Building ecological communities

Creating ecosteries
Constructing ecovillages
Developing eco-settlements
An ecovillage may exist in a rural, urban or suburban area. It has a membership and a decision-making body. Not defined in size, it will usually comprise 50 to 3,000 persons. It combines all the aspects of an intentional community, a village and a cohousing community. In addition it is an ecological project and has design and development aims which aspire to those of a full-featured sustainable community: being economically sustainable, harmonious with nature and committed to not draining the ecosystems of which they are a part.

Viable ecovillages are committed to sharing resources and providing collective living and service units for food production and preparation, working contexts, transport, education, recreation, etc. This means that certain resources and facilities are pooled in such a way that everyone benefits and individual consumption on general items is usually cut down considerably. Most ecovillages strive to be self-financed. In many communities, there is no conventional concept of "unemployment". Community members volunteer their services in exchange for goods, labour and services. Sometimes community organization is based on a local currency or credit system. Individuals are credited for their efforts and contributions. People often hold several responsibilities at once as a diversity in talents and skills is more readily recognized. This usually means there is less income disparity, less elitism and less hierarchy.

According to The Ecostery Foundation of North America (TEFNA), an ecostery is: a facility, stewarded land, and nature sanctuary where ecosophy (ecological wisdom and harmony) is learned, practised, and taught.
The Earth Village Network is a charitable foundation whose purpose is to co-create ecologically sustainable village communities with attached biodiversity sanctuaries, and to link these in a supportive global network. The projects run according to permaculture, process work and bioregional methods and principles. All the land obtained will be held in trust for the Earth, meaning that the land will not be bought or sold again. Those living and working on the land will act as caretakers and earth stewards of that land with responsibility for the next seven generations.

The Danish Association for Sustainable Communities (LØS) is the Danish association for eco-settlements with the vision: (1) the creation of rural and urban, social, ecological and spiritual communities, displaying cooperation between ecological, social and spiritual orientations and ethical and ecological use of energy, mineral, biological, human and cultural resources; (2) self-government, proximity and responsibility in leadership and economy; (3) tolerance for diverse living styles; (4) communicating a global consciousness.

1. An ecovillage is like an ecosystem: there are always lots of activities and opportunities occurring. The growing circle of involved residents and friends seek to establish good relationships with one another with a high level of trust. We try to figure out how the problems in our community are related to the problems in our bioregion and our political juridiction. We are especially interested in how these problems related to our ability to have healthy air, water and soil, human health, a decent standard of living, a high quality of life, non-polluting livelihood, and a strong sense of community. Through working together with our own skills and resources we begin to create changes in our neighbourhood at the pace that we can incorporate them into our lives -- physically, socially and economically. We seek to create a healthy balance between planning and experimentation considering the economic, social and physical outcomes of each activity.

2. Ecovillages have the capacity to respond more readily to changing situation because their infrastructure require less capital and are based on local geographical considerations.

3. Ecovillages should not be reduced to mortar and timber; the sense of shared fortunes is what really carries them.

4. Don't confuse community with village. Village is the location and physical arrangement, the geography, the built structure, and the legal structure. Community is an outcome of the interactions of the people there, and the issues they face, and how they face them over time. To prescribe them in advance is to limit the glorious potential possible. Build the ecovillage and trust the people to build their own community.

5. Any village, any community, can only survive and prosper in connection with a successful agricultural system. The two cannot be separated, as they are trying to do at the moment.

Counter Claim:
The effort by people in middle-class ecovillages to claim unique eco-sensitive practices ignores and denies the achievement of traditional rural villages in many parts of the world, which have necessarily had to function according to practices which would now be described as sustainable and environmentally appropriate.
Facilitated by:
Designing model communities
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal