Many things are unusual about the Village. One of them is the location–because having the location may not be the first thing to do (unless a land owner, seeing the value of the Village offers a deal on a wonderful site we can’t refuse) . There is good reason to feel that, instead, for the Village, the first thing is having an agreement among at least a significant fraction of the 200 founding households on the vision of the village we share. And with that deep agreement we have an edge in preliminary negotiation with the decision makers because the Village promises to be a credit to the jurisdiction in which the first one occurs. That promise will be much clearer if we enter those discussions as Founders together.
It will be on a land parcel of at least 75-100 acres to have space for the common green surrounding the 15-20 acres of the village. (There are other detailed criteria covering access, water, slope, orientation, soil types, etc.) And the land should have some quality that calls to our hearts. We will know it when we see it.
First choice for location of the Village is in Sonoma County, California. Many early supporters of the Village are there, as are many other wonderful people and organizations & possibilities (including employment) for all. However the NIMBYism and regulation seem very strong in this County. So we will keep our options open in southern Mendocino County where we have strong political support already and less regulation and hopefully less unfounded NIMBYism.
Permaculture is a science and an art based on observing and learning from the amazing capabilities of nature how to care for land so it regenerates under human use rather than degenerates. These methods result in land being more verdant, more productive, more beautiful. Because Permaculture looks to slow, sink and store rainwater in the earth, long-dry springs revive. Endangered species revive. Learning from Nature, Permaculture provides for all forms of life and so the land produces more, less is lost to “pests” or disease, and so there is more for humans. And it comes with less work. There is a growing surplus and Permaculture includes the ethics to share that surplus.
It is clear that human land use round the world needs Permaculture. The Village will employ the best of Permaculture to the land in the Common Green around the Village & in the public spaces within. And encourage its use in all private lots as well, for the good of all Life.
Earthen Building Materials
The Buildings (& garden walls) will be of enduring earthen or masonry materials with a preference for low-cost, relatively simple to learn, options such as compressed earth blocks or “super cob” (cob earthen construction with details, materials, and admixtures such as hydrated lime, geopolymers, and basalt fibre mesh for 1,000-year durability). Such advanced earthen materials are fireproof (vital for a dense village), seismically capable (essential in N. California), super sound insulation, thermally insulating, & structurally sound too. They can also be relatively inexpensive, have lower embodied energy and can lend themselves to self-help.
Besides they can be bent to reflect individual aesthetics of the owners, especially if they choose to “owner-build, and by being durable need little maintenance for 1,000 years. And so, by serving generation after generation, (as many ancient villages round the world do) cause very low lifetime impact on the local and global ecosystems.
Only Necessary Design Standards
There will be a set of wise design standards with reasonable enforcement mechanisms which will assure that the village will be beautiful, functional, and comfortable, by for example, setting “build to lines” to assure that the placement of walls and buildings will together form graceful enclosure of the common outdoor spaces—pedestrian streets and plazas and the common green-belt, etc. There will also be design standards to protect in perpetuity, reasonable solar access even in mid-winter for each home and lot.
Freedom of Land Use Changes
However each owner household will have uncommon freedom in making changes to the uses of their lot and home—such as turning a residence into a hotel, or an office, or a store, or a restaurant or back again. This is possible since the usual problems with such use changes do not occur. The earthen construction of buildings and garden walls means no fire and little noise impact of such changes. And with no cars in the village there are no problems with parking or congestion either! Imagine that.