Vision and Principles

Vision

A community of people dedicated to living in harmony with each other and with the earth, exploring together ways to live more sustainably and joyfully.

More on Our Vision

We share an understanding that all of life is interconnected and sacred, that many ecological systems are being threatened, and that we need to find ways to live more simply and justly. Each of us plays a vital role in the health of our community in how we use resources, permaculture principles, and community-building practices. We welcome the inspiration and healing that comes from something greater than ourselves. We look for opportunities to further social, economic, and environmental justice within the EcoVillage and beyond.

How We Bring Our Vision to Life

We practice living with limited use of non-renewable resources, responsible use of renewable resources, and maximum recycling. We integrate the people and the land in a way that preserves and enhances the diversity, resilience and natural fertility of the earth. Permaculture principles are woven into our way of living and interacting (social relationships, village design, building methods, edible landscaping, food forests, raising of animals, and more).

Our abundant life comes out of the authentic relationships we build with one another: through our shared purpose, valuing our diversity, and taking responsibility for the gifts and challenges we each bring to community. We are committed to the use of practices that offer everyone a voice including consensus-based decision-making and NonViolent Communication (NVC).

We share most of our land in common ownership, including ample gardens, orchards, and a small forest. We also share a common house, shops, greenhouses, tools and other facilities and resources. We frequently eat meals and celebrate life events together. We maintain natural habitat for wildlife, revere nature and celebrate the seasons.

We are an open community and welcome visitors. We find ways to share what we are learning with others. We serve as a model for the potential of living more sustainably and welcome new and innovative ideas as we continue to evolve.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mandala

We were introduced to the concept of the mandala process for identifying goals through a workshop led by Robina McCurdy, co-founder of a community in New Zealand, who works internationally in community development and permaculture design.

A mandala is a circular design which, in this context, is a tool for diagramming an intentional community’s core values, principles and attitudes, and activities. It is our hope that by agreeing on our core values, our principles and attitudes will naturally grow out of those core values. And likewise, our activities and structures on the land will be in alignment with our principles and attitudes in each topic area.

We have found this process to be a way of grounding ourselves in our core values and defining our principles and attitudes as we plan our specific activities and structures on the land. We have found it relatively easy to agree on the core values, while it has been more challenging to translate those core values into principles we can articulate and specific activities we can agree to carry out. When questions arise around a controversial or confusing topic, it has proved to be very helpful to return to the mandala for guidance.

NVC and Consensus

Respectful communication within a community can sometimes be a tricky, complex issue. Everyone having a different perspective on what it sounds like, looks like, etc. There are a number of different models out there for peaceful communicating. Here at PTEV, we have chosen Nonviolent Communication (NVC) as our starting point. It doesn’t mean that this model is the only one that we use to resolve conflicts or deal with difficult issues. It does mean that we are committed to practicing and using this model with each other whenever it is appropriate.

In NVC, we first observe what is actually happening in a situation: what are we observing others saying or doing that is either enriching or not enriching our life? The trick is to be able to articulate this observation without introducing any judgment or evaluation—to simply say what people are doing that we either like or don’t like. Next we state how we feel when we observe this action: are we hurt, scared, joyful, amused, irritated, etc.? And thirdly, we say what needs of ours are connected to the feelings we have identified. Finally, we address what we are wanting from the other person that would enrich our lives or make life more wonderful for us. (Abstracted from from Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion, by Marshall B. Rosenberg, pp 1-7.)

At the PTEV we have chosen Formal Consensus as our decision-making process. Methods of decision-making can be seen on a continuum with one person having total authority on one end to everyone sharing power and responsibility on the other. The level of participation increases along this decision-making continuum.

We believe that it is inherently better to involve every person who is affected by the decision in the decision-making process. This is true for several reasons. The decision would reflect the will of the entire group, not just the leadership. The people who carry out the plans will be more satisfied with their work. And, as the old adage goes, two heads are better than one.

Permaculture and Sustainability

Permaculture is a set of techniques and principles for designing sustainable human settlements.  The word, a contraction of both “permanent culture” and permanent agriculture,” was coined by Bill Mollison, a charismatic and iconoclastic one-time forester, schoolteacher, trapper, and field naturalist, and one of his students, David Holmgren.  Mollison says the original idea for permaculture came to him in 1959 when he was observing marsupials browsing in the forests of Tasmania, and jotted in his diary, “I believe that we could build systems that would function as well as this one does.” (Excerpted from Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway, pp 4-5)