How can we build our homes and communities so that they co-exist harmoniously with Nature? What does it mean to create a sustainable house, a sustainable community, a sustainable city? For each additional day that we live, design and build unsustainably, we pull another fibre out of the fabric of Earth’s ecosystems.

Bamberton - Building a Living Community

(June 94)


For centuries, people lived in towns and villages where people knew each other. Bamberton's urban design will make it easy for people to walk, talk, and know their neighbours. The local economy, and the local schools and shops will increase the sense of community, as will resident participation in the process of planning. Elsewhere, children respond well to this way of living. When streets are designed to be slow and safe, and when their friends live nearby, children do not need their parents to drive them around all the time. That suits the parents, and also works best for people who are no longer able to drive. Like all traditional neighbourhoods, Bamberton is deliberately being planned as an inclusive community for people of different ages, tastes and incomes.


38% of the site has been set aside as park space, under ecological protection. There will be small tot-lots, neighbourhood parks, village halls for community activities, a ballpark/soccer field and a future recreational complex. There will also be trails through the woods, a small marina with facilities for kayaking and canoeing, and other outdoor recreational pursuits.


The plans include 3 elementary schools, one in each neighbourhood, and a High School close to the town centre. These will all be community schools, with both space and resources being shared by the whole community. The first elementary school is planned to be open within a year of the first residents moving in. There is also interest among future residents in different forms of alternative schooling, and in outdoor experiential education programs, business involvement, and youth leadership training. There will be participatory planning workshops for future parents, children and teens, once approval is given. There will be a strong environmental orientation in all the schools, and full use of the information capacities which the fibre optic network will provide.


The arts enable people to express themselves through music, visual expression, and drama. They enable a whole community to express itself through festival, and celebration. The design of a new town brings a thousand opportunities for the arts, and Bamberton is no exception. The First Arts Forum was held in March 1993, bringing 35 local artists together to start opening up the possibilities. There is interest in sculpture, painting, open-air performance space, cooperative studio/galleries, and low-cost living space for artists. There is also interest in a school of art, and in integrating art into the architecture and neighbourhood design. Once rezoning has been approved, a regular Bamberton Arts Team will be formed to work with the developer.


A number of medical and holistic practitioners have expressed an interest in setting up a community health care system at Bamberton, combining traditional health care, preventive medicine and holistic therapies. There is also a strong commitment to people being able to grow old in place, and die in place, and not having to move away to a hospital or home at the end of their lives. During 1994 a Bamberton Community Health Team will be established to start the work of developing practical plans.


Late in 1993, a group of people who see themselves as future residents got together and asked "What can we do to help build Bamberton as our future home?". They decided to form the Bamberton Community Alliance, and to kick things off, they organized a traditional old-fashioned Christmas Party at the Bamberton waterfront. Members of the group have taken on the responsibility of running the Bamberton Information Centre as volunteers every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and in May 1994 they organized a 'Bamberton Family Gathering', with tug-of-war, a soccer game, badminton, baseball, music, hiking, and a grand potluck feast. They have also experimented with starting a Barn-Raising Cooperative, helping each other in their own homes. As one member said "It will be good practice for when we want to build our own homes together, at Bamberton!"