Silvergreen is designed according to a certain philosophy, and it is expected that the people who choose to live in this remarkable community will probably subscribe, at least to some degree, to this philosophy.
This philosophy is one for the planet, not just for our small ecovillage. We are building this ecovillage with a certain design pattern that we hope will be replicated at larger scales of development.
1. Land care and conservation
Most important is the way we use the land. By allocating at least half the land for natural wildlife and vegetation, we preserve the ecosystem that is necessary for the overall health of the planet. Having a high tree population ensures our oxygen supply and acts as a carbon sink. Furthermore, native vegetation also provides food and shelter to wildlife, which is both enjoyable and serves to further expand the biosphere.
At this time, it is not enough to simply use the land in a "neutral" way. We have taken so much from Earth that for at least the next 100 years we must strive to put something back at every opportunity. Hence we will actively rehabilitate previously cleared sections of land by planting thousands of native trees, and nurture the ecosystem until it becomes vibrant, full of life, self-sustaining and healthy.
Unlike most housing developments where the developers slice a piece of land up into blocks, Silvergreen will be owned by the whole community. It will not be accurate to say "this bit is mine and that bit is yours". Rather, any resident will be able to stand on any part of the site and say, "I'm a part owner of this". This will change the way people think about the land, and hopefully everyone will take responsibility for all of it instead of just "their bit". This is one of the most important ideas that we hope will spread across the whole planet.
In these historical times, literally anything can happen. Most human communities, at least in Australia and other industrialised nations, rely on centralised statewide or national "grids" for water and energy supplies. Similarly, we rely on farms in rural areas to provide food for the large population centres.
There are several problems with this setup, some of which are becoming very apparent.
With regard to water, low rainfall means that our dams do not hold an abundant supply for the population, hence water restrictions. By producing our own water on-site through a combination of rainwater harvesting, purification and recycling, we become free of that constraint. Our water will also cost considerably less because we will not have to pay for the energy and infrastructure embodied in town water. Most importantly, if the state water supply fails for any reason, we will still have plenty of high quality water.
Similarly with energy, apart from the environmental benefits of producing our own electricity using entirely non-polluting methods, we will be ensuring our electricity supply in the event that the national grid fails.
Because of the drought, more of our food supply needs to be transported over longer distances. Combine that with rising fuel (and hence transport) costs, and the price of fruits and vegetables will continue to climb. By growing our own food on-site, we will save hundreds of dollars per household per week.
To put it simply, if civilization collapses tomorrow, at least our community will have a supply of water, food and electricity.
3. Physical Health
It is our belief that physical health mainly comes from:
- drinking plenty of pure, chemical-free water
- eating plenty of fresh, whole, organic foods
- breathing plenty of fresh air
- having plenty of space to play in and enjoy the sunshine
Our ecovillage will be set up to provide all these things and more. Whereas town water contains chlorine and other chemicals, our drinking water will be highly purified and very healthy. Similarly, our food will not contain pesticides or herbicides, but will be fresh, whole produce, organically grown in well-designed permaculture gardens. Being slightly outside the city, and in an environment where there is plenty of trees will mean lots of sweet fresh air, too.
4. Mental Health
Happiness and joy mostly come from positive interactions with other living things, including humans, plants and animals. An ecovillage is designed to provide all of these. Living in Silvergreen will mean being part of an extended family of around 50 friends.
Unlike a typical suburban street where neighbours do not even know each other's names, everyone in Silvergreen will know each other personally - it will be inevitable because of the regular community meetings and activities, and the community centre which is shared by the whole ecovillage.
Plus, being custodians of a large piece of land, and living off the land, will mean regular interaction with plants and animals for practically everyone in the ecovillage.
5. Freedom from Survival
Within the ecovillage, basic items such as food, water and electricity are provided virtually free. Although residents will need to pay rates to cover the costs of infrastructure and farming, no-one in the ecovillage will ever need to pay for these items separately. The cost of producing these fundamental resources is integrated into the community.
This means security, peace of mind, happiness and harmony. Everyone has tough times, but if you live at Silvergreen, there will always be plenty of healthy food in the cupboard and clean water in the taps. We are a family, and everyone gets the basics to live healthily, no matter what happens.
This, too, is a philosophy we would like to see expressed globally. A world where everyone has access to plenty of good quality food and water, no matter what their situation, is a world at peace.