What is an Eco-village?
Ecovillages are formations of people who have intentionally-decided to
integrate a supportive social environment with an environmentally
conscious way of life. To achieve this they may explore various aspects
of ecological design, permaculture, alternative energy, sustainable
land use, alternative economics, and much more in planning and
practice. Often the goal is to live more softly on Earth.
Ecovillages, like colleges, are communities in their own right.
They have their own built and natural environments, populations, and
complex interactions that define them. However, they are also
part of a larger community—both political and natural—that they
interact with both contributing and teaching, and learning from.
In studying the structure and history of ecovillages, we can learn much
about our own communities and the positive ways in which we can change
them. By reflecting on our own community here at UVM with an
inclusive frame of reference—one that considers all social, economic,
and ecological aspects of life—we can begin to plan sustainably for the
Why an Eco Village? Imagine!
Imagine a world where you have a daily connection with nature; where
your community governs itself and all voices are heard; and where
people do favors for each other because the world works better that way.
Imagine a community that is willing to steward the land, heal its
wounds, and restore its waterways. One with protected wetlands
for all the wildlife; constructed wetlands to treat storm-water; and
diversified flower gardens, food-crops and elegant pathways instead of
high-maintenance mono-crop lawns and concrete sidewalks.
Imagine a workspace where the February sun streams through your window
and your desk is bathed in light, except in summer, when the grape
vines shade your terrace; where you control the fresh air flows from
outdoors; and a personal space which is not defined by concrete walls,
but designed with an invitation to think, materials that are alive.
Imagine a place that produces more energy than it consumes, a water
system which uses fresh rainwater for showers, and a place where your
mind and spirit can explore the nuances of ecological mystery in a
Now imagine committing yourself for four years to a village where you
actually know everyone’s name, where you are investing in your future
and where you live at the same time, where academics are integrated
into your environment, and where you truly are learning and living as a
citizen on this Earth. Imagine a university where through applied
research and problem solving you are directly contributing to a more
desirable society for yourself and generations to come.
The question is not: Why an Ecovillage? But rather: Why not an
With the ongoing investment in housing and traditional patterns of
energy, water, waste, and food systems, we are losing a huge
opportunity for redesigning our environment. When we settle for
housing and buildings which are meant to compress, oppress, and deaden
life forces, we lose the chance to be engaged and responsible for
ourselves and our environment.
It is time we figuratively and literally step outside the box with
regard to housing and other building models, and dare to treat our
minds and souls with respect. It is time that we live in concert
with nature, and integrate ecological systems into our daily lives.
Finally, it is now that we need to twin an ecovillage model with the
academy of higher learning. Let us set forth a direction of
inspired learning which arises out of inspired living. Imagine a
UVM community that is a truly a sustainable village!