Ecovillages are great habitats and support systems for people who want to live environmentally friendlier, happier, healthier lives. One of the most famous modern ecovillages, Findhorn Ecovillage, starts this ecovillage spotlight series.
Ecovillages often combine ecological planning and design with innovative social, political and/or economic systems. Additionally, they often include certain cultural or spiritual goals.
The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) states, “Ecovillages are urban or rural communities of people, who strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low-impact way of life. To achieve this, they integrate various aspects of ecological design, permaculture, ecological building, green production, alternative energy, community building practices, and much more.”
Due to their great features but still rather obscure existence, I decided to do this “Ecovillage Spotlight” series to highlight some of the great ecovillages that exist around the world.
The ecovillages that follow show some of the great possibilities that are out there for ecologically friendly, community living.
GEN says that ecovillages are generally based on some combination of three dimensions — Social/Community, Ecological, Cultural/Spiritual.
Findhorn Ecovillage contains aspects of all three dimensions.
Findhorn Ecovillage (aka Findhorn Community) was started in 1962. It is situated in the Findhorn Bay of Moray in Scotland. Its ecological footprint is half the UK’s national average and a 2007 study found that it had the lowest recorded ecological footprint of any community in the industrialised world.
Findhorn includes 61 ecological buildings (including its unique whisky barrel houses — see the two pictures below), 4 wind turbines, a biological Living Machine ® sewage treatment system, the UK’s oldest and largest Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) system, its own bank and community currency, over 60 community businesses, and much more.
The community uses a democratic process of government and involves “diverse organisations and people associated with the community within a 50 mile radius” in its New Findhorn Association. The community has an elected voluntary Council, but, in the end, the community’s affairs really lie within the control of its 360 individual and 32 organisation members.
Findhorn also holds trainings for green buildings, ecovillage design and living, and other sustainability issues. It is used as an education center by universities, schools and professional organisations and hosts over 14,000 visitors a year from 50 different countries (picture of the Findhorn Foundation’s Cluny Hill College campus below).
Additionally, the ecovillage includes a spiritual component as it “grew out of the spiritual practice of the 3 founders, particularly the co-creation with nature work of Dorothy Maclean,” Carin Bolles of the Communications Department says. The inhabitants there often describe the community as a ‘spiritual community’, ‘education centre’, or ecovillage. Carin and others also descirbe the community as an ‘experiential learning center’ because it not only hosts ecovillage trainings but also practical spirituality, dance, and many other types of trainings, workshops and programs.
A great model of ecological living, community governance and business, and social and environmental education, Findhorn is a world leading community or ecovillage.
All images via Findhorn Foundation (special thanks to Carin Bolles).