Foster an ecology-based evolution of the local community through advocacy, education, and practical assistance. Restore the best practices of the past and advance the most regenerative design principles of our time.
We chose the dragonfly, Erythemis simplicicollis, commonly known as the Eastern Pondhawk, as the symbol of the Ecological Culture Initiative. Native to the eastern two-thirds of the United States, Erythemis represents self-realization, transformation, and depth of understanding. We could think of no more fitting visual metaphor for the goals ECI has set for the community of Hampton Bays.
Evolving from a water dwelling nymph, adult dragonflies eat other flying insects, particularly disease bearing pests such as midges and mosquitoes. The brief existence of a dragonfly relies upon the purity of air, earth, and water, and is connected to each by complex biological interactions that are markers of ecosystem health.
Who We Are
Founded in January of 2016, the Ecological Culture Initiative (ECI) is a local non-profit that develops environmental programing and field projects in collaboration with community groups, cultural institutions, and government. Operating out of the historic Foster House in the Hamlet of Hampton Bays, NY, ECI seeks to build upon the insightful protection of an 1858 farmhouse home and its surrounding property through landmark status and conservation easements. ECI develops permaculture-based pilot projects throughout the community under the umbrella title of the Good Ground Restoration Project. The Ecological Culture Initiative is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by law.
Why Operate from Good Ground?
Of all the Villages and Hamlets on the East End of Long Island, Hampton Bays (Southampton Township’s central and largest year-round population) stands uniquely poised to serve as a model of environmental tourism, historic preservation, and transit-oriented regenerative neighborhood development. Originally settled by farmers and fisherman as Good Ground, it was renamed Hampton Bays in 1922 to entice tourism. Roughly 90 miles from the economic engine of New York City and served by a major highway as well as the Long Island Railroad, no other East End community boasts the municipal infrastructure and coastal recreation amenities native to Hampton Bays. Passengers who disembark from the train arrive in the center of a pedestrian-oriented hamlet that boasts gourmet local food sources, a laid-back Main Street, as well as extensive woodlands and waterways that are home to abundant wildlife. The post office, community center, grocery store, eateries, salons, shops, movie theater, village green, American Legion, fire department, ambulance corps, schools, library, nature preserve, undeveloped publicly-owned land, and densely-populated residential neighborhoods are steps away from the station. A short distance from main street by bicycle or car you are greeted with historic cedar-sided cottages, hiking, mountain bike and horse trails in bucolic pine-barrens, wetlands, waterfront restaurants and resorts. There are bays to snorkel and scuba dive in, canoe, kayak or sail on, as well as spectacular undeveloped and protected barrier island beach parklands. The hamlet features county parks that allow camping as well as numerous town parks and trustee lands that provide a plethora of water access points.
What We Do
Our vision is that of a pedestrian-friendly, welcoming, historic Main Street composed of local eateries and shops, owned by local people who ensure they are provisioned by local organic farms and sustainable wild fisheries, in buildings constructed with natural materials, serviced by local tradespeople, and populated by the society of beachgoers, families, fisherman, intellectuals, surfers, vacationers, and lovers of the outdoors who have always worked and played on the waters and in the woods in which we dwell.
Hampton Bays is at a crossroads - it may be fully transformed by the suburban sprawl that defines so many Long Island communities and become an ecologically-destructive neighborhood of franchise-operated storefronts surrounded by concrete and asphalt - an automobile-based network of harmful septic practice beneath uncharacteristic, synthetic storefronts and homes. The goal of ECI's Good Ground Restoration Project is to preserve the components of the community we value and advance the interests of the community in a sustainable way.
We raise funds to tirelessly advocate, educate, counsel, secure and help build an ecologically-responsible neighborhood. In this effort we support and enhance the initiatives of our local government and civic groups and fill the gaps between the public and non-profit organizations that govern how our community evolves. We work to conserve the fine small homes on our avenues and the quaint cedar-sided cottages at the end of unpaved driveways. We advance the evolution of an ecologically-minded landscape inclusive of undeveloped woodlands, small-farms, marsh-fronted properties, and the healthy waterways that are the keystones to our physical and economic health.