CRCS will be moving in several new directions this year, which we think will be of interest to a wider audience than just those of us interested in financing clean energy. We’ve been focusing more on communities in the past year, and on the values and vision that led to our mission, to assist local communities and neighborhoods to become more resilient in the face of the widening impacts of a changing climate.
We are proposing to work with one or two towns in New Jersey on their revitalization and self-renewal. Culture actually holds the key to greater local resilience, alongside the physical transformation of communities into eco-communities. And organization is what’s needed to transform culture. We are planning to create “civic cooperatives” that will lead these communities into a positive self-generating future. Many communities are today experiencing decline, or struggling to ignite a self-renewal, within the broader context of the need for a world for a world that shifts carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil. The cooperative model has proven itself to be more enduring, more beneficial, and often more valuable to communities than the conventional marketplace business model.
Our main focus at this point is building out New Jersey PACE, an open-market platform for commercial PACE deals anywhere in the state. The critical amending legislation (A2579/S1510) passed at the end of June; we are now waiting for the front office review and the Governor’s signature. In the meantime we reviewing and revising parts of our web presence to make them more accessible and self-evident. We anticipate a significant backlog of projects once the law is signed, and we want to make the process as easy as possible for everyone to understand and implement.
At the same time, CRCS as an engine of change is continuing to evolve new projects – some our own, built on or around the PACE model; and some from others, such as Dr. Delton Chen’s Global4C project, which is attracting worldwide attention. We’re gradually getting into various models of “fiscal sponsorship” for organizations and projects that we see as compatible with or related to our mission. In most cases — such as our Regenerative Cohousing initiative — our goal is to bring these projects in-house, under our own umbrella; but in a couple of instances we may support fledgling organizations until they get their own IRS exemption.
Finally, we’re exploring further opportunities for individuals to profit from the transition to renewable energy — from the bulk purchase of green energy, the installation of solar with no upfront cost to the property owner, to the use of PACE in underserved communities and distressed neighborhoods. Stay tuned.
Steve Welzer, EcovillageNJ.org
There is a featured article today on the editorial page of the New York Times about how cohousing might be a desirable option for single people. It ends, though, by saying: “. . . homes that combine privacy with community and sociability . . . that combination sounds pretty attractive for anybody . . .”
The article should have mentioned that there is no such option, yet, in the whole New York metropolitan area! That’s why we’re confident that, if we can get our ecovillage built, there will be considerable demand to purchase units and become part of such a unique community.
Here are excerpts from the New York Times article:
While many single people are quite happy to live alone, it’s not always easy. When Kate Bolick first lived in her own apartment, she said, “it felt unbelievably exciting to be simply living by myself and master of my own domain. But then maybe at around the seven-year mark it started to feel kind of repetitive and lonely.”
While we’re working hard on what we expect to be an avalanche of PACE projects once the new law is passed, we’ve been giving serious consideration to where and how we might want to live during this next few years of our lives. Like many others in our age group, we’re officially “empty-nesters,” and are looking to live “more lightly” on the land. We’d also like to be part of a genuine community, where we have deeper relationships with our neighbors, and can work together to bring about more rapid social change.
This has led us to a growing interest in intentional communities, ecovillages, and cohousing. The most practical and least controversial of these is cohousing, where a small neighborhood of 10-35 families share a large common facility, and live in smaller-footprint individual homes around this common space
Cohousing itself is not new; pioneered in Denmark in the 1970s, it was introduced into the U.S. by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett more than 35 years ago. There are more than 700 cohousing neighborhoods in Denmark today, many in other European countries as well as Australia and New Zealand, and close to 150 in the United States, with another hundred or so in various stages of development.
New Jersey is something of an anomaly in having no completed cohousing developments. In our view there is considerable interest and potential for development. And it is a uniquely appropriate vehicle for the kinds of “regenerative community solutions” we are seeking to introduce to NJ communities in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.