The concept of a global campus village for Kelowna was originated by Avalon's founder, Laurel Zaseybida.  As a professional planner with expertise in sustainable community development, Laurel has been engaged in efforts to resolve enviromental and social justice issues in both local and global contexts.  She has delved into many spiritual traditions and the healing arts, and believes in the higher human potential that people can access within themselves and together in community.  She has also travelled widely and conducted her own international research in progressive approaches to learning, wellness, green building design and community development.  

Laurel aspires to create a place that acts as a catalyst for positive change and where citizens from all over the world can exchange their knowledge and demonstrate their experience in a spirit of friendship and peace.  Since founding the Avalon Alliance parent company in 1997, she has been joined by many other people from diverse fields who are inspired by the vision of the World Centre district and want to work together to create a better future for their community and the planet as whole.

Prior to starting Avalon,  Laurel was employed with Urban Systems and retained as a consultant by the City of Kelowna and Regional District to do preliminary sector and master planning for the MIssion Creek Greenway and Scenic Canyon Regional Park.  In the course of this work, she began envisioning an international learning centre, ecovillage development and conservation management zones on lands around the creek corridors.  If seen from above, this futuristic campus village district resembles a phoenix or thunderbird with wings and tailfeathers spanning across the canyon area lands.  Her inspiration became even more compelling when she considered the extraordinary conditions of this location: pristine canyon parkland with geothermal potential and critical watershed resources, surrounded by largely undeveloped properties in close proximity to the urban core of Kelowna.

It would be a great loss to the local community and the world if this outstanding canyon area were to submit to haphazard urban sprawl, rather than to become a legacy for humanity.  The area is home to many endangered species of the Okanagan, nationally signicant geology, and extraordinary eco-cultural tourism opportunities.  Some conventional large lot development has already been initiated in the area.  This concern was similarity expressed by the Central Okanagan Regional District and City of Kelowna when the Scenic Canyon Regional Park Master Plan was finalized.  This plan encourages innovative, complementary development along the edge of Gallagher's Canyon.

The best way to protect this extraordinary canyon area, while creating a world class destination that assists in the evolution of humanity, would be to bring individual properties in the area under a collaborative area structure plan and comprehensive conservation and development strategy.  Laurel also saw that this sustainable development scenario would have the long range potential to support green transportation alternatives such as a new perimeter light rail.  Accordingly, preliminary plans and artistic renderings for Avalon World Centre were prepared in 2002 and 2003, and the subsidiary Avalon Ecovillage Development Corp. was established in 2004. At that time, a First Stage Ecovillage Project was proposed for two properties, and comprehensive development documents, feasibility studies and drawings for the Ecovillage initiative and larger World Centre and Sustainability District were prepared in 2006 and 2007 by Laurel and her colleagues.

Since then, Avalon's plans have continued to evolve with the changing economic and property conditions of the area. The original Avalon Ecovillage initiative has been withdrawn back into the more comprehensive and regionally important vision of the World Centre project. In recent years, Laurel has also focused on advancing the understanding of Avalon as a leading edge sustainability framework and community development model.  With her partner Bonnie Wilkes, she has created this fresh new website and social media in order to expand the professional services and community membership capacity of Avalon's organizational network.

The World Centre and Sustainability District vision provides an optimal and synergistic balance of land uses that creates high value for project stakeholders and society at large.  The Avalon Alliance aspires to coordinate the project with many local and international development partners who want to be at the leading edge of creating sustainable community futures. Our broad partnership model of development also includes a diverse membership base that enriches this initiative with various kinds of participation and support.  Avalon intends to establish a living legacy - a global village of learning, renewal and excellence that people everywhere can contribute to, be proud of and enjoy.