A crash course in changing the world.
Natural Systems Developers LLC (NSD) is a development company dedicated to designing and building modern villages that are ecologically and economically sustainable for a population of
2000-5000 people. We call these EcoVillages.
The first will be Mariposa, outside Amarillo, Texas. (See - "Sustainability" and "What is an EcoVillage" in these web articles for a discussion of what sustainability really means in the
context of an EcoVillage.)
NSD intends to demonstrate that a true EcoVillage can be created by a for-profit development corporation, and that the contemporary economic climate will support ecologically
sustainable development. In the twenty first century the meaning of the
word ecology must be understood to include human beings, their needs,
desires, institutions and economy along with all other resident species.
NSD assumes the task and responsibility for creating beautiful and functional physical design, a superior educational environment, a just socio-economic balance, and strong
framework for community self-government.
The management of the NSD is dedicated to the values of sustainability, and the goals, policies, and programs of NSD are derived from those values. We believe it is extremely beneficial
to be able to participate in the adventure of becoming responsible,
conscious, creative agents for the evolution of the life on this planet.
Major influences inspiring the NSD EcoVillage concept and its economics are:
a. the economic and town-planning ideas of Ebenezer Howard and Patrick Geddes,
b. the historical commentaries on urban design of Lewis Mumford
(particularly "The City in History, and "The Urban Prospect")
c. the Mondragon Cooperatives of the Basque region of Spain,
d. the Scott Bader Co. Ltd. of Great Britain,
e. adaptations of Henry George's economic concepts,
f. "Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle of the Twenty
First Century" by JW Smith
g. John P. Allen's work in establishing creative ecological
project-communities in different biomes around the world, and his
pivotal role in creating Biosphere 2 (See: "Biosphere 2: The Human
h. "Mutual Aid", by Petr Kropotkin
i. "The Final Empire", William Kotke's book on ecological
history, particularly Part Two, The Seeds of the Future.
j. "Cities and the Wealth of Nations"; "The Nature of Economics",
and "Systems of Survival", by Jane Jacobs.
k. "For the Common Good", by Herman Daly and John Cobb
l. "Building a Win-Win World", by Hazel Henderson
m. "Money and Debt: A Solution to the Global Crisis; New Money
for Healthy Communities"; and, "Money: Understanding and Creating
Alternative Currencies", all by Thomas Greco.
n. R. Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller
o. "The Permaculture Designer's Handbook", by Bill Mollison
Before listing a few o f the project's key features, we want to be clear that perhaps the only really innovative concept being proposed for the project is the Home Ownership program.
This is a method by which ordinary people of modest income can own their
homes free and clear, and in an unusually short period of time. (See -
Home Ownership Stimulation, in these doc**ents)
The other technologies and methods which NSD will use are all tried and true, and have been widely proven in practice.
The manufacturing ventures generally chosen for inclusion in any EcoVillage will be those small-scale operations needed to build and develop the community.
Key Project Features:
A primary feature of the EcoVillage project will be the methods applied to the socio-economics of medium to low income housing, and the interest in providing for that market niche.
Homes will not be ordinary tract, or factory-built houses, but will be
predominately constructed of indigenous and renewable construction
materials such as earth, tile, stone, and using traditional techniques.
In determining construction materials and techniques NSD uses the idea of "polytechnics", wherein the techniques may come from any era, past, present, or even being developed for the
near future. More "modern" materials such as ferrocement, and some of
the newer high-tech materials, like carbon fiber composites, macro
defect free cements, rigid rod polymers, and other nano-technologies,
will be reviewed for possible use on a case-by-case basis.
An earlier example of polytechnics was a design-build residential project in Santa Fe, New Mexico (1974-1978). This was a complex of over thirty adobe houses built with sun-dried mud
bricks, and arranged in the traditional local Hispanic family compound
form. However, they also had radiant heated brick floors designed to
allow retrofitting with solar water heaters instead of gas-fired
Water abundance will be assured through completing the hydrologic cycle and harvesting rain, and also by extracting atmospheric moisture from the community greenhouses'
atmosphere, and from the bioremediation sewage treatment plants as
discussed in a following doc**ent.
(See - Wealth Generation For an Ecologically Sustainable Future;
Part 2) The Hydrologic Cycle, in these doc**ents)
NSD intends to complete the nutrient cycle through the purification of sewage by biological treatment (bioremediation). The sterilized effluent will then be used for
agricultural irrigation. (Ibid)
Urban agriculture, combined with surrounding, and/or more remote farming sites, will produce the caloric and nutritional requirements of a balanced diet for the EcoVillage
5. CO2 Absorption:
Biological CO2 sinks of natural plantings will be used to absorb an equivalent amount of CO2 produced internally or externally by the EcoVillage activities. Other promising methods of
more permanent CO2 sequestering will also be investigated.
6. Renewable Energy:
All energy which the EcoVillage uses will easily be produced renewably by means of wind and sun power, biogas and hydrogen from water.
The High Plains Institute for Applied Ecology (HPI), (a 501(c)(3) non-profit company, will be contracted to create and direct community-wide educational opportunities, from general
knowledge about ecology and the specifics of this site through
university post-graduate levels of study and research. The overall
educational emphasis is to focus all education toward its applications
to natural ecosystem restoration and up-grading as well as how a
community best functions for sustainability. The creation of "synthetic"
or "composite" ecosystem structures for ecologically degraded
environments will also be applied if appropriate.
The basis for the EcoVillage economics will be in small-scale manufacturing firms which may be initially set up, or otherwise encouraged, by NSD. These firms will be engaged in
developing the components, necessary to build, and afterwards to
sustain, the community. Other independent commercial enterprises will
also be established or encouraged.
Most of the proposed technologies and technicians are already available, and the NSD policy is attract and/or form locally-owned enterprises using these needed technologies. The
inhabitants of a true EcoVillage need to own their means of production
as much as possible. This helps ensure a healthy home-grown business
climate wherein the management recognizes its responsibility to its
neighbors, and where profits and the usual money circulation from wages
and service sector spin-offs tend to remain within the community.
Examples of enterprises that are necessary and that NSD may help jump-start are:
a. architecture and planning
b. solar-energy equipment manufacture and installation
c. wastewater bioremediation systems design and manufacture
d. water harvesting, purification, storage, and distribution
e. earth-oriented construction methodologies and apparatuses,
including non fossil-fuel heating and cooling systems, renewable energy
f. locating and securing construction materials" sources
g. food production and processing
h. an inter-community and intra-community transportation system
i. research to determine community manufacturing programs
j. creation of educational systems
k. scientific & engineering research on materials and methods
l. testing laboratory for monitoring water, air, soil, food, etc.
m. services-sector research (i.e. health, banking, insurance,
9. Open Space:
Creative, urban clustering vs. typical suburban sprawl is the simplest way to preserve open space. Therefore, all NSD EcoVillages will have a higher building and population density
than is typical of villages in the United States. That way all residents
will have easy access to public, open spaces for urban parks, rural
food production, and nearby hinterland, or "wilderness"
In the spirit of free enterprise and the market economy, NSD management policy is to provide low-cost access to all necessary insurance coverage for the inhabitants of the community.
Initially, NSD plans to negotiate group rates with reputable private
insurance companies. Later, coverage may be through a community-owned
company. The EcoVillage design will encourage a healthy lifestyle.
However, a small clinic is planned for each EcoVillage, probably staffed
by a nurse practicioner.
By design, auto and truck traffic is eliminated from the core fabric of an EcoVillage (except for emergencies). Parking is peripheral and connects with the community's
internal transit system. This will probably be in the nature of a
combination system of trolleys and a small Personal Rapid Transit (PRT).
This system will have stops within 500 feet of essentially all homes
and businesses in the community. Shopping packages, as well as larger
delivery items, will be by a community-contracted delivery service. Most
internal EcoVillage movement, other than that of transit systems, will
be by foot, bicycle, other pedal-powered vehicles, handicapped electric
vehicles, roller skates & blades, skate-boards, manual or electric
scooters, and horses.
When it becomes possible the local EcoVillage transit system will be connected to a station for an inter-urban system running from the EcoVillage core to other towns and
cities. One projected EcoVillage business will be rental of highly
efficient, non-fossil fuel burning vehicles for use on trips.
The location of Mariposa is near Amarillo, TX. Amarillo is experiencing typical problems of population expansion and reduced water availability due to urban and agricultural uses. The
area faces severe depletion of regional water resources, and in the
foreseeable future also faces an inevitable shortage of conventional
energy from natural gas and petroleum. These profound challenges also
face communities in other arid lands, and, with a minor alteration of
details, most human communities, world-wide. These, and other ecological
problems NSD is prepared to address and solve. Mariposa EcoVillage will
be located on a section of land much of which has been mined for sand
and gravel over the past 30 years. The butterfly shape of the mined area
inspired the name, as well as the challenge of transforming an
abandoned eye-sore into a beautiful, vibrant space.
Those who will benefit will be:
1. The people who choose to settle in the EcoVillage.
2. The EcoVillage managing and governing teams and their
consultants, who synergistically will design, and build the project and
its spin-off sister EcoVillages.
3. Any persons or organizations interested in learning how to
build EcoVillage systems.
4. The area surrounding the EcoVillage. In the case of Mariposa
this will be Amarillo and the Texas panhandle, as we believe the
EcoVillage will draw visitors and new residents to the area. We also
hope to assist and benefit from working collaboratively with area
schools and other area centers of learning and businesses.
5. Planet Earth itself especially as the basic concepts of
EcoVillage design are spread.
Most of the ideas and functional components of the project have already been used as isolated features in countless projects around the world, but we believe they have never been brought all together in one place and at one time to the extent NSD intends.The future application of the basic EcoVillage concepts and technologies are unlimited as far as replication
on a world-wide basis is concerned. For a more complete outline of EcoVillage characteristics which will influence policies, see:
"Checklist of EcoVillage Characteristics
, in these doc**ents.