Erick S. Hansch was a staff member of the International Independence Institute. He was born in Germany, lived several years in China, and lived in Portland, Oregon when not involved in field work for the Institute. Not the least of his several careers was in economics, in which he served as advisor to one of the Oregon state legislators.
Ralph Borsodi, Robert Swann, and Erick Hansch founded the International Independence Institute in 1967 to provide training and technical assistance for rural development in the United States and other countries, drawing on the model of the Gramdan villages being developed in India. In 1972, Swann, Hansch, Shimon Gottschalk, and Ted Webster proposed a “new model for land tenure in America” in The Community Land Trust: A Guide to a New Model for Land Tenure in America, the first book to name and describe this new approach to the ownership of land, housing, and other buildings. Ten years later, they changed the name of the International Independence Institute to the Institute for Community Economics (ICE).