Why Are WE Doing This?

by Terry Sterrenberg

Educational Videos Plus is starting on a new project and as part of that project I will be writing a blog.  I will be writing about our discoveries along the way as we do research for our new movie and my hope is to create a dialogue about the creation of “Villaging” in America.

When we interviewed Dr. Paul Hochfeld for The Healthcare Movie, he said that healthcare was just a poster-child for all that was wrong in the United States.  We weren’t quite sure what he meant at the time, but his statement rang a bell which led us to the topic of our next movie. Certainly the issue of healthcare is multidimensional, and as we examined other social and political issues in the U.S. it became clear to us that Paul was right on the button.  Healthcare as a commodity is only one of the destructive outcomes of the socio-political machine supported by our for-profit system. That thinking led us on a journey of research that has culminated in what we are calling The Villaging Project, and our next film, Villaging America.


We will be looking to address the following question:  “Can we in this country address many of today’s social and economic issues by creating communities that look after their own food, energy and economic needs at a local level?”   I have become aware that for decades  there has been a movement in the U.S. to do just that. However, in the last few years there have been new discoveries that make this movement a powerful and viable force for the future.

I must say that this project has already sent me into many areas of personal growth and cognitive disonance. For example my father was in the grain business in Illinois and I have always thought of myself as having an affinity for growing things.  So in the process or researching this project we explored aquaponic farming and discovered that Living Aquaponics (Zac Hosler) in Hawaii took on interns.  I’m sure that there are places closer to home, but Laurie and I have been looking for an excuse to return to Hawaii.  We signed up for the internship.  I immediately began having alternating experiences of anxiety and excitement as I looked at our bank account and heard warnings from Zac that our accommodations for the two weeks are very “rustic”, and there are lots of bugs and mosquitoes.   I can hardly wait to get eaten alive and maneuver the out door shower.

Such thoughts make me wonder again, “Why are we doing this?.  Oh yeah, sustainability and food production”.  Aquaponic and hydroponic farming seem to be doable in any location, and could be the answer to the world’s distant food supply.    Lyle Estill in his book “Small is Possible” states that the average meal in the U.S. travels 1300 miles to get to our plate.  What if the food trucks couldn’t make it to our town/city? We want to learn about Aquaponic farming so that we might be able to consult and help communities and households set up their own local food source and eliminate or reduce the need for distance shipping of food.

Ganas Cafe cropped

Over Christmas we traveled to Brooklyn, NY to spend time  with our kids.  While there we also spent time at an intentional community called Ganas.  Ganas is one of the many intentional communities that have been designed throughout the years to bring people together to live communally.  They have a strong emphasis on providing the forum and mechanism to help their residents solve problems and get along.  They have been doing this for 35 years which makes them one of the longest continual communities in the country.  They have developed solid systems to have a community like theirs run smoothly. We thought that such communities might serve as models for the Villaging Project.  We loved visiting Ganas and will probably go back.  They have many of the qualities that we are looking for.