By Elizabeth Straub | The Daily Tar Heel
Christian Stalberg is seeking residents to create an ecovillage — a community that would share common land, farm organically, use its own currency and be located about 10 minutes west of Chapel Hill.
Stalberg said he hopes to begin construction on a community that would house up to 100 people on 100 acres of land in the Efland area by the end of the year, after clearing the project with the county.
The community would use little energy, provide affordable housing and make decisions based on general consensus, he said. It would also use environmentally and socially healthy practices to create a sustainable way of life.
“It’s also an effort at replacing the alienation of our common society where you don’t know your neighbor,” he said.
While the community will be new, it is not the area’s first intentional community — a group formed on purpose by people who share common values.
Arcadia Cohousing, a community in Carrboro, was also created by people who agreed to work together toward a common goal.
“Here in our Arcadia community, our focus is around learning how to be a good neighbor and learning to share resources,” said Becky Laskody, an Arcadia resident.
The group that formed Arcadia was created in 1991 and built its community on 16.5 acres in 1994.
||Arcadia Cohousing is a pedestrian-oriented residential cohousing community on 16 areas about three miles from the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill. “It’s a really great place for kids because its safe… They know everyone so they feel comfortable,” Elisabeth Curtis said. Curtis has lived in the community since it began in 1996.
Instead of the traditional neighborhood road, a central sidewalk connects houses in Arcadia, leads to a community garden and passes by a common house — complete with kitchen, library, and guest rooms. Some houses are joined and all are located close together.
Stalberg said if approved and built, the ecovillage will contain similar features, including a common house with community resources, and will also raise organic crops and livestock to feed residents.
“We would like the ecovillage to be as food self-sufficient as possible,” he said.
Stalberg said the community would use natural materials and energy-efficient methods to construct homes ranging from 100 to 400 square feet .
Arcadia was also designed with the environment in mind, providing access to solar power and protecting the surrounding woods, Laskody said.
“It’s also important for folks to see that there are different ways to create neighborhoods,” she said. “We don’t have to stick with the usual model that developers offer.”
Like the planned ecovillage, Arcadia uses a democratic decision-making process that allows all residents to get involved. While residents may abstain from voting, those who participate in voting must all be in accord for the decision to stand.
Steven Fisher, an Arcadia resident, said he values Arcadia’s respect for privacy and of the individual’s choice to get involved in the decision-making process.
Fisher joined Arcadia because his wife had multiple sclerosis and needed a house to fit her needs.
“I was interested in having the opportunity to design a house that would suit her,” he said.
Elisabeth Curtis, another resident, joined partly to participate in a social experiment — to see if people can live so close to one another.
“If we can’t do it here, what hope is there for the rest of the world?” she said.
Laskody added that living in an intentional community helps develop interdependence.
“Though it takes extra work … you gain a lot from the sharing that you do with other people.”
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Published January 29, 2012 in City