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Whatever happened to Ahimsa Ecovillage?

Posted on December 15, 2010 by ari

Ahimsa Ecovillage was a vegan ecovillage project Shira and I were working on in 2008 and 2009. In fact, we moved to back to Ithaca with the intention of founding and living in this ecovillage! We still get a lot of visitors here looking for it, but it doesn’t exist anymore – it turned into a whole lot of other interesting projects that met members’ needs in other ways. Here’s what happened…

We started auspiciously – after a post in the Intentional Communities directory and some mailing list setups, Forbes magazine caught wind of our plans and interviewed us! We attended a cohousing workshop at Ecovillage at Ithaca and discovered that we wanted a far more grassroots, organically-built project than the traditional cohousing model could offer us – we wanted to use salvaged materials to build our own hobbit-houses, basically.

After that we stopped just dropping into Ithaca from NYC and we made the move. We worked with Club Veg and the Ithaca Area Vegan Meetup Group and other local vegans to get out the word, and shortly thereafter, we formed a core group.

The core group read Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities and had exciting and inspiring consensus-based meetings at which we discussed our personal goals and group vision and values, as well as zoning and building and legal issues. We learned a lot! For instance, did you know that there’s a rich history of communal living in Tompkins County?

By June 2009, we had created a vision statement that we could all stand behind. We were:

An egalitarian vegan community inspired by Gandhi’s invitation to be the change we wish to see in the world. We create spaces for activism and cooperative education, and strive for accessibility, sustainability, and solidarity with all species.

Notice it doesn’t say anything in there about forming a community? At that point we had all realized that while we had a shared vision, we didn’t have enough collective resources (money, time…) right then to make it happen as a residential project. However, the core group brought what we learned to our supporters – if anyone else in the area wants to form a vegan ecovillage and feels ready to embark on that journey, we’ll still gladly pass on everything we gleaned from our process.

Though we didn’t form an ecovillage specifically, we did form a community. The members of the core group are all still in contact and some of us collaborate on projects together. Share Tompkins continued and built upon the community-building gatherings and spirit of mutual aid that we cultivated with Ahimsa. Vegan Ithaca was borne from the old Ahimsa website – we were keeping track of local vegans and that blossomed into this community directory. And communal households have sprouted up, with Ahimsa folks living together or branching out and finding new housemates. We ourselves live with our friend Isaac, who was a core member.

What did I learn from the experience? I think that Patch Adams, in his Foreword to Diana Leafe Christian’s Creating a Life Together, can say it better than I can:

Community has made everything in my life easier and has allowed me to have huge dreams, inconceivable without community. The skills I’ve learned, practical and human, seem infinite. My love for humanity has thrived and expanded. Nothing about community has been easy, but it all has been fun. This is the work for political activists who want to live their solutions. If we are to survive as a species we will do so learning the ecstasy of community. We do have to get together.

If you want to form a vegan ecovillage – or any sort of ecovillage or intentional community – do it! Hold a meeting, or make a listing on ic.org, and see what happens. You too just might find that it’s more about the journey than the destination. But even if it doesn’t turn into a circle of hobbit-houses or whatever it is you envision, it will enrich your life and give you new connections – and a new faith in the power of humans to create positive, enriching, sustainable community, in all of its many forms.

Related posts:

  1. Ahimsa Ecovillage
  2. An update on Ahimsa, our vegan ecovillage project
  3. Spreading the Word About Ahimsa Ecovillage
  4. Radical Solidarity Ecovillage
  5. Ahimsa evolves, and an a-frame emerges


3 Responses to “Whatever happened to Ahimsa Ecovillage?”

  1. Really Really Free Market this Friday | Shirari Industries
    July 3rd, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

    [...] “Whatever happened to Ahimsa Ecovillage?,” about the project we were working on before w… [...]

  2. Ken
    December 9th, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

    Thanks for this information. I had been wondering what happened.
    My best to all of you

  3. ahimsa | The Eutopian
    February 24th, 2014 @ 1:44 am

    [...] ♥ Share [...]

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