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|See also the Ecovillages category.|
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Ecovillages are a kind of sustainable neighbourhood, which are typically planned and managed cooperatively. They are intended to be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable intentional communities - though they include models that may be less intense and offer more privacy than some intentional communities. Compared to sustainable cities, they are smaller and typically aim for a population of no more than 50-150 individuals. This because this size is considered to be the maximum social network according to findings from sociology and anthropology (Hill & Dunbar, 2002). Larger ecovillages of up to 2,000 individuals may, however, exist as networks of smaller "ecomunicipalities" or subcommunities to create an ecovillage model that allows for social networks within a broader foundation of support.
Ecovillage members are united by shared ecological, social or spiritual values (see Intentional community). An ecovillage is often composed of people who have chosen an alternative to centralized power, 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.
In 1991, Robert Gilman set out a definition of an ecovillage that was to become a standard. Gilman defined an ecovillage as a settlement:
- which is human-scale
- which is full-featured
- in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world
- in a way that is supportive of healthy human development, and
- which can be successfully continued into the indefinite future.
Note: In recent years, Gilman has stated that he would also add the criterion that an ecovillage must have multiple centers of initiative.
An eco-municipality, (also known as eco-town) is a local government government that has adopted environmental and social justice values in its charter. The development of eco-municipalities stems from changing systems in Sweden, where more than seventy municipal governments have accepted varying principles of sustainability in their operations as well as community-wide decision making processes. The purpose of these policies is to increase the overall sustainability of the community.
The distinction between an eco-municipality and other sustainable development projects (such as green building & alternative energy) is the focus on community involvement and social transformation in a public agency as well as the use of a holistic systems approach. An eco-municipality is one that recognizes that issues of sustainability are key to all decisions made by government. Many eco-municipality projects also incorporate the Natural Step into their change processes.
History of ecomunicipalities
In 1983 the Övertorneä community of Sweden first adopted an Eco-municpality framework followed by a formal organization in 1995 (SEKOM).
Characteristics of ecovillages
The principles on which ecovillages rely can be applied to urban and rural settings, as well as to developing and developed countries. Advocates seek infrastructural independence and a sustainable lifestyle (for example, of voluntary simplicity) for inhabitants with a minimum of trade outside the local area, or ecoregion. Rural ecovillages are usually based on organic farming, permaculture and other approaches which promote ecosystem function and biodiversity. Some ecovillages integrate many of the design principles of cohousing, but with a greater ecological focus and a more "organic" process, typical of permaculture design.
An ecovillage usually relies on:
- "Green" infrastructural capital;
- autonomous building or clustered housing, to minimize ecological footprint;
- renewable energy;
- cohousing or other forms of supportive community.
The goal of most ecovillages is to be a sustainable habitat providing for most of its needs on site. Its organization also usually depends upon some instructional capital or moral codes - a minimal civics sometimes characterized as eco-anarchism:
- local purchasing so as to support the local economy;
- local food production and distribution;
- moral purchasing to avoid objectionable consumption;
- consensus decision-making for governance;
- a choice to respect diversity.
The term ecovillage should not be confused with micronation, a strictly legal, not infrastructural, concept.
List of ecovillages
Ecovillages in Europe
Ecovillages in North America
- Bosque Village (Michoacan, Mexico)
- Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage (Rutledge, Missouri)
- Earthaven Ecovillage (Black Mountain, North Carolina)
- EcoReality (British Columbia, Canada)
- EcoVillage Ithaca (Ithaca, New York)
- Los Angeles Eco-Village (Los Angeles, California)
- The Farm (Summertown, Tennessee)
- A-Welcome-To-All: We Invite You Ecovillage (Olympia, Washington)
- PAZ Ecovillage (Terlingua, Texas)
- Rancho Delicioso (Montezuma, Costa Rica)
- What Is Ecovillage? by Tony Sirna
- An Ecovillage Retrofit for Los Angeles: Healing an Inner-City Neighborhood by Lois Arkin
- http://sustainablebusiness.com/features/feature_template.cfm?ID=1269 accessed on Nov 5, 2007 at 2:24pm CST
- Christian, D. 2003. Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities New Society Publishers. ISBN 0-86571-471-1
- Hill, R. and Dunbar, R. 2002. "Social Network Size in Humans." Human Nature, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 53-72.
- Jackson, H. and Svensson, K. 2002. Ecovillage Living: Restoring the Earth and Her People. Green Books. ISBN 1-903998-16-6
- Intentional Communities wiki
- Ecovillages on Ekopedia
- Ecovillage Wiki - intended to facilitate ecovillages to develop regional and global networks. (Still active at mid-2011, but a low level of activity.)
- Global Ecovillage Network
- Ecovillage Network of the Americas
- Intentional Communities website
- Ecovillage Directory - List of Ecovillages in the Intentional Communities Directory
- Eurotopia Book, Directory of Intentional Communities and Ecovillages in Europe
- DVDs about Ecovillages worldwide
- Living Together: Sustainable Community Development
- The Ecovillage Model
- Permaculture Magazine - incorporating Global Ecovillage Network News.
- Voices of Cohousing: Rebuilding villages in the city - Documentary on mainstream urban ecovillages (cohousing)
- Intentional Community and Ecovillage Database
- Eco Villages Article Article by João Silva in Accessible Travel Magazine, March 2007
- Ecovillage Network of the Americas
- EcoVillage Network
- Network in Suomi
- National Association of Swedish Eco-municipalities
- Sarah James Associates Consulting firm working in the field.
- Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association Eco Municipalities links
- 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin page on Eco-Municipalities
- The American Association of Planners policy guide on sustainability.
- List of ecovillages
- Intentional Community
- Communities Directory
- Survivalist communities; proponents of ecocity (due to their aligning to the self-sufficient nature of sustainable neighbourhoods)
- Green politics
- Sustainable habitat
- Green syndicalism
- Bioenergy Village
- Principles of Intelligent Urbanism
- Eco municipalities
- EcoVillage Myth
- Types of communities
- Sustainable cities