of the town.

A 1979 Zoning Ordinance required new buildings to use passive or active solar systems for at least 50% of their heating. Thus Soldiers Grove was the first US town to mandate energy conservation and solar technology.

The new Soldiers Grove boasts quite a number of solar buildings (including, ironically, a local gas station); an ultramodern, energy-efficient cheese factory; and for the first time in its history, tourists.

– Duane H. Fickeisen


IMAGO

Population: 10 households (plus 400 supporters)

Founded: 1979

Contact: Jim and Eileen Schenk, 553 Enright Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45205, Tel. 513/921-5124.

IMAGO is an urban-based grassroots effort in a neighborhood in a medium-sized mid-Western city (Cincinnati, Ohio). It has developed two communities: a demonstration neighborhood and a membership community of 500. Each has the focus of imaging sustainability – trying out the new way – and the mission of education.

The Latin word imago implies that to act, one has to have an image. The image specific to IMAGO began from "dreams of what might work to create a sustainable lifestyle in an older urban neighborhood." From that base, the image expanded to presenting the cultural innovations to the wider regional community through a variety of channels: seminars, hands on workshops, a bimonthly newsletter, and acting as a mentor in other neighborhoods. Whatever the channel employed, the content always stresses the values of deep ecology, earth spirituality and sustainable lifestyle.

Central to IMAGO is the demonstration neighborhood, 90 households (10 of which are owned by IMAGO members) on a long narrow street about seven minutes from downtown Cincinnati. The neighborhood, originally blue collar Catholic, is now in transition. The topography of the street is a ridge surrounded by over 100 acres of wooded hillsides. Houses are built close to the street on narrow lots and have extensive backyards. There is space for gardens, beekeeping, chickens – and reconnecting to the web of life.

The purpose of the neighborhood demonstration is to bridge the gap between long-time cultural innovators and other residents of the street. IMAGO members try new behaviors within the support of community, and the hope is that those innovations that work will be transplanted to other neighborhoods.

We are a task-directed group, and so far we’ve established:

  • a natural food co-op
  • an annual Harvest Festival
  • street-wide recycling
  • shared meals
  • organic gardens
  • a monthly Street Newsletter
  • a Block Watch
  • a process of conflict resolution through mediation
  • tree-planting
  • a neighborhood organization

We also successfully fought a potentially devastating development project on the land behind us through the layers of city government, and raised $27,000, mostly through contributions of neighborhood people, to purchase the 3 1/2 acre tract. This was a major effort for the demonstration neighborhood, and its success was undoubtedly due to the countless hours of attention to building trust and credibility with all the residents. Our attention to this small tract of land proved to be the impetus for the preservation of the entire wildlife corridor to which it was connected – an unmistakable sign of the power of grassroots movements. It feels almost exhilarating to know IMAGO initiated such energy.

As our vision has broadened, the neighborhood has developed to the point where we have decided to take on an energy conservation research project. During the next six months, we will be working with the South West Ohio Alternative Energy Association to reduce our energy usage (gas and electric) by 30%, using education, weatherization, and insulation. We’ll arrange wholesale purchase of materials, classes in installation, cooperative work parties, and professional monitoring of the results. The fruits of this effort will be shared with residential customers of Cincinnati Gas and Electric Company at a time when prices of electricity are doubling due to the expenses of their failed nuclear power plant.

How will IMAGO evolve? We are searching for a path that will work for the planet and all its species, a path filled with humor and adventure. The concept of sustainability is always in the forefront, but the information we receive through the permeable membrane of our organization allows for unaccountable and unimagined influences. Where we are going we do not know, but we have full trust that we will be traveling with the energy and support of the community.

– Jim and Eileen Schenk

Jim and Eileen Schenck have lived on Enright Avenue for 17 years, and have consistently sustained and recreated the image which has become IMAGO.


GANAS FOUNDATION

Population: 50

Founded: 1976

Contact: Mildred Gordon, 135 Corson Ave., Staten Island, NY 10301.

"Everything Goes" says the marquee, though it could say – since it’s the name of a second hand store run by a community founded on the principles of "feedback learning" – "Everything goes around and around." The store is run by the Ganas Foundation, a community of about 50 people living in five adjoining Victorian houses on Staten Island, New York.

Founded in 1976 in San Francisco, the community moved to Staten Island in 1980 and began to develop its second-hand business and ever-expanding living quarters. The adjoining houses, bought one at a time, have all been renovated and are linked by a lattice of boardwalks. Gardens, fruit trees, a playground, and a small pool fill the back yard areas. The front yards are festooned with flowering plants and trees.

While not a true eco-village – food grown in the gardens is supplemented with local shopping, and the community is in most ways plugged in to the urban systems of New York City – re-use and recycling are Ganas’ backbone. Ganas’ two businesses (the other is called "Everything Goes Furniture") rescue "junk" and repair it for resale. And in renovating its buildings the community made use of the lumber and cobblestone removed from a school that was being torn down.

A group of nine people form the core of the community, serve as its Board of Directors, and live communally as a large and deeply committed family. Another 20-25 people live and work in Ganas, but don’t share resources, and a third group of 10 to 20 consists of students, tourists, retired persons, or others working outside the community and paying for their expenses. There is a wide diversity of religious beliefs and ethnic backgrounds reflected in the group.

What unites them all is a commitment to "learning how to learn in much greater depth, learning how to think as individuals and as a group, and learning how to love and accept being loved." Ganas’ experiments with feedback learning involve completely open expression of feelings and on-the-spot performance evaluations – challenging modes of being together that community leaders acknowledge to be very difficult, even for long-time members.

Mildred Gordon, one of the community’s founders, puts it this way: "We live in community to find out if we can become intelligently self-governing individuals." As she freely admits, "that hasn’t been done. What we think stands in the way of a sustainable world is not the lack of opportunity for self-governing but the lack of capability for self-governing." But in spite of this less-than-optimistic assessment, the experiment in feedback and self-governance at Ganas continues.

– Alan AtKisson


ECOVILLAGE AT ITHACA

Population: None, yet.

Founded: 1990

Contact: Joan Bokaer, c/o Citizens Network, Anabel Taylor Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

"Forget about those 50 simple things because they’re not enough! We need a massive overhaul in all of our systems. We need to completely redesign the way we live on the planet."

These are the words that I wanted to say to the anxious woman calling me on the radio talk show in Saint Louis when she called in with a question that had become very familiar to me. "But what can I do?" she asked helplessly.

My usual pocketful of pat answers had run dry. After walking all the way from Los Angeles with a group of dedicated environmentalists on the Global Walk for A Livable World, something snapped inside of me on this particular radio show.

After witnessing so much destruction and poverty to land and people while walking across the country, I was unable to reassure the caller with simple answers. There was so much more I wanted to tell her. I wanted her to know that while the world we live in today was set up all wrong, we now have the knowledge to make it right. We have the capacity to design a society that can be sublimely happy and we can live well with the Earth – so well that natural systems can heal and restore themselves.

Unfortunately, I gave the caller my usual pat answers. But I stopped doing public speaking or media appearances. Instead I spent all of my time designing an eco-village in my head as I continued the walk to New York City.

When I returned to my home town of Ithaca, New York, I found a population both in the town and at Cornell University ready to help design a new way to live on the planet. Very quickly an active group of extremely talented people were mobilized. We are in the process of incorporating as a Land Trust, preparing to purchase land in a rural setting very near the city, and meeting in both working groups and neighborhood clusters to plan and design.

We intend to acquire between 100 and 300 acres of land on which to create a pedestrian village for 500 people. The village will be organized into neighborhood clusters of 15 to 30 households following the Danish cohousing model. The humans in the village will live compactly, allowing much open space for agriculture, agro-forestry, aquatics and wildlife preserves.

By integrating the systems of agriculture, energy and waste management with intelligent design, we will strive toward maximum energy self-sufficiency. By growing as much food as possible near our dwellings and enjoying pedestrian access to work, services, and goods, we will strive to free ourselves of our dependence on fossil fuels.

By balancing autonomous households with the sharing of common spaces and resources, we will honor the need for personal freedom and choice with a lively, highly interactive community life. This arrangement will address many problems that modern families face, such as lack of child care, a chronic time crunch, isolation, and constant economic pressure.

Small businesses, both individual and cooperative, will allow many people to work within the village while others will commute by bus, shuttle, or private automobile to work in Ithaca. By locating near a city that houses a major international and intellectual center, EcoVillage at Ithaca will be accessible to a diverse population representing all ages, socio-economic backgrounds and many countries. It will be a demonstration project which will serve as a laboratory for innovation, be available for study, and teach successful methods to a broader public.

While a master plan will be carefully worked out, each neighborhood will take on its own personality so that much of the EcoVillage at Ithaca will grow organically according to the creative energies of its inhabitants. EcoVillage at Ithaca will be a part of an international network striving to demonstrate the viability of a new cultural framework which integrates caring community systems with a profound respect for the Earth.

– Joan Bokaer

Joan Bokaer was principal organizer of the Global Walk for a Livable World.


THE SWINOMISH TRIBAL COMMUNITY

Population: Approx. 765

Founded: Thousands of years ago.

Contact: Maxine Williams, Coordinator, Longhouse Project, PO Box 445, La Conner, WA 98257.

The Swinomish (SWIN-o-mish) people, located about 65 miles north of Seattle, WA, are working to reverse the effects of decades of oppression, including the economic and spiritual depression that is often accompanied by alcohol and drug abuse. They are working on healing their community, and reawakening the traditions that have sustained it for thousands of years. Michael LaFond and Maren Van Nostrand, students at the University of Washington’s School of Urban Design and Planning, interviewed tribal leaders and elders using a microphone as a contemporary "talking stick" and provided this report. They and their classmates have been working with – and learning from – the Swinomish as part of their research into the design of sustainable communities.

"One day at a time. We’re all striving for the same thing. We all want to have a good life. We all want to provide for our families."

– Virginia McKenzie

"I used to drink a lot. My mother would come looking for me and tell me, ‘Get home to your children. They come first.’ They seen quite a change in me after I became a Seowyn [practitioner of the traditional Swinomish spiritualism]."

– Elfrieda Bailey

"When the young people hear our big drum going they begin to come to our home. They are beginning to show a lot of interest when we do our traditional things.

"We’re trying to get a real longhouse so we and the children have a place to meet. A longhouse is a building with a dirt floor. We also call it a smokehouse. It’s big, with fires in the middle. That’s what our people are wishing for now."

– Isabelle Paul

"The only way to true beauty in any attempt at sustainability is to foster the ethic of empowerment of people within community, for they must live with the end results of any actions taken."

– Ray Williams

The Swinomish Tribal Community, comprised of members of the Swinomish, Kikiallus, Samish, and Lower Skagit Tribes, recognize their 7,000-acre reservation as the resource that binds together their history, culture, and traditions – their very identity.

The Swinomish culture and economy has traditionally centered around the natural resources of salmon, shellfish, camus, berries, and wildlife. To restore this cultural and economic base, the Tribe is involved in several studies and projects. To re-open their wetlands for shellfishing, they are moving ahead with a new wastewater treatment system. They are implementing sustainable forestry practices. A fishing cooperative is being studied that would further allow the Tribe to control and manage their own resources. And a study of options for locally generated energy and conservation has been completed.

There are parallel efforts to bring back traditional spiritual practices. From the mid-1800s until 1910, traditional Seowyn spiritual practices were banned by the US government. By the time the ban was lifted, most of the people and all of the youth had drifted away from the practice. A cedar pole and plank longhouse 130 feet long and 45 feet wide was built as a spiritual and community center. But after years of use, the longhouse collapsed in about 1945. Since that time a few families have kept the practice alive by meeting in private homes. Efforts to build a new longhouse began 30 years ago and are just now about to become reality – ground was broken in June, 1991.

– Michael LaFond and Maren Van Nostrand


THE NORTH CAROLINA BIODOME

Population: 12 (room for 50)

Founded: 1985.

Contact: Hans J. Keller, 184 Shelton Cove Road, Waynesville, NC 28786.

In the mountains of North Carolina, a 50-foot Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome greenhouse rises up from the landscape. Inside, plants and fish (grown in two 10,000-gallon aquaculture tanks) soak up the sun and grow to ripe fullness. Outside, a biodynamic farming operation, terraced organic gardens, forested land, an 8,000-square-foot barn suitable for renovation into apartments, and even a solar-heated swimming pool have all been installed. According to founder Hans Keller’s development plan, the only things still missing at the North Carolina Biodome are the clay tennis court – and the rest of the people.

The Biodome is much more than a dome. It has been designed to be a self-sufficient eco-village, accommodating 50 people and organized around such principles as "all people are equal and free" and "integrity in all relationships." Begun in 1985, most of the building and farm development was completed by 1988. Only twelve people live there now, but a local university also uses the dome for teaching and research.

What are this community and dome – built by a former Swiss hotel executive – doing in North Carolina? Keller reports that he had a "Field of Dreams" experience while living in his native Switzerland: he had a vision of such a community in such a place, and felt strongly that if he built it, the right people would come. "It became clear to me that unless each of us assumed responsibility for our own destinies in particular, and for the fate of the world in general, we were heading towards a host of disastrous scenarios," says Keller. So he quit his job and, without any formal training to prepare him, started to work to realize his vision.

Keller acknowledges that building first and populating later amounted to doing things "backwards" compared to most eco-village development projects. But now the village exists, as if to prove the truth of futurist Kenneth Boulding’s dictum, "Anything that exists is possible." The Biodome, says Keller, is "totally complete. I just built the whole thing. I believe people who feel attracted to it will show up."

Alan AtKisson

Hans Keller also publishes a useful directory called Who Is Who In Service to the Earth, available for $16.95 ($2.50 shipping) from the same address.


Essence And Form

The New Road Map Foundation is a community of financially independent full-time volunteers, living in a large suburban house in Seattle. They sell a cassette course entitled "Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence," and give away all the proceeds to non-profit groups. They also perform numerous service projects. During a recent conversation with Diane and Robert Gilman, long-time members Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin offered this crucial piece of wisdom for prospective community developers. Contact them at P.O. Box 15981, Seattle, WA 98115.

It is absolutely vital in a community to understand, really understand, the distinction between essence and form. The substitution of one for the other is so often a pitfall. Purpose, vision, and reason for being together remain purely at the level of essence. How that manifests in form is almost irrelevant. Things are going to work out fine if there is a clear link between that essence and the forms that emerge from it, whether at the level of projects, or architectural style, or governmental processes, or job distribution, whatever. But when there is a muddying – when the focus is put on forms, unlinking them from the driving spirit behind it all – the problems emerge.

– Joe Dominguez

If you don’t have the capacity to step back into that place of essence, you’ll surely lock horns over things like whether or not we should compost our kitchen scraps. That kind of issue is going to be your downfall. People have to have the capacity to step back from their position, what they think is right, to a place where they are all attempting to see the highest. That’s an essential skill for dealing with other people in community – to let go of being right.

– Vicki Robin

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