by Helen Morgan
In northwest Italy, close to the French border, a stunning medieval village has been restored to create a small, self-sufficient eco community. Residents cultivate nearby land and live within the beautiful stone buildings otherwise known as Torri Superiore. The thirteenth century village stands amidst a lush, green valley overlooking plots of land scattered between the hamlet and a river.
This is exactly the sort of thing I proposed for our communities. It would work perfectly in a place like Taos Pueblo. For those concerned about preserving our traditional communities, here’s how the Italians did it:
The project incorporated eco-friendly principles and materials while ensuring that the village retained its traditional elements. The renovation used local stone, natural lime, and natural insulation, so the original aesthetic remains wholly unchanged, while wooden windows and eco-friendly paints compliment the buildings.
The completed eco village uses solar panels to produce hot water and renewable energy, and there are also composting toilets for the residents to use. Working as part of the GEN Global Ecovillage Network, the community is developing its permaculture goals with several organic permaculture gardens and fruit orchards.
Solar energy and composting toilets are unintrusive and could be thoughtfully positioned. No wires crisscrossing above. No digging up the pueblo grounds to lay a sewage system. Making these changes would breath new life into the village. Families would be better able to pursue a traditional lifestyle in their family homes in the village. You could actually make a living out of your traditional home, farming outside of the village walls and plying a trade within them. Wouldn’t that be nice? Just like the old days.
A place like Klukwan in southeast Alaska already has electricity, but pays as much as $.78 per kilowatt hour. Outrageous! Wind and micro hydroelectricity should be a good solution. Maybe even biomass. The river provides food. The surrounding area could provide even more, as the region once supported a population of as much as 1,600 people at one time. Heavily insulated, highly energy efficient Tlingit homes along with some small scale manufacturing and we should be set to live a comfortable, traditional lifestyle plus a few modern conveniences. Incorporating Tlingit art and architectural design into modern homes would be icing on the cake.
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