Ultimately, a sustainable future comes through a paradigm shift—social, environmental, economic, and cultural—that a growing percentage of the human population knows we need to make. Deep in our hearts, we know that there is a positive alternative future at stake—one that promises a stronger connection with nature and beckons with the warmth of community. But to reach this positive future we must act on this choice today.
–Liz Walker, Choosing a Sustainable Future
Hart’s Mill embodies this imperative. We seek to integrate and sustainably regenerate the dimensions of community, economic, and environmental well-being. Here are some of the ways we are doing this to actualize our visions and values:
Ecovillages are communities in which people feel supported by and are responsible to those around them. They provide a deep sense of belonging to a group. They are small enough that everyone feels safe, empowered, seen and heard. Members participate directly in making decisions that affect their own lives and that of the community on a transparent basis.
Even though we are not yet a residential community, Hart’s Mill members spend a lot of time together! Circle meetings, social events, work days on the land, field trips, and collaborative projects abound, providing ways for us to know each other and share ourselves, our values, skills, creativity, and resources. The Principles and Intentions that express the foundational values of Hart’s Mill infuse and inspire everything we do. Our vision—to live in justice and harmony with each other and the land—is calling us to deepen our individual and group commitment to environmental reform, racial equity and social justice.
Our sociocratic governance structure and methods help us to collaborate and communicate in ways that build resilience, capacity and trust. The opportunity to be involved in such a meaningful, adaptive and evolving process with others brings inspiration and satisfaction.
We believe responsibly balanced and fair economic exchange is fundamental no matter where you live. We further adhere to the belief that so long as the local is in balance, so, too, can be the global.
Though residents of Hart’s Mill will be responsible for their own livelihoods, we will foster the ability for residents to earn income through land- and home-based enterprises. As a limited-equity housing cooperative, our aim is to share ownership in a way that maintains long-term affordability and accessibility for young people, families, and retirees on a fixed income. We plan to produce much of our own food, energy, and fiber, thus reducing our dependence upon market-based economies.
We aim to finance ourselves internally as much as possible to create a locally managed and self-reliant economy to meet many of our mutual needs and to foster employment opportunities reflective of the distinctive tastes, interests, skills and personal preferences of our members. While money (lots of it!) is required for this village to succeed, we anticipate that living in community will also bring rich benefits that money cannot buy.
We are committed to long-term restoration and stewardship of the land, protecting it from exploitation or speculation. Conservation, regeneration, and respect for the land’s resources are core values of our development approach. Specific elements concerning water, waste, energy, materials, and transportation are outlined in our approved site plan. They include but are not necessarily limited to:
Stormwater: A low impact approach to stormwater management will maximize collection, storage and redistribution of rainwater in ways that minimize runoff and soil erosion. Our plan far exceeds the minimum requirements for new development.
Water efficiency: Demand on regional water supply will be minimized by utilizing ultra-low flow fixtures and a variety of conservation practices. To the maximum extent feasible, water that is collected onsite will be used for non-potable onsite uses.
Wastewater: Wastewater will be responsibly handled onsite with a carefully designed and monitored subsurface drip dispersal and irrigation system. Domestic wastewater volume will be minimized through use of efficient plumbing fixtures and water conservation practices.
Energy: High energy efficiency is embodied in all aspects of our practice – from transportation, building construction, to heating/cooling. This is a key objective for Hart’s Mill. Building standards will go well beyond minimum building code requirements to incorporate super-insulated building envelopes, passive solar orientation and features, daylighting and seasonal variability. Solar thermal and photovoltaic generation will further reduce non-renewable energy use.
Materials efficiency: Green building materials will be utilized including certified renewable, recycled, recyclable, reusable, and locally/regionally sourced products. Solid waste will be minimized through onsite solutions such as composting and recycling of not only mandatory recyclables but also comprehensive collection of all recyclable and reusable materials.
Indoor Quality: Building products, design and construction techniques will be selected to provide comfort, well-being, and productivity of occupants, especially for indoor air, thermal and lighting quality. This will include reduction in volatile organic compounds and other air impurities, and control of moisture accumulation/water intrusion that could lead to mold growth and other microbiological concerns.
Transportation: Hart’s Mill will actively promote ride sharing and plans to maintain at least one community-owned vehicle, thereby reducing the need for residents to own extra private vehicles for occasional use. The community will endeavor to provide many opportunities for multigenerational onsite living and working that minimize the need for commuting, running errands, and seeking entertainment and other social needs off site.