Permaculture Cohousing in Connecticut

AppleSeed Permaculture LLC is proud to join Centerbrook Architects on the design team for Green Haven Cohousing, an exciting project in the West River watershed of CT. In collaboration with the people of Green Haven, the Bethany community, and the local ecosystem, we look forward to bringing permaculture to Connecticut!

Sustainable, low-impact neighborhood planned for Bethany.

Bethany, CT—June 6—Green Haven, Inc., a group of area residents, has obtained an option to purchase a 31 acre parcel on Meyers Rd. in Bethany, where they hope to build a sustainable neighborhood of modestly priced homes.

Green Haven members, some of whom are long-time Bethany residents, plan to live in the community. They will be working closely with the architects, engineers, and contractors to ensure that the development is in keeping with Bethany’s rural character and community values as well as being consistent with the town’s Plan for Conservation and Development. Initial response from neighbors and local citizens has been positive.

The property was previously approved for a 48-unit senior affordable housing development that would have occupied the entire site with suburban-style homes, lawns, and driveways. Green Haven’s vision is for fewer, smaller units clustered around a large common facility, the activities hub of the community.

The multi-generational, family-oriented community will feature private and community gardens as well as small-scale farming, in a pedestrian-friendly layout that encourages healthy interaction. The shared common house may include amenities such as a large kitchen and eating space, children’s playroom, craft rooms, and a woodworking shop, allowing individual residences to be comfortable yet small and inexpensive to maintain.

Centerbrook Architects—nationally known for their beautiful, sustainable, energy-efficient buildings—will be the project architects. They will be working with AppleSeed Permaculture on the plan, with most of the site to be kept as open space for farming, conservation, and recreation.

There are more than 200 cohousing neighborhoods nationwide, but Green Haven’s will be the first in Connecticut. Cohousing is a form of intentional community in which families own private homes and participate in the community’s consent-based self-governance and, if they choose, in community activities.

The Green Haven group has been working for several years to find a site where they can develop their community, and securing the option on the Meyers Rd. property is a major step forward. Their intention is to live as sustainably as possible, with a low carbon footprint, low-impact design, and significant on-site food production. They intend also to participate fully in the wider Bethany community as good neighbors.

For more information on cohousing, visit www.cohousing.org. For more information on Green Haven, visit www.greenhavencohousing.org. The group hosts community dinners twice a month at which newcomers and future neighbors are welcome. The schedule is posted on their blog, newhavencohousing.blogspot.com.

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CONTACT

Green Haven Cohousing – Jack Nork, jack@nork.com, 203-500-2688

AppleSeed Permaculture LLC – design@appleseedpermaculture.com, 845-594-4518

Agile Manifesto Principles & Permaculture

The software development world is doing excellent work to move holistic & dynamic design processes forward. My friend and Gaia University colleague Patrick Gibbs pointed me to an ‘Agile Manifesto‘ for software development, whose principles seem very applicable to collaborative eco-social & permaculture design.

You can find the principles here: http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html

I’ve re-organized them, pulling the most-useful for ecological and social landscape design to the top. I’ve also replaced the word “software” with “outcome” to generalize the ideas. I’ve slightly altered a few of the principles and marked them with an asterisk*. If there is an immediately corresponding permaculture principle, I’ve included it afterwards in (parentheses).

MOST USEFUL FOR DESIGN PROCESS

MOST USEFUL FOR SOCIAL PROCESS

  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. (Pc Principle: Apply self-regulation and accept feedback)
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • Business people and designers must work together daily throughout the project.*

OTHER PRINCIPLES

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable outcomes.
  • Deliver working outcomes frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, designers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.*
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

Several of these agile principles map very closely to the Principles of Collaboration I articulated for my Master’s Thesis at Gaia University:

Fertile ground! what do y’all think? Anybody using similar principles in their design work?