The following presentation, by Zev Paiss, was given at Etopia Eco-Village in the virtual world of Second Life, about solving real-world problems.
My talk will focus on how creating and living in modern-day eco-villages can be part of the solution to the challenges we all face around Global Warming.
I want to address first the issue of Global Warming.
Much of the conversation is around who is to blame for this problem and I want to state from the start that I do not feel that matters at all.
There is abundant proof that the earth is in a warming trend, as it has done several times in the past.
Whether humans have "caused" this phenomenon I believe is not an important question at this point.
The question in front of us today is what are can do to about it? I see there are two parts of this question.
The first is, "What can we all do to reduce our impact on this issue?" This includes reducing our carbon output.
The second question is "What steps do we need to take to adapt to the changes which we will not be able to eliminate?"
So first off, what is an eco-village? According to the Global Eco-Village Network…
"An eco-village is a human scale, full-featured settlement which integrates human activities harmlessly into the natural environment, supports healthy human development, and can be continued into the indefinite future."
To achieve this, eco-villages integrate various aspects of ecological design, permaculture, ecological building, green production, alternative energy, community building practices, and much more into their design and operation.
Etopia is designed to be a showcase for all of these ideas and, in addition, a place where Real Life Businesses can have a home to offer their goods and services. It is an attempt to bring real life sustainable solutions into Second Life.
Eco-villages include a Social and Community aspect in which people feel supported by and 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. People are then able to participate in making decisions that affect their own lives and that of the community on a transparent basis.
They have an ecological dimension, which allow people to experience their personal connection to the living earth.
People enjoy daily interaction with the soil, water, wind, plants and animals.
People provide for their daily needs - food, clothing, and shelter - while respecting the cycles of nature.
The Cultural and Spiritual dimension of an eco-village respects and support the Earth and all living beings on it.
Residents encourage cultural and artistic enrichment and expression, and include a wide variety of spiritual practices.
Here is a listing of Eco-Village Design Concepts
1. Multiple Uses: As much as possible locations, objects, and resources are designed to serve more than one purpose.
For example, the recycling containers you see scattered around the Island are also herb-growing containers which are available for harvesting by anyone.
2. Mixed Uses: Within a two-minute walk you will find businesses, homes, food production, wild areas and recreation.
3. Local Sustainable Materials: The materials used in an eco-village lean towards the use and reuse of material that are gathering whenever possible, from local sources.
4. Human Scale: The height and scale of the buildings are kept in proportion to people so visitors and residents do not feel overwhelmed by their surroundings.
It is not an accident that the tallest objects on Etopia are the trees and Eagle Mountain.
5. Permaculture Landscape: The landscape within an eco-village is rich in low water and edible plants.
Fruit trees not only provide shade but an abundance of locally grown food.
6. Energy efficient Design: Homes and offices are designed to capture as much natural sunlight as possible and are built to minimize heat loss in the colder months.
7. Multi-modal transportation: One of the key aspects of an eco-village is to offer a variety of sustainable transportation options and to emphasize walking, biking and mass transit.
In Etopia we have the Magnetic Levitation train and the aerial gondola as the main modes of transportation in addition to walking and biking.
8. Community Gathering Places: The creation of authentic community is encouraged by the numerous places for small and larger groups of people to easily gather to play and socialize.
So, I hope all of you can see, that by incorporating these changes into our communities we can have a significant effect on the amount of carbon we pour into the atmosphere.
This is why I am committed to helping transforming the way we live into clusters of eco-villages as a solution to the challenges posed by global warming.
Since I suspect that the vast majority of us do not live in an eco-village in Real Life, there is a book I would like to recommend to all of you.
It is called Superb - 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods; the author is David Wann.
This book list 31 ways that you can make changes right where you live to help make your neighborhood more sustainable - environmentally, socially and financially.
I strongly suggest getting a copy of this book as a first step for making changes right where you live. You can find a link to the book in my LK store here on Etopia facing the Comunit Garden.
By incorporating these concepts into the renovation of our towns and cities and in the creation of new ones, we can help reduce the need for fossil fuels and it's effect on Global Warming.
In addition, living more sustainably will help insure that our children's children will have a healthy world to live in.
Thank you very much for your time and I have saved the rest of our tie together for questions and comments.
Over the past 30 years I have been involved in a variety of sustainable development activities including, solar design and construction, biological wastewater treatment facility design, and sustainable neighborhood development.