“What’s the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” Thoreau once asked. His quote adorns the brochure for EcoVillage—a planned community coming to life in Ithaca, New York. At their forum last fall, 60 earthy people slogged through sodden paths and armpit-high brambles on the 176-acre site—recently purchased for $400,000—that many hope to someday call home. They drew smeary-inked circles and arrows on map handouts. They debated whether the site proposed for the village center would be better suited for a water tank, and whether to plant the asparagus patch over the proposed playing field. “The land will let us know what goes where,” reassured architect Steve Blais, one of the many professionals donating their services to the nonprofit project.