Annual report 2009

From EcoReality

Jump to: navigation, search

Annual reports from other years:

2007200820092010
20112012201320142015

Contents

EcoReality Sustainable Land Use and Education Cooperative Annual Report, 2009

EcoReality from Mount Maxwell.jpg

Thank you for your interest in EcoReality. The following steward's reports outline the activities of the co-op over its third year.

EcoReality was founded in April, 2006, for the purpose of creating an ecovillage on Salt Spring Island. Within days of incorporation, we purchased a 4.8 acre farm on Salt Spring Island, knowing that was but a test-ground for ideas, and that we'd require more land to accomplish our goals.

In March 2008, opportunity struck, and we negotiated the purchase of 37 acres of lovely irrigated farmland with two houses in the Fulford Valley, next to what is slated to become 63 acres of community farmland. Carol and Jan spent our first night here June 3rd, with James, Shannon, Sienna, and Rudy joining Carol and Jan in July, and Morris, Susie Anne, and Jesse joining them in December.

Our ongoing goal is to attract additional members, raise capital, and engage the public and political processes necessary to house perhaps 15 to 30 family units in a sustainable, low-cost manner.

Communication Steward's Report (Jan Steinman)

Process work.jpg

Duties

The communication steward is responsible for acting on behalf of efficient and understandable communications, both within EcoReality, and between EcoReality and the outside world.

This includes:

  • Service as statutory Secretary:
    • keeping and maintaining legal records, such as incorporation certificates and meeting minutes,
    • recording and maintaining legally required information, such as member and investment shares and shareholder information, working with the Finance steward as necessary,
    • taking meeting notes and/or minutes, or seeing that such is delegated and properly executed by a delegate,
    • maintaining and arranging access to public records,
    • filing required reports.
  • Providing mechanisms for organizing, maintaining, storing, and accessing our internal documents, information, and agreements, such as:
    • serving as librarian,
    • maintaining resource inventory,
    • maintaining information infrastructure,
  • Presenting EcoReality's "face to the world," including website, press releases, promotion, and recruiting.
  • Balancing our commitment to radical transparency with the need for personal privacy.

As a servant leader, my job is to make sure our members, Advisory Council, and involved local, regional, provincial and national government agencies, as well as the general public, have all the information they need to work with and within EcoReality. --Jan Steinman 16:58, 28 March 2006 (PST)

Accomplishments

Communications Statistics

Statistic200620072008Change
Home page hits13,31218,12665,438+261%
Meetings page hits12,97015,48296,303+522%
Google references3,1903,2207,940+147%
Emails2,3193,02012,617+318%
Advisory Council72116163+29%
Email List††72116220+90%
Members449†+125%
Apprentices01118+64%
Newsletters4513+160%
Meetings191665+306%
All statistics are cumulative.
† one member left in early 2009, but two more are joining immediately after this report is released.
†† password protected; only available to list members.

Internal Communications

  • We have established a fine-grained meeting schedule, with regular heart circles, monthly members' meetings, weekly residents' and house meetings, twice-monthly teleconferences, and the requisite Annual General Meeting. We are continually pushing responsibility for agreements down to the people with the most knowledge about the situation, making for efficient meetings. It appears that most people find the meetings productive and enjoyable.
  • We have established a rudimentary action item logging system, making it trivial for individuals to keep track of what they've agreed to do.
  • We have established a rudimentary project management system, by which various projects are defined, assigned to a steward, and allocated a labour and monetary budget.
  • We have agreed to a group process steward, who has taken on many tasks that were performed by the communication steward.
  • We have agreed to a guest speaker steward, who has taken on tasks formerly performed by the communication steward and program steward.
  • We held our first annual winter retreat, a week-long time for residents, non-resident members, and guests to strategize and get to know each other better. During this time, we revisited our guidance documents, making minor changes agreeable to all.
  • We established a dwelling equity "vesting" model so that Class A Investment Shares better reflect equity in dwellings and structures.
  • We improved our membership process, formally defining the expectations of prospective member status and formally adding member guides to help prospective members through the process.
  • We applied for three grants, one of which (fencing, north) has been approved, the other two of which are still pending.
  • We began investigation and trial record-keeping toward car sharing as part of the co-op.
  • We agreed on a resident and member labour policy.
  • We "adopted" a dormant non-profit society, Saltspring Ecovillage Education and Development Society (S.E.E.D.S.), and are pursuing charity status.

Outreach

  • Our website continues to be a successful communications vehicle for EcoReality, with a tremendous increase over prior years. We change the home page information monthly.
    • We continue to push the website by posting it in blogs and social networking sites that are focused on sustainability issues.
  • We separated our email list from the Advisory Council, and provided a separate self-sign-up form for it.
  • We published seven newsletters, and (with one slip during our move) have kept the pace of one per month since May 2008.
  • We updated our brochure to reflect our new location.
  • We held a pubic open house at our new location.
  • We held several public and semi-public guest speaker events and workshops, including author Mike Nickerson, natural builder Adam Perry, Cobgirls, facilitation and consensus trainer Tree Bresson, and others.
  • We established a three-person committee to support the Communication Steward.
  • We continue to hold weekly potluck dinners and tours, although attendance is up and down.
  • We hosted tens of guests, visitors, volunteer workers, and prospective members.
  • We issued a number of press releases, and received favourable printed publicity from the Vancouver Sun, and the University of British Columbia Tapestry, as well as the local papers, The Driftwood and Island Tides.
  • The appearance of Carol and Jan in a documentary film, Escape From Suburbia, continues to bring us positive attention, including two new members in the past year.
  • We continue involvement as volunteers with numerous groups in the greater community, including:

Improvement Opportunities

A number of planned initiatives have yet to be accomplished:

  • on-line resources:
    • library search
    • resources inventory and tracking
    • time logging system is partially implemented, but is "guru based" and needs a good user interface so individuals can do their own entry
    • project management system needs improvement and more database support
    • keeping track of agreements is currently tedious, and needs database support

Challenges

  • Labour for doing things is increasingly limited. Our website, email, visitor support, newsletter, and publicity needs have all increased -- but the number of hours in a week has stayed the same! Thus I find I am unable to perform many of the income-generating activities that I did in the past, and the 2009 budget could not provide even partial support for this work as a paid position. This stewardship is not sustainable in the long term without additional support, whether financial, or by factoring off large parts of the job.
  • Our efficient meeting structure sometimes leaves non-resident members feeling left out of agreements that are necessarily part of day-to-day operations (such as approval of apprentices, or agreements about space usage).
  • Although our net membership grew, we lost two new members, due in each case to their inability to fulfil their labour commitment agreement.
    • Although the non-resident labour agreement is only ten hours a month, this is too much for some prospective members.

Future Plans

  • In the next year, we will continue to focus on recruiting and public outreach.
  • Together with our new guest speaker steward, the program steward and I hope to have one public outreach event each month.
  • We will host our first residency educational program, a Permaculture Design Course, 6-21 June.
  • We will continue to be involved with groups in the greater community.
  • More and improved web-based formal mechanisms for project tracking, time logging, etc. will make life easier for all of us.
  • Implement mechanisms for sharing artifacts, such as vehicles, tools, etc.

Jan Steinman


Ecology Steward's Report (Shannon Cowan)

Shannon and Sienna picking apples.jpg

Duties

This steward familiarizes her/himself with flows of energy and matter and practices observation of structure and function of the ecological cycles onsite and surrounding areas. This steward empowers and encourages others to help monitor the ecological cycles, and to contribute to a synthetic perspective of the system.

This steward does not deal with the built environment, but interacts closely with the permacultural processes that contribute to that built environment, and to the edges where it and humans interact with the natural environment at EcoReality.


Accomplishments

Carrying Capacity study

Potential for intensive agricultural production using organic, permacultural methods:

EcoReality (40 acres) has capacity to grow enough food and fuel to feed 29 persons annually. Given water resources, and other natural resources (e.g. building materials), the site also has ample capacity to house that number of persons, or more depending on the degree of integration of the entire 100 acre property, and shared resources with neighbouring farms (including Night Owl Farms – adjacent to West, 83 acres; including Fulford Valley Organics – 80 acres across the main road).

Hughes Farm (including all 100 acres, 36 ha) has the capacity to grow food to feed 81 persons annually.

These values are based on food production only – they are conservative, given that the pure food production footprint was 0.126ha/capita and we doubled this to allow for fuel production, recreation and other consumptive qualities within a per capita complete ecological footprint.

† assumptions: all arable portions in full production - 19 acres in agricultural production and 11 acres agroforestry, with approximately 10% in hay and each field having natural borders and riparian buffers; each person derives 90% of their caloric intake from on-farm produce.


Labour Needs Study

EcoReality (40 ac) needs 18 full time labourers to achieve the levels of intensive organic agricultural production possible onsite (40 acres: 19 in agricultural production, 11 agroforestry).

Entire Hughes farm (100 ac) needs 47 labourers to achieve the levels of intensive organic agricultural production possible onsite.

Improvement Opportunities

The ecology steward sees opportunities to improve regular discussions among all members about ecological relationships at the farm. Although spontaneous goat walk conversations might take an ecological direction, there has been little effort put into learning together what ecological relationships exist in a fun and engaging manner, outside of business meetings and informational sessions. This steward would particularly like to work with other stewards (work party, apprentice, farm, etc…) to develop some ecology-focussed learning activities that fit within the principles of permaculture, especially: observation and interaction. This steward aims to create at least two ecology/conservation-focussed events at EcoReality in 2009.


Challenges

The ecology mandate seems at times to take a back burner to the “people” and “constructed space” focus that is currently high priority within the EcoReality collective.

More specifically, within a conventional scientific view of ecology and agriculture, I see the juxtaposed needs of human housing potentially at odds with the ecological needs of maintaining current field structure for food production. I encourage all members and anyone considering EcoReality’s future land use to consider a broader ecosystem view of this farmsite as part of the Fulford Valley system, rather than limiting ourselves to the 40 or 100 acres. Giving ourselves that perspective, home construction becomes integrated into a system of food production, with food intelligently designed as part of the home-water-energy system, and the need to maintain square farm fields without human settlements within them is reduced.


Future Plans

This steward would like to inspire other members to think ecologically – to make ecology a metaphor for EcoReality’s way of being in the world. Whether it is about personal inner/mental and emotional wellbeing, group functionality and nurturance, or the “natural” ecosystems surrounding us on this beautiful site. Ecological principles that can be recognized, named and practiced in more human realms include: all energy and nutrients (including negative and positive emotions) flow within a closed system and are in fact absorbed/reused by some portion of the system, the whole is more than the sum of the parts, disease/death of part of a food chain causes major re-structuring and changes function of the entire system, and it is a regular occurrence that does not cause system collapse, but instead growth and re-creation.

Shannon Cowan


Finance Steward's Report (Carol Wagner)

Sarah Houdini and Carol.jpg

Duties

The Treasurer is the steward of finances, and speaks for the best interests of those finances, recognizing that money is only a tool.

For example, the steward of a hoe might decide that the best interests of that hoe were in keeping it pristine, in locked storage, never to be touched or dirtied, forgetting that it is only a tool. Likewise, a financial steward might choose to never spend a penny, but invest and grow a group's finances, forgetting that money is but a tool.

That said, the Treasurer is ultimately responsible for the financial health, and that may mean resisting impulsive spending by others.

To that end, the Treasurer's biggest responsibility is to maintain and enforce a budget, which is to be agreed upon by various committees.

Until land for an ecovillage is secured, the Treasurer may also be called upon to manage an acquisition trust fund. The trust fund's money will be "off-budget," meaning it will not be available for the day-to-day operation.

The Treasurer may also be called upon to manage and track labor and other contributions, which are non-monetary credits used to acknowledge contributions of goods, materials, or labor by its members.

In an egalitarian group, the Treasurer is expected to fill a spot on the stewards' council, which is responsible for carrying out policy decisions via consensus. All leaders are expected to act as servant leaders rather than traditional business executives or managers.


My background has been bookkeeping since 1970. For the past 15 years, I have owned and operated my own bookkeeping service. I have been the treasurer for two non-profits. I pride myself in being very detail oriented, and I love to have everything in balance.

As Finance Steward, I will keep track of all the finances in a clear and concise manner. The “books” will be open to examination by any of the members upon written request. I believe in being ethical and right-principaled in my business dealings.

--Carol Wagner 11:21, 19 Apr 2005 (PDT)


Accomplishments

Wow, what a year.

In March, our lives changed when we found out about a property for sale in the Fulford Valley. It looked like it would fit our needs, so we made an offer, and as they say 'the rest is history'.

We then sold EcoReality Lite (160 Sharp Road) and moved about 15 km, to 2152/2172 Fulford-Ganges Road in June. But that is not the end of the story (nor will it ever be).

This new property came with some challenges. We needed to sell Sharp Road to make our down payment, and with the housing market taking a down turn, it looked dicey. Then, at just about the last minute, we had a buyer. Their offer came in quite a bit lower than our asking price, and not wanting to scare them away, we debated about how to counter — too high and they might walk, and too low... well, it was a long, hard discussion sitting on the shoulders of James, Shannon & Carol, since Jan was away leading a two-week Permaculture class. By the grace of providence or just sheer luck, we pulled it off and took a total loss of $135,826.76 on the Sharp Road property.

The next challenge will be making the $800,000.00 balloon payment one year after completion of the subdivision that will make the total acreage about 40. We are trying to not loose any sleep over it, especially since people that were once interested had to back out because of losses from the stock market crash. If it is meant to be, it will happen. And I believe it will!

  • Class A Investment Shares at 31 Dec 2008 are:
    • Jan $430,604.23
    • Carol $430,604.23
    • James $42,681.24
    • Shannon $42,681.24
    • Mark $5,003.26
    • Penny $5,003.26
    • Osha $24,997.70
    • Jan Slakov $11,000.00
  • The balance at 31 Dec 2008 in the checking account was: $4,058.45. There is $46,725.29 in Restricted Funds (capital account). There is also $5.00 in Member Shares at Island Savings, for a grand total of $50,788.74.
  • Income Statement (Profit & Loss) shows Income of $7,087.64 and Expensen of $14,437.48, with a net of -$7,349.84.
  • The Balance Sheet states the Total Assets as $1,929,342.58 and the Liabilities as $1,942,443.77 with Equity as -$13,101.19.

Improvement opportunities

We need to attract more members to increase our capitalization so we can own the property free and clear. This needs to happen in about twelve months, or we will end up being slaves to the banking system.

Challenges

I don't feel like there are major challenges, other than attracting the capital we need to own the property free and clear.

Future plans

To be clear in my communications about EcoReality finances with easily understood reports.

Carol Wagner


Group Process Steward's Report (Shannon Cowan)

Giggle belly.jpg

Duties

Group Process is a category of function that underlies every group action, activity and manifestation of energy. It depends very highly on the individuals in the group and their mental-emotional wellbeing and demonstrated commitment to being “part of a group” whole. The main duty of this stewardship is to “hold the space” for healthy, well-balanced and highly communicative essence of “group” to emerge and be acknowledged.

Specifically, this steward aims to be an observer, catalyst and to shed light and inspiration in situations of gatherings, meetings, work, play and any interactive aspect, including interpersonal relationships between individual members (rather than whole group relationship, which is distinct).

In May 2008, we created the reality of a Group Process steward. During the past 10 months, the steward took her book knowledge (mainly articles in “Communities” magazine about Group Process), and her keen interest in facilitation and group dynamics (since being a summer camp counselor, teacher) to facilitate improvements in group inspiration and possibility for health and success.

Accomplishments

As with many areas of learning and growth, effective group process is nurtured in many ways. As with building a community, “accomplishing” effective group process is similar to accomplishing sustainability – the end point is not something that is ever attained, and the “process” part of group process is where the growth and celebration must inherently lie. The current group process steward suggests that this may be one of the greatest areas for learning for all of humanity, including EcoReality members – how to ‘be’ and ‘live’ together such that we are supporting one another and honouring one another, and also sharing love, resources, and knowledge. This steward sees that facilitating and speaking for “effective” group process is about striving to recognize areas that are “lacking” or “not working” or “in conflict” and bringing them to light so that they can be healed, restoring balance along the path of aliving together.

The steward organized outside facilitation and teaching of “consensus” process that has served to clarify, codify and connect the individuals into a common path for making agreements and listening to one another. It was a mega-hit among our group, and went a long way in establishing the culture we have today. Tree Bressen conducted the workshop. Her ability to listen, to reflect and call others to active listening has unwound our self-barriers a little bit more deeply and gone a long way toward creating the behaviours of trust that will serve this community, inspiring longevity through connections. There was a palpable and spoken air of “celebration” and “togetherness” that was experienced by EcoReality group members after the consensus workshop in September 2008. Many alms of gratitude go to Tree Bressen for her graceful approach, kind donation of time and energy to our group to assist this particular side of group process. The highlight of Tree’s visit, which is something EcoRealitarians mention almost daily when we are all together, was the facilitated heart circle. Thank you, Tree!

During the last 10 months, the steward also studied Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication (Compassionate Communication) and offered three mini-workshops to EcoReality for strengthening and practicing a key element of our shared group values. Our group chose not to host a weekend workshop for Compassionate Communication (aka Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication) at this time, due to the pressing issues of land use planning, public outreach and education and membership, not to mention food growing activities that are so consuming of members’ time. As a result, because it is one of our expressed values, and because this steward wanted to bring it alive in her own life, she began a series of “Compassionate Communication Practice Sessions” held during EcoReality members weekends. We have begun to slowly identify the principles of Compassionate Communication and to engage one another interactively in “mock” practices. For example, in October we looked at “initiating compassionate conversations” and at making “observations” without judgements or criticisms. Then in November, we practiced expressing our feelings (and owning them) and we began to identify the needs underneath the feelings by using reflective time to generate real world scenarios in partner practice and whole group debriefing.

During our first annual Winter Retreat, this steward did not guide a specific Compassionate Communication or “Group Process” exercise, yet there were many instances of informal practice in this area due to the nature of the retreat and its goals. Please see January 2009 Newsletter for an article about the process learning of that retreat.

Celebration

Here is an opportunity to celebrate where we’ve come in our Group Process by highlighting some of the “informal” actions and behaviours of members and the group that were not set in motion by the steward. First, with regard to “effective” group process, the steward acknowledges every member of the group – whether you are a Member or Advisor or Guest/WWOOFer – for your contributions and willingness to embrace the values and vision of EcoReality as your own, whether for a few days, a month or two, or for the long haul. To be willing to live “under the lens” of others, and to be willing to dive deeper to find your authentic voice and share it with us.

Particularly memorable:

  • Susie Anne gets the “Clear Reflector” award for 2008 for her capacity as witness with astounding ability to keep her personal preferences out of others’ conflicts in order to let them “see themselves”,
  • Noj gets the “Willingness” award for her diving in to get to know the group as a member (and knowing her needs and acting accordingly when her situation changed),
  • Sienna gets the “Sweet Cheeks” award for her commitment to touch and cuddles,
  • Jessie gets the “Firecracker” award for her astounding energy and imaginative insights and intellect,
  • Rudy gets the “Strength and Wisdom” award for presence and willingness to serve something greater than his personal “to do list”,
  • Jan gets the “Selfless Service” award for his skill, and willingness to acquire and act (at all hours) on feedback from the group as Land Use Planning and Communications steward,
  • Osha gets the “Compassion and Cuisine” award for her attention to our individual and group nutrition and locavorism values,
  • Justin gets the “Explosive Explorer” award for personal exploration in spirit and on the planet (Peru!) – he brings a lot of energy and invigoration to the group,
  • Carol gets the “Transformation Award” for the dedication and perseverance she is demonstrating in creating personal awareness and wellness,
  • James gets the “follow-through” award for saying what he will do and bringing it to fruition and showing he knows how to ask for help,
  • Penny gets the “Laughter and Courage” award for really opening herself up to others at a deeper level in the Winter Retreat,
  • Mark gets the “Logistics Potential” award for being willing to share himself and his ideas so freely and to be realistic about his current limits for “plate-filling” while inspiring others with the possibilities he carries,
  • Morris gets the “Inspiration and Touch” award for bringing a calm, slow, caring and very physical element to the group.

Improvement Opportunities

Many! Join this steward to work on yourself first: cultivating the inner space so that your interactions with the group are of a higher quality, every day. There is always room for improvement! Join this steward to work on your intimate relationships with family members next. Let the love you share be reflected in your thoughts, words and actions. When that is out of integrity, the work with group is more difficult and suffering resides within the mind. Join this steward to work on group and dive in – to be vulnerable, open, to make mistakes and most importantly to listen and serve the needs of others.

Challenges

Since its move to Fulford Valley from June to August, 2008, EcoReality has added four new adult members (and two more pending). The potential for dynamic change and yet careful integration of “new” members into the existing workable structure of the community was upon us. The challenges of group process more than doubled, when our membership doubled. Interestingly, this steward, as one of the “founding” members, can definitely attest to the fact that the process of “growing” our group has been the most rewarding process since the first “salad days” of the founders falling in love with one another and speaking aloud the values and vision that we all share. Finding others who share those same values and vision, and learning to love them all deeply and work with them effectively, and appreciate them actively has been the greatest gift to EcoReality.

The steward accepts responsibility for presenting personal views here. Speaking for the resource of group process, it is this stewards humble suggestion that these challenges are not taken as criticisms, nor as absolutes, but as beginnings.

At this time, EcoReality group process is challenged mostly by:

  • Individuals asking for help, reaching out to other members before they harbour resentments
  • Joyful expression and “aliving” even in the “hard moments”
  • polarization between resident and non-resident members (despite a lot of compassion and seeking to close the gap, there is a lot of room to work here)
  • polarization of right and wrong behaviours rather than unconditional love and acceptance of other individuals as the foundation for inner personal joy and healthy group behaviours – need for emphasis on agreements as the only common understandings we have to hold onto
  • manifestation of indoor meeting/living space that is experienced by all members and guests to be a true “community” space where all are welcome to be themselves and to behave within an agreed code of conduct, which has 100% buy-in
  • overwhelm symptoms in individuals
  • moving too swiftly through some processes: having high expectations for achievement, some unwillingness to reschedule or to accept the actual pace of physical site development (at the cost of individual and group harmony, at times)
  • remembering to love our neighbours and to honour our vision of the future rather than be stopped or to choose “struggle” in the present

Future Plans

  • personal learning in Compassionate Communication (through local practice groups and possibly a Rosenberg training) and to bring trainers to EcoReality when we see it being a possibility (and so that as our group grows we continue to commit ever more deeply to our values).
  • to engage other members in a Process Team to deepen our growth and facilitate breakthroughs in areas that are still under-developed or “bogged down” – eg. Interpersonal conflicts, how we all view and move together in physical space, both garden, field and indoors
  • to develop relationships with other ecovillage group process practitioners and communitarians

Shannon Cowan


Land Use Planning Steward's Report (Jan Steinman)

2172 Fulford Ganges Road aerial.png

Duties

The Land Use Planning Steward speaks for the overall land use of the ecovillage. This will be an intensive responsibility prior to ground-breaking, but should lessen thereafter.

Duties and responsibilities prior to ground breaking include:

  • In collaboration with all members, coming up with a Permaculture design and site plan, for both built and natural environments.
  • Research, analysis, and synthesis from the Salt Spring Island Official Community Plan and Capitol Regional District Land Use Bylaw #355.
  • Liaison with Island Trust planners to assure compliance with what might be practical in a re-zoning application.
  • Liaison with public officials about needed zoning and bylaw changes.
  • Prepare and deliver presentations to public officials and at public hearings.
  • "Shepherd" the re-zoning through the process.

As Land Use Planning Steward, I intend to integrate Permaculture ethics, principles, and design patterns with the Salt Spring Island Official Community Plan and the local Land Use Planning Bylaw, to come up with a sustainable land use plan that has the greatest possible chance of getting through the re-zoning process. -- Jan Steinman 17:25, 8 April 2008 (PDT)


Accomplishments

The major accomplishment of EcoReality land use planning has been the move from our "starter ecovillage" on a 4.8 acre site in a gentrified residential neighbourhood to a permanent home on ~40 acres in the farming community of Fulford Valley. This was an all-encompassing task for many of us last year!

As part of due diligence toward that move, we did a lot of research on the soils, hydrology, history, regulations, and neighbours of the new site. This research and observation phase of land use planning is certain to continue to be the major such activity for some time: good Permaculture design stresses observation for a complete turn of the seasons before even beginning design.

Other accomplishments have been more mundane, such as the erection of some 2,000 feet of deer fencing, planning a multi-purpose buffer between us and the road, planting of perennial berries, beginning construction of a woodshed, and garden planning.

Finally, Shannon, our Ecology Steward, completed two studies that will be of great importance to our land use planning: a peak labour needs study, and a carrying capacity study. Since we are in the Agricultural Land Reserve, our ultimate legal habitation will be regulated by our labour needs; since we live on planet Earth, our ultimate sustainable habitation is determined by our carrying capacity, regardless of what the Agricultural Land Commission says.

Improvement Opportunities

Land use planning is a serial process. We've not even fully completed the land acquisition phase, so it's difficult to imagine improving the process at this time. The next phase of planning will have different needs than the phase just past.

However, we know we're going to have to become better communicators, so that fellow residents, non-resident members, investors, prospective members, interested parties, regulators, and the general public all have a clear and accurate picture of what we want to do.

Challenges

Many of our biggest hurdles appear to be regulatory. The building codes that apply to multi-storey apartment buildings in downtown Victoria also apply to woodsheds constructed of natural and salvaged materials on Salt Spring Island, and the health and safety regulations that we are subject to, also designed for the needs of downtown Victoria, are in direct conflict with the sustainable practice of returning borrowed nutrients to the soil.

These are but two examples of the public education process that we need to engage in order to influence public health and safety regulation to come into the realm of sustainable practices, rather than being based on the assumption of infinite growth and energy.

Future Plans

In 2009, we plan to begin to produce a progressively detailed land use plan, derived from a Permaculture design, that includes structure siting (including habitation), earthworks, waterworks, and food and energy systems.

This will necessarily be an incremental process — if you aren't doing incremental development, you're going to get excremental results! Expect the full land use planning process to be intense over several years, before declining to a background maintenance level of activity.

Jan Steinman

Share your opinion


blog comments powered by Disqus
Personal tools
Get our newsletter!
Name:
Email Address:

disturbance
entry points
help (off site)
This server and other EcoReality operations are 100% wind powered, with energy from Bullfrog Power. You can be, too!