Lord Neil Benjamin
Lord Neil B. Gibson and the Belize Eco-Village Housing Project
Ecovillages are people-based initiatives to model sustainable, low-impact, human settlements. They are applicable to both rural and urban settings and accessible to all. Eco-villagers utilize green energy technology, ecological building techniques, and human-scale design to reduce exploitation of natural resources, facilitate community self-reliance, and improve quality of life. Medical clinics will be included in the development of each village. These medical clinics can assist in the care management of other local villages and expand the Belize Healthcare footprint. They are about the creation of new settlements as well as retrofitting existing villages and urban areas. An ecovillage is designed in harmony with its bioregion instead of the landscape being unduly engineered to fit construction plans. By thinking in terms of bioregions, sustainable settlements are planned considering water availability, the ability to grow food, and accessibility. Many projects use the principles of permaculture for creating integrated, interactive and efficient systems for structural planning, food production and social needs in their community. Ecovillages are human scale, (somewhere where you can feel you know the others in your community), fully featured settlements, (comprising housing, businesses, agriculture, culture, etc. as appropriate to the local setting), in which human activity is integrated harmlessly into the natural world, supports human development and can be continued into the indefinite future. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of ecovillages around the world that have been living true to their values, even if it means not quite meeting the building codes or zoning laws according to their local government. Global Ecovillage Network defines ecovillages as “Alternative experimentation laboratories, with food production, ecological buildings, a resources center, a reception place, or artistic workshops. The aim is to create, together, a convivial and fair way of life, with a minimal ecological trace becoming more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable.” There are examples of Ecovillage Zoning and Sustainable Development Testing Sites in Taos, NM, Portland, OR, Eugene, OR and British Columbia. There are many more with pending legislation across the globe.