Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature–the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. In nature nothing exists alone.
Silent Spring, September, 1962

Our Story

Our community is inspired by the legacy of Rachel Carson (1907-1964) whose early fascination with nature led her to pursue an extraordinary career as a scientist, writer and educator.  Childhood walks with her mother on their Western Pennsylvania farm instilled in Rachel Carson a ‘sense of wonder’ about the natural world that in turn inspired a life-long devotion to environmental stewardship.  A science degree from Pennsylvania College for Women started Rachel Carson on a journey to become a leading scientist and spokesperson for environmental concerns.

Rachel Carson taught us to see ourselves as part of nature, not a controller or even just a protector, but as inter-dependent with it: as reliant on the world we live in as it is on our good stewardship.  We are founding the Rachel Carson EcoVillage on the premise that people have a valuable and purposeful role within the environment and that our presence can enhance the vibrancy and resilience of complex living systems.  

Vision, Mission, Aims 

Our vision is a world where people value connections with each other and nature and human life contributes to the life of the planet.  As a community and as individuals, Rachel Carson EcoVillage at Providence Heights embraces ecologically creative living. 

Our mission is to create a community in Pittsburgh where people and nature thrive.  We believe that people have a valuable and purposeful role within the environment and that our presence can and should enhance the vibrancy and resilience of complex living systems. 

We aim to accomplish our mission by:

  • building a 35-unit cohousing ecovillage on land currently owned by the Sisters of Divine Providence.
  • attracting people who share a desire to participate in the community and also value the differences among each other. 
  • practicing constructive and compassionate communication so that we can govern our community equitably and effectively as a sociocracy. 
  • cultivating a low-energy, low-carbon lifestyle. 
  • contributing positively to the health and resilience of our natural ecosystems.

Overview of the Project

We are planning for 35 units: 2 studios, 9 one-bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units, and 12 two-bedroom suite units. Each unit is part of either a 2- or 3-unit side-by-side building.  Except for the studios, all the units are customizable, offering the opportunity to add additional bedrooms and baths. 

The units have been designed and constructed to conserve energy and minimize carbon emissions.  To avoid combustion of fossil fuels, they will be all-electric, which makes it possible for them to be powered entirely by renewable energy.  The units are designed to meet high indoor air quality standards.  It is our intent to be able to monitor building performance after construction to see how well they meet these goals. 

The Common House is a shared facility of approximately 3300 square feet.  It includes a dining/meeting room, a kitchen, laundry, mail/package pick-up, a workroom, and two guest rooms. 

See our Design Update & Development page for more information.

Ownership and Sales

Each household owns its house (the building) and its share of the common facilities. The form of ownership is condominium.

Individuals will be responsible for financing the purchase of their unit and paying their property taxes. There is no profit built into the cost of the units —they will be offered for sale at the cost to build them.  Monthly maintenance charges will include operating expenses, insurance, debt service, and capital reserves but do not include utilities for individual units. Our planned program of shared volunteer work will help to keep our maintenance costs down. We anticipate that such charges will be in the range of $300-350. 

When it comes to resales, experience has shown that houses in cohousing have held their value or have appreciated faster than the market as a whole. Any household leaving the community can legally sell their property and is entitled to the proceeds of the sale. The community will maintain a waiting list of persons interested in being informed if a unit becomes available, and the seller agrees to offer the unit to the first household on the list and proceed down the list until a prospect is found. The prospect is asked to apply through the membership process before the sale is completed. The purpose of this is to ensure that new buyers want to become active participants in the community and understand what that will entail. At a minimum, they will be asked to attend several common meals and at least one ecovillage business meeting. The seller agrees to confer with the community regarding the suitability of the prospective buyer. The process will be defined in greater specificity as we get closer to moving in.