About the Village Design Institute
The Village Design Institute (VDI) is an educational non-profit registered in the State of Washington. VDI was founded for the purpose of creating and disseminating a scientific, multi-disciplinary knowledge base intended for informing the design and development of sustainable community models for the 21st century. A fundamental working premise at VDI - and thus the namesake - is that the design and development of truly sustainable community models is most effectively conceived and accomplished at village-scale, with all that implies. We have elaborated this declaration in an essay entitled “"Fundamentals of Village Design,” a title that will be expanded into textbook format.
At VDI, we take sustainability seriously, so seriously in fact that we are actively moving out of the indigent, 20th century ‘sustainability’ mindset. We are beginning to think, theorize, and design in terms of beyond sustainability, beyond conditions of mere steady-state material maintenance to situations where human and planetary potential is being actualized stirring, thriving, flourishing in full evolutionary plenitude. Is it possible to include ‘consciousness expansion’ as a design criterion? For more on this perspective see the recent essays “Beyond Sustainability: The Beauty Effect” and “Design for Beauty: Evolution beyond Sustainability.”
At VDI, we believe that the emerging vision of the full-featured ecological village - whether adapted to rural, urban, or suburban milieu - is the obvious solution to the ecological, economic, social, cultural and spiritual challenges facing humanity at this dawning of a new millennium. We want to take the opportunity to explore Village Design from a scientific, multi-disciplinary, heuristic educational perspective. Therefore, VDI defines the full-featured ecological village as the sustainable ‘unit’ of human settlement in a theoretical ekistics for the 21st century. Our favorite exemplars are in Tuscany and the Provence.
The Village Design Institute was founded because of a perceived gap between the attention level of genuine student interest in matters of Sustainable Community Design, and the corresponding absence of such curricula in current Academia. VDI will establish and become home to an accredited school, an Academy of Village Design, devoted to the design and development of sustainable community models at village scale. Of course, we use ‘sustainable’ here rhetorically; we’re really designing for the ‘evolution of consciousness’ in prosperous conditions ‘beyond sustainability!’ For a vision of the Academy, please see the latest Project Description.
Ecopoiesis can be roughly defined as ‘home making.’ In consensus with the related words ecology, economics, ecofeminism, ecosophy, ecocentric, ecovillage, ecosystem, etc., the image here is one of returning human livelihood to a human scale. The ‘home’ being made here is not the center of a nuclear family; nor is it a piece of real estate. Home is the encompassing, co-evolving, greater environment in which one makes a living, and engages in the endeavors of raising a family, deriving meaningful work, contributing to a community, and entering into a relationship with greater-than-Self. In this sense, home cannot be excluded from the more-inclusive ecological and biospheric realities in which it is embedded. Ecopoiseis, then, is consciously creating a mutually beneficial relationship between the human community and the natural world. And, ecopoiesis is best conceived and designed at village-scale.