Description of Challenge
Building on a Newtonian worldview, there has been a tendency to focus on
particular facets of sustainability in isolation, and, in addition, to equate sustainability
with environmental awareness. There are many other aspects of life that require
sustainable practices and technologies, and only once we integrate these into a holistic
design will we be able to cocreate truly resilient futures for our communities,
organisations and societies.
“When we are blind to systemic causes of problems, all the solutions we try will likely
make matters worse.”
“Never give children a chance of imagining that anything exists in isolation. Make it
plain from the very beginning that all living is relationship. Show them relationships in
the woods, in the fields, in the ponds and streams, in the village and in the country
around it. Rub it in.”
The Ecovillage Design Mandala was created by ecovillage educators in 2004,
as the core symbol of the Ecovillage Design Education (EDE). This map describes a
holistic map for sustainable design and development, embracing the social, worldview,
ecological and economic dimensions of sustainability. The mandala can be applied to
systems on all levels: to the life of an individual, to an organization or enterprise, an
intentional community, traditional village, urban neighbourhood, region, etc. Over the
years, integral or participatory design was more clearly recognised as a fifth dimension
and placed at the centre of the Mandala. Also, the word ‘worldview’ has been replaced
by ‘culture’ in most contexts.
Ecovillages have a rich wealth of experience, methods and tools to share in each of
these five dimensions. The Solution Library is organised accordingly.
While conventional approaches tend to work with three pillars of sustainability (the
social, economy and ecology), the inclusion of ‘culture’ as a fourth pillar is currently
becoming more widespread.