09/18/2010 12:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Suburb Sprawls Sustainability

There's a curious development in a suburb of my hometown Chicago, about as benevolent as a subdivision can be, in one of the sprawlier areas in the Midwest.

Prairie Crossing is an eco subdivision right off a commuter train line, housing not just lower energy use than the Americanaverage homes, but also an eco-minded charter school, acres of prairie preserve, an organic CSA farm, a homey retail area and StarGrazer Cafe, a restaurant that focuses on local, organic, and "natural" food. Terra Firma, the real estate development and advisory firm leading Chicago in ecologically-responsible property planning, runs the retail center there.

Perhaps their next step will be to ban SUVs from their community? Require all residents to take a two-week Ellen Page style permaculture course? Those hopes may be far fetched, but so is the idea that a place as conscious as Prairie Crossing were to exist in the first place, even as we enter a world where their efforts will soon become the minimum standard for healthy retraction.

Check out this new video, made by Big Teeth Productions, a Chicago-based production house, about how their subdivision farm works with the restaurant just a few yards away, which serves their food often just hours after harvest. I hope they have some dehydrators, or that this winter they'll be willing to explain to angry customers why fresh local tomatoes aren't on the menu.

Here's a video from my site, about the need for communities to transition in a conscious way.