What is an Ecovillage?
Ecovillages are urban or rural communities of people, who strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low-impact way of life. To achieve this, they integrate various aspects of ecological design, permaculture, ecological building, green production, alternative energy, community building practices, and much more.
The motivation for ecovillages is the choice and commitment to reverse the gradual disintegration of supportive social/cultural structures and the upsurge of destructive environmental practices on our planet.
For millenia, people have lived in communities close to nature, and with supportive social structures. Many of these communities, or "ecovillages", exist to this day and are struggling for survival.
Ecovillages are now being created intentionally, so people can once more live in communities that are connected to the Earth in a way that ensures the well-being of all life-forms into the indefinite future.
Ecovillages are one solution to the major problems of our time - the planet is experiencing the limits to growth, and our lives are often lacking meaningful content. According to increasing numbers of scientists, we have to learn to live sustainably if we are to survive as a species. The United nations launched its Global Environment Outlook 2000 report, based on reports from UN agencies, 850 individuals and over 30 environmental institutes, concluding that "the present course is unsustainable and postponing action is no longer an option."
Ecovillages, by endeavoring for lifestyles which are "successfully continuable into the indefinite future", are living models of sustainability, and examples of how action can be taken immediately. They represent an effective, accessible way to combat the degradation of our social, ecological and spiritual environments. They show us how we can move toward sustainability in the 21st century (Agenda 21).
In 1998, ecovillages were first officially named among the United Nations' top 100 listing of Best Practices, as excellent models of sustainable living.
Ecovillages typically build on various combinations of three dimensions:
The social dimension of an ecovillage
Ecovillages are communities in which people feel supported by and responsible to those around them. They provide a deep sense of belonging to a group. They are small enough that everyone feels safe, empowered, seen and heard. People are then able to participate in making decisions that effect their own lives and that of the community on a transparent basis.
Permaculture project at an ecovillage in Bolivia. In South America, the sense of community as seen in this picture is as an example to any intentional ecovillage in the world.
* Recognizing and relating to others
* Sharing common resources and providing mutual aid
* Emphasizing holistic and preventive health practices
* Providing meaningful work and sustenance to all members
* Integrating marginal groups
* Promoting unending education
* Encouraging unity through respect for differences
* Fostering cultural expression
"Among intentional communities, the more socially motivated ones are reacting to the alienation of the individual due to institutionalization of traditional support functions, the breakdown of the family, and the marginalization of the weaker members of society. They tend to emphasize re-establishing "community" and are closely associated to the co-housing movement. The latter is closer to the mainstream and represents the easiest first step for many." Ross Jackson
The ecological dimension of an ecovillage
Ecovillages allow people to experience their personal connection to the living earth. People enjoy daily interaction with the soil, water, wind, plants and animals. They provide for their daily needs - food, clothing, shelter - while respecting the cycles of nature.
* Growing food as much as possible within the community bio-region
* Supporting organic food production there
* Creating homes out of locally adapted materials
* Using village-based integrated renewable energy systems
* Protecting biodiversity
* Fostering ecological business principles
* Assessing the life cycle of all products used in the ecovillage from a social and spiritual as well as an ecological point of view
* Preserving clean soil, water and air through proper energy and waste management
* Protecting nature and safeguarding wilderness areas
The Cultural/Spiritual dimension of an ecovillage
Most ecovillages do not place an emphasis on particular spiritual practices as such, but in their own ways ecovillages respect and support - the Earth and all living beings on it; cultural and artistic enrichment and expression; and spiritual diversity.
Cultural and spiritual vitality means:
* Shared creativity, artistic expression, cultural activities, rituals and celebrations
* Sense of community unityand mutual support
* Respect and support for spirituality manifesting in many ways
* Shared vision and agreements that express commitments, cultural heritage and the uniqueness of each community
* Flexibility and successful responsiveness to difficulties that arise
* Understanding of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all the elements of life on Earth and the community's place in and relation to the whole
Source: GEN Global Ecovillage Network
Creation of a peaceful, loving, sustainable world
Go to our Ecovillage Links Page
See a listing of 374 ecovillages worldwide