Frequently Asked Questions
Why the name “Manitou Arbor?”
What is Manitou Arbor Ecovillage?
Manitou Arbor Ecovillage (MAEV) is an EcoSpiritual village in the process of forming.
We are dedicated to caring for People and the Earth by living and demonstrating
a sustainable culture appropriate to our southwest Michigan bioregion.
Our planned village of 54 residences—a combination of green detached single family homes, duplex units, attached accessible green apartments—will be small enough for each of us to relate and interact with each other so that we each can have an effective voice.
MAEV will be sustainable; we envision that utilization of renewable sources of energy,
recycling of wastes as resources, and use of earth-friendly, energy efficient techniques
using local builders, materials, and suppliers, will be standard.
We plan to incorporate passive solar architecture and landscaping to maximize energy
as efficiently and as naturally as possible. Our goals of energy efficiency, a small footprint, and low maintenance costs will guide us as we work with, rather than against nature, to keep our human population and activities within the carrying capacity of our natural environment.
While we anticipate some sharing of responsibilities and resources, MAEV is not a commune, and most of us will be employed outside the village. When fully mature, MAEV will be a settlement that provides residences, food, leisure, social, and spiritual needs.
As an intentional community, you as a MAEV resident can expect to have greater social interaction, compared to other groups of houses or apartments. MAEV promotes no particular religious tradition while respecting each other’s personal spirituality.
Our common spiritual vision is expressed in the Manitou Arbor Ecovillage Covenant.
Where will MAEV be located?
The land, located in Comstock, Michigan on East Main Street,
between 28th and 30th streets, is currently part of Nazareth Farms,
and is owned by the Congregation of St. Joseph,
(formerly owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth, Michigan).
We are blessed with a beautiful 40 acre village site which will consist of our residential units, community center, gardens, and commons.
The village site is bordered by a beautiful property containing a lake, stream, areas of mature woods, fields, 20+ acres of young trees planted in 1993, and abundant life forms.
We anticipate arranging access rights to this area, which supports a diverse wildlife community (numerous deer, wild turkey, coyote, fox, pheasant, and many species of birds and wildflowers). Wooded paths lead to Schoonover Lake and take one through a mixture of hardwoods and conifer trees. Perhaps a "hermitage" or two might be hidden here to
facilitate retreats and quiet communing with nature.
In order to further protect this land, we are actively exploring approaches to obtaining it in order to preserve and utilize it to demonstrate a way of relating to nature that is quite differently pursued in our culture.
When will MAEV built?
We expect to start selling lots in Spring 2012. To date, we have:
:: Rezoned the land for our purposes
:: Obtained the legal description for our development (site condominium)
:: Hired an engineering firm and a legal consultant to guide us through the project
:: Drafted the Association Bylaws which will shortly undergo lawyer review
:: Completed the Resident's Handbook
:: Submitted our Planned Unit Residential Development (PURD) to Comstock Township
:: First public hearing for PURD was Jan 2012
Twelve members have made the contributions necessary to cover our
infrastructure costs to date. As new members join our group, committed occupancy
will reach critical economic mass. At that point, we will expect to finalize financial arrangements with construction to quickly follow.
How much will it cost to live in Manitou Arbor?
This depends on what sort of home you want to build, and how you would build it.
For example, a self-built, modest strawbale home will cost far less than a larger,
builder-built structure. You could then make an estimate of the cost of your own home,
and that would be a known element in your budget.
We anticipate announcing an buy-in cost for each of the lots by Spring 2012.
This per household amount will pay for a lot and for land, infrastructure, and development costs as well as providing for common areas such as the community center.
The MAEV Development LLC and Future Resident Organizing Group (FROG)
are actively working hard to find ways to make the buy-in cost as affordable as possible.
This cost includes: choice of site (based upon availability), access to the community center and other common areas, as well as contractual access to 60 acres.
What will be the benefits of living in MAEV?
- :: A tolerant, and hopefully, diverse community, inclusive of all who share
our covenantal vision.
:: A healthier lifestyle. Buildings will utilize materials and paints that assure indoor air quality. Use of certain chemical pesticides will be prohibited by reason of their potential for contaminating our air, soil, and groundwater, not to mention the resulting harmful effects to the health of animals, birds, and humans.
:: Plenty of opportunities and places for outdoor activities, social interaction,
and meditative reflection.
:: The perfect setting to build the attractive, energy-efficient, low maintenance “green” home of your dreams, supported by a community of neighbors doing the same.
:: Our village will be pedestrian, family and child friendly. MAEV will be a great place to
raise a healthy family. And, perhaps, to home school?
:: Access to the community center.
:: Accessible apartment homes attached to the community center.
:: You can enjoy trails with access to an area that is a home for a diverse bird and wildlife community in a mature forest of hardwoods and conifers with a creek,
and a wooded path leading to Schoonover Lake.
:: MAEV offers simpler living in a peaceful setting that is close to nature, yet minutes from Kalamazoo, and all of its cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities.
:: Privacy. Although our community will be interdependent, we all are desirous of privacy
and will be respectful of each other’s need for privacy.
:: Neighbors whose environmental values you share, and who will be there to
lend a helping hand if or when you need one. We encourage the sharing of tools, hobby materials, computers, and even cars -- anything that residents choose to share in order to reduce our combined ecological footprint.
:: There will be ample opportunities to shape your values-based community,
as MAEV will be owned and managed by residents.
Will I have to give up any conveniences to live in MAEV?
We encourage green practices such as carpooling and reduce, reuse, and recycle.
The village will have access to typical conveniences, including cable, Internet, and city water.
What is an EcoSpiritual community?
People define “EcoSpirituality” many ways. Here is what it means to us:
Manitou Arbor promotes no particular religious tradition, and we respect
each other’s personal spirituality. We believe that people of different faiths
can come together to live, to neighbor, and to celebrate.
Each of us recognizes that nature offers opportunity for profound spiritual experiences, personal growth and healing, and an awareness of
wholeness and holiness in all of existence.
We believe that experiencing nature can open us up to a greater appreciation of
our connection to all things, and provide an encouragement to right living.
A significant characteristic of our village community will be the acknowledgement of this spiritual side of our world and ourselves, and the living application of that belief in
our community's vision, decision-making, and celebrations.
As members of an EcoSpiritual community, we aspire to honor the sacred in all that is,
and live responsible lives of justice and compassion. Precisely where all this will take us,
we don't yet know, but we believe this is the path towards right living.
Why the name “Manitou Arbor?”
"Manitou" is the term for Spirit among the peoples of the Three Fires Confederacy (Anishanbe), which include the Odawa, Potawatomi and Ojibway nations who were rooted
in this place for thousands of years.
The word Manitou expresses our desire to honor and recognize
the native peoples whose land this once was. The concept Manitou involved
the inter-relationship of humanity and nature, spirit and matter,
the individual and the cosmos.
The teaching involved wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility and truth—
as principles to guide the people in caring for the earth and each other.
"Arbor" means tree. The image of the tree of life is an archetypal symbol found in many cultures, with much rich symbolism. The roots of the tree spread deep into the body of Mother earth (also a symbol of spiritual depth) and its branches reach upward like hands praying.