Catalyzing personal empowerment, societal transformation, and environmental sustainability
"Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast...a part time crusader, a
half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your
lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the
land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While
it's still here."
Mission & Vision
Our Three Branches:
Counseling & Life Coaching
Holistic Living Institute
EcoIntegrity Center of Bellingham (ECO Bell)
What is ECO Bell?One of the three branches of Attraction Retreat,
ECO Bell is the place to be if you're attracted to
cocreating and experiencing community—-
and becoming the change
you want to see in our world!
ECO Bell is:
Making a difference is going to take us all—-
working together and supporting one another.
Become involved! Join us every Monday night at 6:00 pm for a potluck dinner (or bar-b-ques during the nice summer weather), followed at 7:00 by a general conversation: "What's on your mind, Bellingham?" Let's network together to become the change we want to see in the world!
Besides the following synopsis of this project, and an example of how ECO Bell will locally address a global issue such as climate change, you can also see our web diagram of the nodes and their interconnections that we concern ourselves with, a glossary of terms and definitions from the web diagram, and our complete vision and mission statement.
What will it take for everyone in a community to lead healthy, fulfilling, enjoyable lives? How can we experience personal abundance while ensuring a thriving, healthy planet for ourselves and our posterity? How can we live in peace, both within ourselves and with our neighbors--across the street, and across the ocean?
The key to global transformations in the personal, social, environmental, economic, and other realms is not simply a matter of right or wrong actions. Rather, it is a matter of building right relationships--and the ultimate model of right relationships is Nature, whose attraction relationships create and sustain everything in the universe in a perfectly balanced and sustainable "whole systems design."
What We're All About
The essence of Attraction Retreat is right relationship. As an expression of that, we are embarking on a major project which we've named the EcoIntegrity Center of Bellingham, or ECO Bell for short. Our name is a combination of the words ecology--the study of systems and the interdependent relationships among all forms of life and their environment--and integrity, which is soundness, completeness, and an adherence to a code of values. The ecointegrity center blends ecology and integrity by embracing and expressing the core values of the Earth Charter: respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, democracy, nonviolence, and peace. We go beyond merely philosophizing about these values and the issues they are related to by actively demonstrating how people can live healthy, fulfilling lives while creating right livelihood through an adherence to an ethic of ecointegrity.
ECO Bell is a budding intentional community for activists, change agents, and concerned, caring citizens working in the areas of ecological integrity, social justice, participatory democracy, and economic equity. We support one another as, together, we address the interdependent relationships among these areas and demonstrate how cross-disciplinary cooperation and reciprocity can help create healthy communities built with vibrant neighborhoods comprised of individuals who care about each other as much as they care about our natural environment.
A major impetus in the development of the vision and mission of ECO Bell was our desire for it to be much more than just an intellectual exercise, or a theoretical set of scenarios composed of "what-ifs" and "maybes." The articulation of the problems in current cities, neighborhoods, social structures, economic systems, the underlying environment they all rely upon, and how these all can negatively impact people, is readily available in numerous places. However, the solutions tend to be somewhat scattered. There are many good individual ideas in many areas, but few attempts to address them in a cohesive, systematic, and systemic manner.
At many of the simplicity, sustainability, justice, and environmental conferences we've attended lately, there is always much talk about what the problems are, and their negative effects on people, society, and the environment. The main question everyone in attendance keeps repeating, though, is "what can we do?" and the few answers tend to be rather abstract at best, beyond the common "recycle more and drive less."
ECO Bell does not purport to contain all the solutions, or provide solutions that will work best for everyone in every location. What we intend to actually do, however, is demonstrate through a functional, working model how a number of solutions can be brought to bear in a manner such that the cumulative effect can have wide-reaching ramifications throughout the entire system.
Using the best available tools in scientific research, we will address these issues mainly from the viewpoint of the relationships between the issues. Instead of using the common method of addressing each issue in isolation, and falling prey to what may be called the reductionist's fallacy, we will look at how these issues relate to and affect one another--reflecting the interconnected and interdependent nature of reality.
One of the issues in sustainable urban design is the problem of how to increase density and decrease sprawl. We intend to show how urban neighborhoods can help solve this dilemma while maintaining their unique characteristics (and characters) and without increasing congestion--either the human or the vehicular type.
One of the requirements for a healthy and sustainable community is diversity. Every healthy ecosystem demonstrates this inescapable fact. When it comes to economic diversity, the other side of that coin is autonomy and as much independence as possible from outside forces.
It is our belief that communities can increase both density and diversity, and in doing so, become less dependent on fossil fuel transportation. Communities also decrease the resources they consume, which will automatically lower the environmental impact on their bioregion.
How We Intend To DO Something
Some of the initial aspects and issues the ECO Bell project will be addressing include:
Why It's Important To Use The Systems Perspective
For just one example of the interdependent nature of these areas, a look at the economic picture reveals why it is impossible to deal with these issues in isolation. Let's take human health which includes, and is dependent upon, the food we eat, the time we have to enjoyably spend with family, friends and community, our means of right livelihood, and whether our government is protecting our best interests. These all have obvious as well as somewhat hidden economic aspects. Healthy food comes from organic farming, biodynamics and restorative agriculture, which all help to break our dependence on the petrochemical agribusiness industry which is dependent on subsidies and a non-sustainable fossil fuel based global transportation system. For our health, we can't afford not to eat organic, locally grown food. As we think about each of these variables, it very quickly becomes apparent that it would take a separate essay to detail all of the interconnections in this paragraph alone.
I realize that when our intentions are all laid out like this at one time, they sound daunting--but upon reflection, it can be seen that they are really nothing more than how caring, aware people already go about our daily lives. These are the things we all should and can do in the course of our day to day affairs to live sustainably, simply, and fairly. Many steps in many directions add up to a systemic change--and will be far more effective than simply being a reform or two here and there which cannot alter the foundations of the underlying system.
The cultural change we end up with from a conscious and systemic approach such as we are undertaking at ECO Bell creates a shift in the overall social contract--away from domination and competition toward partnership and cooperation in the relationships we responsibly build in and between all these aspects of our lives. We all do our part, in part by not allowing ourselves to be distracted and misled, and instead we co-create the healthy, sustainable world in which we want to live.
The Big Picture - Local Actions with Global Effects
Our individual, local actions can also have an impact on issues that affect the global biosphere. While they may not have the obvious and immediate effects that decreasing pesticide use on local farms has within the local watershed to create healthier salmon habitat, they are still significant, especially as they become more widely adopted.
Climate change, popularly expressed as global warming, has many causes and effects in many areas. As an example of how personal actions can have planetary effects, ECO Bell will specifically address some of these causes and effects in the following manner.
Climate change is expected to adversely impact fresh water supplies, which are already decreasing and becoming more polluted everywhere around the globe. We plan to reduce our water consumption and the amount of water that goes into the city water treatment plant. This will be partially accomplished through water restricting faucets and shower heads, low and dual flush toilets, and rain water catchments and greywater recycling for the organic gardens and native plant landscaping.
The current forecasts on climate change also show that as much as 25% of the forests in the Pacific Northwest could disappear due to global warming in the immediate future. A healthy forest and productive wetlands are the best water purifiers available. We will support efforts to reduce or eliminate logging on public lands, and oppose efforts to fill wetlands for development. All renovations at ECO Bell will either consist of recycled material, or employ green building practices and use local timber that has been sustainably harvested in accordance with the international Forest Stewardship Council. New building will be done using straw bale, rammed earth, or recrete (recycled concrete and styrofoam.)
Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is another goal. ECO Bell is within walking distance to the Bellingham downtown core, the city and county government complex, the educational district office, two parks and the waterfront. We expect to directly employ many of the project members and inhabitants, and use telecommuting for as much of our work as possible. Having a shared vehicle will help keep the overall number of cars to an absolute minimum, while working with the city planning and zoning departments to relax the current requirements for multi-family dwellings to dedicate as much as one third of their property for parking lots. We will continue to work on eliminating the need for personal vehicles by advocating making the community more bicycle friendly, and increasing the convenience and availability of public mass transit.
Energy conservation and a move to alternative, renewable energy sources is another avenue we'll pursue at ECO Bell. The buildings will have solar panels, passive solar cooking and greenhouses, and it is hoped we can become a functional demonstration model for the local alternative energy co-op. We will actively work with other neighborhood centers and community groups to institute similar systems themselves, by showing how they can save money, increase community bonding, and help people restore or find their sense of place by working together to create safe and healthy neighborhoods.
One of the major thrusts of ECO Bell will be to create a maximally sustainable lifestyle, and to demonstrate how this type of cooperative lifestyle can provide a higher quality of life than is possible by continued reliance on industrialism's pollution economy and debt based monetary system.
By using natural systems as a model of reciprocal co-creation, we feel people can find meaning and purpose in life. As well, they can discover a more natural fulfillment for our unique human needs, as they live in sustainable balance with the rest of the bio-global community.
For further information please contact email@example.com
"Reality is what refuses to go away when I stop believing in it."
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