Ecovillages are another type of intentional community. The goal of its inhabitants is to be more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. The usual number of residents is between 50 and 150 individuals, although some are smaller. Networks of ecovillages can increase the number substantially – up to 2,000 individuals in some cases. This networking can include individuals, families, or other small groups that settle on the periphery of the ecovillage and then effectively participate in the ecovillage community.
Sieben Linden Ecovillage
The base belief for all ecovillage residents is to find alternatives to ecologically destructive systems commonly used by the majority of the population, such as electric, water, transport and waste treatment. Their mandate is to break away from wasteful consumerism, natural habitat destruction, urban sprawl, factory farming and reliance on fossil fuels. In addition there is a return to traditional community living, leading to a richer and more fulfilling way of life. With the model being small scale communities the ecological impact is minimal.
The term ecovillage was first mention by Professor George Ramsay when he described the small-scale, car-free, close-in development, which included suburban infill as a “self-sufficient pedestrian solar village” in 1978.
An eco-house at Findhorn Ecovillage with a turf roof and solar panels.
These villages have developed from the communities characterized by communes in the 1960’s and 1970’s through to the co-housing in the 1980’s onto a more ecological and community themed existence.
The ecovillage movement has expanded globally since the conference in Scotland in 1995 with the formation of the Global Ecovillage Network, which now links hundreds of small groups that previously had no knowledge of each other. Today there are ecovillages in 70 countries on six continents. The mandate is to attract mainstream culture in building sustainable developments, such as Living Villages and The Wintles where eco-houses allow maximum social connection with the added benefit of shared food growing areas and woodland and animal husbandry. Encouragement is given to reduce energy use, create sustainable local businesses, localize farming and create environmentally minded communities.
Ecovillage residents respect their environment and grow the bulk of their food organically, use local materials for building, protect biodiversity, maintain growing seasons and protect local water, soil and air quality. Income is typically generated from the retail sales of products and services.
Five ecovillage principles from Ecovillages: New Frontiers for Sustainability:
- They are not government-sponsored projects, but grassroots initiatives.
- Their residents value and practice community living.
- Their residents are not overly dependent on government, corporate or other centralized sources for water, food, shelter, power and other basic necessities. Rather, they attempt to provide these resources themselves.
- Their residents have a strong sense of shared values, often characterized in spiritual terms.
- They often serve as research and demonstration sites, offering educational experiences for others.
Would this kind of community appeal to you?