Article by Javier Jauregui Ortun
Do you normally say hello to the people that live in your neighborhood? Do you know anything about their lives? A UK survey revealed 57% of people don´t know their neighbours, despite the fact that the average Brit has been living next door to their neighbour for over seven years. What makes us live as if we were alone in the world when we know that our life is sustained and supported by community?
In this article we want to present to you a way of living that many people are connecting to these days thanks to their social network focus and their low-impact sustainable lifestyle. We refer to the so-called Ecovillages, rural or urban communities that aim to guarantee sustainability and regeneration in social, cultural, environmental and economic aspects, which descend to all members of the community.
The intention of the inhabitants of these Ecovillages is to live in community in the most harmonious way possible. They tap into a circular economy model that helps them sustain their living and overcome the social and environmental challenges of our century. Achieving this goal is not easy, so Ecovillages that prove to be truly sustainable deserve our utmost respect.
We want to share with you 7 Ecovillages in Europe that have proven to be sustainable over time, in the hope that they inspire you to live more sustainably and encourage you to spend some time in one of them, so that you can experience them for yourself.
Starting with our beloved land in Spain, you cannot miss getting to know Arterra Bizimodu, a well-established community since 2014 in Artieda, Navarra. Arterra Bizimodu seeks solutions to the problems of the ecological crisis, always seeking self-sufficiency and a smart economy based on the personal talents of each member of the community. The governance model is the so-called Sociocracy, in which total participation, the promotion of entrepreneurship and collective intelligence are sought, with the aim of creating a society similar to a living organism, which self-organizes and self-corrects. At Arterra Bizimodu you can collaborate in the preparation of bread and pastries, in the poultry management of hens, in the organic garden, in the coordination of meetings and events, in the electrical management of solar panels and energy efficiency, in the facilitation of workshops… If you want to learn and experience a shared life more in line with natural rhythms and basic human needs, Arterra Bizimodu is waiting for you.
We move to close Basque lands to visit Amalurra Ecovillage, located deep in mountains of Biscay region. It started in the 90s when a group of friends passionate about recovering the balance of the natural environment acquired a piece of land. They repopulated a 10-hectare estate with more than 5,000 native trees, creating a unique space to facilitate processes of personal and collective consciousness. Their belief is how the encounter with oneself can be amplified through the other. They lead multiple workshops and retreats and have several accommodation options, being an ideal center to explore your connection with yourself, the people, the culture and the Earth. One plus is that it is easy to access as it is 30 mins drive to Bilbao international airport.
We leave Arterra and we head to the southwest of Portugal to present a very inspiring project. The Tamera Ecovillage, located in the Portuguese region known as Alentejo, was founded in 1978 with the intention of demonstrating that a cooperative and non-violent world is possible, where animals, humans and the rest of nature can live in harmony. Tamera is also an education and research center for Peace. To this day, this community model has inspired many others in the world, and for this reason we recommend you to participate in the experiences and training offered at Tamera. You will be able to collaborate in turn in the investigations for Peace carried out in the Ecovillage, based on the understanding of the social, spiritual, sexual, ecological, technological and economic areas that sustain life. Living in this Ecovillage is an experience that will help you see the world in a more conscious and connected way.
From the southwest of the Peninsula we move to the southwest of France, to the Ecovillage Tera, in the New Aquitaine region. This community is a great example of the organization and discipline necessary to guarantee the sustainability of an Ecovillage at all levels. Tera focuses on territorial development with the intention of creating a cooperation ecosystem, where 85% of production is relocated, the ecological footprint is reduced and production is valued in local citizen currency to guarantee decent wages and avoid job insecurity. Spending a season in Tera will allow you to learn about alternative forms of governance, communication, construction, food and agriculture, always promoting community sustainability and harmony.
We move north and get to Scottish lands, inhabited by mythological beings such as kelpies and selkies, as well as the better known Nessie or Loch Ness monster. Scotland is one of the pioneers in the creation of Ecovillages, being the Findhorn Foundation its best representation. Findhorn Foundation is a holistic and transformative spiritual community and training center, which seeks to create a positive and sustainable future by living in community. Created in 1962, it has welcomed tens of thousands of people, sharing with them their wisdom and sensitivity to embrace the Sacred. At Findhorn we are invited to listen to our deepest selves, so that we can connect without prejudice with other people on a daily basis. If you want to give yourself a space to reconnect with yourself and share your concerns with people who love life and planet Earth, the Findhorn Foundation offers Experience Weeks to learn the methodology and knowledge of this community.
We leave Scotland and we land in German territory in theEcovillage Sieben Linden Ecovillage located in the Beetzendorf region, a 3-hour drive west from Berlin. The Ecovillage was established in 1997 with the goal of achieving a holistic and collaborative sustainable lifestyle. Unlike other Ecovillages, Sieben Linden encourages autonomy at work, which is why many residents work outside the Ecovillage. However the Ecovillage constantly encourages community activities and meetings, since a lot of communication is needed between the 140-150 people who live there for everything to develop harmoniously. All residents must help out by performing basic daily tasks in the community. The entire village has been built with bioconstruction, using wood materials, adobe, straw, clay, reused cement... In addition, they have about one hundred hectares of land, where they do agriculture for self-consumption and sustainable forest management to guarantee firewood and wood for building the houses and other structures of the Ecovillage. If you are looking to live, grow, and who knows, start a family in a village where you want to share a social and environmental vision with your neighbors, Sieben Linden could be a beautiful option.
From Germany we travel to Denmark to visit the Ecovillage Hjortshøj, which is a living example of how to live sustainably. The Ecovillage was founded in 1986, with the intention of building a local community with ecological social cohesion that would develop environmental initiatives and new forms of social community. Around 300 people live in Hjortshøj, under the motto that solidarity is the cement that holds society together. In this line, they promote complementarity and cooperation between the members of the Ecovillage. If you visit Hjortshøj, make sure you learn about organic farming, gardening, bioclimatic construction, renewable energy, as well as about coordination of the horticultural cooperative. Of course, if you go in winter, get ready for long hours indoors, playing cards or chatting with the community, since daylight hours are few and rainfall is abundant, with temperatures hovering around zero degrees!
To finish, let´s explore a special Ecovillage in Poland, located in the southern region of the Tatra Mountains. We are talking about the Bhrugu Aranya Ecovillage, made up of members between the ages of 4 and 70 whose mission is to heal people and be an example of a community in harmony with planet Earth. Bhrugu Aranya has 4 hectares of farm surrounded by forest, where you can find organic gardens, greenhouses, bee hives, fruit trees such as apple and plum trees, cows, goats and ducks. In addition, this Ecovillage puts special focus on the spiritual aspect, carrying out purification ceremonies of the Vedic texts such as Agnihotra, welcoming and saying goodbye to the days with a small bonfire and thanksgiving at sunrise and sunset. If you are looking for an experience where you can learn about sustainability, healing and community life, spending a few days at the Ecovillage Bhrugu Aranya is a rewarding option.
We often tend to believe that what we know is the right way of doing things. That is why we hope this article helped to remind you that there are many ways of living out there, as valid and fulfilling as the ones we know.
We hope you have enjoyed getting to know these 7 European Ecovillages and these lines feed your curiosity and encourage you to spend some time in these mindful communities. As members say in Arterra Bizimodu, another world is not only possible, but necessary!
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