Urban ecovillage developers
and activists meet in Cleveland

On August 8, 2003 a group of urban ecovillage developers and activists from the eastern half of the country gathered in Cleveland to discuss the progress of their urban ecovillage projects.

Jim and Eileen Schenk, cofounders of Seminary Square EcoVillage in Cincinnati (via conference call); Jacob Corvidae, from Detroit EcoVillage; Orion Kriegman, a Harvard Kennedy School graduate student who spent the summer researching ecovillages; and Manda Gillespie, EcoCity Cleveland's Cleveland EcoVillage project manager, met as representatives of the Urban EcoVillage Steering Committee of EcoVillage Network of the Americas.

Afterward, they addressed more than 35 people at a public brown bag lunch speaker series event at the Cleveland Environmental Center and toured the Cleveland EcoVillage.

One of the tasks the group set for itself was defining, what exactly is an urban ecovillage? The group identified the following ways to describe some of an ecovillage's features:

  • An ecovillage is a process, not an end state.
  • An ecovillage is place-based, small-scale, and deals with integrated systems.
  • An urban ecovillage is different from other ecovillages. It's connected to the larger community, not isolated. It bridges divisions of race and class. It offers real alternative ways to live that are convenient and affordable. And it is a real demonstration of possibilities.
  • In the Midwest, urban ecovillages are envisioning post-industrial places.

In addition, Gillespie offers the following definition: An urban ecovillage is a group of people working to create a model neighborhood that supports sustainable living, promotes human and ecological health, and develops so that it can be economically just and culturally diverse. These urban efforts usually include redevelopment projects or brownfield improvements as well as aspects of greenbuilding, urban agriculture, permaculture design, alternative energy, co-housing, land trusts, non-profit support, adaptive re-use and historic preservation.

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EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2003



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