Wisdom of the EcoPeace Crowd
Submitted by kentbye on Mon, 2005-05-23 08:42. Collaboration | Communications | Decentralization | EcoVillage | Maine | Sustainability
Emily Markides is a professor in the Peace Studies program at the University of Maine, and over the weekend she had an open house for her up and coming EcoPeace Community on Ayers Island in Orono, ME.
Markides' vision for the EcoPeace Community called ESTIA is based upon a pretty libertarian approach to peace -- by creating sustainable communities on the local level that are in harmony with nature and use renewable energy, then it will create less of a demand on foreign natural resources and make it easier for nations in harmony with each other. Instead of waiting for "Peace" to be mandated by the government, people are taking global issues on themselves by creating sustainable local communities.
What was really interesting about the weekend was how well a non-hierarchical and almost totally anarchistic organizational structure worked. Markides pretty much gave ownership of ESTIA to everyone present at the Environmental Design Workshop, and treated the workshop more as a dialogue than a lecture. This reflects the same metaphor of Lecture vs. Conversation of the citizen journalist movement.
By doing this, Markides and the workshop leader Richard Graves were able to tap into the collective Wisdom of the Crowd.
The 100 or so attendees broke up into the following 7 groups based upon the different "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" Green Building Rating System® (aka LEED):
- * Sustainable Sites
* Water Efficiency
* Energy & Atmosphere
* Materials & Resources
* Indoor Environmental Quality
* Innovation & Design
Everyone chose the group that most interested them, and collectively each group was able to brainstorm a list of amazing possiblities for how to retivilize this abandoned brownfield site into a vital & sustainable community.
Roger Kelly talked about how this type of non-hierarchical organizational structure can be really chaoitic, and well... anarchistic. But when it works, it really works well -- as it has at the EcoVillage in Wales called the Center for Alternative Technology were there is no "leader" and all of the employees get paid the same amount.
I suggested that ESTIA adopt CivicSpace for their website in order to continue the dialogue and keep the amazing energy from the weekend moving forward. I'm going to be talking to the webmaster soon and start pointing him in the right direction. This will be a great opportunity for me to learn more about community-building both virtually and face-to-face.
Ayers Island, LLC is owned by George Markowsky -- a UMaine computer science professor who purchased the island back in 1999 in order to develop the 360,000 sqft of floor space of the old mill into a thriving small business incubator. Here's his concept paper that he put together in early 2001.
My sense is that there is quite a bit of overlap between ESTIA's vision for the island and George's vision for it. For now, it's a symbiotic relationship that is still evolving.
ESTIA has a lot of goals for what can be done and is bringing a lot of energy, passion and vision what can be done locally to catalyze a better global future, and I think that George is still trying to figure out how to make the place economically sustainable. It'll be an interesting dynamic between idealism and pragmatism.