NOTE: This proposal dates from 2007, with little activity since then.
Ecoversity is a utopia constructed upon a convergence of human creativity working towards a sustainable future. It is the gathering point for a diversity of knowledge, abilities, intellect and spirituality in a planetary proposal for unity between nature and society. The Ecoversity vision is to create a holistic center for healthy living; a place in which the sciences, arts, and spirituality are woven together to form a synergistic bond.
Ecoversity is a confluence of individuals with the common goal of learning through experience and equality. Here all are simultaneous teachers and students, dissolving conventional roles of hierarchical education and engendering honest and open relationships of mutual growth. At Ecoversity all can benefit from the exchange of knowledge and contribute to the personal legacy of every individual involved. Ecoversity will create a new paradigm of education and actively construct solutions to a sustainable future amongst all levels of life.
Description of the ProposalEdit
This proposal intends to integrate eco-education, permaculture sciences, anthroposophy, bio-architecture, agriculture for life, conscious management of resources, the use of practical technology, renewable energy, ecological economy, and natural healing of the spirit, the body and the mind, the arts of theatre, music, painting and sculpture, practical arts such as ceramics, weaving and carpentry, the culinary arts and processing of foods, and last not least the mastery of multiple languages and development of a truly international cooperative society.
The integration of these diverse elements leads to a clear vision; the construction of a holistic school working to demonstrate how all aspects of life, humans and the earth, are part of a single, synchronized and harmonious body working in unity and equilibrium to achieve sustainability. The starting point is to recognize natural systems as models and the abundance of local materials as the basis for creation.
- Continue the development of the written proposal, with flexibility to make changes and include new ideas each time improving and making it more cohesive.
- Seek out ties with other centers and universities whose projects are in line with and compliment the Ecoversity proposal.
- Begin the collection of funds from donors interested in education and ecology, with the plan that once the proposed project is established and generating funds equal to or greater than the donor money, these funds will go towards the development of other Ecoversity sites.
- Define the place where the first Ecoversity will be established.
- Organize a convention, inviting individuals interested in holistic education that wish to be a part of the project.
It is in accordance with the proposal itself that we use a participatory action-reflection method allowing the construction and design to be flexible allowing positive changes, new insights from different perspectives and seeking to maintain a cohesive, integrated form, encouraging continuous reflection on the development of the proposal, the needs and solutions that will form the very foundation of the project.
As such, the concept of a participatory methodology is as follows:
- Complete a preliminary proposal that will: crystallize the vision of the Ecoversity in words, objectives, justification, methodology, content and goals.
- Share the seed. The beginning of the proposal is sharing it with other individuals, groups, and organizations sharing the principles of the project. This will require a serious effort to prepare translations into as many additional languages as possible.
- Consider suggestions, insights, aspects that need improvement, and strengths of the shared document.
- Create a work group with individuals of different training and diverse vocational backgrounds in accordance with the areas of study included in the preliminary proposal, who will make the decision to dedicate time and energy to the development of the Ecoversity.
- Design a plan of action for the founding group to achieve a consensus on method, outline strategies to follow, flesh out details, delegate individual roles, and set specific temporal and spatial goals.
- Persistently continue in the development of the proposal until the Ecoversity is on its feet.
Human beings are presently faced with an array of serious challenges: hunger, crime, environmental crises, depletion of natural resources, careless exploitation of species and forests, pollution of the soil, water and air, climate change, a diminishing ozone layer, the production and consumption of foods and products dangerous to life.
The disappearance of the diversity of traditional and local cultures, the gradual loss of local knowledge, food systems, dress, and values represents an overwhelming trend of homogenization as well as the rapid growth of the capitalist-based consumer culture propagated by all forms of media and based on societal misdefinitions of individual “needs.”
The current situation of human-related problems makes it urgent that we generate innovative proposals to challenge present paradigms. This proposal is born from the need to create new tools and fundamental skills that will lead to a life in harmony with the planet. These tools are present in traditional knowledge as well as modern technology, but some have been forgotten and others limited by overly academic language and segmented research carried out in institutions isolated from the greater human population.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ECOVERSITYEdit
As a place of holistic growth for human beingsEdit
The Ecoversity vision is to provide an integrated education that allows participants to learn and grow as individuals as well as professionals. We aspire to propose an alternative model of education that will replace traditional structures and revise conventional methodologies, systems of evaluation, and politics that have hobbled education for years.
Ecoversity believes in a liberal education based on participation, collaboration and experience. By this we mean to say that the Ecoversity proposes to apply a methodology of learning with an emphasis on experience, on learning while doing, therefore highlighting connections across all areas of life. Relationships between facilitators and participants, in accordance with the philosophy of Ecoversity, will be characterized by a continuous and harmonious exchange. The basis for this being that education is boundless, and that every individual has knowledge and experience to share. Overall this method represents a fluid, horizontal exchange of experience and knowledge emphasizing respect for the other.
For Example: In a course on bio-architecture, the facilitator is an architect with extensive experience and enthusiasm for this field. But at the same time, this person is interested in music and part of his/her day is dedicated to pursuing studies in music. One of the apprentices of bio-architecture is a guide for a blind person, who happens to be the music instructor.
According to the courses of interest and the knowledge and skills they have to share, each individual will independently design their daily schedule. Courses will be scheduled and common meeting times arranged to allow for organized group focus on specific topics. There will be lectures and group discussion to resolve questions and present commentary, which will be worth credits necessary to achieve educational goals. *
Ecoversity as a Holistic Human and Ecological SystemEdit
Humans are part of a larger system. We seek to integrate natural cycles into our lives as well as understand our place within them. The goal is to live in cooperation and respect with this larger system made up of humans and nonhumans alike.
The Ecoversity counts on water tanks – for human consumption and agriculture, recycling of grey water, canals and ponds, productive plant life and efficient energy use, recycling of organic materials for fertilizer and technical materials for production, areas for different methods of agriculture, organic and sustainable, productive gardens, forests, and wild areas, a variety of domestic and wild animals, paths and hiking trails.
The campus will be the center of activity, and should be concentrated in one area surrounded by areas of agriculture and aquaculture followed by areas of conservation beyond.
Ecoversity as Productive and Economically Viable SystemEdit
Ecoversity will produce the majority of what it needs. Within the university local currencies will be encouraged to develop.
Work by participants will also generate income and the possibility to cover the costs and studies within the project. The facilitators should generate their own external incomes from consulting or research in a nearby local participatory economy.
Sources of Income
Restaurant: Provides to outsiders primarily organic vegetarian food. For participants it provides its facilities for use.
Cooperative Store: Sells all kinds of products produced within the Ecoversity. Also serves as an information center for activities, courses, and other events and details.
Weekly market: Fair prices and personal products offered within a space for trade and barter. The market will also include theatre, dance or music open to the public for a small entrance fee, and access for freelance outdoor performers.
Festival: Annual festival that offers a space for celebration and networking of knowledge, selling of products, etc. This income to be directed towards projects within the Ecoversity, to finance studies, travel, inventions and other benefits. (Monthly?)
The Ecoversity as a Tool for Social ChangeEdit
The Ecoversity seeks to develop leaders committed to humanity, conscious individuals that will be examples of a sustainable lifestyle, agents of change that break accepted paradigms and instigate revolution through innovation, creativity, intelligence and a holistic vision of the world, proposing solutions to heal, balance, and elevate the quality of life for all life on the planet.
We want to open a new door in a different direction than the world is headed. The Ecoversity is a model that once functioning will inspire others and be applied in different functions.
Cultural and economic reform of people and nationsEdit
It will be a model for collective and individual communities. Program of studies for schools and universities based on a methodology and philosophy of open education, participatory, emphasizing values such as: unity, conservation, cooperation and planning for the future.
A model for cooperative farmsEdit
Currently, farmers struggle to produce and sell in a free trade market, where multinational corporations controlling the channels of distribution can raise or dump prices at will. Our goal is to use this project to generate and promote the formation of a strong network of cooperatives and farmers.
We will seek to create dignified employment with new profile titles, such as engineer of alternative energies, while maintaining and strengthening traditional carpentry, tailor, and shoemaker trades.
FUNDAMENTAL GOALS AND DEFINING PRINCIPLESEdit
- Permanent work to obtain auto-sufficiency
- Mitigate as much as possible our ecological footprint, eliminating consumption of industrial products, of petroleum and gas, of products that are polluting, live-cut timber from forests and especially water sheds-- using gray water treatment systems, composting toilets, alternative energy and scrap-lumber-based construction.
- Producing organic foods, recycling nutrients, generating fertilizers with internal consumables, controlling plagues and sicknesses using natural methods to reach the climax of the system.
- Tending to and caring for all species with compassion, practicing non-violence, non-deprivation of freedom, healthy nourishment and the integration into all systems. Proection and recuperation of forests, wildlife and watersheds, maintaining biological corridors, areas designated as reserves and recovering forest. Prohibition of violence on all levels; towards the self, others or nonhumans.
- Maintaining and caring for all communal spaces and promoting a dignified use of personal space.
- Practicing mutual respect for the right of each person to have personal space, peace, tranquility and space to engage in personal seeking.
- Mutual respect for culture, religion, sexuality and personal habits, to the point that it does not affect the right of others to express the same.
- Healthy diet based on locally grown vegetables, tubers, grains, fruits and seeds of the season, ideally a vegetarian diet, but allowing for the occasional consumption of meat and fish where warranted by population surpluses. Food prepared by participants in the center, with products produced internally or, if necessary, in close proximity using trade and barter to exchange goods.
- Internal resolution of conflicts based on group consensus, permanent dialogue, ceremony and communal support and reflection.
- Methodology of studies should not cause stress, fear, competition, or use as pedagogy the uncritical memorization of information or quantitative evaluations.
- Within each area of knowledge there will be a facilitator who will be a specialist on the subject.
- The apprentices will carry out projects or work-study in a collaborative manner, and this space will act as the scene for the socialization, construction and validation of theories.
- The evaluation of the apprentices and facilitators will be carried out through individual reflection, group reflection, and the results of completed projects, although the success and failure of these projects is to be judged on basis of the ability to resolve difficulties, to be creative and innovative, to present ecologically sustainable solutions, humanly just and economically viable, and the ability to demonstrate to others, providing a smooth transition from apprentice to fascilitator.
- Areas of study are interconnected and interdependent, without fragmentation of types of knowledge, nature will be an open amphitheatre along with other designated and constructed areas using the principles of bioarchitecture.
- Facilitators and apprentices will work together to form their schedules, responsibilities, goals and work rules.
- The center will include a day-care center and primary school allowing everyone regardless of age or gender the experience of sharing with children. A member of the Ecoversity with children will be able to keep them in the Ecoversity, allowing for the integration of the entire family into the daily life of the center. For examples of how a carpentry department can contribute to providing education toys within Ecoversity please see Essential Preschool Part I.
- An overriding goal is the happiness and peace of every participant.
Indicators of SuccessEdit
Producing a majority of organic food stuffs for internal consumption while generating excesses for sale in the cooperative store. Production of energy to cover the needs of the center using renewable sources at the site. Sustainably produce the majority of natural building products such as wood and fibers, and other materials such as clay, rock and sand for construction, art, basket weaving etc. Achieve a balanced economy that in five years should be totally independent of external support from similar projects. Act as inspiration for other proposals, collaborating in the development of other centers in different parts of the world, and to help schools, businesses and other types of organization with interest in applying some principles of the proposal. Each year there should be more people wishing to attend the center, resulting in the necessary construction of new centers to accommodate. The “ecobusinesses” created within the Ecoversity should be a model for green business, economically viable, ecologically sustainable and socially just. Those who make up the Ecoversity share knowledge and skills with others through personal interactions and organized projects that inspire those around them.
Areas of StudyEdit
- Sustainable construction and sustainable architecture
- Arquitecture / bio-architecture
- Ecological construction
- Sustainable management of resources
- Fields and wild areas
- Management of major and minor species
- Aquaculture and pond management
- Fruiticulture, Management of Productive forests
- Strengthening native species counts
- Culinary Arts and Food Processing
- Arts and Crafts
- Performing Arts
- Story Telling
- Holistic medicine
- Philosophy of human ecology
- Sustainable and ecological economy
- Neolithic skills
- Alternative energies:
- Appropriate technology:
- Fair trade:
- Green economy:
- Participatory methodology:
- Informal education:
- Formal education:
A Process of Transition
To achieve sustainability or autosufficiency is a slow and complex process that includes many different aspects. Each year we hope to move closer to becoming completely Sustainable, these steps include:
Will last one or two years during which the intention is to open the Ecoversity with a maximum of fifty people, the topics of study will be focused on the most basic subjects required for the development and management of the center, and will include: agriculture, crafts, culinary arts, permaculture design, alternative energy, resource management and eco-construction. The materials, tools and some designs will depend on external sources with an emphasis on fair trade goods, quality and environmental and social responsibility. Students will participate in the design, construction, implementation and maintenance of basic infrastructure and biological systems necessary to prepare phase two:
- General design
- Primary construction, such as dormitories and classrooms
- Planting trees and fruit trees
- Terracing, erosion control
- Energy systems and waste management
- Production of tools
- Surveying and mapping of site
Will last one to two years. In this stage we intend to grow to one hundred participants. New areas of focus include: Appropriate technology, arts, education and architecture. We will also delve deeper into the fields already explored.
During this phase we hope to begin providing some of our own tools and materials from the site. In spite of this, we will continue to depend on external resources. Participants will develop and improve the infrastructure in preparation of phase three:
- Detailed design of buildings and landscape
- Design of water systems, lakes and reservoirs
- Construction of communal areas; dining area, kitchen, sitting rooms, auditorium, workshops, etc.
- Agro-pastoral and agroforestry systems
- Plant wind blocks
- Energy and waste management systems
- Management of water and wind energy
- Drainage and irrigation
- Production of tools
- Festival and presentations
Will last one or two years, and the intention is to continue growing up to two hundred participants. In phase three we will open all areas of study, including: natural medicine, green economy, spirituality and performing arts, philosophy, sustainable industrial design, etc. We will also continue to develop and expand upon preexisting programs.
During this phase most of the tools and materials will be produced on site. However, there will continue to be a dependence on external resources. Participants will develop and improve upon infrstructure to prepare for the following phase. The previously mentioned activities will continue, while new ones are added:
- Stabilize of reservoirs, ponds, and aquducts
- Development of appropriate technology
- Construction of individual housing
- Animal husbandry
- Open markets and fairs
- Production of natural products for sale
During this phase we will move towards stabilizing the system, achieving an equilibrium and interdependence of systems. The number of participants may grow to as many as five hundred of all ages, origins and interests. Participants will be working in all areas of the center and learning through their personal experience. This phase will finish when the Ecoversity obtains economic autosufficiency-- that is to say, it no longer depends on donations and external sources of income, and it begins to generate income that can be invested internally.
The Ecoversity as an organization is now generating sufficient income to invest in the stability, development and support of other similar projects.
Center for coordination 1. Rent
Site: Costa Rica?Edit
Ideally the Ecoversity would be located in a country that enjoys a strong level of socio-political stability, permitting security, tranquility and allowing for foreigners to travel in and out of the country without hassle or danger. We believe there are certain advantages in choosing a developing country, given that the Ecoversity will hopefully contribute to this development in an ecologically and socially responsible way.
The size of the site must be large, taking in to consideration the number of people that will eventually live here and our goal for autosustainibility. We will need ample space for the production of food, medicine, energy, construction materials, wild areas, as well as space for housing, classrooms, kitchen, etc.
With this in mind we propose as a minimum 500 hectares, that is to say one hectare per person, which will insure autosustainability and conservation. If this is achieved, it will serve as powerful example and model for others, completing with an important goal of demonstrating how individuals and institutions can diminish their ecological footprint by living more harmoniously in their local environment.
It is essential that the site have access to a source of potable water; whether from rain, local water table, river, spring, or a combination of these. The water plan must support five hundred people and their basic needs without harming or overexploiting the source(s). (We do not consider irrigation a necessity. Instead the correct selection of plants and management of water systems presents a more sustainable practice than watering plants that do not survive on site without irrigation).
It is to our advantage that the site be in an area that has been previously harmed, allowing the Ecoversity to work towards the establishment of natural equilibrium, rather than a wilderness area where the presence of the Ecoversity may cause a negative impact.
Considering the above points, Costa Rica presents the preferred site and we are currently investigating potential sites.
The Ecoversity Work GroupEdit
The work group is the foundation upon which a detailed plan will be developed, taking in to consideration all aspects of the Ecoversity and supporting the process of development and stability until the Ecoversity can function independently.
Areas of StudyEdit
Sustainable design is the theoretical base for development. In this subject we will focus on the most advanced methods of systems design, processes, construction.
Permaculture design course (72 hours)
Annual course on sustainable design
Industrial design for clean production (cradle to cradle, upsizing, etc.)
Components: courses, workshops, service projects, green products
Architecture and Bio-architecture:Edit
Bio-climate design (energy sinks)
Passive solar design
Properties of materials and natural forms
Components: service projects, courses, workshops
Other resources and techniques
Components: courses and workshops, construction projects.
Components: inventions and products.
Design and produce equipment with an appropriate function.
Green Renewable Energy:Edit
“Free Energy” (Theories and experimentation with the teachings of Victor Tessla, Victor Schauberger etc.)
Components: Design and application of energy systems.
Water Systems Management:Edit
Purification systems for potable, gray and black waters
Reservoirs, lakes, and tanks
Management of channels and erosion
Components: Design, stability, maintenance of water systems
Medicinal plant species
Cultivars for fiber, construction and energy production
Management of pastures and woodlands
Management of plant and animal species
Aquaculture and Fish farming
Reinforcing ecosystems with native species
Tending horses, donkeys, and other draft animals
Components: Courses and workshops
Products: vegetables, fruits, milk, fish, meat, honey, wood and bamboo, fibers, medicinal plants, seeds etc.
Alchemy of food
Culinary: vegetarian, vegan, raw food
Cooking in season
Food to nourish the soul and the body
Different concepts of nourishment (naturalism, aiorveda, nutrition, etc)
Bakery, the use of homemade sour dough
Lactose processing, yoghurt, cheese, butter, etc.
Jams and preserves
Dehydrated vegetables and fruits
Processing sugar cane into brown sugar loaf, molasses, and sugar
Processing vegetable milks (soy etc.)
Processing seeds and nuts
Dyes, soaps, natural cosmetics, essential oils
Food, cheese, butter and yoghurt, wine, break, dried fruits and vegetables, dyes, soaps, natural cosmetics, essential oils, vegetable milks, sugar and molasses, jams, etc.
Building a grinder
Building and maintaining kilns
Making tools, pots, and inventions
Making planters vases etc.
Making tiles and watering systems
Musical instruments such as Ocarinas, etc.
Building with adobe and molds
Sculpture and art with different styles of firing
Procuring wool, cleaning and spinning thread
Fibers originating from plants
Braiding ropes of different styles
Natural colored dyes
Making cloth using different techniques
Building a loom
Ecoversity should recognize in carpentry product manufacturing the other arm, so to speak, of forestry: in order to maintain and expand the forest with its functions including the feeding and housing of all organisms, members of the biocommunity to which we are contributing with our acts and declarations, we are obliged to learn the science and/or art of preferential reuse of discarded rather than "new" wood fibre product at every opportunity.
The U.S. Congress stated in the RESOURCES PLANNING ACT OF 1974 (Federal Law, Chapter 36, 16 USC #1600-1601): "In order to ... reduce pressures for timber production from federal lands, [[[Forest Service should]]]... develop techniques for the substitution of these secondary materials for primary materials, and promote and encourage the use of recycled timber product materials... both in the forests and in manufactured products."
a. in the forest, to select, gather, process and use dead wood, while avoiding cutting anything live;
b. in towns and cities, to institute a program for intercepting and gathering scrap boards and other reusable wood fibre products before they are mistakenly used for an unworthy purpose (such as fuel or mulch, pennies on the dollar), instead bringing them to workshops where a wide range of needed carpentry products are made from such material rather than from "new".
Wherever drought or other factors threaten to cause bushfires (wildfires in U. S.), develop a program for gathering and removing hazardous biofuels. The material to be harvested divides in four main groups:
a. "Roundwood" i.e. trunks and branches of smaller diameter than usually thought of as lumber, but for which many uses exist in carpentry and manufacturing, subject only to the application of imagination and instruction of a labor force; to be bundled, delivered via truck road to carpentry shops;
b. trunks and branches too weathered or rotted to be usable for carpentry-- can be shredded or chipped and used for roadbeds, erosion-protection, mulch, or filling seasonally dry streambeds to promote water retention in uplands;
c. some of above to be pulverised into woodflour-- either the sawdust which is a by-product of cutting (a, above), or greater quantities made by feeding stock (b) into a designated pulverizor machine, which hopefully is 36" or narrower to be deliverable to remote forest areas by means of a lift truck running on a pallet-plywood pathway. Woodflour is the most desirable material for composting.
d. Brush, stubble, small twigs, weedstalks etc. can be bundled and delivered (via lifttruck, as described above) to gullies, ravines, dry creekbeds, wadi's (middle-east) or wherever water-retention programs are feasible.
At the waterway (or drywaterway) site:
- Lay a foot deep of woodflour (if available) in the creekbed.
- Lay a foot or two deep of chips, shreds, etc. on top of that.
- Lay bundles of brush etc. on top, maybe several feet deep.
- Along the top of the mound, near the middle, lay out a series of pallets and nail/screw down pieces of plywood on top, binding the pallets together, and create a second layer if judged necessary to sustain liftruck loads passing. This "covered waterway" system will be the primary woodland lifttrucktroad system, with occasional shorter branch lines leading off to wherever dry wood has been found in most abundance. The lift truck will bring in old scrap pallets and plywood from the highway to extend the road system, along with compost from town and various supplies neded for the workers, and carry out logs of roundwood, sacks of woodflour and other export products. The land within say 100 meters either side of such a ravine or waterway would be declared a near-100% fire free zone, and branch roads built to further sites where the volume of deadwood warrants it.
At each location where such a ravine intersects with a standard truck road capable of delivering trailers, a ground-Zero trailer camp would be set up, with interloading of products and materials going both ways (city/wilderness), residence for transient (summer) workers, children's activities and family services. Everyone down to age 3 would do some of the deadwood harvesting work and also learn other jobs along the processing and delivery routes. Carpentry terms in 30 modern languages will be learned by everybody.
(In order to procure government support this program might be given the name "Bushwater").
Types of wood
Techniques for extraction, drying, preserving, curing, trimming, stacking (storage for later use)
Techniques for pre-processing reusable scrap lumber salvaged and imported from urban areas
Planning and building furniture and accessories
In this instance, the first order of business is to construct the shelving which will be used in community store, food centers, utility rooms, etc., entirely from salvaged rather than new lumber, thus saving not only the trees which are spared by using scrap lumber but also the trees which are spared by preventing the waste and loss of resources that might be discarded by a thriftstore due to lack of storage facilities.
The very worst pieces of wood with a length of at least a meter (39 inches) can be used to build compost bins, each on a pallet or equivalent structure.
Building musical instruments (see discussion of wood-based toy instruments in Wikiversity: Essential Preschool Part I)
Technical studies and theories of the history of iron and the production of tools, furniture, and metal art. Participants in this field will learn from the basics – from the extraction of iron, or recycling post consumer iron, up to the final high quality hand-made product.
types of metals and their properties
Soldering and welding
Components: Tools, furniture, utility art, workshops and courses
Starting a fire
Hunting and gathering
A modern and relevant interpretation of what "gathering" means should include the systematic harvesting of dead branches, weedstalks, stubble, brush etc. for fire prevention purposes. This is work that can be done by every age and gender down to three-year-olds, with their family, using remarkable inadequately known tools such as anvil pruners, ratchet pruners and bundling wire, along with axes and saws.
The bundled bunches of brush can be used for erosion protection, roadbeds, etc., and laid in seasonally dry creekbeds or ravines, where relevant, to retard water runoff and promote reforestation. Primitive processing of natural materials
Philosophy of Human Ecology:Edit
Economy, Sustainability, and EcologyEdit
In this course we will learn about different economic theories, and the problems resulting from neo-liberalism. We will learn about “Green Economics” and sustainable economy as well as the difference between the two. We will learn how to generate change in economic structures and explore the defining characteristics of fair trade ecological economics, as well as how to operate this type of system.
Participants in this subject area will be operating a bank for green investment that will also serve as the bank for the Ecoversity and be open to the public. The goals of this bank will be in accordance with funding of the project and in this way the donations are also recognized as “green investment.”
Components: Management of the bank and of “green investments.”
The coop may be located on campus if the final site is in a commercial zone or tourist area. Otherwise it will be located in the nearest commercial center from campus. In the store various products will be sold that are produced at the Ecoversity, including the shelves the other products are stacked on, and there will also be promotion for courses, activities, workshops, and presentations on campus.
The coop will be nonprofit. Products will be sold at the cost of production with a small mark up to cover costs of operating the store itself.
Participants will be operating and working in the store, in such a way that each individual contributes a certain number of hours per month.
This proposal dates from 2007-08, so it appears to be on the backburner for now. You can Leave a note on Talk:Ecoversity if you're interested in reviving it.