Introducing myself and my project, EcoVillage of Ithaca, N.Y.
From: anarres!gaarder (anarres!gaarderTC.Cornell.EDU)
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 93 01:20 CST
In answer to the recent call for introductions, I will try to stop being
intimidated by the magnitude of the task and write *something* about
myself and EcoVillage of Ithaca.

Me: A 40-year-old aging hippie and computer hacker with a family and a
lovely log house in the middle of nowhere, which means I *drive* almost
everywhere.  I've been looking for alternatives to the isolation of the
nuclear family for years, and, to me, cohousing looks like the best
approach yet.  Besides, I'm having my midlife crisis and want to do
something new and daring.

Ecovillage: My standard one-sentence description is "a project to
develop a piece of land in an environmentally and socially sustainable
manner." The piece of land is 170-odd acres of former farm a little ways
outside of the Ithaca, New York city limits.  The land is owned by a
non-profit corporation, EcoVillage at Ithaca (EVI).  The plan is to put
5 or 6 cohousing neighborhoods on it, leaving the vast bulk of the
acreage open for agriculture, conservation, and recreation.  Since a
non-profit corporation can't build housing and stay non-profit, a
separate entity is working on building the first neighborhood, the First
Residents' Group (FRG, immediately dubbed the FRoG), of which yours
truly is a very active member. 

The FRG is like an onion.  At its core are 10 or so households who have
signed a Joint Venture agreement, plunking down $2k and pledging $6k
more.  Next layer out are "FRG members" who are paying annual dues of
$100 or so and have made a commitment to attend meetings and help out
(There are another 10 or so of these, some of whom will probably join
the JV soon.)  On the outside, looking in, are the "waiting list," who
make no particular commitment.  We have a steering committee that meets
weekly, and assorted other committees; the whole group meets twice a
month. The plan is to buy a 30-to-60-acre chunk of land from EVI and get a
neighborhood built by the summer of '95, when EVI has to start making
land payments.  This time constraint is keeping us all quite busy.

We have hired a local developer, a husband-and-wife team, as development
consultants.  This means that they have no equity in the project
themselves; rather, we pay them for their expertise.  They are very
community-oriented and have done quite well so far in adapting to
cohousing and group process.

We have done a bunch of feasiblity and cost-estimate work, and are about
to embark on selecting a development team and putting together a
contract with EVI for the land.  We will be making our first official
presentation to the Town planning board this December,  This is way too
early given where we are in the design process, but the Town is
wondering what we are up to and asked us to appear.

There.  That is, at least, a beginning.  I'll have more to say about
some of the stuff we've done and the hurdles we face later.

Steve Gaarder
gaarder [at] anarres.ithaca.ny.us

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