PAST EVENT: Together on the Land Tour 2010
Amazing Variety of Green Living Options
Together on the Land Tour increases in popularity despite wet weather
Franklin County, MA – Twenty-seven intrepid community seekers spent a full Saturday traveling the rainy hills and valleys of rural Franklin County together to explore what it takes to build sustainable and affordable housing in community. Some came to meet new people, others to get ideas for projects back home – but all left with a sense of greater possibilities.
The tour highlighted the fact that there is more than one way to build ecological community. From zero-net energy private homes built in existing neighborhoods, to new communities created on community land trust land – tour goers spoke with residents who explained the pros and cons of their community housing models.
“I enjoyed learning about the different models and options available. I also found the people who lived at the sites to be very knowledgeable and inspiring!” said one attendee.
The Together on the Land Tour began at the local food cooperative, Green Fields Market, with a facilitated discussion led by Lynn Benander of Coop Power. When she asked people to rank what was most important to them – sustainability, affordability or community – most people ranked them equally. Those present wanted to find a way to balance all three options, not settle for one or another.
After the opening discussion, the participants then traveled in three rented vans to meet homeowners at a cohousing community, a zero energy home, a scattered site low-income housing cooperative, a community land trust property and a protected farm with on site housing. When asked what their favorite part of the tour was one attendee said, “Speaking directly to the people and seeing what they’ve done – they’re inspirational.”
Registrations for the 2010 tour exceeded 2009 registrations by at least 10 people, proving that interest in ecological living is strong. One of the tour organizers, Megan McDonough, speculated on this ongoing interest, “I think the housing bubble has proven to a lot of people that something is seriously broken. The cost of land and houses has been driven by speculative markets for too long. We need to refocus on creating homes that work – for individual budgets, community dynamics and the ecology of the earth.”
To facilitate ongoing discussion, information about tour stops and resources for community building have been posted at www.vclt.org. Adam Grandin of Colrain said he was amazed by the variety of community living options right here in Franklin County, “We would have needed at least another day to visit the other great places that could have been on the tour.” Tour cosponsors hope to plan another tour in 2011 to explore more intentional communities, coops and land trust properties.
Cooperative Development Institute, Coop Power, Equity Trust, Franklin Land Trust, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust & Valley Community Land Trust
Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) is the Northeast's center for cooperative business education, training and technical assistance. CDI's mission is to build a vibrant co-operative economy through the creation and development of successful co-operative enterprises in diverse communities in New England and New York.
Co-op Power is a multi-class, multi-racial movement for a sustainable and just energy future, with regional councils in Southern VT, Boston, Franklin County, Hampshire County, and Hampden County.
Equity Trust is a small, national non-profit organization committed to changing the spirit and character of our material relationships. We help communities to gain ownership interests in land and other local resources, and we work with people to make economic changes that balance the needs of individuals with the needs of the community, the earth, and future generations.
The Franklin Land Trust, founded in 1987, works with landowners and communities to protect the farms, forests, and other natural resources significant to the environmental quality, economy and rural character of our region. FLT has helped hundreds of families leave a legacy of conservation; dozens of farmers reach their potential and grow their family farms; and connected thousands of contiguous acres of woodland and wildlife corridors.
Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust protects significant natural, agricultural, and scenic areas and encourages land stewardship in North Central and Western Massachusetts for the benefit of the environment, the economy and future generations.
The Valley Community Land Trust (VCLT) is a non-profit organization that holds title to land, considering it neither as private nor public property, but as a sacred resource to be held in trust for present and future generations. Land held in trust by VCLT is made available to the community for affordable housing and sustainable agriculture.
Collective Copies Print Shop for their donation of copying services for tour flyers and handouts. Collective Copies was founded in 1983 by recently unionized workers from a long-gone copy shop. Committed from the start to worker-ownership and collective decision-making, Collective Copies remain the only worker-owned cooperative copy center in the nation. http://www.collectivecopies.com
Franklin Community Cooperative for their food donation for the tour. The Franklin Community Cooperative is a cooperative selling quality goods to promote health and build a sustainable local economy. Their stores include Greenfields Market on Main Street in Greenfield and McCuskers Market in downtown Shelburne Falls, MA. http://www.greenfieldsmarket.coop/
The Valley Advocate for their media sponsorship. The Valley Advocate is a free weekly magazine that provides news, arts & entertainment information for the Pioneer Valley.