13 Nov 2006
The Village on Video.
One of the sustainability projects I have the most admiration for is The Village project in Cloughjordan in Ireland. Nine years ago when we began the Baile Dulra ecovillage project which later became The Hollies Centre for Practical Sustainability, we worked with some people who subsequently went on to become the core initiators of The Village. The people at the heart of The Village are amazing people. The project has been going for 9 years, and still none of them has got to build the house they have dreamt of every day of those 9 years. They have faced the coming and going of new people, setbacks, financial struggles, and a rate of progress which must at times have seemed interminable. Yet they are nearly there, and what they will finally create is really extraordinary.
Undercurrents recently posted this short film made by the Lammas ecovillage project, which gives a short but very informative look into The Village. Their story in brief; a group forms around the idea of creating an ecovillage within an hour or so from Dublin, which is large enough to also support businesses and have a vibrant economic life as well as social life, and which is a model of all aspects of sustainability. They make all their decisions by consensus, the members were very involved in the design process, there are frequent social events.
They seek land for what feels like years, with a check list of criteria (being near a railway line, within the boundary of an existing village, a large enough site for houses and agriculture) and eventually find a 67 acre site in Cloughjordan in Tipperary. By marvellous serendipity, the land includes a derelict pub on a crossroads, which when removed, turns a t-junction into a crossroads, opening up the area of land for the eco-village development.
The land is secured, the financing is raised, a planning application prepared, the residents consulted, the council involved, and eventually, a detailed planning application is submitted for 130 houses, a community building, and business units, which is approved in July 2005 . The development is a mixture of housing sizes and styles, yet within a cohesive masterplan. A number of Villagers have already moved to the area, and have set up businesses in the town, their kids attending local schools.
What I love about the Village is how they have persevered, through all the times when it looked as though it was never going to happen. There is a quiet, determined optimism about the project which is very inspiring. Also they have done their public relations work with the village of Cloughjordan and with the Council very well. I think another reason for their success is that they don’t emphasise their ‘different-ness’, they are ordinary people with families and jobs who are attracted by the benefits of living in this kind of development.
They deserve our admiration and appreciation for the blood, sweat and tears that have made this project what it is. Once the project starts taking physical form on the ground, every town in Ireland is going to want one. They are ahead of the game, and they are of their time. The Village embodies the sense of patient, determined and stubbornly focused optimism that we will need to weather this transitional period in our society’s history. I look forward to the first housewarming party!