Eco communities is a rather loosely defined term used to describe people coming together to live intentionally and purposefully in a community of like-minded people who hold many Earth-friendly values and principles at their core. These communities vary in their beliefs, composition, goals, responsibilities and size. However, they most often tend to focus on living a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle that has less of an impact on the world around them, while striving to achieve more autonomy by meeting more of their needs within their communities. Other terms used to describe such communities include intentional communities and eco-villages.
Eco communities are generally a response to the fossil fuel and perpetual growth lifestyle characterized by capitalism, globalism, neoliberalism, and the accelerating exploitation of both human and natural capital to perpetuate profit over people, as well as, the planet as a whole.
These communities often times share land, resources, money, utilities, responsibilities, values, housing, or just some of these things. Other times, these communities do not share anything but a vision, mission, and perhaps a direct democracy that functions like a cooperative or housing authority. Furthermore, many eco communities function in an educational capacity, whereby tours, demonstrations, and interning are common. Also, many intentional communities revolve around one or many business models that help keep communities more self-sufficient, especially those that are located in remote areas, where work opportunities are limited.
(CC Image by S Woodside [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons) (Click to enlarge)
Most eco communities revolve around what is seen as an alternative, yet holistic model of democratic and Earth friendly policies. They usually focus on organic, biodynamic, and permaculture food production systems.The production of energy and using of resources is usually limited by producing as much energy and goods as renewably and locally as possible. For instance, solar power, wind power, hydro-power, biogas, biodiesal, geothermal, composting, recycling, as well as using locally forested and managed wood for cooking/heating. Furthermore, communities will often encourage walking and cycling, while striving for limited automobile use and ridesharing.
Another major feature of eco communities is the architecture, natural buildings, and landscaping of the communities. These alternative communities employ an equally alternative stance to building and altering the land, using cob, straw bale, wattle and daub, Earthbags, slip-stone, and cordwood construction.
(CC Image courtesy of EarthDayPictures on Flickr)