Cincinnati has 52 neighborhoods, a dozen or more adjacent cities, plenty of suburbs, but only a handful of intentional communities. The McGregor House in Mt. Auburn is a co-housing project; the Enright Ridge EcoVillage in Price Hill strives to be a sustainable co-operative neighborhood; there are still a few convents, including St. Clare Convent in Springfield; and the Grailville community in Loveland has sought to create a place of peace since World War II. But it is time for more people to consider the benefits of real community. A sustainable community is a healthy community—one that is resilient, socially and economically, as well as responsible, ecologically and culturally. Our urban and suburban neighborhoods today have the potential to create balanced and centered places to live, but what is often missing is that sense of community needed to make the possible a reality.

Imago Earth Center’s “Creating Sustainable Communities” conference will be held at Grailville on July 25-27, and will feature speakers, workshops, and informal conversations about community, exploring how intentional communities form, succeed, and fail, and what lessons can be learned from each success or failure. The conference will focus on how to adapt urban and suburban neighborhoods, using existing buildings, to create responsible and resilient places for people to live. Peter Block, a Cincinnati resident who has written a book called Community: The Structure of Belonging, will lead the creation of a community at the conference, and along with three other keynote speakers, will guide the participants in defining and examining just what it means to belong to a community. Diana Leafe Christian, author of Creating Life Together and Finding Community, will speak on methods for developing thriving communities; Jim Schenk, a co-founder of Enright Ridge Urban EcoVillage, will address ways to create sustainable urban communities in existing neighborhoods; and Sr. Marya Grathwohl, OSF, founder and director of Earth Hope, will reflect on the contributions of religious communities to the development of sustainable urban communities.

Workshop presenters include Ann Kreilkamp of Green Acres Neighborhood Ecovillage (GANE) in Bloomington, Indiana; Nick Shaver & Melissa Beck from The McGregor House, a co-housing project in Cincinnati, Ohio; Joy France, Mary Lou Lageman, Judy Squire, and Terry Marshall from the Grailville community; Faith Morgan of The Vale in Yellow Springs, Ohio; and Cindi Remm from Mason, Ohio, an advocate for pocket neighborhoods and living in place for aging members of communities. The conference is an invitation to learn how to create a sustainable world and a way to change the culture, and it is also a call for action, as the presenters hope to instill a sense of urgency and hope in attendees so that they are ready to act to achieve sustainable, intentional communities in our neighborhoods, cities, and towns. For more information or to register for the conference, visit Imago’s website, www.imagoearth.org, or call Imago at 513.921.5124.

For interviews or further details about how the conference came together, about the speakers and presenters, and about EarthSpirit Rising and Imago Earth Center’s missions, you can reach me at this email address, or contact the conference organizer Jim Schenk directly at jschenk@imagoearth.org or 513.921.1932.