KYRI RANSOM: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]
Hi, my name's Kyri Ransom. And I am [NON-ENGLISH] from the [NON-ENGLISH] Mohawk nation. And this summer, I was actually fortunate to be able to spend my time working with a community located here within the traditional territory of the Cayuga Nation. And it's known as EcoVillage. And I say fortunate, because not only are they the largest co-housing community in the US with exemplary record, as well as multiple award winning for their sustainability efforts and their are different neighborhoods, but also to be able to be included into the community that's there. The community at EcoVillage is located on 175 acres of property.
And within that, they have three different neighborhoods, totaling 100 homes, with over 240 residents, ranging from newborns up through-- we won't discuss the upper limits of the age. And so within that community, you see a lot of cooperation happening. You can see the intention happening. You can see the governance structures and that they're always innovating and that they're always collaborating. And really, at the end of the day, they work very hard to maintain a certain expectation of community values.
And so looking at what was built, it's exceptional, because it's with the effort of one full-time staff person, as well as one part-time staff person. And the rest of the operations within EcoVillage is based on volunteer time. And so to be able to manage 240 volunteers to be able to coordinate, to maintain the grounds, to maintain the different committees that are run, it takes a lot of intention-- to be able to accomplish that year after year. And so really, when we're looking at Learn at EcoVillage, which is where I did my placement, they have a grand vision.
Their vision is to help create a world in which people actively care for each other and the planet. And to me, the key part of that statement for them is that people. And, you know, it's maintaining those connections between all of the people. And so, in working with them to help bring this vision to fruition, it's really looking and doing an analysis of where they are today and trying to assess what's the best way to make use of their limited resources, so that they're able to further their mission. And so part of that is, yes, recognizing that they're limited on their staff, they're limited on the financial resources.
But the amount of talent that they have within the individuals who live there and who dedicate their time to the community is something to really harness between everybody. Externally, to the community, you're looking at an opportunity right now. The United States is in a position where individuals are searching. They're searching for another way of living. They're searching for a future that they want their children to grow up in.
And any time, someone comes to visit EcoVillage, when they're walking through their neighborhoods, which are designed specifically to encourage pedestrian foot traffic-- and when they're going through it and seeing the children playing in the ponds that were put in to be able to ensure that there was a sustainable ecosystem on the 175 acres, that at the end of the day, they leave and they think, I want to build this. I want to live in a community like this. And so hearing that coming from all of the different visitors, whether it was media that came in from Korea, whether it was students coming in from Japan, or even the students coming from SUNY Binghamton, all of them left with the same impression and with the same desire to work toward building that future.
In order to help EcoVillage really take a more strategic approach in their communication, it involved doing a lot of market research. Up to this point, from when the ideas first started in 1991, they grew organically. And they didn't have the time to really sit down and talk strategy until the last couple of years. And so part of it was looking to see where does EcoVillage fit within the landscape of the country. And looking at other comparable communities, really the one thing it was tried to identify was what were the similarities and what really made the community unique.
The biggest part was identifying that there were four areas that the curriculum at EcoVillage really harnesses. The primary one is recognizing the social environment that they operate in. Looking at the built environment is the actual green building that's been incorporated, as well as the financial and legal expertise in getting this co-op to function. And finally is locating the land. And so a big part of it was identifying how do you convey this information to others, so that they know exactly what experience EcoVillage brings to the table.
Secondary to that was identifying, based on their different goals within the organization, what were their target audiences. And in bringing this vision out to the larger body, it was about sharing what an alternative world could be. And those audiences included high schools and college students, but also working with forming co-housing groups, to be able to help them see and build that future. At the end of the day, when we're looking at EcoVillage, I was very happy to have spent my time there, helping them to build different materials that they are able to use-- to be able to recognize the capacity that's there within the organization and to provide them with tools to help further them along the path of reaching the vision that they've been working towards since 1991.
So [NON-ENGLISH] to EcoVillage. It was a wonderful experience spending the summer with them. And I look forward to coming back to visit throughout the fall. Thank you.
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Kyrie Ransom presents on LEARN@EcoVillage of Ithaca, NY, as part of a series of TED talks for COMM 3080, "Capstone Course in Environmental & Sustainability Communication: From the Lab to the World."