The ecovillage movement and deep social transformation
I participate with a group trying to establish the first ecovillage community in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. We’re looking forward to building cohousing units.
I had some thoughts based on the following juxtaposition:
It occurred to me that there are three aspects to our endeavor:
a) The tagline for Washington Commons is “Community at your doorstep.” In a world where people have increasingly been feeling rootless and where many wish they had more interactions with neighbors, this concept figures to have wide appeal.
b) In a world where ecological imbalances and potential crises are often in the headlines, the prospect of trying to live more “greenly” — conveyed by the term “ecovillage” — has additional appeal.
But there’s an aspect beyond those two.
The Post-Carbon / Nate Hagens video includes, but is getting at something deeper than, just rejuvenation of community life and green living. It’s getting at the idea that our society has fundamental problems that at some point will require a radical transformation of our lifeways.
Some of us are interested in the ecovillage movement owing to its social change potential. There’s an aspect that’s deeply visionary. It includes concepts you’re not likely to find in marketing material that has the objective of selling cohousing units. It focuses on the transformational messages being conveyed by the likes of Nate Hagens, Joel Rothschild, and the Simplicity Institute:
The nation-states and the corporations are inevitably leading people and the planet to ruin. They are too divorced from immediate, basic, local, natural reality. Nate Hagens talks about how economic growth is promoted, profit is made, consumption is fostered by the issuing of forms of paper (credit instruments, financial assets) that are supposed to represent underlying real productive assets — but invariably lose touch with that reality. The divergence of the pricing of the paper from the actual value of the productive assets means that collapse is inevitable. It’s not just a question of business cycles . . . expansions and then contractions and then expansions. Rather, it’s a question of an increasing trajectory toward hyper-growth and over-financialization in the metasphere representing over-consumption and over-exploitation of resources in the ecosphere. There figure to be waves of collapse and we may be experiencing one right now.
Similar to the misguided trajectories in the worlds of global finance and geopolitics, human consciousness and lifeways have also tended to lose touch with reality. American affluenza is a prime example.
So, for some of us, the ecovillage/cohousing movement is about more than just a socially nice way to live or an ecologically advisable way to live. We see it as one part of a long-range movement toward an eco-communitarian society. The point is to pioneer and model pathways toward a deep social transformation.