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Weaving Ecosystem Services into Impact Assessment: A Step-by-Step Method | World Resources Institute

Weaving Ecosystem Services into Impact Assessment: A Step-by-Step Method | World Resources Institute | Eco Village | Scoop.it

This report provides six steps to address project impacts and dependencies on ecosystem services as part of the environmental and social impact assessment process. These steps build on assessments routinely conducted by social and environmental practitioners to better reflect the interdependence between project, ecosystems, ecosystem services, and people.

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Ecosystem services should be priced into every project decision!

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Eco Village
Social & circular economy, permaculture, representative government ideas and thoughts for the realization of sustainable living
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Financing for a 5000 person ecovillage

Financing for a 5000 person ecovillage | Eco Village | Scoop.it

The Big Picture of Financing
(Revised 30 August, 2012)

When the subject of building a $1 billion EcoVillage for 5,000 people comes up, financing it seems to be the primary issue in most people's minds. It's just not quite enough to say that the cost of an EcoVillage (EV), including a 10% profit for the Community Development Company (CDC), is much less than half the cost of one B2 bomber. (Wiki tells us - "The total program cost, which includes development, engineering and testing, averaged $2.1 billion per aircraft, in 1997 dollars!)

Many of the attempts at "intentional community" are relatively high in their financial requirements for anyone wanting to live there. (One SFIA student lives in New Zealand in a small community of 15-20 dwellings, and finds that the capital needed to live even a relatively simple rural life needs a fairly substantial up front investment, just to buy the land.)

This is why the first activity in establishing an EcoVillage should be to get the community's economic base founded solidly on those business and industries necessary for constructing the community and its infrastructure. Providing a means of well-paid local employment makes it is possible for the average blue-collar person to live there. In fact, I will go so far as to say that, we don't really need to exert ourselves to encourage the richer folks to live in the community, since the amenities and advantages will be very attractive, and the more wealthy, so-called middle class, will automatically flock to buy in. That's fine, if they are willing to share in the costs along with the benefits.

There are ways to sort out who will be attracted to a community, and to set things up so the type of people you want as neighbors will actually get there. One method is to put the idea of sharing in the community out front, so that all who are repulsed by such a notion can be warned away. This part of the reasoning behind having a community capital gains tax on the profit of all re-sale of homes or other buildings, included in the basic EcoVillage format. The tax would amount to about 45%, and would be levied on all profit, over and above the initial cost of a home, or business building, after an allowance for inflation (if any), and minus any verifiable and approved owner improvements. In addition to generating income for the community, this will weed out those only interested in real estate speculation, and anyone who don't understand that the reason property appreciates in value is primarily due to the community as a whole, and not just their own business acumen, and their own personal wonderfullness.

The philosophy of the EcoVillage concept, at least as proposed here, is that to a great extent it breaks from the standard corporate goals. It is evolutionary, and besides just building the EcoVillage project, the set up creates a "bifurcation" in the ways of doing corporate business. This change in business focus, intends to alter the future role and essential nature of development corporations, and corporations in general to better respond to the task of creating community as a "human-ecosystem". It is better to do this with the for-profit company, in order to inject a more forceful message of community-service from any corporate structure, into the public consciousness.

Another philosophical component of the EcoVillage is that, those who buy into the community, including renters who are also citizens, take on the community stand that it will "take care of its own". It has become apparent that, to depend on the federal government to provide of the well being of the citizens is reasonable, and that it will be much less costly if we just decide to do it for ourselves, and cut out all the middle men and women. This commitment means that from the beginning the community will have a strong orientation toward establishing a very complete and active medical component in the EcoVillage, including diagnostics, laboratories, clinics and practitioners with a wide range of skills. Magnificent and costly hospital buildings will not be constructed, and simplicity in diversity will be the guiding motto.

For our species to approach ecosystem quality, and to achieve true sustainability, the idea of a human community as just one more "natural" ecosystem, needs to be kept in the forefront as the goal. This means that the energy and material flows of the community, including all human-created technologies, will become interconnected loops, or cycles, for all activities essential to on-going human life. And, these cycles will be arranged so as to also be beneficial and "life-enhancing" for the other surrounding life. That life-enhancing quality is what Lewis Mumford meant in 1934, by coining the term "Biotechnic Era", to describe what he saw as the next all-embracing historical focus in human socio-economic development; a shift to the next paradigm, or world view.

The concept of community-as-ecosystem will serve as a powerful guiding force. It will require resolving or "closing the loops", and some of the more important of these cycles are:
- energy, in the form of unused heat from one process, becomes "food" for another industry or process,
- energy is generated renewably, as the sole source for a community,
- water is recycled, after any needed purification, back to the aquifer,
- human and animal garbage and sewage will recycle its nutrients back into food production of some sort, not golf courses or tree farms,
- solid waste recycles its paper, glass, metal and plastic as "feed-stock",
- most energy, food and materials for the community are derived locally.

This is the basic economics pattern required for any truly sustainable ecosystem.

The Community Development Company (CDC) mission, and its product, is building long-range viable (sustainable) EcoVillages. The CDC designs, builds and sells this product, that in addition to going for long term ecological sustainability, aims equally at economical sustainability. Human economics must now be consciously crafted to be part of human "ecology". The community is now considered as a totality, essentially a human-ecosystem, and is set up to create abundance and "wealth" for the entire community, rather than for specific individuals, although everyone benefits hugely. "Wealth" here is meant in the Bucky Fullerarian sense of, "The ability to forwardly organize life and life processes." This view of wealth transcends money, and acts as a psychological impulse to guide community-creation as ecosystem.

The way to address financing in terms of money requirements, is by recognizing that different, but complementary and interrelated, arrangements are required for the different categories.
Financing the:
- Community Development Company (CDC) (the design/ build co.)
- individual Citizens of the EcoVillage
- on-going EcoVillage community itself

We are currently in danger of "throwing the baby out with the bath water", when considering the corporate business form. Due to the many failings of corporate structure and management, they have gained a deservedly bad name. It is time for that basic form to undergo a transformation.

1) Monetizing the CDC stock, happens by the company paying up to 50% of employees' wages, or consultants' fees, with company stock. (A much smaller percentage is estimated to be accepted in payment for vendors' materials and equipment.) This equity, and the resulting employee ownership, gives the CDC a huge financial boost of up to 50% of its labor costs, and employees now have a strong interest in the well-being and success of the CDC. Since the CDC is willing to take back the stock as a down payment for up to approximately 25% of the value of a home, or business building, the stock is considered to be "monetized" as a local currency, the moment such a re-aceptance exchange takes place.

2) The CDC, from its investment capital or land sales, sets up a community-owned credit union, or small bank, to make no-interest home and other building loans to employees of the CDC, and later employees of the municipality itself. It will also get funding for loans from on-going sale of Development Rights, above the 500% markup to the CDC. Investors capital will be paid back to the CDC but without interest on the theory that since the CDC will make about 20% profit on the buildings, it need not "double dip" the buyers, and the averaged CDC profits from building sales will still exceed 10% overall.

Buyers will be charged a small fee to process the loans and pay the credit union overhead, which is estimated at $50 per month for a standard home loan, or slightly over three tenths of a percent of the building cost per year. (This is not to be confused with interest, or with compounded interest, as it is a flat fee, and amounts to about .32% per year X an average loan of $187,500, for a total of $9,000 handling fees over the entire 15 year projected loan time. (A total of 4.8% of the loan.) Accumulating the down payment will take different employees differing lengths of time, but if an employee decides to take $10 of a $20/hour wage in CDC stock it would take about 3 years for the down payment. They could choose to pay less or more if their spouse is also working.

With a down payment from wages monetized of 25% ($62,500) on a home costing $250,000, and paid at half of an average employee's income of $20/hr., at the rate of $10 per hour, it would take 37 months to make the down payment. If it were a couple, both getting the same wage, and paying at the rate of $20/hr., it would take 18.5 months for the down payment, it would be 4 more years and 7.633 months to pay off the home, including the 1.33 months for the handling fees for the entire loan. This would be a very dedicated couple, who were willing to concentrate wholeheartedly in order to own a home. In the same period they would have earned together an additional $187,950, or $40,540 per year.

3) Financing individuals takes many forms. One of the chief ways a community can benefit its members is by negotiating bulk purchases on everything from food to health insurance. Having access to the results of this bargaining power is a huge boon for reducing the individual's expenses for the essentials.

4) CDC sets a limit on their land-sales profit (let's say 500%), and then the entire land, is put into a land-trust belonging to the EcoVillage, or perhaps even more simply, just set up under ordinary condominium law, which amounts to about the same thing. As the town is developed, the land values rise. Upon the sale of any building, together with its land component, all appreciation of land value (over the original % markup for CDC profit), charged, goes into the community trust fund.
Example: A 5,000 acre ranch we looked at in the San Mateo Mountains, 50 miles from Socorro, NM sold for $300/acre, $1.5 million. The CDC would charge $1,500/ acre, and receive $7.5 million by build-out. This helps some with development costs, and is standard developer practice, but it is very modest return, with the majority of appreciated value going into the EV Trust.

5) This land-ownership form also allows for a Henry George type of "land-tax" solution to ongoing community financing, which would be part of the usual "operational fees" paid by any condo owner into their common fund. The condominium is of the usual sort, where all land belongs to all the owners as a group, and no specific piece of land can be sold by anyone, and only what is called "an undivided interest of the whole" that goes with any sale of a home or business building.
In our adobe dwelling condo project of 32 units, in Santa Fe in the 1970s, some were single family, some duplex.

6) The CDC can sell unbuilt space as a Development Right (DR), whether on the ground, or up in three dimensional space, where it is simply described by set of x,y,z coordinates. If that DR is sold, it is subject to the same capital gains tax as if the building were built. As with any standard development, all design and construction is done by the CDC.

7) The individual citizens' costs of living can be reduced by the CDC (and as it develops the EcoVillage itself), negotiating the bulk-buying of necessities, such as food and vehicles, and all types of insurance. (See "Winning the Insurance Game" Ralph Nader and Wesley Smith)
Also of importance, are Jane Jacobs' economic ideas from her writings:
- “The Economy of Cities,” 1969-1970, Random House, Vintage Bk.
- “The Economy of Regions, ”The Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures, Oct., 1983, Mt. Holyoak College, S. Hadley, MA.,
- “Cities and the Wealth of Nations,” 1984, Random House,
- “Dark Age Ahead,” 2003, Random Rouse.

8) Then there is a more subtle general income, shown in the" Wealth Generation for an Ecologically Sustainable Future" data, sent you 12 Dec., in the Evaluation on "Geometry of Design".

9) A community sales tax, for non-residents, (probably 3%) will apply to all products and services, whether retail or wholesale, entertainment or educational, provided to visitors to the EcoVillage community. There will also be other fees charged to non-residents, such as a hotel bed-tax, fuel taxes on hydrogen, gasoline, diesel fuel, and electricity (for RV’s), camping, and a special capital gains tax on profit from selling a home or business structure.

10) The following are the income vectors planned for the EcoVillage. They begin as CDC businesses, and are sold to the town, when and if the municipality so chooses. As each building is sold, ownership of its % of the land is transferred to the EcoVillage Trust, since any building sales will include a % of the total land in its purchase price.
(For example: If there are 2040 dwellings built, each one will bring with it a proportional % of the total community residential land, including all public open space and land area occupied by public buildings. This % is probably most fairly based on square footage sums of all Residential, Commercial, Office and Industrial uses, and will be allocated and charged upon sale of those buildings.)

EcoVillage Income Vectors
(An item's Gross Yearly Income X Allowable Net % of CDC Profit = Net Co. Income)
(RCOIP, as shown below = Residential, Commercial, Office, Industrial, Public)

a. Agriculture:
Vegetables & Grains
Fruit/Nut Orchards
b. Aquaculture
c. Farmers' Market:
d. Conference Center
e. Hotel:
f. Truck-Stop
g. Tourist Events, & Tourist Sales
h. Science/Industry/Research
i. Building Leases:
Residential
Commercial
Office:
Industrial
j. Sale of a Residential Development Rights (DR)
k. Sale of DR, Commercial, Office, & Industrial (COI)
l. Building Sales
Residential
Commercial
Office
Industrial
Public Bldgs
Sewage Treatment
Greenhouses
m. Sale of Start-up Businesses
n. Education
Long-Term: (2-36 wks.)
Medium-Term: (3 -7 da)
Short-Term: 8 hrs./day
o. Utilities & Services
1) Electrical
Residential (R)
Business (COI)
Public Bldgs (P)
2) Water
RCOIP
3) Sewage Treatment:
RCOIP
4) Fiber Optics
RCOIP
5) Hydrogen/Biogas:
RCOIP
6) Phone/TV/Internet Uplinks
RCOIP
7) Broadband
RCOIP
8) Garbage & Biomass Composting
RCOIP
9) Solid Waste Control & Recycling:
RCOIP
10) Fire & Security
RCOIP
11) Insurance
RCOIP
12) Transportation
Residents
Tourists
13) Bank & Credit Union:
Residential and Business Loans
Business Loans
14) Property Maintenance (Condo Fees):
15) Heating & Cooling
RCOIP
Summary: (estimates)
1) Estimated income for the CDC, averaged over the first 5 yrs. of the EcoVillage from startup = ($34,933,820/yr. X 5 yrs.) (j. thru m.)
2) The estimated overall net annual entrepreneurial income for the EcoVillage during the first five Post-Completion years is a. through h. = $6,727,000/yr. (With o.: Utilities and Services fees being an additional estimated $3,070,400/yr. (Total = $9,800,000)
3) To give a rough idea of the costs of operation and maintenance for a community of 5,100 population, figures from three towns of comparable size in Arizona were used. For 2005, these figures indicate about $5,000,000 per year to be an average cost that could be expected for a town of that size.

 

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Alison D. Gilbert's curator insight, November 2, 2013 7:42 PM

An ecovillage is no small undertaking even if it is only for 5000 people.

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Ecological communities by design

In synthetic ecology, a nascent offshoot of synthetic biology, scientists aim to design and construct microbial communities with desirable properties. Such mixed populations of microorganisms can simultaneously perform otherwise incompatible functions (1). Compared with individual organisms, they can also better resist losses in function as a result of environmental perturbation or invasion by other species (2). Synthetic ecology may thus be a promising approach for developing robust, stable biotechnological processes, such as the conversion of cellulosic biomass to biofuels (3). However, achieving this will require detailed knowledge of the principles that guide the structure and function of microbial communities (see the image).


Ecological communities by design
James K. Fredrickson

Science 26 June 2015:
Vol. 348 no. 6242 pp. 1425-1427
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aab0946


Via Complexity Digest
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Antibiotic-free method to protect animals from common infections

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Antibiotics have been a major weapon in the fight against animal infection, but they've also led to drug-resistant bacteria that render those very antibiotics ineffective. Researchers have new developed a method of fighting a major group of animal infections without antibiotics.
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An Ecological Look at Vegetable Gardening Systems

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In which I apply insights from the study of ecology to different ways to grow vegetables. Let the competition begin!
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Why planning for expansion helps build sustainable, equitable cities | TheCityFix

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São Paulo has historically struggled to expand fast enough to match rapid population growth, resulting in many informal favelas housing residents in the city’s periphery.

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UK's

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An eco-town described as the UK's most sustainable development is moving closer to being occupied. The first residents are expected to move into North West Bicester later this year. Planning per...
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Roundup 'probably' causes cancer, World Health Organisation says

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Glyphosate, active ingredient in world’s most widely used weedkiller, classified as probably carcinogenic to humans, according to International Agency for Research on Cancer
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Earth Repair – Homegrown Healing of Toxic Lands, part 1

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Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage: Living Abundantly on 10%

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Transformation Intensive July 2015, near Berlin

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Next Training: July 11 - 19, 2015  in Schmagerow, near Berlin, Germany   This Course is specifically designed to help individuals make those personal changes that are most important to them.  You m...

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Anne Caspari's curator insight, June 28, 2:22 PM

still places left. 

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How to Build and Plant Large Hugelkultur Berms

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You can plant just about anything in your hugel beds and they will do well, but there are certain plants that tend to do very well in a hugel bed.
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Beginner's guide to carbon farming

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Landowners and farmers who are seeking better ways of managing their land whilst improving production and profits and reducing their carbon footprint are now looking at carbon farming to achieve their goals.  So what is carbon farming? And what opportunities
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Smart Urban Villages: Efficient and sustainable community living

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Smart Urban Villages is planning to create medium-density, sustainably designed housing communities with optional shared meals, mortgage-free long term leases and pools of shared vehicles to cut down on car ownership costs.
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Boston Food Forest inspires community through ecological design

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Boston Food Forest builds community and resilience through ecological design, collaborative work, and good times.
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A DIY Tree Grafting Handout

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I am pretty excited to be sharing some awesome homesteading skills with people who want to learn how to graft trees!
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Home Garden Soil Health Assessment

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A Rough Guide on How to Build a Gravity Fed Aquaculture System

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This is a guide to building a gravity fed aquaculture system the techniques of which can be applied elsewhere. This is s
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INHABIT: A Permaculture Perspective

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INHABIT explores the many environmental issues facing us today and examines solutions that are being applied using the ecological design lens of permaculture. Focused mostly on the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the United States, Inhabit prov
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INHABIT – a Permaculture Perspective

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Yekra Player Please click above to watch the Trailer INHABIT - A Permaculture Perspective Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; w
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Building Urban Food Resilience

Building Urban Food Resilience | Eco Village | Scoop.it

Back in the days before the burst money bubble of 2008 it seemed like community gardening and environmental projects in the voluntary sector could access all sorts of funding, and indeed many did. Times were good for gardening and environmental projects, funding was fairly easy to acquire and it was regular. On the other side of the the burst money bubble there is still funding about but the need for services and resources is much greater than it has ever been due to the shock and trauma caused by the credit crunch, and subsequent efforts to support and prop up a crooked and greedy banking sector that caused it. There is a huge need in terms of access to cleanly grown fresh food in the UK. Food banks gave out over one million food parcels in 2014 which was followed by a proliferation of newer food banks opening up all over the country. When this is combined with thousands of people being sanctioned by the DWP on a weekly basis and millions pushed into working poverty by zero contract employment, and the constantly rising price of fresh food the situation is a lot worse than any of the media dare to admit. This is where newer thinking and ways of doing things come in, and in particular Permaculture.


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