In this first episode of our second season, I interview Steve Nygren, the founder of Serenbe—a microcosmic urban utopia set on 65,000 acres of preserved forest land, a mere 40 minutes south of Atlanta’s expanding sprawl. Yet to paint Serenbe as the latest picture of the New Urbanist movement (or as a green community, or a nature community, or an “agrihood,” as it’s been called in reference to the 25-acre organic farm the town is centered around) wouldn’t do it justice, as my family and I discovered when we called Serenbe home for two months this past summer.
Here, during an epic walk in the woods, Steve and I delve into the biophilic theory underpinning Serenbe’s design—along with the journey that took him from “having it all” in Ansley Park as a successful restaurateur to a life of deep nature connection for his family and Serenbe’s burgeoning community.
Serenbe’s origin story
Steve’s farming roots in Boulder, CO
Richard Louv and Last Child in the Woods
Why 68 percent of people don’t like where they live
“We have removed what I think are the two most important things for a vital life: and that’s connection to nature, and connection to each other”
The New Urbanist movement and inspiration from the English countryside
Preservation, development, and a model for balanced growth
The elephant in the room: affordable housing
The problem with “intentional” communities
The biophilic community, the awakening of intuition and Serenbe’s sacred geometry