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 Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?

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PostSubject: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:14 pm

It is nearly ten years now since the Eco-village project that became Cloughjordan was first planned. After several false starts, planning permission was got for 132 housing units, including some apartments, in the Tipperary town.

[img][/img]Cloughjordan Site

The construction of the "village" will start this summer.

To my mind, watching a Utopian community coming into being is a bit like watching the start of a car crash in slow motion. My main rational objection is deep scepticism as to how the village's population will find local employment. But the vicarious prospect of the rich mix of eccentrics and escapees that may join the community overrides any misgiving with curiosity as to what will happen between the people there. When will the first split occur?

Is building a new community in a declining area an act of bravery or madness? Will it all end in tears?

I would love to be wrong and to have my scepticism cured. Is there anyone reading who is planning to move to Cloughjordan, or who knows anyone going, who would give their view? Or anyone who just wants to give their best guess at the outcome?
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:20 pm

Are they going to use a different system of money or something? I believe there are communities like this elsewhere - Mayo - where they use a barter system with their skills .. That could keep them occupied for a while, being a fair old challenge to get a system like that up and running.
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:44 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
Are they going to use a different system of money or something? I believe there are communities like this elsewhere - Mayo - where they use a barter system with their skills .. That could keep them occupied for a while, being a fair old challenge to get a system like that up and running.

They have district heating and a shared 50 acres with fruit trees. They buy a site for about €80,000.00 and then build a house to eco-standards on it. They "share leadership" in how the village and land is run. It sounds like a yuppy version of the 1960s communes, but with solar panels.
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:52 pm

Do they vett people or are they all friends before hand? It sounds like the crowd in M. Night Shymalanman's film The Village . Or a commune like in Witness.

Would you live in one?
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:03 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
Do they vett people or are they all friends before hand? It sounds like the crowd in M. Night Shymalanman's film The Village . Or a commune like in Witness.

Would you live in one?

Would I hell. I keep picturing those girls in sunbonnets with push chairs... It is bad enough living in a real village. Iris Murdoch's "The Bell" is a great novel on a commune - a religious one in her case. Marriages break down and people generally go off their trolleys. I think Burn was thinking of utopian communes when he said "the best laid plans of men gae aft agley" (sp?)
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 4:16 am

my impression that these guys are serious about this, and spent lots of money and at this stag or no longer hippy but middle class with good jobs etc, if gorden brown can do it why not these guys.
whats that place in london?
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:32 am

lostexpectation wrote:
my impression that these guys are serious about this, and spent lots of money and at this stag or no longer hippy but middle class with good jobs etc, if gorden brown can do it why not these guys.
whats that place in london?

I agree they are serious lostexpectation, and have put huge work into the project. However I have serious questions about how sustainable moving a substantial new population into a small declining town will work in terms of transport and employment and so on. I would really like to hear some one come on and tell me they know the project and how they are going to deal with all that. I would like to be proven wrong on this one.

And the underlying approach and ethos mirrors many of the US hippy communes who went back to the soil, broke the ground and grew their own food - extremely hard working and idealist people, not Young Ones grungies at all.
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:35 am

I wonder will everyone who lives in it be called Armitage... anyone I've ever met from Cloughjordan has had the surname Armitage...
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:15 am

johnfás wrote:
I wonder will everyone who lives in it be called Armitage... anyone I've ever met from Cloughjordan has had the surname Armitage...

It would be wonderful to have 2 blogs - one from a Cloughjordan 'old town' resident and the other from someone giving it a go in the new village. You don't know anyone you could ask, do you Johnfás?
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:25 am

Machine has gone awol and set up a blog http://machinenation.sosblog.com/index.htm - apparently a number of bloggers can be logged on simultaneously. If one of us can get one of those folks to blog here then it could be an interesting project... Cloughjordan is two hours drive from me but I'm sure there are emails on the website.


Last edited by Auditor #9 on Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:41 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:33 am

Why won't that link let me click on it, Audi?
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:38 am

Auditor #9 wrote:
Machine has gone awol and set up a blog
http://machinenation.sosblog.com/index.htm - apparently a number of bloggers can be logged on simultaneously. If one of us can get one of those folks to blog here then it could be an interesting project... Cloughjordan is two hours drive from me but I'm sure there are emails on the website.

That blogging thing looks brilliant Auditor!
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:53 am

cactus flower wrote:
johnfás wrote:
I wonder will everyone who lives in it be called Armitage... anyone I've ever met from Cloughjordan has had the surname Armitage...

It would be wonderful to have 2 blogs - one from a Cloughjordan 'old town' resident and the other from someone giving it a go in the new village. You don't know anyone you could ask, do you Johnfás?

Will see what I can do over the summer. We'd a few from Cloughjordan in school (boarders). Wouldn't be too much in touch with them these days though.
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:24 am

the eco village people operate out of sustainable ireland you know that place in temple bar,dave's the guys name i think,profiled in the dubliner etc, i don't know, i don't think it will be any kind of disaster, it was good choice of place to do it, more brown field then green, its getting a new rail station isn't it, that long distance travel atleast, i think alot of them are self employed and thus can work from home or walkable business centre... not having seen the plans i preume the village is walkable to the houses too, i don't know if i was having this same conversation with you on boards, but i did note that they want to absolve themselves from section 5 social and affordable housing erquirement, they reckon they shouldn't have to pay it cos its an eco project, but i think they will pay the fee to the council, what's an eco project if its not social and affordable too though??

looking at this stuff, and having an interesting sustainable living etc,having read few things about future suburbs, in my dreams i think it would great to find a cul de sac in suburb somewhere and arrange for like minded people to buy a number of houses, and do an eco- cul-de-sac, plant veg in the _front_ garden etc, it might be bit more real.

but then im sure there plenty of places in the west that need repopulation
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:53 pm

Good point about the de-population of the West, lost - these societies could have multiple effects in that they could reduce the burden on Dublin or elsewhere, benefit the environment and re-populate or boost areas of the west.

As societies tend to have a lifespan of birth development and death like other organisms/organisations, what can anyone do to make these organisations have more longevity and a healthiness about the lifespan and then a renewal afterwards? An ethos or religion or such structure comes to mind and the simpler and more immediate the better.

I'm thinking of Maslow's hierarchy here and the pursuit of self-actuation. Work for example could be redefined as having to be either in an emergency, to keep the society buoyant or as beneficial in itself. Our own society has this ethos: work is a necessary evil and you are virtually evil yourself if you don't engage in it.
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:37 pm

lostexpectation wrote:
the eco village people operate out of sustainable ireland you know that place in temple bar,dave's the guys name i think,profiled in the dubliner etc, i don't know, i don't think it will be any kind of disaster, it was good choice of place to do it, more brown field then green, its getting a new rail station isn't it, that long distance travel atleast, i think alot of them are self employed and thus can work from home or walkable business centre... not having seen the plans i preume the village is walkable to the houses too, i don't know if i was having this same conversation with you on boards, but i did note that they want to absolve themselves from section 5 social and affordable housing erquirement, they reckon they shouldn't have to pay it cos its an eco project, but i think they will pay the fee to the council, what's an eco project if its not social and affordable too though??

looking at this stuff, and having an interesting sustainable living etc,having read few things about future suburbs, in my dreams i think it would great to find a cul de sac in suburb somewhere and arrange for like minded people to buy a number of houses, and do an eco- cul-de-sac, plant veg in the _front_ garden etc, it might be bit more real.

but then im sure there plenty of places in the west that need repopulation

I really like your idea of an eco-suburb. New standard housing is now all eco-housing in relative terms compared with a few years ago but it is always good to have something cutting edge.
There is an ecosuburb in England called BedZed (zero energy development) that I was at and that is quite good, but doesnt look normal - design is gimmicky.

You would think Cloughjourdan would have welcomed Social and affordable, it would have given them a head start in terms of building funds. confused
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Sun Apr 27, 2008 3:16 am

just cos it has painted vents its not that wacky, it seems to be more of what im talking about, had a quick look to see where it was built, sounds like brown field in suburban/outer city area, thats real, thats right in the middle of eveyone else, looks like any new townhouse style development.
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Sun Apr 27, 2008 3:19 am

lostexpectation wrote:
just cos it has painted vents its not that wacky, it seems to be more of what im talking about, had a quick look to see where it was built, sounds like brown field in suburban/outer city area, thats real, thats right in the middle of eveyone else, looks like any new townhouse style development.

Your right lostexpectation - I am just picky. It was a normal place to live. People just got on a bus or into a plug in car and went off to work. There is a kind of social room there but no-one uses it much.
The technology is nearly all working. Green roofs are nice, solar, passive structures, the district heating I think was the only problem. Living machine bio treatment was good.
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Mon May 12, 2008 8:58 pm

Hi there,

I live in Cloughjordan and am a member of the ecovillage project, so I can respond to some of the questions and comments about it.

Firstly, it's important to know that it isn't a commune. In a commune there is little or no private ownership, all resources are shared, and people give up a lot of their personal freedom. In the Cloughjordan ecovillage, each individual or family owns their own site and house and is responsible for making their own living and there are very few rules about how people live their lives. There is some shared land for recreation and growing food and there will be shared buildings for community activities and members will have to work together to manage these facilities. For me, it strikes the right balance between independence and collectivism. There are huge social, practical and financial benefits from doing things as a group, but there is also a need to maintain personal freedom.

It is also not indended to be "utopian". Of course it intends to facilitate people having a high quality of life and to trying out new ways of doing things, but nobody thinks there won't be any problems or conflicts or that we will be sheltered from the outside world. It was always intended that the ecovillage would be fully integrated and actively contributing to the existing local commuity and the wider world. So it's neither Heaven nor Hell, it's just a slightly different way of living within our society.

There is no vetting of prospective members. Anyone can join by buying a site. In case anyone is interested, there are still a few sites left, but they are going fast! See www.thevillage.ie.

Regarding employment, about a third of the ecovillagers have already moved to Cloughjordan and are making a living here. Several of them have set up new businesses in the town, some of which are also employing local people. These include a bookshop, bike shop, transport consultancy and building consultancy. Others have found work in nearby towns such as Nenagh and Roscrea and others work from home, sometimes with occasional daytrips to Dublin or Limerick (Cloughjordan has a train station on the Dublin-Limerick line). Of course job opportunities aren't as plentiful or diverse as in Dublin, but people are finding creative solutions to that and the increasing population and new businesses are helping regenerate the local economy.

Relations with the long-term residents of Cloughjordan are very good. I think there are two main reasons for that - the local people are naturally welcoming and the founders of the project went to a lot of effort to consult them and inform them about their plans from the start. A measure of the acceptance of the development by the local community is that there were no objections to the planning application - this is virtually unheard of in projects of this kind. Of course there are some differences - many of the new people moving here are coming from cities, they're relatively young, leftwing, some of their interests might be seen as very "alternative" by some of the locals. But you get these kinds of differences in every community, whether it's due to religious divides, different nationalities, generation gaps, etc., and they don't have to be a problem. Fortunately there has always been lots of community activity in Cloughjordan. There's something like 25 social and community groups in a town of 450 people! So there are lots of opportunities for new and old residents to get to know and appreciate each other, and this is happening all the time. The aim is that eventually there'll be no distinction made between the "ecos" (as we're currently known) and everyone else, we'll all just be people living in Cloughjordan.

Regarding Social & Affordable Housing, we very much wanted to have it, but North Tipperary County Council didn't have any need for social housing in Cloughjordan. So, they're charging us a fee for not providing something which we're more than willing to provide, but aren't providing because they don't want it! Generally the council has been supportive of the project, but under current legislation they have to charge us the fee, even though it is intended for developers who are making a profit and the ecovillage is non-profit making.

Anyway, hope this answers some of your questions. For more info, see our website
www.thevillage.ie
and some recent press reports:
http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/property-plus/ecovillage-life-1370235.html
http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2008/02/10/story30218.asp
For anyone considering buying a site, there are regular "experience days" in Cloughjordan where you can visit for the day, learn more about the project and talk to existing members. See www.thevillage.ie.
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Mon May 12, 2008 9:37 pm

O Lynott wrote:
Hi there,

I live in Cloughjordan and am a member of the ecovillage project, so I can respond to some of the questions and comments about it.

Firstly, it's important to know that it isn't a commune. In a commune there is little or no private ownership, all resources are shared, and people give up a lot of their personal freedom. In the Cloughjordan ecovillage, each individual or family owns their own site and house and is responsible for making their own living and there are very few rules about how people live their lives. There is some shared land for recreation and growing food and there will be shared buildings for community activities and members will have to work together to manage these facilities. For me, it strikes the right balance between independence and collectivism. There are huge social, practical and financial benefits from doing things as a group, but there is also a need to maintain personal freedom.

It is also not indended to be "utopian". Of course it intends to facilitate people having a high quality of life and to trying out new ways of doing things, but nobody thinks there won't be any problems or conflicts or that we will be sheltered from the outside world. It was always intended that the ecovillage would be fully integrated and actively contributing to the existing local commuity and the wider world. So it's neither Heaven nor Hell, it's just a slightly different way of living within our society.

There is no vetting of prospective members. Anyone can join by buying a site. In case anyone is interested, there are still a few sites left, but they are going fast! See www.thevillage.ie.

Regarding employment, about a third of the ecovillagers have already moved to Cloughjordan and are making a living here. Several of them have set up new businesses in the town, some of which are also employing local people. These include a bookshop, bike shop, transport consultancy and building consultancy. Others have found work in nearby towns such as Nenagh and Roscrea and others work from home, sometimes with occasional daytrips to Dublin or Limerick (Cloughjordan has a train station on the Dublin-Limerick line). Of course job opportunities aren't as plentiful or diverse as in Dublin, but people are finding creative solutions to that and the increasing population and new businesses are helping regenerate the local economy.

Relations with the long-term residents of Cloughjordan are very good. I think there are two main reasons for that - the local people are naturally welcoming and the founders of the project went to a lot of effort to consult them and inform them about their plans from the start. A measure of the acceptance of the development by the local community is that there were no objections to the planning application - this is virtually unheard of in projects of this kind. Of course there are some differences - many of the new people moving here are coming from cities, they're relatively young, leftwing, some of their interests might be seen as very "alternative" by some of the locals. But you get these kinds of differences in every community, whether it's due to religious divides, different nationalities, generation gaps, etc., and they don't have to be a problem. Fortunately there has always been lots of community activity in Cloughjordan. There's something like 25 social and community groups in a town of 450 people! So there are lots of opportunities for new and old residents to get to know and appreciate each other, and this is happening all the time. The aim is that eventually there'll be no distinction made between the "ecos" (as we're currently known) and everyone else, we'll all just be people living in Cloughjordan.

Regarding Social & Affordable Housing, we very much wanted to have it, but North Tipperary County Council didn't have any need for social housing in Cloughjordan. So, they're charging us a fee for not providing something which we're more than willing to provide, but aren't providing because they don't want it! Generally the council has been supportive of the project, but under current legislation they have to charge us the fee, even though it is intended for developers who are making a profit and the ecovillage is non-profit making.

Anyway, hope this answers some of your questions. For more info, see our website
www.thevillage.ie
and some recent press reports:
http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/property-plus/ecovillage-life-1370235.html
http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2008/02/10/story30218.asp
For anyone considering buying a site, there are regular "experience days" in Cloughjordan where you can visit for the day, learn more about the project and talk to existing members. See www.thevillage.ie.

Thanks very much for that O Lynnott. Brilliant to get an answer to all those questions. I for one would really appreciate it if you would post sometimes and let us get a feel of what it is like settling in to a new home as part of this wider project.

If you've had a look around the site you'll see that there is an interest here from quite a few posters in alternative technologies and sustainability issues. Some of us are rural and some urban, and we all seem to get along O.K. although here there is always the log off option...

You said you live at Cloughjordan. Does that mean you have already moved in? Do you work from home? And do the householders try to achieve very low or zero emissions from the new houses?
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Tue May 13, 2008 11:49 am

hmm i still have doubts over the social and affordable housing angle
this article paints it little different to you

http://buckplanning.blogspot.com/2007/01/news-on-irelands-first-eco-village.html

it seems more that you wanted to avoid paying either way for S & A housing rather then the council forcing you to pay and not build.
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Tue May 13, 2008 12:05 pm

The council could have insisted on taking a portion of the village’s building land for affordable housing, but decided that would undermine the project’s communal ethos

This sounds as though they could have taken the land. I think it is a pity they didn't: Council's are building A-rated houses now. They could easily have taken built some affordable units, and some social for tenants - any tenant who didn't want to live there could have turned down the offer.

Perhaps it is more to do with the Council not having the money to buy the land and build the houses ?

Or just a lack of imagination and courage ?

Perhaps someone from the North Tipperary County Council might like to reply ?
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Tue May 13, 2008 12:19 pm

well i think the most common phrase we here in relation to this is experiment, which is fair enough i categories it as a serious experiment, but then it obviously isn't an affordable one.

i don't understand why a county would not need social and affordable housing? im not surprised but i don't know why.

quick mymap fiddle to see how the developement sits next to the village
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=108692096314893578946.00044d18de50ecb3ace3a&ll=52.943776,-8.041456&spn=0.009219,0.027895&z=16
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Tue May 13, 2008 4:00 pm

Anyone one hear of the plans for a Jumbo scale straw-bale apartment block in rural Wales? (All topped off with a lovely grass roof)... Called the Lammas Eco-village..
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PostSubject: Re: Cloughjordan - Eco-heaven or Hell?   Tue May 13, 2008 4:27 pm

simon.d wrote:
Anyone one hear of the plans for a Jumbo scale straw-bale apartment block in rural Wales? (All topped off with a lovely grass roof)... Called the Lammas Eco-village..

That place is so cool. I would love to live there if I didn't have to live here. Spend all day milking cows and thinning carrots. Bliss.

The houses in the overview document are fantastic.
Lammas Overview PDF
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