What is an ecovillage ?
The world “ecovillage” is a mix between the words “ecology” and village”. It a place of life, more respectful toward the nature, often located in rural areas. It is a place where humans can live in harmony with their environment, but also with the people surrunding them. The word “ecovillage” covers in fact a lot of different realities. There are many way to organize an ecovillage. Some are more attached to the quality of life, or the development of artisitc sense, community life or philosophical debats… It can also be called ecoplaces, intentionale communities or selfmanged communities. It gathers a wide range of initiatives, but they all have four aspects in commun:
- people are living in community, which implies strong social ties. The “family” concept is often extended to the community or to small groups within the community. Decisions are taken by consensus… Again, each ecovillage has its own organization, according to its size and the individual will. Some are using assemblies, others simply talk around the meals…
- a low ecological impact, because the inhabitants only consume local products with a great respect for the environment. Few energy is used, and the needed energy is localy produced (wind, sun, bike…). Agriculture is developped on a small scale, with a few or no machines, and by respecting the natural cycles. It is called “permaculture” (more information under “permaculture”)
- a small scale is conserved, to ensure harmony in the community life. Nevertheless the scale can vary from one village to another. Some communities only gather ten peole, whereas other gather more then 2 000 person, like Auroville in India
- autonomy is an objective. It doesn’t mean living in autarcy, without contact with the outside world, but simply to fulfill his needs by producing localy energy, food, clothes, furniture, tools, soap… Possibilities are numerous depending on the region and its weather conditions.
Some other aspects sometimes add up:
- money refusal, by favoring barter and services exchange. Generaly, all the ressources are managed in commun. Many ecovillage use woofing (volonteers working in exchange of food and a roof) to lead wide construction project. Each ecovillage has its own financial organization, from self-sufficiency to subventions or other income sources.
- a strong spirituality aiming at finding an alternativ way of life to the consumer society. This spirituality can take various forms, and can sometimes derivates in religious dogmatism or political debats.
- importance of experimentation which can be social, sanitary, technical or educative. According to the motivations and the knowledges, the orientations in these fiels are various. Some ecovillages have their own schools, some other totaly reject the “school system”. Some use soft medecine, based on plants, massages, or yoga…
- a big place for art under all its forms: songs, music, danses, paintings, drawings, scultpures, mosaïc…