Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Earthsong eco-neighbourhood

Last Saturday the APW held its workshop in my neighbourhood! Or the next suburb over, Ranui. I just need to walk up Universal Drive and further to Swanson Road to arrive at number 457.

At number 457 there is hidden amongst the trees and bushes and directly behind Fresh Choice supermarket is Earthsong,  New Zealand's very first co-housing  eco village made to permaculture principles. It was established in 1999 and has 32 dwellings or titles with rammed earth walls, passive solar design, tank water, shared common land, kitchen and laundry spaces, public and private gardens, car parking around the outside and mobility friendly paths on the inside.

The people that live there do form what is known as a body corporate like any apartment block dweller, but the difference is they are members of one another and govern by consensus - there are regular meetings and social groups. Its sort of like living in a permanent holiday park (without having to share a bathroom and toilet) or maybe a bunch of houses surrounding a church like in the olden days. Except these days, there's no church cos its all very human centred and you can have any belief you want (no required Green Party pledge of allegiance, apparently) as long as you cook a dinner for everyone one night a week. Also, if you want a cat, theres a limit to 7 cats on the grounds, and woe betide you if you want a rabbit and one person is allergic. I have seen bees and chickens in the orchard down the back however.

The landscaping is designed with swales to catch the storm and rain water and there are kitchen gardens by the common house, with working bees where everyone pitches in. It's all very idyllic and I suppose conforms to Pemaculture Principle 10. Use and value diversity. Don't put all your eggs in one basket

The planting around the houses are wonderfully diverse except they DO use a petrol driven noisy lawnmower when they could have used a flock of sheep to keep the grass down and their manure as fertiliser, and maybe made sweaters from their wool, but then perhaps I am being picky.

Go visit one day! If I had a permanent job at the Ranui Library I could live there and could walk to work! (I still could from my place, but I could be super eco conscious green living freak more than I am now, and not even have to breathe the carbon monoxide fumes coming from the cars on Universal Drive) and boast to everyone I am the greenest of green, not just my thumbs but all over. But sorry Socks bunny, you may not be welcome unless I make a campaign to allow rabbits and other animals at Earthsong, making a case for it that you keep the weeds down, and who needs surplus carrots anyway?