Ecotone was founded in 2010 on the belief that carpentry can play a key role in improving community wellness. Ecotone supports community wellness primarily through leading public works projects and creating apprenticeship opportunities in the local community, but also through their work as a luxury wellness brand.

So, what is community wellness? Why does it matter? And what is Ecotone doing to promote it?

Defining Community Wellness

Ecotone founder Craig Desmond defines community wellness as “an active and dynamic process of unlocking the full potential of the individual and the community. Wellness is something that must be actively done, practiced, and improved.”

Similarly, The National Wellness Institute defines community wellness as “an active process through which people became aware of, and make choices toward, a successful existence.”

Let’s take a closer look at a few key ideas from this definition.

So, what are some of the concrete factors that impact community wellness?For one, the individual wellness of community members. Since community wellness is equal to the sum of its parts, the wellness of each individual contributes to the community’s overarching wellness.

And secondly, infrastructure. When a community has the goods and services in place to support community members, everyone is able to thrive.

Why Does Community Wellness Matter?

Community wellness impacts the health and well-being of our friends, neighbors, families, and selves.

Both individual and community wellness create feedback loops that can be either positive or negative. In other words, good begets more good, while bad begets more bad. A small, positive effort can lead to exponential positive outcomes, and the negative is also true. So, being a positive force for good in the community can have far-reaching impacts.

Another reason that community wellness is important is the steady increase in the privatization of public goods, such as transportation, education, or even water. According to a report by In the Public Interest, when goods are shifted from the public sector to the private sector, they increase inequality and shift financial burdens onto the poor. In other words, as public goods become privatized, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

But what’s the connection between privatization and community wellness?

As goods are privatized, the community has less access to the resources needed to improve wellness. Goods such as community centers, quality education, public transportation, and even clean water become harder to find, creating a negative feedback loop that damages the wellness of the community and causes a downward spiral.

What is Ecotone Doing to Improve Community Wellness?

We believe that positive feedback loops are stronger than negative feedback loops. So, we are always searching for ways to create positive feedback loops in our local context.

Brooklyn is Ecotone’s birthplace and hometown, and Red Hook is the community where we operate and direct our efforts. Ecotone is engaging in community building projects to create a ripple effect of positive change by starting in our immediate circle, expanding to the neighborhood, and doing city-wide outreach for collaborations.

We create these positive ripples through several different avenues.

For one, Ecotone manages a variety of public works projects. A major goal of these projects is to tap into people’s natural resilience in order to enact change in their local context. For instance, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we participated in the Landscapes of Resilience project to redesign a community garden that was impacted by the storm.

Additionally, Ecotone’s apprenticeship program empowers local community members to build the communities in which they want to live. To learn more about community building, check out this blog post.

Community Wellness in 2020

Community wellness is becoming an increasingly important concept in our modern world, especially in the time of COVID-19. As we navigate the new reality of life during a global pandemic, our infrastructure and communities are being tested. However, the importance of community wellness will expand past this particular chapter of human history and continue to be an important measure of our ability to thrive together. We hope that in whatever community you belong, you actively seek ways to improve community wellness.