Assessment tool

Best practices of Atamai Village

Explication of Questionaire

Integral participatory design

There are two groups with different responsibilities. Atamai Development Ltd is a consulting company establised to create the physical infrastructure for the village (the subdivision process). This company is run by three directors all of whom are villagers, and who volunteer their efforts on behalf of the project. An Incorporated Society (Atamai Village Council) owns and manages the Commons resources created by the project. All villagers participate in the consensus decision process to plan and implement the vision for the village.
Conscious participation in project design: 
just about everyone participates in community meetings, and the project development process includes representatives from the community as well as the consulting company that is creating the subdivision.
Traditional and local wisdom: 
Maori have long lived in village settings and we have connections with local Maori, but this is not a large part of our project.
Design methods: 
The vlllage is based on the most sustainable of all human settlements - a traditional village - consisting of private family space as well common land that is put to the service of the community. Permaculture design principles also direct the overall village plan, as well as individual family sites. We have also developed a "layered technology" approach that ensures all our basic services (food, water, energy, shelter) are simple technologies that we can control and service. We use more sophisticated (and therefore fragile) technologies for other things, but not for the essentials.
Innovative methods and appropriate technologies: 
Our "layered technologies" approach involves using simple technologies we can control for essential services such as food, water, energy and shelter. More sophisticated (and fragile ) technologies are used for non-essential services. We also develop new approaches where needed - e.g. the soil here is poor quality and we have developed a soil conditioner based on biochar and other trace elements and minerals to enhance the soil; this has proved very successful.
Education and empowerment towards sustainable living: 
The whole idea of the village is to share knowledge and skills. Almost everyone brings something unique to the project and shares that with others. These exchanges mean learning is a daily process. Moreover, in keeping the bigger picture in mind we track what is happening with climate chaos and energy descent and brainstorm ways of dealing with the challanges we will all be facing.
Educational courses and experiences: 
Our primary focus is on developing the village, as the village operation will be the base and source for our future educational activities. However, we have held workshops on permaculture design, architecural design, scything, consensus decision making, project management, etc

Best social practices

Conflict facilitation and peace-building skills?: 
One of our basic convenants that go on all freehold titles is that all villagers commit to becoming familiar with and using a conflict transformation process that seeks to satisfy all legitimate concerns that people in conflict might have. There is a facilitated mediation component that is used when necessary. We are striving to improve our conflict prevention process to improve our quality of life.
Gender equality: 
This is something we are always aware of and strive to ensure happens.
Sense of community and mutual support: 
The whole point of recreating a traditional village design is to make local support available for everyone, as opposed to attempting to be self reliant on one's own. Members feel they can rely on each other for support and share resources and tasks on a regular basis.
Atamai is an open village, meaning there are no restrictions with respect to ethnicity, religious affiliation, age, or sexual orientation. What unites us is the common cause of developing a resilient way of living well together in the face of the challenges of climate change and energy descent. We know we need each other and see no point in creating artificial barriers.
Inclusive decision-making processes: 
The subdivision development part of the process does involve participation from representatives of the Incorporated Society, which is comprised of all villagers. Ultimately, decisions about the development phase rest with the project directors but we strive for consensus with all participants and to date have succeeded in reaching consensus.
Several of us are very involved with the local Transition Towns initiative, and the local currency project. Connections with other networks tends to occur on an individual basis rather than via the project at this point. Our focus continues to be on completing our project, and of course we connect with others as needs dictate.
Integration of new members: 
There is no formal process. Informally what happens is that once a family is interested in Atamai they are encouraged to visit and stay as long as they can. Meeing and working together is the best way for all parties to determine is Atamai is a good fit. We attempt to do our best in describing what Atamai is currently like and what our vision is, so that people can self select.

Best cultural practices

This is done on an individual basis with some of us involved with internationa NGOs.
This is up to individual memebers - several of whom are invovled with local churches.
not enough but we're working on it!
There is a neighbouring community that has been estabilised for 70 yrs where we participate in these events.
Common vision: 
Several families have become part of the project and then left - some because they can to understand the projec vision was not something they shared. The remaining families are pretty much on the same wavelenght - but visions are always fuzzy and individual perspectives continue to be a source of creative tension. Given our task of creating a resilient community in the face of unprecedented environmental, social and economic challenges, we appreciate there is no clear way forward and we need to open to new ideas.

Best ecological practices

Ecological sanitation?: 
Handling all household waste (human and otherwise) is required of each household. Humanure is used in the orchard and grey water areas are used to grow special crops.
Part of the village is designed to be car free, supplemented with a future car sharing program. This means having usable bike paths (not more than a 10% gradient) to get about the village. We are hoping that most villagers will earn their livelihood within the village so will not have to commute. We have a goal of being carbon neutral.
Sustainable water management?: 
Part of a traditional village is living off the resources of the land. We collect rainwater for domestic and agricultural use,have built dams and ponds to capture and store rainwater for agricultural use, use composting toilets to reduce domestic water use, and irrigation practices that optimize water use on the farm.
Individuals pursue their own health needs and make use of a wide variety of traditional and mainstream resources. Livestock are treated with natural methods unless impractical.
Organical food: 
All that we produce is organically grown. Most of what we purchase is also organic and as much as possible local.
Ecological and traditional building methods: 
The Atamai Building Guidelines emphasize sustainable and durable building methods. We have a machine to produce blocks from the soil on site, mixed with 6% cement, which makes excellent blocks for thermal mass in housing and also useful for landscaping.
Ecosystemes and biodiversity: 
Our permaculture approach means we enhance the biodiversity of the land wherever possilbe. We have protected native habitat in most areas and our reforestation project will significantly expand the biodiversity on site.
Renewable energy: 
All homes in Atamai must supply their own renewable energy. In addition, some homes can be grid tied, but that would be in additon to providing their own energy. The development part of the project is using lots of fossil fuels, but overall we intend to be carbon neutral through our use of biochar, energy efficient homes, and shared transportation resources.
Organic agriculture/permaculture/ natural farming methods?: 
The entire village is a permaculture design.

Best economical practices

Transparent administration and bookkeeping: 
The community finances are open to all members and discussed regularly at meetings.
Consciousness of the impacts of consumption patterns: 
Conservation and frugality are important to us - something that one can always improve. Part of the village and building design guidelines is to make this easier by smart design features. The first new home build to the Atamai Building Guidelines costs almost nothing to operate - now if we can just get rid of taxes....
Ethical and transparent fair trade: 
All our economic exchanges are fair and ethical.
Many of us are members of the local currency initiative but this is a minor part of our economic exchanges. Most importantly, we are attempting to build a village economy which can provide livelihoods for most villagers. One of the key elements of a village economy is that people provide basic goods and services for each other. Such enterprises then become the basis for providing those same goods and services for the broader community. And the village itself then becomes a showpiece for what one can provide.
Our focus has been on creating livelihood opportunities for villagers, to make the village economy work. Some village members have helped finance the project to date, making it possible for there to be a project that others can benefit from.
All titles are freehold and owned by the families who purchase them. The majority of the land is held in common and various tools and equipment are included in the commons.