Take a second, right now, and picture the community of the future. Are there green roofs, lazily-turning windmills, and streetlights powered by solar energy? Maybe even a lawn-mowing robot or two?

James Ehrlich, CEO of ReGen Villages, has a pretty innovative vision for how neighborhoods of the future should look and function. After a career as a tech entrepreneur and television producer for The Hippy Gourmet, with a few epiphanies along the way, he came to the sobering realization that “the planet is, in fact, falling apart.”

In response, Ehrlich began sketching out plans for modern ecovillages with food “not as a sidebar or a flourish, but as the actual mechanism for how a neighborhood infrastructure is built.” ReGen Villages is currently in the midst of construction their first pilot community in Almere, Netherlands, with plans to expand.

After he wowed us with his optimistic vision for the future of homes, neighborhoods, and communities at the Smart Kitchen Summit last year, Ehrlich sat down with Allen Weiner of The Spoon chat with about epiphanies (and breakdowns), the concept behind ReGen Villages, and what’s on the horizon (hint: their ecovillages might be coming to a state near you!).

Psst—look out for videos from past Smart Kitchen Summits every Friday on The Spoon. And if you’re in Europe (or just want an excuse to EuroTrip), register for SKS Europe, coming to Dublin in June.

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