Category Archives: Community

NJ PACE 2015 Summit to Focus on What’s Possible for New Jersey

The theme of this year’s New Jersey PACE Summit is “PACE: what’s possible for New Jersey?” The subtitle gives part of the answer: “Resiliency • Clean Energy • Jobs”— these are the major elements of the story, that will be explored at the conference. And there’s more to it as well — PACE can provide regenerative community benefits, support new technologies, and foster new approaches to the global challenges of our times.

PACE, which stands for “Property Assessed Clean Energy,” is redefined in NJ’s new amending legislation to include “the purchase, lease, or installation, or any combination thereof, of renewable energy systems or the energy produced by such systems, energy efficiency improvements, water conservation projects, flood resistant construction projects, hurricane resistant construction projects, storm shelter projects, or safe room projects, undertaken by property owners on properties within a municipality.”

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NY Times Feature on Cohousing

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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.”

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Developing Regenerative Cohousing

regencohousingWhile 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

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.

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NJ Ranked 34th State in Terms of Wellbeing

As noted in NJSpotlight (Feb. 20, 2015), New Jersey was ranked 34th out of 50 states in the most recent State of American Wellbeing index of the 2014 Gallup-Healthways Index report. The study takes into account how people feel about their life’s purpose, social and financial life, physical health, and community.

According to the NJSpotlight story,

The two areas in which New Jersey severely underperformed the rest of the country were purpose and community. Purpose was defined as liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve goals. In this area New Jersey only ranked 43rd. And New Jersey’s leaders should take serious note of the ranking of 48 for community. This element was defined as liking where you live, feeling safe, and taking pride in your community.

This clearly underlines the need for the kinds of “regenerative community solutions” that we’re seeking to foster through our nonprofit. And it also shows how poorly NJ’s economic and political class are doing in serving the needs of the state overall.