Dimensions of Sustainability

The Global Ecovillage Network embraces a holistic approach to sustainability encompassing the Social, Cultural, Ecological and Economic dimensions of human existence.

Ecovillages are communities in which people feel supported by and responsible to those around them. They provide a deep sense of belonging to a group. They are small enough that everyone feels safe, empowered, seen and heard. People are then able to participate in making decisions that effect their own lives and that of the community on a transparent basis.

  • Recognizing and relating to others
  • Sharing common resources and providing mutual aid
  • Emphasizing holistic and preventive health practices
  • Providing meaningful work and sustenance to all members
  • Integrating marginal groups
  • Promoting unending education
  • Encouraging unity through respect for differences
  • Fostering cultural expression

The Social Dimension

Ecovillages are communities in which people feel supported by and responsible to those around them. They provide a deep sense of belonging to a group. They are small enough that everyone feels safe, empowered, seen and heard. People are then able to participate in making decisions that effect their own lives and that of the community on a transparent basis. Community means:
  • Recognizing and relating to others
  • Sharing common resources and providing mutual aid
  • Emphasizing holistic and preventive health practices
  • Providing meaningful work and sustenance to all members
  • Integrating marginal groups
  • Promoting unending education
  • Encouraging unity through respect for differences
  • Fostering cultural expression
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The Cultural/Spiritual dimension

Most ecovillages do not place an emphasis on particular spiritual practices as such, but in their own ways ecovillages respect and support - the Earth and all living beings on it; cultural and artistic enrichment and expression; and spiritual diversity. Cultural and spiritual vitality means:
  • Shared creativity, artistic expression, cultural activities, rituals and celebrations
  • Sense of community unityand mutual support Respect and support for spirituality manifesting in many ways
  • Shared vision and agreements that express commitments, cultural heritage and the uniqueness of each community
  • Flexibility and successful responsiveness to difficulties that arise
  • Understanding of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all the elements of life on Earth and the community's place in and relation to the whole
  • Creation of a peaceful, loving, sustainable world
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The Ecologic dimension

Ecovillages allow people to experience their personal connection to the living earth. People enjoy daily interaction with the soil, water, wind, plants and animals. They provide for their daily needs - food, clothing, shelter - while respecting the cycles of nature. Ecology means:
  • Growing food as much as possible within the community bio-region supporting organic food production there
  • Creating homes out of locally adapted materials Using village-based integrated renewable energy systems
  • Protecting biodiversity
  • Fostering ecological business principles
  • Assessing the life cycle of all products used in the ecovillage from a social and spiritual as well as an ecological point of view
  • Preserving clean soil, water and air through proper energy and waste management
  • Protecting nature and safeguarding wilderness areas
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The Economic dimension

As local groups and communities create their own local scrip currencies and exchange systems, they learn about economist’s deepest secret: money and information are equivalent --- and neither is scarce! --- Hazel Henderson The Ecovillage economy is quite robust and full of vitality compared to other local economies. Economic Vitality means:
  • Keeping the money in the community,
  • Circulating it through as many hands as possible,
  • Earning it, spending it, and investing it in member-owned retail and service businesses,
  • Saving it in home-grown financial institutions.
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Thematic article