What Ecosa Institute Means to Me
by Levi Mason
My introduction to Ecosa Institute was during the fall of 2005, when Ecosa Institute hosted Australian-based architect Glenn Murcutt. My sister, a local home designer in Prescott, Arizona, invited me to come with her to a public event where Glenn was presenting some of his work to students and community guests.
I was enchanted. As a young adult I worked as a draftsman for a local Prescott area architect. I became disillusioned with the dominant paradigm of designing large trophy homes that used immense amounts of natural resources at the expense of the natural, living environment. Glenn Murcutt presented a different way of thinking about how we design and retrofit our homes and the buildings in which we work. Being that the Australian interior climate is in many ways similar to the arid North American Southwest, there were applicable lessons he presented about using rain water, natural wind flows and shading to create passive structures that need little maintenance and are low energy users.
The presence of Ecosa Institute bringing minds like this to Prescott, Arizona, was a revelation to me. It is the kind of thinking, the kind of imagination that I had seen in the creative metropolis of the San Francisco Bay Area. How do we imagine the cities of the future? How do we connect to food grown in our own neighborhoods? How do we use only the water that we need? These are the questions that are being asked and addressed at Ecosa Institute.
My own personal interests took me to Washington state for a time. Coming back to Prescott in 2010, I was surprised to learn that somehow Ecosa Institute had weathered the storm of national economic crisis and was still in operation. Many non-profits were hit hard by that period. But Ecosa was still operating in my back yard. I wanted to be involved.
In July of 2o11, I joined the Ecosa Institute staff as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. The VISTA program is a national grant-matching program that matches qualified volunteers with community organizations in need of support. I wrote many blogs on this forum during that first year, took many photographs of the action in progress, and attempted to connect Ecosa with the local community. Mostly I learned about the Ecosa way — a way of thinking that investigates, seeks to learn, how we may integrate human activities with the living, natural world. It is a way that seeks to create not just restoration, but regeneration of life. This way discovers and illustrates how to accomplish the regeneration of living things on the land and in the waters of the earth upon which we all depend for sustenance.
A year ago Tony Brown, Founder of Ecosa Institute and myself were given the opportunity to bring Ecosa Institute under the umbrella of Prescott College as a sponsored program. With support to take care of many of our administrative needs, Ecosa Institute can focus on evolving to engage with the next generation of young leaders — leaders who want to be a part of the solution to the ecological challenges of our age. At Ecosa we believe that these challenges can be met, that it is possible for humans to have abundant lifestyles and simultaneously contribute to healing the planet.
This is a lofty dream. But staying connected to it helps me keep going, even when evidence of decay and environmental crisis looms around us. Whatever happens — as governments perpetuate unsustainable patterns — there will be a remnant, there will be “green spots” of life from which a new age can be grown. This is what Ecosa stands for. This is what we are nurturing. This is the future beyond the crisis. And we are creating that future right now.
If you are interested to learn more about Ecosa Institute, please enjoy this web site and our new one at www.ecosa.org. Even though we receive fiscal sponsorship through Prescott College, the College does not provide direct financial support. Financial support comes from donors and tuition income from students who elect to engage with the Ecosa Experience.
If you are interested in attending the Ecosa Experience, we still have openings for the Fall 2013 program that begins August 26. Due to a generous donor, we have scholarship opportunities (up to $3000 scholarships) to make it easier for students to attend. You can check it out at our new web site here: http://www.ecosa.org/#!scholarships/c43u
If you would like to donate to the Ecosa Institute fund at Prescott College, you may do so online here: ecosa.kintera.org
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this story about how I’ve come to be involved with Ecosa Institute. Feel free to email me at Ecosa Institute at email@example.com if you’d like to be involved with our work.