September 18, 2001

Living Lightly

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Members of the Ithaca community were given a first hand look at EcoVillage, a cohousing development outside of the downtown area, as EcoVillage recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with tours of the development, workshops, and homemade vegetarian meals.

A cohousing development is a cooperative community where residents share common land and facilities and work together. Usually a cohousing development has between twenty and thirty homes built clustered together around the shared land.

The EcoVillage Cohousing Cooperative (the first neighborhood of three to five at EcoVillage) was established in 1992. According to Liz Walker, Director of EcoVillage, Ithaca was chosen as the site of the cohousing development because the original director was involved at Cornell with the Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy (CRESP).

“We thought it would be a really good thing to have what is essentially an educational project affiliated with Cornell in some way,” Walker said.

The First Cohousing Neighborhood (FROG) was finished in August 1997. FROG spans three acres and is home to around ninety residents. It was the first cohousing project to be completed in the state of New York, and the twenty-fifth to be completed nation-wide.

In 1996, the Second Neighborhood Group (SONG) began planning. The new neighborhood is slated to be finished in 2002.

EcoVillage residents are committed to living a more ecologically sustainable life. According to Walker, there are a number of ways they have achieved this goal.

The first and foremost is the preservation of the land. EcoVillage is built on 176 acres of land that was supposed to be developed into a typical subdivision, where Walker said 90 percent of the land is used and only 10 percent is left untouched.

“What we are doing is taking the same piece of land