Fielding Graduate University News

Fielding Doctoral Student publishes book: Designing Ecological Habitats

Posted by Hilary Edwards on Tue, Aug 07, 2012
Designing Ecological Habitats

Designing Ecological Habitats – Creating a Sense of Place

Editors: E. Christopher Mare and Max Lindegger

Permanent Publications & Gaia Education, 2011

277pages; £ 14.95

Review by Daniel C. Wahl, Ph.D.

This book is a truly remarkable compendium of collective wisdom. The book brings together a wide diversity of perspectives and it does so in true ecovillage fashion, by honoring the wisdom of many voices. The book brings the subject alive through contributions from the global North and South, by men and women, old and young, offering indigenous, professional, scientific, grassroots, and deeply personal points of view.  Perspectives based on experience, on direct action, on daring to try, fail, and try again.

I can only offer you a few tasters of the morsels hidden between the pages of the Ecological Key the third of four books in this series by Gaia Education and Permanent Publication. Albert Bates from the Farm in Tennessee gives us his vision of civilization 2.0. Declan Kennedy from Lebensgarten in Germany reviews his own list of design criteria for ecological settlements. Liz Walker shares some of the lessons from the community supported agriculture business that helps to feed the ecovillage at Ithaca. Michael Shaw from Findhorn, summarizes his decades of experience in the design of wetlands. Jeff Clearwater, who has lived in a number of ecovillages in the US, offers a useful synthesis of 32 years of experience in designing renewable energy systems at a village scale. Marti Muller from Auroville tells their remarkable story of environmental restoration. 

The book also includes practical and often transferable advice from such diverse places as Honduras, Nepal, Japan, Nigeria, and the Philippines.  It takes you on a tour of projects of hope around the globe. Other gems include: a new take on permaculture ethics and principles by Maddy Harland, a concise piece by Patrick Whitefield explaining why permaculture is such an effective design framework, and Blue Economy guru Gunter Pauli offers a vision of designing with the flow of air, light, sound, energy, matter, and people.  I also loved the piece by Sean Esbjörn-Hargens and Michael Zimmerman applying the four quadrant map developed by Ken Wilber to ‘Integral Ecology’ and the design of human habitats. I am humbled to find my essay on Transformative Resilience among such a deeply informative and useful set of contributions.

Chris Mare did a fantastic job in collating and editing this compendium with Max Lindegger and the help of Maddy Harland. Both Chris and Max also contribute excellent articles of their own. Chris points out that each one of the 42 short articles (yes, 42!) you can easily read over breakfast. Do that every morning for a month and a half and you will have read the book!  While Chris’s suggestion puts a spin on the New Years resolution of mindful eating, at least you would start the day a little more hopeful that people all over the world are doing their bit to co-design ecological habitats. We are co-creating a new sense of place, where human beings are a symbiotic keystone species and not a destructive force of biocide. Humans thrive where life thrives!

 Designing Ecological Habitats - Creating a Sense of Place e-book may be downloaded for free at: (Designing Ecological Habitats.pdf)

Designing Ecological Habitats - Creating a Sense of Place may be purchased at:

In the midst of a spiritual awakening, E. Christopher Mare discovered a Permaculture Design Course in 1993 and has been a full time student ever since. He is currently preparing for his doctoral dissertation through Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara.

E. Christopher Mare can be contact at

Tags: sustainability, habitat, ecological, environmental justice