With so many innovative projects going on across the world today and so many ways to encounter the magic of communities coming together we have an endless supply of inspiration. Shifting our focus to this positive movement brings us to those who have opened the gateway to sustainability. One of our favorite stories comes from the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK.
During a serious economic depression before the turn of the 21st century, a group of people came together to reclaim an exhausted china clay quarry in Cornwall. It didn’t matter that money was short and markets were falling. They moved ahead anyway. Hundreds of members of the community came together to volunteer alongside the construction companies as the project began. Their vision was nothing short of fantastic and was deceivingly simple: marry an educational charity, a tourist destination and a social enterprise. The most fantastic element is the scale. Incredibly hard to comprehend in picture and video, the biomes are considered the largest conservatories in the world.
The biomes contain entire, non-native ecosystems that are sustained by creative, green technologies. People come from all over the world to visit these living classrooms. The goal is to, without lecturing, influence people toward ecology in a subtle way. This is done through exposing people to plants and reconnecting them with their reliance on nature. Alongside general education about ecology, a branch of the Eden Project called the Green Foundation has programs to educate businesses on sustainable practices.
As our small community of Pagosa Springs looks at a similar, albeit smaller, project we have to ask, “What makes the Eden Project so magnetic? And how do we recreate that energy?” The creative combination of events and attractions surely helps. Big name musicians playing at the grand amphitheater and the world’s largest flower blooming in the rainforest biome are definitely a draw. However, it’s worth considering that the focus on the project as a social enterprise gave this endeavor roots in an otherwise tough time. When most people were bogged down by the economic downturn, the Eden Project set the intention of economic and social regeneration. By daring to dream and fundraise big, they were able to stimulate their local economy. From promoting tourism in the vicinity to offering photography courses for the homeless and general courses on creative community engagement, the Eden Project has dozens of programs that nurture the local economy and community both.
We hope to someday too become a part of our own small town eco-destination and the Geothermal Greenhouse Project (GGP) is a great start. Right now the seeds are merely being planted, so we continue to fill our dreams with like visions and invite you to join in and do the same.
Do you have a favorite green, community project you’d like us to know about? We’d love to hear about it! Place your story and links in the comments below.