Introduction: The sage projects is a place to grow, and connects citizens who are environmentally conscious with the resources they need to implement innovative and timeless sustainable processes. Our mission is to create urban ecovillage communities that are environmentally responsible, low maintenance, and sustainable longterm by using resources in a balanced and efficient way and sharing education, skills, and fresh local food from our gardens. Community spaces will provide training workshops and permaculture education. Keep reading to find out how to get involved. And watch some great videos on our facebook page: Urban Ecovillage. Click the link on the upper left of this homepage.
The Sage Projects philosophy is to have more freedom while helping to create a more healthy planet for the future while supporting each other as a not for profit group with transparent finances. TSP helps to empower citizens with the resources they need to implement and share innovative processes in a pay it forward manner to restore the environment, social health, and vitality of communities while residents have more free time to pursue individual dreams and goals. Since prices doubled in the mid 90's and keep going up, it is now rare to find high quality living spaces with low rental costs near large cities. By working together and pooling our skills and resources, we can co-create high quality living spaces with a low cost of living. The Sage Projects is not a commune and is not affiliated with any religious group. We are an intentional pacifist environmental community of members where respect and equality is expected, and where theft and violence against others is not tolerated.
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History: One of our members who works in architecture and green design purchased and renovated a small apartment building in a downtown area and converted it into a green design affordable living building. He added composting and small gardens on the property. Later he replaced all the applicances with new low energy consumption appliances, changed all the plumbing fixtures to reduce water use, added some solar systems, and reduced the electric bills by half. The residents were happy. They lived in a newly renovated, clean, environmentally friendly property with low utility bills and lower than average rents. The owner had great intentions and planned to manage the property through the rest of his life.
After a few years the owner started to run into sustainability issues due to taxes. Like most owners, he had a mortage. He had the rents at an amount to cover all the bills in a not for profit plan with no income. The city added a new tax that they called a "hospital district tax". Then later that year some new condos and apartment buildings were built nearby and other owners renovated their buildings. The property taxes were going to double in the next two years. Because of the huge tax hike, the only option for the owner was to raise rents to market rate or sell. The intention was never to have market rents for profit, so he sold the property. The tentants had to move further away from downtown into run down apartments in lower quality neighborhoods to find similar rents. That owner is now waiting to help us with our construction projects.
Land: We have searched for years looking at ways to raise funds for land and materials. We have decided on a plan and hope to get it started sometime in the winter or spring of 2015. We are not going to start building until we have land that is free of mortgage loans so we can keep costs down. See how you can get involved by clicking on the 'help us' tab on the top of this homepage. We have a trust account set up that will only be used for the fundraising project and donations. Our projects will have financial transparency. Members will be able to see income, donations, and expenses. Decisions will typically be made by consensus of all members after we discuss options. If the 'help us' tab does not work, the fundraising project has not started yet. If you do not have much free time you can still help just by telling others about it. And if you choose to get more involved, you can help us raise funds while also earning income for yourself. We can show you how and in return, we ask that you tell others about our fundraising plan. Some people may not want to actually live in an ecovillage but still want to visit or help.
Sustainability: Our living expenses will be lower than average because we can help eachother to know how to produce organic crops and share them. We will produce our own energy and in some locations, sell surplus power back to power companies. Financially we will be living in small houses that do not have a mortgage. In a worst case scenario, such as a zoning change, our small homes could be moved to another location.
Communities: Through sharing experience, education, experimentation, trial and error, and discovery, a great deal of progress can be made in positive ways while we work toward living in a world that is more sustainable and with less environmental pollution. Daily living does not have to be expensive or cause pollution to the environment. Most of us are, or have been renters. The cost of home maintenance, utilities, land, and taxes is making it more and more difficult to own a home. Some of us have been managers of properties or have worked in real estate or finance. We have been comparing notes and sharing experience and information about the cost of living over the years. Most of us have realized that unless you have a higher than average income, and have a two income family, it may not be worth it to be strapped to a 30 year mortgage where most of your payment is going to a bank in the form of interest. If you move within ten years, only a very small amount of your payments have actually gone to lower your loan balance. So after all the money you paid every month for years, your loan balance is almost the same as when you started, so you have to start all over. Where did most of the money go? To the bank in the form of income.
Pay it Forward: By helping share information about off grid living systems, some of us now have no utility bills and grow most of our own vegetables and share surplus crops. It is possible to lower our cost of living while having more free time to enjoy personal interests but it takes education and experimenting, and unless you know people with experience who know what works and what does not and who are willing to educate others and share information it can be very difficult to find what works. When it comes to a sustainable planet, there are better choices out there than what you usually see advertised but you need experienced mentors.
Ecovillages: Many people do not want to live in a way that causes more pollution for the environment. There are alot of people talking about sustainability and some have come together to create a low cost of higher quality living in a sustainable way. We spend our vacation time in remote ecovillages that have a low cost of living, organic gardens, fresh organic eggs, and fresh milk. These places are not close to colleges and major employers. Our intention is to create a few similar places that are close to urban centers while living in a quiet setting in a sustainable way so we can enjoy the same lifestyle while we are not on vacation. This is a large task so a person cannot do it alone. We already have several friends who are trying to help. Cohousing and ecovillage living has been done successfully in places we visit, but they are not close to urban centers. The ones that we have visited in urban centers have market rate rents making it impossible for most residents to save money.
The earth has had life for over 700 million years. From the time man invented the airplane to the time the first nuclear bomb was dropped on a city was only fifty years. Our technological development has gotten way ahead of our social and spiritual development. We have become dangerous to ourselves and others and to the biosphere of the earth. All of this is unnecessary. Its time to work together for the common good. New developments are happening but they take many years to take hold. Fuel cell vehicles and wind turbines were developed many years ago but are not yet mainstream.
How much of this unsustainable world do you feel is a result of culture? Can conscious decision-making be a potential remedy to create a more sustainable future? Most of it is just a personal choice but people first need to be informed. When people gather in nature, away from cell phones, computers, and television, something magical happens. It is a simple, daily custom to have a moment of leisure with friends who share some common values.
We believe that humanity currently has the knowledge to have a new restorative model of living in balance with the planet, without doing harm and causing pollution, by utilizing sustainable and mindful development. Our urban ecovillage plan is designed to be a not for profit organization that is self funding to create a lower cost of higher quality living with systems maintained by members and by those who come to learn and volunteer at our CSA gardens. We are not concerned about how large our network becomes. Our intention is to provide information and let it have the opportunity to grow and pay it forward.
Existing: The properties we chose will likely have an existing home at the front of the property. We plan to use that existing house as a coffee house - tea house - deli by day, and a bed and breakfast by night. The coffee house deli will have healthy fresh prepared foods, juices, herb teas, and smoothies made from our gardens. Did you know there are some herbal teas that energize like coffee while providing a high amount of anti-oxidants? If you want to slow the aging process, have more energy, and look younger, anti -oxidants are key.
Some of us who garden usually have more crops than we can use, so we trade with friends, and can also suppy the deli. The bed and breakfast will be available for overnight visitors. Visitors who want to support us can use the coffee house/deli/bed and breakfast to help residents earn income. Some of our members are massage therapists, reiki practitioners, pilates instructors, and other professionals, so visitors will have those options also.
Experience: Some of our friends are certified builders, licenced teachers, permaculture gardeners, facilitators, and renewable energy experts. After visiting ecovillages for many years, we are making an effort to start an urban ecovillage of small, low maintenance off grid homes surrounded by organic gardens supporting a CSA, coffee house, and bed and breakfast. A CSA is a small business that sells freshly picked organic garden produce to the local community. We have found some areas around the United States where we can develp an urban ecovillage close to major employers while still living in a quiet country setting. The land taxes are higher when you are closer to an urban center, so we plan to use funds from the CSA, workshops, and a bread and breakfast to help cover that cost. Our utility bills will hopefully be zero, because we will support each other in maintaining our own clean energy systems. Rents are intended to be lower than average and used for expenses in a not for profit plan with financial transparency for members.
Solar Electric: By living in smaller homes, we lower our need for heat and air conditioning which makes it easier to be off grid. When the local fossil fuel power plant runs less, it produces less pollution. We support sustainable technology. With the latest technology we can now use a solar powered air conditioner that works well for a small living space for under $1200. If the living space gets bigger, a larger system is needed which costs more. For basic electricity it is now fairly simple to have a portable solar generator if you know how to do it.
Winter Systems: Those who are educated in green design and earthships know that its possible to design homes with no heating and air condition costs, even in places like Canada or Northern New Mexico. Through design, homes and greenhouse growing domes can use heat from the sun to provide heat and grow food, even during the winter months.
Rentals and Pets: Searching for rentals and a higher quality of healthy living? We hope to have some soon and sometimes help local property owners advertise. Join our growing community of supporters at our facebook page by clicking the icon at the upper left of this homepage to view some of the sustainability vidoes. Help us with promotions by clicking on the 'SHARE' botton at the bottom of our inspirational posts on facebook. Land will be owned by a trust, and rentals will usually be managed by offsite professional property managers to help preserve equality between residents. Residents can make income by working at the CSA, coffee house, bed and breakfast, or holding their own educational workshops in community spaces. To help prevent noise, we will usually not allow noisy pets or a home day care business on the land; however, if the location has a problem with deer jumping fences to eat garden crops, then a dog or two may be needed to deter them. In that situation, to keep the peace, we will have dogs who are quiet and friendly. We have had many friends asking if pets will be allowed. So you can expect hens, no roosters, quiet dogs for garden protection, other quiet pets, and no neighbors with dogs that bark all day.
Fundraising and How You Can Help: We are working on a fundraising project for land and materials and searching for other creative ways to fundraise that are efficient. Click on the 'help us' tab at the top of the page for more information. If the link does not work, it has not started yet. It takes time to set up information systems, and our members who volunteer work full time in other jobs.
Respect and Equality: We do not follow any religions and work to maintain a peaceful atmosphere. We follow the Golden Rule: Treat others how you would want to be treated. We have a policy of equality and nonviolence. If you do not respect all people and all genders equally, you will not be welcome and will not be happy in our group. We have a no tolerance policy for physical and mental abuse. Some of us are experienced facilitators. Argueing and yelling in anger is not allowed because it disturbs others when we live in close quarters. To most spiritually minded people and also many atheists, life is sacred. Mindful critical thinking skills should be used before taking actions that could harm others.
Human Needs: Some of us in modern times do not have enough free time to pursue goals, rest, and stay healthy. Being too busy can cause too much stress to maintain or regain health. Busy professionals sometimes end up eating a lot of meals in restaurants where the food may be loaded with salt, sugar, and genetically modified foods. To maintain health and healing, people need clean air, clean water, clean food, and financial stability.
Urban Ecovillages: The reason you dont find urban ecovillages is because most owners have a large mortgage, so they have to make a profit to cover the bills. Or they want the profits to have luxury homes and to go on luxury vacations. Some of our members have been property managers for many years. You may be thinking that small off grid homes are not allowed in most cities and you are right. But after searching and traveling for years, we have found some places where they are allowed.
Solar Air Conditioning to Stop Air Pollution: We now have new technology to design homes that produce more energy than they consume, and to produce our own power and water. Rainwater harvesting and photovoltaics gather and store solar energy to make a home for the modern day. By being mindful of heat from the sun, shade, natural ventilation, and cold from the earth, homes can require no heating and cooling from the grid. With new technologyit is even possible to run air conditioning that is powered by the sun! After studying and searching for years we are able to have low cost solar airconditioning. Compare that to most home in the South of North America that have an average monthly electric bill of three hundred dollars or more for an average size three bedroom home. And when electricity is used from the grid, power plants are pumping smog into the air and polluting the environment.
In cities that have have electric from commercial wind towers, we can choose to connect to the grid for clean energy, and then earn income when our own clean energy systems feed surplus energy into the grid.
New Technology: We have a small portable solar generator that can run our laptop, cell phone, lights, and small appliances. You can find it at thegoldengate.org website. We also have a solar air conditioner than can cool a small home during the summer months without paying for an electric bill. We have new methods of organic gardening that produce twice as much food faster than usual. How do we know how? Through trying many different systems and sharing information about what works and what does not.
Servitude and Debt: Did you know the CEO of Target has an annual salary over 21 million dollars? The CEO of Walmart has an annual salary over 35 Million dollars. The major shareholders of Walmart are the Walton family and they are all Billionaires. Yet most employees do not have basic healthcare benefits and have to sign up for food stamps which is a drain on american taxpayers. By living on a land trust with gardens, we work together to reduce our living expenses so we do not have to give our hard earned money to some of these companies.
"Today, we have access to highly advanced technologies, but our social and economic system has not kept up with our technological capabilities that could easily create a world of abundance, free of servitude and debt."
"We're running into a lot of new problems today because of what we emphasize in this culture. The word 'success' to the average person means earning a lot of money and having a home, two cars, children in college. Success to me is entirely different to what success is to the average person. Success is being a successful human being in terms of pursuing what you believe in. If you believe in making paintings, writing poetry, writing music. If this is what you really want, you're successful to yourself. But to be successful to your culture means to sell yourself short of what you really want." - Jacque Fresco
"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." -Buddha
Ecovillage Vacations: We spend time at ecovillages in a few states across North America in rural areas for our annual vacations because they are very relaxing and fun and hiking in the mountains in fresh air is a great way to stay in shape. Taking a nap in a hammock, hiking mountain trails, bathing in a waterfall, meeting new like minded friends, sitting around a bonfire at night, getting a massage, sauna, group discussions, eating organic meals from the gardens, and taking showers in an outdoor solar heated shower is alot more fun than sitting in a hotel room or a crowded restaurant. Its a drag to come back to the city and not be able to live like that all the time. In some locations, ecovillage land is many acres of mountain forest adjacent to ancient native american sacred land. They are used as retreats where people come to build up their health, eat fresh organic foods from the gardens, and have new experiences. Most are off grid and all electricity is produced with clean energy systems. The mineral rich water comes from mountain springs. In some countries, ecovillages are very remote, with very little contact with the outside world.
Pollution Reduction: Buildings, vehicles, and jet planes are the largest users of energy dumping pollution into the air and water. Imagine all the homes and buildings running air conditioning, lights, and heating twenty four hours a day, powered by fossil fueled power plants sending toxins into the air and water. Supporting the design and construction of sustainable buildings that utilize clean energy and sustainably sourced materials is a key factor for a sustainable healthy future. When most of our buildings are built with sustainability in mind and most vehicles are running on clean energy, the planet may finally have a chance to be clean and healthy. This will also help people with health problems caused by air pollution such as children with aethsma.
Angel Investors: We focus most of our work on sharing education and resources. We are building an information base of systems that work well. If you are an Angel Investor who would like to contribute, you are welcome to do that at the right side bar of this page through Dwolla or contact us by email:
thesageprojects@gmail dot com. We have spelled out 'dot' to avoid spam bots.
Efficiency: People talk about the problems of the world, but are sometimes confused about what we can do about it. What seems to be lacking is strategic thinking and a system of sharing knowledge of what really works. Many of us would like to have an off-grid sustainably designed home and garden, but cannot afford it because of the rising cost of homes, rentals, and the loss of jobs overseas; however, working together as a group we believe we can accomplish that opportunity and keep it long-term. We have seen successful examples in remote locations but would like to live in urban areas for employment, educational, and social opportunities.
Environment: Many people do not want to live in a way that causes more pollution for the environment. There are alot of people talking about sustainability so lets work together to create a higher quality of healthy living.