Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Vist to Narara Ecovillage

We are excited to finally find ourselves at the Narara Ecovillage.  Having visited and volunteered at so many ecovillages in Europe and Asia last year, it is great to find one we can identify with taking shape right on our doorstep.   Narara, in the Gosford Council area, is only an hour’s drive north from our home in Hornsby.  But what is an ecovllage?  Robert Gilman defines it as “ A human-scale, full-featured settlement in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world in a way that is supportive of healthy human development and can be successfully continued into the indefinite future.  An ecovillage can be constructed in both an urban and rural environment.  What we love about Narara is that it aims to appeal to mainstream Australia, creating a place that is appealing and sustainable, intergenerational and economically viable. 

The project at Narara was the dream of Lyndall Parris and her husband Dave.  A couple of years ago, this dream became a reality when they bid for the 100 year-old Gosford Horticultural Institute at Narara.  The chattering of birds accompanies us wherever we walk and we learn there are about a 100 different species of birds here.  A few hawks hover overhead as we walk up the hill to take in the breathtaking views of the bushland on the site that people in Stage 1 will enjoy.  Heritage buildings, a    Vegie beds and the fruit trees in the orchards are already hinting of the promise of this land for eventually achieving food security.  Just on the edges of the land is a pocket of rainforest with bunya pines that seemed to stretch up to the sky—a magical space to reconnect both with yourself and the natural environment. 

Dams, orchards, greenhouses, abandoned offices and heritage homes are all part of the property, so the potential to making this a thriving, vibrant, sustainable place for people to live is huge.

As we listen to a description of what Narara will offer by Toni, a resident here, we learn that all three elements sustainability—social, ecological and economic—are equally important elements in the vision for this model village.  I am excited to hear about their integrated water cycle approach and the fact they have a water supply on the site—a beautiful freshwater dam.  They will have state of the art systems for their black and grey water and also harvesting rainwater as needed.  Part of the site is a floodplain but they plan to use the area for agriculture rather than residential development which is a very sustainable use of such land.

They plan to have solar panels on buildings as well as a solar farm and treat their waste onsite.  Shared cars, a community bus, bikes and parking cars on the periphery of the property are other ideas   In addition, the site is within walking distance from the rail station.  So often we have found ecovillages situated in areas that are completely cut-off from existing infrastructure and towns, so it is exciting to realise the location of Narara is ideal.  
on the agenda.

They also have great ideas for local businesses from cafes and a supply shop to offices that people will be able to lease.  The sense of community has already been created and I get a great vibe from the group.  Yet, it is the human connections that are often hardest to solve.  We learn a little about the system of dynamic governance that they practice here which is different to a democratic process or that of consensus decision-making.  The idea of sociocracy is making sure everyone has a voice and is heard and that the decision that is reached is one that each person can live with. 

For both Steven and me, the current system of living in the suburbs is no longer working.  We are looking forward to living a more simpler life, making connections with like minded people, being resilient to the changes in life that are inevitable because of climate change, peak oil and other global   We want to live a life that has a smaller footprint but at this stage of our life we are also looking to be more mobile. To contribute our skills to far away communities, while living in these places temporarily.  It is exciting to find a community who are taking their destiny into their own hands, working together to achieve a more resilient future without looking toward government for all the solutions.  We have signed up to be part of this network and have already made connections with some of the people we met.  We are looking forward to learning and growing with this ecovillage that is just taking shape and watching the landscape be transformed by a group of thoughtful, motivate people who have made a conscious choice to live differently.

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