Reader Opinion by Stephanie Hiller —
Australian author Ted Trainer, an advocate for a more earth-based culture, writes, “We cannot keep up the present levels of production and consumption and resource use for long… people in rich countries have these high ‘living standards’ only because we are taking much more than our share of the available resources and depriving the majority.”
But what does this mean?
For many people, it suggests something primitive, like living in caves. That’s appalling. What about that 60-inch TV screen you just bought?
Radical change is frightening, especially when it means total disruption of our way of life. We’d rather believe George W. Bush’s dictum that “the American way of life is not negotiable.” We’d rather read a dystopian novel than face the fact that dystopia is where we’re headed, and that the chaos we are seeing swirling in Washington has sprung from our own preference for amnesia. But that’s what is really scary, not the disruption of choosing a simpler life.
Life in an eco-village might be just what we need. And the Sonoma Developmental Center, which will be vacant at he end of this year, is that opportunity.
We’ve already passed the heyday of post-industrial society, when houses were cheap, and when we had two cars in the garage, a nice little yard, a Formica kitchen, and a washer and dryer. The whole system is completely out of whack, and commuting an hour each way, or maybe two, to keep up the payments on the house, the car, the student loan, the credit card, just isn’t so much fun any more. And being reminded every day that the planetary catastrophe is all our fault doesn’t help.
We didn’t know that our comfortable cars, our air-conditioning, and our half-pound steaks were going to destroy the world. But now that we do know, it’s time to do something different.
Here in Sonoma Valley we have an opportunity to come together to build a more ecological lifestyle. We can demonstrate that changing our way of life to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water, and pull down carbon from the atmosphere is doable. And it could even be more fun than what we are doing now.
Imagine the transformation of the old campus into a thriving community, where people commute less because they are busy creating their DIY lives at home, growing and sharing farm-fresh food, taking care of children, riding bicycles, living in sustainable houses, and working in the many local businesses that will have sprung up to serve the community. .
Creating that kind of community is what the eco-village movement has been about for decades. Its earth-based technologies are being put to use in cities and towns all over the world. Eco-villages are not communes filled with barefoot hippies any more.
Blessed with a gentle climate and a healthy economy, and embraced by open space, we are in a unique position to create a replicable model of a planet-friendly affordable lifestyle. And maybe just in time to save ourselves from imminent catastrophe. What better place than here?
The mission of the Eldridge EcoVillage Association is to raise community support for a new story that our local governments could be persuaded to support.
Years ago, Buckminster Fuller wrote, “To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” This is the model.