In modern times, many people are coming to the realization that our current way of life and methods of technological advancement cannot continue indefinitely. One method that is quickly gaining momentum is the creation of eco friendly villages around the world. Both the need for community and the drive for sustainability continue to fuel their growth.
To understand exactly what they are, it is helpful to turn to a commonly accepted definition. In 1991, Robert C. Gilman, a longstanding contributor to the eco-village movement, stated that an eco-village is a human settlement in which activities and technology integrate without harm to the natural world and in a way that supports healthy human development. He also added that it must remain capable of doing this indefinitely.
Though intentional communities such as these tend to widely vary in practical application, size, location and type, many factors remain the same. Similarities that often tie them together can include the use of alternative energy, community building practices, environmentally conducive manufacturing and production, ecological building choices and permaculture. Successfully integrated modern technology with ancient ideals has become the ideal.
Ecological building can be described as the erection of structures with materials and designs that benefit local ecology. The main purpose is to have the advantage of development while doing so in harmony with ones natural environment. Sustainably built housing and commercial structures minimize the negative effects of tradition building and make a step towards a greener future.
Sourcing energy through alternative means is central to the existence of intentional communities. The production of energy must be both efficient and free of negative effects on the environment. The earth and atmosphere are of great concern and energy practices seek to be fully sustainable and continually renewable. Another area of concern is production and manufacturing. As products are created for use and consumption, importance begins to be placed on the ways in which goods are produced and not just how much profit can be made.
The creation of human settlements that are self sustaining is also known as permaculture. Within this relatively new model, proponents follow the prompting of nature and learn to create a system in which each part feeds another while simultaneously providing for human needs. Consideration is given to the ways in which each separate piece becomes part of the working whole.
Beyond sustainable living, eco friendly villages seek to build a sense of connectedness and belonging among participants through community building practices. The aim is to increase interdependence, interaction and participation with one another. When a sense of interconnection is restored between those living in a given area, community takes on a whole new meaning and virtually a life of its own. To learn more or find locations of existing villages, the Global Ecovillage Network offers a comprehensive understanding and an ongoing listing of communities.