The Initiative for Green Habitats represents a long term commitment towards providing solutions for the creation of Sustainable Built Environments. This blog attempts to provide an insight to our views, commentaries on our work, ideas that we are working on, and provoke thought where there are more questions than answers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ecovillages are catching on

Image: graur codrin /
Ecovillages are sprouting up all around theworld. These isolated clusters of habitation are an expression of people electing to live in communities that are sustainable, i.e. they attempt to generate more than they consume, and almost always have educational, spiritual, social, environmental, humanitarian, and philanthropic goals woven into their long term charter. The interesting aspect of an ecovillage is that it can be started with any large singular goal and then evolve into a community participating in a broad range of local or global issues. Professor Karen Litfin of the University of Washington, Tacoma, has written a stellar paper titled “A Whole New Way of Life: Ecovillages and the Revitalization of Deep Community,” which analyzes and discusses the roots and history of the Ecovillage movement and mentions how GEN (The Global Ecovillage Network), since 1995, is helping ‘share and disseminate their knowledge.’ She also mentions the names of a few large and small communities in the network. A few large ones are Sarvodaya in Srilanka, Colufifa in Senegal, The Ladakh project, and ‘ecotowns’ such as Auroville in India and the Federation of Damanhur in Italy. Amongst the smaller one she mentions Earthaven in North Carolina and Huehuecoyotl, Mexico, besides many others. All these communities have different sets of goals, but are similar in the fact they have ‘self-sufficiency’ at their core and believe in ‘participatory development.’ While ecological aspects are given prime importance, these communities are as much focused on the ‘social aspects of community life.’ There are critics who point out that these small clusters of living have no impact whatsoever on the world ecology or sociology and are merely ‘escapist’ solutions to large global issues. These are, of course, excuses of people who never want to make a beginning in anything. Creating small examples of holistic living and educating others to follow cannot be but good in the long term for all. Looking for large solutions to address our large-community problems is certainly difficult and usually ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions rarely succeed for long. Small universes of habitation, giving importance to local issues and opportunities, may find us the larger solution we are all looking for.

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