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The Gap Year Blog

Eco-villages: What are they about?

9 Jul 2018 11:50 AM

Photo Credit: flick | uusc4all

Living out a radical idea

The general holistic approach behind eco-villages is to explore how humanity could live in harmony with themselves, their fellow humans and the environment. This lifestyle tends to attract people who are dissatisfied with what the modern world has to offer, who are often increasingly worried about the environment, and therefore looking for a life with more meaning.

According to the Intentional Community Directory, there are 2,255 eco-village communities in 70 countries, from a network of remote villages in Sri Lanka to the popular Cristiania in Copenhagen, an autonomous community of 850 people. Uncertain times often stimulate movements like this, and more than 300 new eco-villages were founded in the first ten months of 2016.
Sustainability and innovation

Within most eco communities, the goal is to become self-sufficient in energy, food and water. Innovative farming methods and ways to reuse materials for composting and energy use are central within eco communities all over the world. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be nearly 10 billion people living on earth, and the concern about over-population results in the urgent need for regenerative housing and community development.

Eco-villages are embracing their opportunity to eliminate future food and resource scarcity, and creating options to meet the enormous demand for integrated neighborhood designs. Furthermore, they work towards incorporating door-step high-yield organic food production that feed diverse nutritional needs.

Alternative economies

Some eco-villages are built on a low budget where people live in caravans, huts, yurts or shacks. Other villages, such as the ReGen Villages in the Netherlands, pride themselves on high-tech architecture and beautiful landscapes that frequently attract and inspire paying visitors. In most eco-villages, however, money and finance is deemed unnecessary, and most people work with arts, pottery or sewing workshops for small-scale sales or personal development.

In Findhorn, an eco-village in Scotland, their alternative currency 'EKO' has gained a lot of positive attention lately. The local currency enables community members to exchange goods and services with the community, and has opened up for wider discussions about material values beyond the village.

In other eco communities, the focus is more research based, and people spend their time developing power positive homes, renewable energy sources, efficient water management, and waste-to-resource systems that are based upon ongoing resiliency research. All of this for reducing burdens on local and national governments.
Some might say that eco-villages are trapped, destined to forever strive but never arrive in their goal of sustainability and self-sufficiency. Of course, that’s part of the appeal: to be in a perpetual state of happy struggle, with the end always just over the next hill. However, in an increasingly tech-run and distancing world, wouldn’t simplicity, sustainability and community be a great reality to work towards?

By Heidi Dørum - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservationcommunityteaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!