20 Biggest Eco-Developments

We’re compiling a list of 20 of the largest eco-developments on Earth for our research. Scott will take this list and work to speak with the founder of each project to learn about what has worked and what didn’t. We’re seeking advice, looking for any key that can open up new doors.

Here’s some of our ideas for the list. Help us build the list! Please post ideas for additions and omissions to this list.

  1. Eden Project
  2. Damanhur
  3. Loess Plateau
  4. Villages of Lareto Bay
  5. Bamberton
  6. Findhorn
  7. Arcosanti
  8. Tamera
  9. Kovcheg and the Russian Ecovillages
  10. Crystal Waters
  11. Civano
  12. Hanham Hall
  13. Village Homes
  14. Gaviotas
  15. Naturfarm
  16. Ecovillage at Ithaca
  17. The Farm
  18. Bedzed
  19. Auroville
  20. The Village (Ireland)
  21. Living Earth Village!
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We’re Ready for Volunteers!

If you joined us on our first community conference call on Sunday, thank you! It was a great call. I’ve received many very exciting and enthusiastic responses. Many people shared especially how impressed they were with the incredible diversity of talents, skills, and experience represented in the group. We introduced ourselves and began to lay the foundation for Teams that will help create every aspect of Living Earth Village. In order to move forward in the most time-efficient and and effective way with these teams, we’ve created a platform with a third-party service. This platform will make it very easy for you to join a team, learn about the other team members and the team’s goals, and collaborate in the co-creation.

Some of you indicated which team(s) you’d like to participate in during the call. To join any of the teams, please follow the links below and request to join the team. We will add you to the team as quickly as possible so you can get started.

Once you’re in, you’ll see how easy it is to share information, files, and share in the discussion. It’s a great platform for us to get together and co-create. Again to join, click on the link(s) below:

Business Development Team – Responsible for business and financial strategy, business planning, and strategic networking for investment recruitment.

Philanthropic Enrollment Team – Responsible for non-profit and for-profit grantwriting and philanthropic enrollment.

Design Team – The Design Team’s goal is to direct and execute the design of every component of Living Earth Village. This involves creating conceptual designs, contributing drafts and sketches of various components, and identifying and hiring professional designers and engineers to contribute their expertise.

Outreach Team – Designs and delivers the public face for Living Earth Village that will attract our residents, talent, and money to bring this dream into physical form. Includes web presence, social media, publicity, graphic design, networking, and live event production.

Due Diligence Team – This is an action-oriented team with the mission of uncovering any skeletons that might be lurking in the closets of the property we’ve chosen. This is a very important team that will help ensure the success of LEV!

Major Assistance Needed Now! In addition to and support of the above, we would love to receive the following assistance!

  • Money! Some startup funds of $50,000 will help launch our major membership and fundraising drive, create our legal and accounting structures, and help secure our target property. Any assistance you can provide on any level now will be a huge boon to the cause.
  • Web ZenMasters! Anyone who could help us – paid, unpaid, or with deferred pay – to develop our major membership and fundraising drive with sound strategy and execution.
  • Grant Writers! LEV is one of the biggest scope projects out there with potential to raise major funding – with the right non-profit leadership. We’re seeking grant writers and non-profit leaders to consult with us and help us to attract a significant portion of our $400MM+ budget.

Thank you very much for all your loving support!

Much love,
Scott McMahan and Family
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Our Awesome Update – 9-14-11

Hello!

It’s been several weeks since we’ve had an update so here it is. I’ll try to make it short, sweet, and hopefully inspiring.
  1. Our land: I hope to meet next week with the sellers of the land we are targeting. I have a clear proposal for them and I am optimistic that we’ll be able to come to an agreement that will enable us to publicize the location in our fundraising efforts. There are a total of 3000+ acres we are targeting with very good water rights and an extremely shallow aquifer. The property has a great, mild 4 seasons climate at 4500 feet elevation in Arizona with great accessibility to nearby towns. The average rainfall in the area is above 15″.
  2. Our vision: With the increased amount of land available, we have expanded our vision to include 800 family domains on 2.5 acres each and 1000 dacha garden plots on .25 acres each with a 400-600 acre Commercial Village that will be designed to attract and support 2000+ visitors/day. The latter is very exciting: a permaculture, eco-regenerative, and healing theme park featuring a giant dome greenhouse like this that doubles as our wastewater treatment facility for the dachas and the Commercial Village while producing high-value tropical agricultural products in a rainforest biome. In the last few weeks I have made many inroads with various designers and architects and the overall design has clarified significantly. The aim of the commercial project is to create a space where entrepreneurs, artists, healers, teachers, farmers, musicians, inventors, builders, botanists, actors, craftspeople and more can thrive financially sharing their gifts with the world – without having to own a car. I am happy for this vision to continue to evolve and change as the community comes together to make it happen.
  3. Our finances: I’ve had some amazing meetings this week. One of them was with a developer who has 30 years experience developing some of the largest sustainability-oriented projects in North America. At the beginning of the conversation he said there is no money available anywhere and he’s not looking for any new projects and at the end of the conversation he said if we are successful with #4 below he would LOVE to be our developer/master planner and make a sincere effort at helping to raise some capital. If we do choose to work with each other his experience will add a lot of credibility to our project and should facilitate all of our fundraising efforts. The other conversation was with the CEO of a firm that represents a special class of foreign investors. It was very promising, he said our project is an ideal candidate for the type of financing he works with, and he indicated that we could get 65% of our development costs, up to $150MM or even more (we have to have the other 35% in equity first) with favorable terms. This is hugely exciting! It’s not at all set in stone but his firm has successfully completed many projects in the range. The result of this is if we raise the first bit of money ourselves, the second 25-30% could come from any of multiple sources (I have other leads I am pursuing as well and who knows what else we can come up with as we come together).
  4. So this is our next step: It’s time for us to come together and form our community! Let’s have our first telephone conference in the next few days. The goal of this meeting is to meet the folks who are sincere in their desire to create their Space of Love in this future town. We’ll discuss a strategy for self-funding the acquisition, master-planning, and first phase of domain development so we can move onto our land within a year or less of raising the seed money. Our target is $2.5MM and I know we can do it.
So we’d love for you to join us on our first community teleconference! Follow the instructions on this link to register:  http://www.agreeAdate.com/908468466DC2A7660418DCD1765C3D80C0
You are most welcome to share this message with anyone who you think might be interested.
Much love to you,
Scott and Family
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A Home without Electricity

All the homes in Living Earth Village will be off the electrical grid. That means there are no electric lines through the community and each family may decide if they will use solar and/or wind power to produce the electricity they require or if they will create a home without electricity.

In our family we’ve been debating our approach to electricity on our domain for months. Here’s how we’re envisioning our home.

Our home will be built into the side of a hill with south facing windows. As we’ve learned about passive solar technologies – allowing the energy of the sun to naturally heat building interiors and water and cause convection currents for air circulation – we’ve become enamored with the potential of tapping into the almost ever-present energy source in the Southwest with systems that can last hundreds of years and have no moving parts.

Perhaps the best way of describing our envisioned home is from the vantage point of how we currently use electricity where we live now.

Most of our electricity use goes towards heating and cooling the home. The earthship concept demonstrates how a building with excellent insulation on the roof and all sides except south can be kept in the 70s year around with only passive solar heating and cooling.

There are many technologies for achieving a very low-electric or electricity-free home and my favorites are those that could have existed 100 years ago. These don’t require plastic, utilize infinite supplies of energy (gravity, solar, wind, and human), ideally have no moving, touching parts that can break down, and certainly are not computerized. Examples are solar water heaters, dehydrators, and ovens; solar-convection earth tubes; ram pumps; root cellars; and pedal-powered appliances.

With the exception of the computer, these examples above can eliminate the need for refrigeration, cook stoves and ovens, electric blenders and food processors, and even washers and dryers.

Ironically, the one electric device that seems most difficult to live without is also the first one to be invented: the light bulb. I know there was a time people used to read and write by candlelight and maybe I’d adjust to that, but when I’ve tried it I’ve found it’s not so easy. I’m sure an elegant solution will present itself.

What about computers and the internet? After all I’m using one now. Our community center will have internet access and a wireless network for those who choose to use it. If my working life requires it, I’ll build a separate small solar-powered office building, or perhaps rent an office in the community center. Personally I look forward to the day I won’t have to stare at a screen and I intend to ultimately create a lifestyle that has nothing to do with computers.

As people living in the United States, the country with the easiest and cheapest electric grid in the world, it might seem kind of crazy to choose to live without electricity. After all, it’s so convenient to be on the grid! It’s like a drug that seems to have only benefit with no harm. What could possess us to want to live without it?

What we have to gain from living without electricity or with minimal electricity that can be supplied with a couple solar panels is a huge chunk of freedom. Financial freedom in the sense of eliminating electric bills and repair and replacement costs of appliances. Environmental freedom in that our lifestyle is no longer contributing to doing harm to our planet. Time freedom in that just about every electric device we own consumes some of our time and attention.

Emotional and health freedom is the most significant. Can you imagine living in a home without electrons moving the speed of light through wires that are buried in and surround every room? How peaceful and quiet would it be? Would it be easier to relax? Would you find it easier to be happy? For me the answers to the above questions are yes, very, yes and YES! Our homes should really be our sanctuaries, places that naturally rejuvenate us on a profound level. Designing them without the use of electricity, at the very least in our bedrooms, will move us significantly towards that aim.

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A Day in the Life

I had a lucid dream of a day in my life in Living Earth Village. When the dream began, I was waking in my bed in my home at the start of a new day.

I looked up to the ceiling, which was dome shaped. There was natural light as dawn was breaking. My bed was empty and my beloved was up already. The house was silent – completely silent, without the hum of electricity or electric appliances. There was no clock in my room. The room was furnished simply with hand sculpted wood chests that were built into the walls. I got up and walked out of my bedroom.

I found myself in a kind of great room of three conjoining domes. The walls were hand sculpted with beautiful designs and mosaics in them. My feelings in this space were incredible! I could feel love emanating from the walls, from every grain of earth of which it was built. I had the feeling that I had built the house with my own hands and the hands of my beloved and our children. To say we built the house is inaccurate. We allowed it to come into being. It had its own life force.

Looking back on it now, the house did not have electric wiring at all, and the resulting energy field was incredibly pure and free of stress. Likely it was constructed similarly to an orgone accumulator, with layers of organic and inorganic materials and decorated occasionally with crystals, agates, and other beautiful stones. More important was our feelings as we worked on it. We worked only with joyful, loving feelings and those feelings were contained in the house for its whole life, radiating them for anyone who could feel it.

The house was built so it would not require air conditioning or heating. I felt as if it were partly underground. There was a wall of windows on one side which was probably south.

I stepped outside and was greeted by the most incredible green environment, glistening with dew in the rising sun. There were trees all around. I was so excited by what I saw! I could feel a strong connection with every plant, that they were actually greeting me, specifically, with bright feelings. The plants themselves had some level of consciousness and they actually seemed happy that I was in their presence! My feelings were so bright and joyful they felt foreign to me. I have not experienced such elation in my whole life like I felt in that dream garden.

I exploree the space and I gradually began to accept these blissful feelings as my own. The sounds of the space – all the birds and insects, bees pollinating the flowers – hummed in a rhythm that seemed to communicate directly with the rhythm of my heart. There was a pulsating vibration in every plant that I could sense also.

I began wandering along a path, breathing deeply. Now that I immerse myself in the vision I imagine the smells were just incredible! I found berries and tasted them as I continued exploring the garden. Their flavor was so much more than I expected. A blueberry, for example, tasted like a blueberry, but better. It was alive, concentrated, and had some quality that gave me happy feelings.

I heard singing and play and came to my beloved and children around a wooden cart. They were harvesting with their arms full of fruits and vegetables. They smiled at me. Just smiled, no words. There was no need for words – we expressed everything with our eyes.

They had prepared a picnic breakfast of their harvest on the grass and we sat in a circle. Conversation began and it was lively! Everyone talked about their intentions for the day with such excitement. The children had their own projects and goals they were sharing. I had the realization that I could create absolutely anything – I was truly unlimited – and it was simply up to me to decide.

After breakfast, my beloved asked me to take the cart to the market and so I did. I met neighbors on my way and we greeted each other with adoration. There were many of us with similar carts loaded with beautiful produce. We arrived at the market, which was humming with more bright feelings and enthusiastic activity. It was incredible to me, how sincerely happy we all were. Everyone I met, without exception, was exuding bright feelings. Everyone was smiling with eyes shining.

There was a simple method for checking in every person’s harvest. The people who “worked” at the market greeted me as friends and neighbors and I could tell they were there only because it was what they most wanted to do.

There was some sort of celebration going on and I felt invited to partake. It turned out to be simply a celebration of the day’s harvest and the start of a new day. It was still early, I felt, and I was excited about all I was to do.

I enjoyed mingling briefly then moved on. I was walking into my day, some big project I’d been working on that I was very excited to continue developing. It was then that I awoke, smiling and surrounded by bright feelings.

I’d love to hear your dreams and visualizations. Feel free to share them here. How do you imagine your life in your Space of Love in Living Earth Village?

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Consciousness of a Tree

Some trees undeniably demonstrate consciousness. My dad’s peach tree is such a tree. He has other peach trees at his place, but one of them is very special. It produces hundreds of pounds of some of the most incredible fruit, sure. And that’s not what makes me believe it has its own consciousness.

This tree has an incredible ability to give with love. The blossoms on this tree are its first gift. Deep, bright pink and you smell them even before you see them. The sight of this tree in blossom literally warms the heart. I don’t think it’s possible to look at this tree without experiencing bright feelings. Every year I literally rejoice at the blossoms.

The tree has been minimally pruned over the course of its life, and still it has a perfect shape, sending its branches far out to the sides with very little vertical growth so the fruit is easy to reach. Assuming there is no freakish late, violent frost (like there was two years ago that wiped out 95% of the Verde Valley’s stone fruits), this tree starts loading its branches with fruit. My dad doesn’t get around to thinning the blossoms to make bigger fruit and still the tree produces giant clumps of large fruit.

This tree wants to give of itself so dearly that it burdens its branches with fruit nearly to the point of breaking. It does this on faith. My dad cares for this tree to an extent I don’t think he’d admit. I’ve seen him checking on the tree throughout the summer. With tender feelings he props the branches up so they won’t break.

And when the peaches come he picks as many as he’ll eat then invites family and friends to come over and harvest. These are the kind of peaches that you remember longingly every time you eat a store-bought peach. I don’t know if he’s conscious of it, but my dad sends this tree loving thoughts throughout the year. We peel, pit, and freeze them to make pies and cobblers in the winter and this tree receives rays of love throughout the year.

The more love this tree receives, the more it gives. Taste one of these peaches and you’ll feel how it gives lovingly with all its being.

Not every peach tree is like this. Sometimes it might be the overly hybridized genetics, or where it is planted (too much wind, not enough sun, not enough water) that makes some trees just not so exciting. Sometimes it is how it is planted. The feelings of the person planting it and the care taken in its planting could significantly influence the tree. Or it could be the amount of loving care the tree is given during its life.

I imagine every tree in Living Earth Village planted with highest intention, brightest feelings, and great care. Every tree, whether it bears fruit or nuts, flowers, edible leaves, or builds soil and microclimate for the benefit of other species, will work beyond its “normal” capacity to create a great Space of Love for all of us. We’re envisioning planting 2,000,000 or more trees in Living Earth Village. Imagine the potential of what we are creating: nutritionally, environmentally, economically and psychologically on the whole of the few square miles of land and every resident and visitor. We can already see the radiant glow surrounding us.

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Lessons from the Loess Plateau

This is a profoundly inspiring documentary – one of the best we’ve ever seen in fact. It tells the story of the Loess Plateau, an area of about 250,000 square miles, about the size of Arizona and New Mexico together. The rehabilitation project took place on about 13,500 square miles.

the Loess Plateau was completely desertified and poverty-stricken in the early 90s, when the World Bank went in to help seek a solution. It had been vastly overgrazed and there was no organic matter in the soil. The images in the video represent an area with few trees, little grass, and roaming sand dunes.

What the World Bank did, which was brilliant and is also the core concept of Living Earth Village, was to ensure that the people had ownership of their land and also agreed to accept responsibility for it in specifically described and understood ways. This required 10 years of educating villagers one village at a time.

They implemented many of the same permaculture concepts Living Earth Village intends to use, including earthworks construction of dams, swales, terraces, and reservoirs to help the earth utilize the majority of the rainfall, rather than allowing 95% of the water to run off and erode topsoil in the process. They designated certain areas, especially the steepest slopes, to be agriculture-free forest zones. They planted millions and millions of trees and broadcast seeds in the new terraces and future croplands. And because the people owned the land, they also worked very hard at it. Much of the massive earthworks project was done with shovels, picks, and hoes.

The results are stunning. To look at the area, which receives (or at least did before the project began) about 20% less rainfall than the land Living Earth Village seeks to acquire, it’s a desert that has become jungle. The peoples’ lives have become prosperous. Their incomes have risen 3-fold on average, their nutrition has improved remarkably, and you can see joy on their faces that wasn’t there before.

My favorite quote of the movie is when one resident said it used to be they had dreams that never came true. “Now our dreams cannot keep up with the changes that are happening.” The smiles on the residents are deeply touching. I felt the love the people had for their land and trees in the way they worked the land.

Although not nearly as extreme, there are many similarities to the area Living Earth Village is targeting. There are about 1000 acres of land on the property that is overgrazed and unproductive rangeland with very few trees or even weeds. The slopes are very gentle, and still no work has been done to effectively utilize rainfall. The topsoil is mostly sand and devoid of organic matter, so the water just runs off and carries the silt off with it. There are many areas that will be ideal for ponds and lakes, and many gentle slopes that can be terraced. We plan to invest heavily on the earthworks on community lands and the Commercial Village and equipment will be available for hourly and daily rent by the residents if you choose to implement earthworks by heavy equipment rather than handtools.

We also intend to heavily amend the soil with minerals, organic matter, and bio-char. This will speed up the process significantly while sequestering even more carbon into the soil, where the sequestration becomes permanent and increases the soil’s ability to absorb and retain water.

The property we target also has a grazing lease on 11 square miles of neighboring public lands, and our long-term vision is to work with this land to provide the state with a model for creating truly sustainable and prosperous forest throughout the higher elevations in the state, rather than the pine and juniper desert that occupies most of the high desert. We feel this could change the climate of the whole region, potentially increasing rainfall, humidity, making the temperature extremes more mild, and reducing fire risk.

Watch this video with Living Earth Village and the American Southwest in mind. We hope you find it as inspiring as we do.

If you prefer to see a shorter edit that doesn’t include the human stories on the Loess Plateau and also shares projects in Ethiopia and Rwanda, watch this.

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