Building the dream: an intentional community in Charlottesville

Nestled just outside Charlottesville is an up and coming destination. A destination to get away for the weekend, to enjoy the company of others for a weekly potluck, to attend a yoga class, to host or attend a variety of worthy-cause focused meetings, to live life.

Ecovillage Charlottesville is in the early stages of development. Dave and Joanie have been the caretakers of the property for approximately a year now and have big goals for the ecovillage, some of which are already coming to fruition. With help and guidance from the Board of Directors and the Charlottesville community, Ecovillage Charlottesville is on track to be a game changer for the area and sustainable living in the Virginia Appalachians. 

The hope is to develop the 6.5 acres into several pocket neighborhoods consisting of six to eight homes for up to twenty-six units on the property. The placement and construction of the homes will be mindful in order to preserve the beauty and ecology of the existing landscape. Each net-zero home will be designed minimally and sustainably, probably no more than two bedrooms, but will still appeal to the average American’s tastes in architectural style.

Goals

The major goals of Ecovillage Charlottesville are to foster true community living and demonstrate that living a low-energy/low-consumption lifestyle is feasible, affordable, enjoyable, and easier than you might think.

“We’re consuming five times the planet. That is the wrong answer. I want an average American to come here and think, I could live here,” says Dave Redding, one of the primary Ecovillage Charlottesville caretakers.

Currently, the ecovillage has five board members, but Dave and Joanie are hoping that this number will grow to about eleven. They are looking for a diverse group to be on the board for the Ecovillage. The Board of Directors is in charge of the planning and management of this project. Those interested in joining the board are invited to do so after serious interest, commitment and participation in current meetings and activities is expressed. The build out of the ecovillage homes is scheduled to take place within five years.

Vision

Ecovillage Charlottesville is an intentional community that “sees compassion, kindness, cooperation, open communication, justice and mutual trust as central to healthy living.” As part of the build-out they hope to include a shared work space where community members share tools, resources, knowledge, and skills. A community grocery type area, possible child care options, small businesses, and even a public restaurant that features ecovillage grown produce and food is also in the potential plan.  They already have goats, chickens, and several gardens for growing fruits and veggies onsite.

The major goal is the community piece, to get people talking to each other face-to-face again, “like they used to do.” They hope to cultivate a community where you want to spend time and interact with your neighbors, where you respect, accept, and overcome differences in attitudes and beliefs, where you share a community meal on a regular basis.

Historical Roots

The property already features a few units that have been around for a while. The larger, Lochlyn House, was built in 1870, was at one point a ginseng farm, and was later owned by two sisters who happened to be direct descendants of Thomas Jefferson. It is the venue for a number of meetings for various causes from climate change centered 350.org to sustainability empowerment group Better World Betty. The Lochlyn house has three bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs that will be available to community members’ guests as well as to the general public on a reservation basis.

The smaller, Center for Healthy Living, is just down the hill from the Lochlyn house and features a large open area and an upstairs living area. The downstairs open area is where yoga classes happen on a frequent basis and Transition Charlottesville Albemarle re-skilling classes are hosted often as well as many other meetings that require a bit more open space.

Small Acts Ideals


Overall, Ecovillage Charlottesville is a welcoming place that emphasizes and encourages the attitudes and beliefs I promote with Small Acts Count. I look forward to seeing this community grow and hope that it will inspire others to live more sustainably and minimally. If you’re interested in learning more visit their website or even consider renting one of the beautiful rooms in the Lochlyn House for an educational and peaceful weekend getaway.