From March to December 2017, a journey to observe how communities make themselves stand out, all over Europe and sometimes close to cities. These groups, composed of 5 to more than 600 people, seek an alternative and autonomous way of life, more human-and-environment-centred… and they found it!
A source of inspiration for those who want a change of course in 2018!
“I had very inspiring weeks at the ecovillage. All human dimensions are present, in a benevolent and playful atmosphere. I felt free to express complicity simply and openly, but also through different ways -such as the look. It was a great opportunity to get to know myself better.”
– Sylvain, 39 years old, Valle de Sensaciones, Spain
40 000 km travelled, 30 communities explored, 10 countries crossed
A holistic research: when ecology rhymes with economy, culture and social issues
“If only 5% of European populations were engaging to climate change mitigation projects as communities, carbon savings would be sufficient to achieve 85% of the 2020 carbon emissions reduction targets” – TESS European survey (2016)
In the 500 ecovillages that are currently developing in Europe, the ecological dimension is crucial: it includes for example natural housing, local food and green energy consumption. Ecovillages are laboratories, which explore solutions and innovate to tackle current environmental challenges such as climate change. They commit themselves to minimize their impacts.
“We want to treat the soil to fight against desertification. With permaculture, this is possible. I hope that my lands will become economically, ecologically and socially viable again. The power that nature has over us is extraordinary. We must preserve it! “ – Francine, 42 years old, A Quinta, Portugal
At a time when Europe is seeking to take the lead in fighting climate change, it seems appropriate to take into account the advances of ecovillages, but also to support them in their development.
Solutions are not lacking, such as permaculture, eco-buildings, water cycle management, environmental restoration, vegetarian or vegan diet, limited means of transport, renewable energies and green technologies. Compared to cities, ecovillages thus manage to halve their CO2 emissions.
“Water, energy and food are freely available to humankind, when we no longer follow the laws of capitalism instead of the logic of nature.” – Dieter Duhm, 75 years old, Tamera, Portugal
Nevertheless, sustainability is not the only revolution in their way of living … They also invent new patterns of community life, where happiness, love, kindness, respect for everyone as well as the environment, are at the heart of their attention.
A new way of thinking politics and human relations
Free education for children in Eotopia; barter, non-violent or non-verbal communication in Zegg; emotional talking circles in Valle de Sensaciones; working with dreams in Los Portales; free love or polyamorous relationships in Tamera…
There are so many alternatives for humanity to regain the authenticity of a simple life, in connection with each other and nature. It is about putting individuals’ well-being, living environment, and nutrition at the centre of decision-making.
“School limits children to certain behaviours. There, they learn about violence and harassment. That’s not what I want for my daughter. Here, she will learn tolerance, solidarity and sharing. We want to offer her more than school.” – Yazmin, 32 years old, Eotopia, France
Some ecovillages are engaged in local or international politics. The people involved try to prove that other ways of life are possible, far from a society that promotes fear, inward-looking attitudes, dependence as well as greed for power and money.
Thus, they are present in the largest political bodies such as the United Nations, or more recently at the COP23, where they have shown that ecovillages are full of solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN.
Creativity, freedom and self-responsibility at the heart of everyday’s life
More and more ecovillages use sociocracy – a mode of governance without any leader, when every person’s responsibility is so fundamental that it becomes natural – or the gift economy- which allows everyone to be considered for what they are and not what they have.
“Here, any volunteer can develop their ideas. We have a lot of freedom, which helps us thrive and gain responsibility.” – Lucas, 22, Sunseed, Spain
Every community is different. Far from dogmas, decisions are made on a human scale. Thus, ecovillages preserve their differences; some are more focused on ecology, others on community life, or creativity and art.
“To be happy in life, you have to be creative. Art, just like gardening, develops our creativity. Seeing plants grow is a way of creating life”
– Antonio, 33, Quinta das Relvas , Portugal
Thanks to their know-how on living together, ecovillages and their communities give us a wonderful opportunity to return to the essential, but also to rethink our relationships to others, to ourselves, as well as our way of consuming.
Upcoming in 2018 :
New ecovillage explorations in Europe, including Bosnia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Scotland, Greece, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden, Poland…
www.eco-villages.eu: already 40 articles listed in 4 categories – permaculture, eco-construction, food, well-being & environment – to let you discover European ecovillages in pictures.
A non-profit project carried out by a digital nomad, passionate about the preservation of the environment and human relations. Do you want to participate, support me or simply contact me ? Click here.