Culdees

"Nature teaches more than she preaches. There are no sermons in stones. It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral."

  - John Burroughs

 

Ecovillages

Ecovillages are communities of people who strive for some of the basic goals such as: self-sufficiency in food, energy, production and services and a lifestyle in harmony with fellow beings and nature. Those people are willing to scale down their current lifestyle, to live just by their basic needs, and heighten their level of consciousness.

However, the ecovillage vision is far more than establishing a cohousing in the countryside and growing your own food. It is about a new low-impact lifestyle that incorporates ecological, social spiritual/cultural and moral dimensions, a lifestyle that re-establishes the local networks that have always been a part of human existence, but which have been disintegrating in more recent history for a variety of reasons. Ecovillages are  demonstration models which show how the different elements of sustainability synergise; they create new models of social and educational structure,  like the introduction of a buddy system, and train our future leaders, capable of addressing and transforming today’s environmental and social challenges. Through the integration of Cultural, Moral and Spiritual principles into their fabric, many intentional ecovillages echo cultural traditions and return to a way of living where harmony with all living beings, including our Earth, is the backbone of daily life. Ecovillages embody a sense of unity with the natural world. They foster recognition of human life and the Earth itself as part of the larger cosmos. 

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community; it is wrong when it tends otherwise” 

-Aldo Leopold –

The proposed Culdees Ecovillage project at Boreland Farm, Fearnan, Perthshire

We need vibrant, resilient, self-supporting, self-contained communities in our Scottish villages. Examples are Renton in the vale of Leven, near Loch Lomond, who generated 150 extra jobs, are building 322 new houses, of which 40 flats in the senior accommodation are completed; it opened a youth centre, a cafe, a Community Centre with fitness centre, it has become an accredited learning centre, has IT facilities, offers SVQ's and opens a business centre. Other outstanding examples are Comrie in Perthshire and Fintry in Stirlingshire, Unst in Shetland, Easdale in the Inner Hebrides and many more, where local people have come together to set up Development Trusts which harness the energy, creativity and commitment within their communities to tackle a wide range of social, economic, environmental and cultural issues and are actively involved in partnerships with the public, private and voluntary sectors. They aim to increase self-sufficiency by generating income through enterprise and the ownership of assets. Unfortunately, those villages are still in a minority. Many other villages face the problems of being a ghost-village with many unoccupied second homes. They have no shop, no post office, nowhere to sit informally and chat while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee. Anything out-of -the-box, like someone building a dry composting toilet, is immediately reported to the nearest relevant Council Department, who is obliged to send two officers over a distance of a -sometimes more than- 140 miles round trip to investigate. The younger generation has to move to the cities as people from outside, with higher salaries and higher private pensions, outbid the locals. Many of those people are now retired and move for economic reasons to their second home. They sell their family house at a higher price than what it would fetch if it were in Scotland. They bought into an idyllic 'peaceful and quiet' lifestyle and are fervently fighting against any development that threatens their retirement dream. Our answer to this unsustainable situation is to design and build a resilient, self-reliable, self supporting eco-village with a from-cradle-to-grave ethos, where people work where they live and where commuting is kept to a minimum. Does this feel like Utopia? This just describes a common village that existed until the Industrial Revolution, like the Scottish fermtouns. 

We at Culdees are recreating such a village, albeit in a present-day setting. The housing model is adopted from one that is already forty years successfully existing in Denmark and the Netherlands and is now getting very popular in the USA: CoHousing. We are designing a Senior CoHousing with 30 units and next to it three (preferably four, for economic reasons) Multi-Generation CoHousing projects, each consisting of 30 units. Each have a Common House where meals and various facilities are shared. An architect will be commissioned to create a 3-D animated presentation.

Over the past years we have done general feasibility studies of this ecovillage and we have visited many other ecovillages all over the world where we stayed for a while to observe. Culdees is a member of the Global Ecovillage Network and various CoHousing Networks worldwide. Eleven Years ago we started a Charity, the Universal Health and Education Trust, as the legal entity to carry this village. Unfortunately our plans had to be put on the back burner as a neighbouring farmer decided that his cows were more important than the project for 120 families and put his cows on the 124 acres of Boreland Farm. It took us more than ten years, and finally it is thanks to the outcome of the lengthy court hearings and a Sheriff who ordered the cows to be removed that we have the use of the land back again. We can now start developing as intended. Next steps to be taken are to grow cereals on all suitable fields; the crop will be used to make straw bales with which we will build the first straw bale house; Apply for funding for a Community Development Officer to oversee all developments; Apply for funding for a Community Energy Advisor; Apply for funding to Conduct in-debt feasibility studies on all aspects of the project; Start the Fearnan Culdees Development Trust; Start the process of a Community buy-out of Boreland farm to be registered in the name of the Trust; Create a fund for community buy-outs of all houses in Fearnan village that in future will come on the market and incorporate them in the Ecovillage, to avoid those becoming second-homes again, adding to the ghost town syndrome; Establish partnerships with: ~Development Trusts Association Scotland (the Culdees Ecovillage is in the process of being registered as an Associate member); ~Community Ownership Support Service; ~ Community Assets Branch: Community Right to Buy, Scottish Government; ~ Rural Direct; ~ Community Energy Scotland; ~ Community Land Advisory Service (CLAS); ~ Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Services; ~ Perth & Kinross Social Economy Partnerships; ~ School of Engineering and Physical Sciences -the Built Environment, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh; ~ Perth & Kinross Access Group; ~ Scotland's disabled children; ~ Home Education Forums in Scotland; ~ Accessible Countryside for everyone – National Organizations Disabled People; ~ Enable Scotland; ~ Perth & Kinross Society for the Blind; ~ National Housing Strategy for Older people, Independent Living in Housing Options and Support Division, Scottish Government; ~ NHS; ~ The Third Age Trust of University of the Third Age, U3A; ~ Scottish Civic Forum; ~ Age concern Scotland; ~ Independent Advocacy; ~ Time Banking Scotland. Have meetings with the above mentioned Partners, to establish the needs of various 'Villagers' to take into consideration when finalizing the building plans; Start meetings with Perth & Kinross Community Planning Partnership; Organise meetings with the surrounding villages to present the plans for the Ecovillage; Apply for funding for landscaping the various fields to create accessible paths for wheelchair users and the visibly impaired; Build the Educational Trail, which trebles also as a Training Circuit for wheelchair users on the hill fields and access path to the woodland burial site Start the selection procedure for the future 'villagers'; Select the persons with the right qualifications to train the people to build houses, to become the Vocational Training Site, as stated in the Culdee Manifesto; Start with the Senior CoHousing Buildings; Set up various CICs, Community Interest Companies, which will employ an estimated 180 persons. (A CIC has an asset lock: profits will go back into the community, e.g. to the Property Fund to buy an existing property that comes on the market, or to the Educational Fund); Establish the Market garden; Establish the Tree nursery; Build the Organic Farm shop, Coffee shop and Restaurant; Open the Charity Shop; Start the Culdees Woodland Burial Co-op Build the Multi-Generation CoHousing; Start the various workshops and offices; ENJOY THE RESULTS.

Income generating activities in Culdees Ecovillage within a Community Interest Company structure under the umbrella of the Universal Health and Education Trust:

Introduction: It is the intention to create a village where there is work for the residents and where commuting to work is reduced to an absolute minimum. The various enterprises will be set up as a CIC ( Community Interest Company) which is answerable to a board of elected resident Trustees. As there will be a mixture of Seniors – retired or semi-retired and younger generations, we will have to create income generating activities for all generations and take into consideration the various needs and abilities, while ensuring that the village and the grounds are maintained to a high standard. The proposed jobs are named in the “JobsToBeCreated” section, with the number of jobs, in which year of the development of the village they will become available and if they are an 'all-year-round' or seasonal job. At first we were thinking of an obligatory number of hours work that each resident has to donate each week to the village. We are now more inclined to credit each person for the hours they worked, the value of which will be offset against the weekly contribution to the upkeep and running of the village. The value of the credits will be mutually determined in a meeting. As a number of senior residents have pension credits, they will need a topping-up of their income, to be able to live a dignified and full-filling live. In the “JobsToBeCreated” section an 'v' indicates that this job could be done by those seniors. (We propose to call the senior residents 'Vintagers', as what we call a vintage product in general increases in value over time, and we like the notion that our value increases in the culture of this village, whereas in the modern society the seniors are barely tolerated and definitely not valued and seen more as a burden). The CoHousing rules are that as much as possible we do things together; to be included in- not excluded from- our society. In turn we cook for each other, which means that for example if we eat together five times a week and we have 30 residents in the CoHousing units, we only have to cook once every six weeks. However, if one cannot cook or definitely dislikes it, or does not have time, one can 'swap' this task for another job with a person who likes cooking, or pay that person in credits for the hours they do the job. Besides creating earning possibilities for the Vintagers, there is also another group, the early teenagers, who are still too young to be allowed to have a paid job. There are relatively simple tasks which children can perform, and they will collect credits for doing so; at the same time they will gain experience in taking responsibilities. Although they cannot be paid, those accumulated credits can be exchanged for, for example a guitar or violin, or attending a music festival with their peers. Anybody can choose to donate credits to a chosen Fund, such as the Educational Fund, which will pay the study costs for the residents when they are ready for a Higher Education, or a special vocational course. A number of other Funds will be chosen by the residents, for example a Holiday Fund, Instrument Fund or Electric carts Fund. 

We have meetings with the Perth and Kinross Social Economy Partnership (which was established in 2004 with the launch of the Scottish Executive Future-builders programme. The partnership includes members from Perth and Kinross Council, Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Services, Perth College, Perthshire Housing Association, CheckIn Group and Wood Again CIC.) and we are applying for funding for a feasibility study for the following planned Community Interest Companies, (CICs). 

(1)Bunkhouse CIC: This aspect is already well-established with an annual visitor count of over 3000, but at the moment it is only using 45% of its present capacity. Tourism: 60% of our summer-guests are from abroad. We are favourably compared on sites like Tripadvisor. Eco-Tourism: is becoming increasingly popular. We receive a lot of requests from abroad to speak about Eco-settlements and we are facilitating a number of Senior CoHousing Projects, the latest in India. We are member of the Global Ecovillage Network, the CoHousing Network UK, The Senior CoHousing Network ( which receives an increasing interest globally as more Baby Boomers are looking for alternatives to Older People Homes) and The fellowship for International Communities. Family gatherings, birthdays, hen and stag parties (the wider community benefits greatly from those as they often take part in the locally offered outdoor activities such as rafting, paint-balling, sailing, canoeing, archery, cycling and they eat in local restaurants); Wedding-, separation-, baptism- and funeral ceremonials; Outdoor activity groups like hill walking- and mountaineer clubs, the RAF Rescue Teams who regularly uses Culdees as a base for their training; Educational activities; School parties; 

(2) Education CIC: Courses/workshops such as: Sociocracy (Dynamic Governance), Non Violent Communication, Permaculture, Reiki, Yoga, Meditation, QiGong, Food for Free, Healthy slow cooking, specialist Building techniques, Coffin-casket and Shroud weaving, First Aid, Carer qualifications. A number of those courses are paid for by the European funded Lifelong Learning Programmes through National Grundtvig and Leonardo Agencies. School: a number of people will be attracted to the Ecovillage because they home- school their children or they want to give their children a tailored education like Montessori or Steiner, which one does not find out-with the urban area. In order not to discriminate the rural population with special needs, we want to set up a small school which caters for those needs: The home schoolers still can home school, but within a supportive group and the children will be surrounded by peers from a like-minded background. However, those parents who want to send their children to a 'regular' school, there is a small primary school in Kenmore and a secondary school in Aberfeldy, both with a good reputation. The Academy of Agricultural Philosophy The Academy is an educational organization teaching young people about the wisdom of Nature and the practice of natural farming. It is creating a network of centers throughout the world which is supporting this sustainable way of farming and revival of agriculture that respects the Earth and renewal of the environment. We will work the land with horses. 

(3) Market Garden CIC: Provides the organic Farm shop; Veggie box scheme. Deliveries to homes and restaurants; could be combined with deliveries from farm shop. 

(4) Catering CIC: Organic farm shop: Sells produce from market garden, organic packed produce, home-made wines/ciders and conserves, produce and art from local artists, home deliveries to local Time-share units. Experience of existing farm shops show that there is a growing interest in this kind of shops: people will drive as far as 60 miles to shop in an organic farm shop. -Organic vegetarian/vegan coffee shop: Serves breakfasts and lunch, also for bunkhouse guests and course participants, prepare ready cooked meals to be sold in organic farm shop, orders from bunkhouse guests and Time-share units. Potential clients are the users of the 271 time-share units in Aberfeldy, Dunkeld, Kenmore and Kinloch Rannoch, which accommodate an average of 1450 guests per week. It will also serve the mourners who are part of the funeral ceremonies. -Japanese -and other speciality- Organic Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant The resident Japanese monk and nun have build a restaurant in London in 2010 which acts as a trial for the Culdees project. It has proven to be very successful. Another restaurant has been opened in Oban in 2011. The planned restaurant in Culdees is intended to be the largest of the three, as it will attract many of the visiting tourists, partly due to its magnificent views of Loch Tay and partly due to its uniqueness. Even if we will attract only 20% of the time-share users, we will have an average of 290 guests weekly from that source alone. -Bakery and pastry making -Preservations:Wine and cider making, jams, fermentation of vegetables and soya, Cheese, yoghurt, tofu making. 

(5) Second life CIC: -Charity shop: All seniors who come to live in the Senior CoHousing units have to considerably down-size. Many of their belongings could be donated to the charity. The charity shop will provide an essential income for the Universal Health and Education Trust. Having the charity shop on-site next to the coffee shop will be an extra attraction for local people and tourists: charity shops have become more attractive to people, due to diminished spending power. -Antiques and collectables shop: For those items that are too valuable to donate to the charity shop; they can be sold in this shop. A commission would be payable. That income will be used to pay the shop assistants. 

(6) The Barn CIC: At this moment the barn is still an open barn, with sand flooring. It will be glazed in with folding doors, giving an undisturbed view over Loch Tay. At the moment he barn is used for covered BBQ's and can accommodate about a hundred persons. By glazing it in it will also be suitable for all-year round activities such a yoga classes and Tai-Chi/QiGong and dance. There is a shortage of venues where Yoga Retreats can be given: there is a waiting list for more than two years if a yoga teacher wants to organise a retreat for their students. Since we can offer accommodation as well, this will be an ideal venue for those retreats. A wooden floor with underfloor heating will also be installed. And until the Transferium (see Woodland Burial site) is being built, it will also be used for the funeral services. 

(7) Woodland Memorial site with burial Co-op, Funeral Director and Undertaker CIC: The Woodland burial site will not be for burials only: it will also be for Memorials for those who have long since past on. Also for those who have been cremated, their ashes can be buried under the tree or scattered amongst the trees. A tree can be planted on top of the grave or next to it, instead of a headstone. Pets can also be buried. A Marketing person will promote the Memorial aspect of this project and local schoolchildren with their families will be involved in specially organised Family Memorial Tree planting Day. A round building with panoramic views (the Transferium) will be build for the funeral and memorial services, just above the woodland burial site. There we ceremonially hand over the deceased from this realm to the next. The round building symbolizes the circle of life and death. The mourners can have something to drink and eat afterwards in the coffee shop/restaurant The burial Co-op will have members who either pay a monthly membership or a lump-sum which will cover the cost of their funeral if they do not want to take the risk that their family is burdened with the inevitable rise in cost. (suggestions for details are invited) We are looking into the Legal aspects of this project This facility will also be provided not only for people from outside the village who want to be buried at Culdees, but arrange for burials/cremations elsewhere, if the deceased specifically wished so. 

(8) Tree nursery/ Garden centre CIC: The trees for the burial site can be bought at the Culdees tree nursery. There will be a variety of trees to choose from: fruit, nut, and predominantly native trees. Shrubs or bushes can be used to bury pets. There will also be a small garden centre, where we will grow plants for our own village. The surplus can be sold to guests. 

(9) CoHousing CIC: -Senior CoHousing: Communal House- In case the Vintagers decide to eat together only during the weekdays, the large kitchen and dining- and music room can be rented out in the weekends to people who want to celebrate their birthday or wedding day but their house is too small for their now growing family of in-laws and grand children. The guest rooms in the Communal House can be rented out when not booked for relatives or friends of the Vintagers; the other guests can be accommodated in the Bunkhouse and Family rooms. Accommodation: All houses are designed for people with disabilities: blind, wheelchair-users and bed-ridden occupants. Although most Villagers are healthy when they move in, we have to plan for when they become frail and infirm. The landscaping of the village will also be designed with that in mind. The single-occupied houses will be build in a part-circle in an equal distance around the Common House, with exits through the sliding doors of their house, on to the terrace surrounding the Common House. The idea is that even the bed-ridden Villagers can be wheeled into the Common House for their morning-coffees and meals. The couples will live in the next circle of houses; again, every house will be at an equal distance to the Common House. We will incorporate a Senior Hospice unit. The Senior project will include 10 Alternative Medicine- and therapy Units which will be rented out -or sold- to various practitioners. -Multigenerational CoHousing: Part of the set-up is the same as with the Senior CoHousing: shared coffee/tea in the mornings, shared evening meals, laundry facilities, ironing, sewing room, craft workshop, tool room, library, music room, fridge/freezer room. In addition there will be bike/pram storage, a toddler area next to the dining room, a children's play room, a teenager 'den' and a sleep-over room. The planned sound-proofed 'teenage den' within the Common House can be rented out for parties. That income will go to the special teenage account which will pay for extra music equipment, or studies or courses or festivals that the teenagers want to attend. This all needs to be managed and a part-time manager be appointed. A Hospice unit: where a whole family can stay and live together during the last period of one's life will be incorporated in the build. This is especially important when the patient is a child; it can stay in an environment where other children are and they will be included to the last. This is also an Outreach project, so families from outside can make use of this facility. We start with one McMillan nurse living on site, who will be assisted by the registered caregivers. We will assess the need for more specialist nurses as we go along. 

(10) Nursing, Care and Support Agency CIC: When a Vintager, disabled person or person with learning difficulty is in need of help, Self-directed Support is available to most people (including people with Dementia) through the local Social Work Department. It allows to plan and organise one's own care in ways that suits one, and is aimed at helping people stay independent and in their own homes. The Social Work Department will give a direct payment to the client with which one can buy support from a service provider (in our case our own Nursing, Care & Support Agency CIC (Community Interest Company) and employ someone as one's Personal Assistant through the NCSA -CIC. We will also be a Respite Centre for people with learning difficulties and allocate a number of units for permanent housing for those persons. Their care-givers will live on-site. Since the slogan for Culdees Ecovillage is “From cradle to Grave” two hospice units -one Senior- and one multi-generational will be incorporated in the plans. A trained MacMillan nurse will live on site and supervise the caregivers. "Doula" (pronounced "doola") is a Greek word meaning "woman servant or caregiver". It now refers to an experienced woman who offers emotional and practical support to a woman before, during and after childbirth. A doula believes in “mothering the mother” - enabling a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered time that she can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new mum. The role of a doula is especially important when the expecting young mother does not get the emotional support from her own family. The doula is not supporting the mother in a clinical role - that is the job of the midwife/medical staff. The MacMillan nurse, Midwife and Doula are also within this NCSA-CIC. The Agency will train potential support givers and carers who move into the village in the Culdees Vocational Training Scheme. The Nursing, Care and Support Agency will be registered with the Care Commission, the national agency responsible for regulating and inspecting care services in Scotland. - Foster Carers, Shared Life Carers and Personal Assistants: Culdeans are encouraged to foster children. There is also an opportunity to open one's home to include adults with learning disabilities in their family lives and social networks for short breaks, long term accommodation and support (Shared Life carer) or day opportunities. It involves the mutual sharing of everyday life experiences. A personal assistant accompanies the client with learning disabilities to shopping trips, visiting relatives and friends and on holidays. 

(11) Practitioners CIC: All therapists, dentist, hygienist, hairdresser, chiropodist, manicure, yoga teacher, meditation teacher will be within this CIC. 

(12) Artisan CIC: Includes Furniture restorer, Potter, silver/goldsmith,woodcarver, stained glass maker, mosaic maker, sculptors, painter, designers, seamstresses and knitters. 

(13) Exercise/Revalidation Pool CIC: This pool is designed for the use for the elderly in need of hydro-therapy in the local area. When joint problems, arthritis, general stiffness or being wheelchair-bound prevents people to walk to stay fit, regular exercising in the pool will improve one's general condition. An agreement will be sought with the NHS to enable local GP's to send local seniors for treatment and exercises in the planned Exercise pool. This will pay for the upkeep of the pool and the salaries of physio/hydro therapists and pool attendant. The Vintagers will have access to the pool any time when not used for NHS-paid exercise training. 

(14) Building Trade CIC: Everyone working in the building area including Yurt builder, will be within this CIC. 

(15) Desk CIC: Accountant, bookkeeper, solicitor, architect, animation, IT , Community Development officer, Community energy advisor, Bio-fuel expert, Eco travel-agency which is specialized on low-carbon footprint travel, Eco wedding planner, will be within this CIC. 

(16) Transport CIC: Many guests come by car, which gives a high Carbon footprint. Our aim is to obtain a 16-seater bus with a low carbon footprint and offer to collect our group-guests from the bus-or railway station and drive them to their various activities, which will reduce the carbon footprint even more. We will also introduce 'group outings' for our villagers. The bus will be used on those days that there is no local transport to and from Aberfeldy on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. (on Sundays also to Perth). 

(17) Animal Care CIC: With a possible cat kennel and Dog kennel, Horse handlers, chickens, ducks, pigs, goats, -everyone dealing with animals- are within this CIC. 

For all jobs within Culdees Ecovillage, including Alternative therapies and various professions, an agreement will have to be reached by all Culdees ecovillage residents on the salary to be awarded. Everyone will receive the same hourly rate. The proposal is to agree on for a Culdees affordable hourly rate or pay-by-performance, depending on the job at hand. A high outstanding study loan of e.g. a resident doctor or dentist will be taken over by the Educational Fund if he/she is staying more than five years. Part of the Culdees ethos is “Pass it on”: each expert-in -their-field is expected to pass their knowledge on to the younger generation -through specially organized courses or by taking on an apprentice.

Jobs to be created within ecovillage

Table of jobs page 1

Table of jobs 2

Table of jobs page 3

Table of jobs page 4

Table of jobs page 5

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