Ecovillage

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Ecovillages are intentional communities with the goal of becoming more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. Some aim for a population of 50–150 individuals because this size is considered to be the maximum social network according to findings from sociology and anthropology.[1] Larger ecovillages of up to 2,000 individuals exist as networks of smaller subcommunities to create an ecovillage model that allows for social networks within a broader foundation of support. Certain ecovillages have grown by the nearby addition of others, not necessarily members, settling on the periphery of the ecovillage and effectively participating in the ecovillage community.

Ecovillage members are united by shared ecological, social-economic and cultural-spiritual values.[2] An ecovillage is often composed of people who have chosen an alternative to centralized electrical, water, and sewage systems. Many see the breakdown of traditional forms of community, wasteful consumerist lifestyles, the destruction of natural habitat, urban sprawl, factory farming, and over-reliance on fossil fuels, as trends that must be changed to avert ecological disaster. They see small-scale communities with minimal ecological impact as an alternative. However, such communities often cooperate with peer villages in networks of their own (see Global Ecovillage Network for an example). This model of collective action is similar to that of Ten Thousand Villages, which supports the fair trade of goods worldwide.

Contents

Definition

In 1991, Robert Gilman set out a definition of an ecovillage that was to become a standard. Gilman defined an ecovillage as a:

  • human-scale
  • full-featured settlement
  • in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world
  • in a way that is supportive of healthy human development, and
  • can be successfully continued into the indefinite future.[3]

In recent years, Gilman has stated that he would also add the criterion that an ecovillage must have multiple centres of initiative.

History

The modern-day desire for community was most notably characterized by the communal movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which became more focused and organized in the co-housing and ecovillage movements of the mid-1980s. Then, in 1991, Robert Gilman and Diane Gilman co-authored a seminal study called "Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities" for Gaia Trust. Today, there are ecovillages in over 70 countries on six continents.[4]

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