Karen and Evan felt compelled to change their lives in profound ways. They wanted to be closer to people and to nature. They wanted to share, work with others to build something, and do all that they could to minimize the damage that they caused to the planet. They also wanted to live amongst people who shared their values and desire to help change the world.
After careful research they decided to become members of an ecovillage. Ecovillages are one type of intentional community. Intentional communities are planned, designed, organized, and governed in ways that promote a higher degree of social interaction than other kinds of communities. Members of intentional communities such as ecovillages typically share common social, political, and spiritual ideals. Ecovillages are settlements in which human beings integrate their activities harmlessly into the natural world around them. The members of ecovillages live in ways that support healthy human development, and create communities that are sustainable well into the future.
The populations of ecovillages vary but most try to maintain a population of 50-150 individuals. An ecovillage’s structure usually includes the following elements:
Renewable energy sources
Emphasis on using products that minimize damage to the earth
Ecovillages can be located in urban or rural areas. They strive to create a living environment that is supportive and respectful. Consensus decision-making is usually how an ecovillage is governed. Members purchase goods and services locally as a way of supporting the local economy. In an effort to avoid purchasing items that harm the environment or go against their beliefs, members of ecovillages avoid consuming certain objects.
Karen and Evan conducted a lot of research on ecovillages because they liked the idea of sharing resources, responsibilities, and their lives with people who have similar beliefs about living. However, they did not want to live in an ecovillage that was too remote. They were also interested in an ecovillage that was progressive, respected diversity, and safe. They decided that they wanted to live in an urban ecovillage. They would still have all of the advantages of living in a city; yet they would be living in a more supportive, communal environment.
They felt that an ecovillage that was in line with the changes that the new millennium is bringing about and addresses the concerns of living a communal life in these times was best for them. They realized that ecovillages are not utopia. For them, it is a better, not perfect, way to live. A millennium ecovillage – one that was in touch with the 21st century – is what they were looking for.