But didn’t we save the Ecovillage?
Dear Coop members, friends, and supporters,
As you are probably aware, in the fall of 2010 we launched the Protect O.U.R. Ecovillage Campaign. Moving into 2011 and our goal of transferring O.U.R. Ecovillage into community hands, we realize that something has been limiting the success of this campaign. For some, this may be confusion between this campaign and the “Save” O.U.R. Ecovillage Campaign of 2008/09. People have been asking why we are, again, ‘Saving’ O.U.R. Ecovillage. As we move towards raising the monies for OUR land transfer, we wish to share a deeper explanation of our process with the wider community so that we can all unite as one community to protect this resource.
In the fall of 2008 we were confronted with the fact that our mortgage holder did not have a mandate to handle the collective land ownership that we had created in our new multi-stakeholder ownership model at O.U.R. Ecovillage. In response we began the “Save O.U.R. Ecovillage Forever” campaign, endeavoring to find alternative financing through donations from the community and at the same time raise donations for a land protection covenant. This began to meet with some success in the community but due to the publicity it was generating, the institution holding the mortgage requested that we discontinue our media campaign and silence our call for help. With all respect for the community support given to date, we honoured this request and paused the transfer to our new organizational model and the building of capacity as a community owned project. (Contributions made to the Cowichan Land Trust during that campaign have been transferred to The Land Conservancy of BC, TLC, who has since taken the lead on holding the protective covenant on the land.)
Since then, the mortgage company has continued to negotiate carrying the mortgage for one year extensions while we prepared a strategy to accomplish our objective of creating a community-owned resource. However, in all integrity, given the nature of the project and organizational structure, it is not within the realm of their capacity to continue financing the new ownership model. Realizing that once again, O.U.R. Ecovillage has coloured outside the lines and painted ourselves out of certain mainstream opportunities, we needed to move forward. So, we created the “Protect” O.U.R. Ecovillage campaign which continues the process begun with the earlier “Save” O.U.R. Ecovillage campaign.
Aware that alarmist behavior does not fall in alignment with the magic that has historically always created O.U.R. Ecovillage, and not wanting to ring a fire alarm or scream help from the rooftops, we hesitated to launch this current campaign. However, we can’t afford to lose the heartbeat of the land in the face of financial challenges! We have created so much innovation that we don’t have the opportunities that most other organizations are offered for financing. We are still on an challenging deadline for this year and need to move quickly.
OUR March first deadline to transfer the ownership and create new financing has once more been given a limited extension by the mortgage holder for 2011.
We thank you for all the support so far and ask to you to help us join hands around this community resource to raise the money that is required to retire the debt for all costs of development over the last 12 years, the land transfer and covenant – total $1.1 million.
While there are several options for you to contribute, the most beneficial for our campaign is tax deductible donations to TLC through our website. Second to that, we encourage you to consider the Community Trust for Ethical Investment as an option for your RRSP and investment portfolios.
We are proud to steward a commons that supports multiple activities offered by multiple stakeholders and multiple projects. O.U.R. Ecovillage, against all odds, has been created by community, through community, for community and is a manifested possibility that we can recreate common space and especially protect farms and wild spaces. The loss of this example would take away the precedent that has been meant to leverage so many other projects near and far, in BC, if not across Canada. Loss of this project would remove the foundation from which we can freely shares all the regulatory work, legal precedents, development of tool kits for new models, and all future projects.
By community, through community, for community we can protect this Canadian showcase. Securing the lands and resources of OUR Ecovillage is phase one. Moving forward with phase two will include the development of much needed infrastructure and affordable housing.
Please take the time to take this information in, and see where you feel called to participate in this project. We welcome you to contact us directly by phone or email with any questions you may have.
Lisa, Patrick and Brandy.