I have spent most of my adult life living in ecovillages both here in Australia and around the world. It's a simple, sustainable, productive and rewarding way of life. I absolutely love it! I have taught ecovillage design courses too in Australia, Europe and Asia.
I love ecovillages not just because they are a great way to live - for me and my family - but because they are about reimagining the future, and exploring, experimenting and sharing ideas with others.Perhaps you could call it positive progress - positive development.
The conventional notions of progress and growth come with the implicit promise that each generation will live 'better' than the previous one. But, this way of life is completely dependent on oil. Economic growth too is entirely linked to consumption of oil - quitea vulnerable position to be in.
Let's not forget too that everything is totally dependent on planetary well-being which is being undermined. Earth overshoot day fell on August 2 this year. Everything we do from August 2 until the end of the year is borrowed from the future and from nature's capacity to restore itself.
Getting together at the village green and sourdough bakery cafe each week for a chat and sometimes to swap produce too, while the kids play.
Ecovillages offer a different way of living and developing. It's a way of seeing the world that needs far more exposure. That's why I chose to explore this topic again in my Simple Living segment on ABC Radio a few weeks ago. Evening show host, Trevor Jackson and I explored:
What is an ecovillage?
Why do I choose to live in an ecovillage?
What are some of the challenges?
What are some of the various ways they occur around the world?
An ecovillage is essentially a way of living more in ecologically sound and sustainable ways, with more resilience and connectedness - to self, to others, to the bioregional ecology, to the planet. It is an intentional way of living more simply, to thrive, to connect, to reconnect with our inner purpose, to aspire to live well, live fully, live sustainably.
Living a low impact lifestyle surrounded by nature, food, fresh water, fresh air, wildlife and community.
A key defining characteristic of an ecovillage is that people come together to consciously live more lightly on the earth. There is intent and purpose to be in conscious pursuit of living a more regenerative, resilient way of life.
Not surprisingly, ecovillages have the lowest recorded eco-footprints in the 'Global North'.Sieben Linden in Germany is at 30% of the national average, Danish ecovillages are at 30%too and the USA ecovillages are at 20% of their national average. This is significant! If we are to find a way to live well within the natural limits, not just surviving but thriving - regenerating social and natural fabric of life, ecovillages certainly seem to hold some clues and are worth a deeper look, particularly in how the lessons from these can be translated much wider.
We have more than half of the global population living in cities and there is much talk of how to create ecocities. Perhaps the answer lies in creating a series of ecovillages which are connected in the urban fabric.
The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)describes three key forms of ecovillages:
the traditional ecovillage - existing rural villages and communities that decide together to make changes that embrace the traditional sustainable ways of living and integrate positive new and appropriate technologies
the urban ecovillage - communities and eco-neighbourhoods with a common vision to re-invent city life to become more sustainable, collaborative and participatory;
the intentional ecovillage - an ecovillage created by people who come together with a shared vision of creating a new village or community.
Torri Superiore is an Italian ecovillage - a cooperative effort to restore a medieval village using traditional natural building methods and cultivating sustainable way of life and livelihood in the rural landscape - making, growing, ecotourism and education.
It is not known actually how many ecovillages exist, but GEN reports that they reach out to around 10,000 communities on all continents.
Ecovillages explicitly focus on four dimensions of sustainability:
To me ecovillages are incredibly important educational centres - real examples of how to live well. In ecovillages people explore new ways of living, and create new narratives - ways of seeing the world, that are more positive, practical and constructive. It's not about denial or guilt, but of being engaged and proactive.
I intend to make a little youtube clip of our village sometime soon. That would be a great way to share some more about how things work here at Crystal Waters. Do you have any particular questions you’d like me to answer in the film?
There are many websites about ecovillages. Here's just a couple of resources:
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