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Ecocities Emerging: To support humanity’s transition into the Ecozoic Era


Welcome to the October 2010 edition of Ecocities Emerging, an initiative of Ecocity Builders and the International Ecocity Conference Series.

We’ve covered a lot of ground since our last newsletter in September — literally. Ecocity associate Walter Hood from Hood Design and Carl Belliston from Novatek joined us in Nepal where we met with local and regional partners including Sudarshan Tiwari, Shanta Lall Mulmi, Debra Efroymson and Anusuya Joshi. We are working together on an entry to the Living City Design Competition hosted by the International Living Building Institute. We’re envisioning Kathmandu as a Living City and are addressing the seven “petals” of the design challenge: site, materials, health, water, energy, equity, and beauty.

Richard Register was a keynote speaker this October at the ICLEI Future of Cities Summit in Incheon South Korea. He also contribued an ecocity drawing for their stage backdrop which turned out to be a big hit at the conference. See his report from Korea and other places around the world in this edition of the newsletter.

Ecocity Builders spent time in Vancouver Canada this month working on the International Ecocity Framework and Standards Project, one of our major initiatives launched this February. We partnered with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) to host a day-long experts consultation that drew industry representatives, foundations, nonprofits, academics and professionals. The results from the workshop were extremely useful and we’re grateful to everyone who participated and to BCIT for hosting, and to the Helen and William Mazer Foundation for supporting our work on the project.

Closer to home, partnering with the City of Berkeley, we are nearly finished with a proposal for next phases of design work for Center Street Plaza. Stay tuned as this project ramps up again in coming months. In West Oakland, we’re beginning another round of planning and implementation for the Village Bottoms Cultural District with the Black Dot Artists and Village Bottoms Neighborhood Association. We’ll be networking with my class at UC Berkeley Extension in San Francisco and Professor of Agroecology Miguel Altieri’s class on the Berkeley campus to help the neighborhood’s work on project elements such as an urban CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) project, shipping container storefronts and a “moveable farm” plan.

At Ecocity headquarters here in Oakland, we’re pleased to welcome on board, part time, Kelley Lemon and Shivang Patwa. They are both experienced urban designers with great ideas and enthusiasm for working on ecocity projects around the world.

Thank you all for your continued interest and support for our work, it is much appreciated.


Kirstin Miller for Ecocity Builders

Ecocity Builders
339 15th Street, Suite 208
Oakland CA 94612 USA

Keeper of the International Ecocity Conference Series

Ecocity Builders is a non-profit organization dedicated to reshaping cities, towns and villages for long-term health of human and natural systems.

The Ecozoic Era refers to a vision, first promoted by cosmologist Thomas Berry, of an emerging epoch when humanity lives in a mutually enriching relationship with the larger community of life on Earth.

Will we be able to make the transition in time to retain a biosphere healthy enough to regenerate living systems now under extreme stress? Our role in exploring ecocities is to clarify a vision of cities that can. And then go out and build them. There is no way to be certain we will succeed, but our position is that there’s no time to just sit around and wonder about it: now is time for action.

Maybe one day all cities will be ecocities.

ICLEI Future of Cities Summit
Richard Register speaks and provides conference illustration
link to conference review

Ecocity Builders is working with a group of international advisors and experts on the development of International Ecocity Standards (IES). On October 4th, Ecocity Builders and British Columbia Institute of Technology hosted a day long experts IES consultation in Vancouver as part of the Gaining Ground conference. The following is our latest project summary actively shaped and refined with help from our core advisors and experts. We are now seeking partners in funding as we build out the framework, conduct research and pilot the standards with a range of cities around the world.

The International Ecocity Framework and Standards (IEFS) is a guide for cities and citizens seeking to establish an ecologically healthy and culturally fulfilling, restorative human presence on earth.

The call for cities in balance with nature –

Cities, towns and villages provide humans many well-known benefits, including options and opportunities for shelter, education, employment, cultural exchange and community. However, our
current way of building, inhabiting and maintaining our human habitats has resulted in cumulative and widespread environmental damage that is now threatening the fundamental health of earth’s living systems. Cities and citizens are being urgently called upon to set a course towards a healthy future. Some cities are already embarking upon the journey.

To advance the call to action and facilitate positive change towards cities in balance with living systems, the International Ecocity Framework and Standards seeks to describe both the conditions for an ecologically healthy and restorative human presence on earth as well as a practical methodology for assessing and guiding the journey through the lens of the ecocity.

What is an ecocity? Simply put, an ecocity is an ecologically healthy city. As far as we know, there
are no true ecocities yet, although some are moving in that direction. And because each city is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all ecocity development model or just one way to get there from where we are now.

However, ecocities share basic characteristics analogous to healthy ecosystems and living organisms. They are also the physical containers for human evolution and creativity.

An ecocity is –

An ecologically healthy human settlement modeled on the self-sustaining resilient structure and function of natural ecosystems and living organisms.
An entity that includes its inhabitants and their ecological impacts.
A subsystem of the ecosystems of which it is part – of its watershed, bioregion, and ultimately, of the planet.
A subsystem of the regional, national and world economic system.
·The primary human-constructed product providing physical support, shelter and ordering of functions for further creative, compassionate and healthy cultural evolution.

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