Welcome to this introductory talk on eco-villages. So first off, what is an eco-village? According to the Global Eco-Village Network…
"An eco-village is a human scale, full-featured settlement which integrates human activities harmlessly into the natural environment, supports healthy human development, and can be continued into the indefinite future."
To achieve this, eco-villages integrate various aspects of ecological design, permaculture, ecological building, green production, alternative energy, community building practices, and much more into their design and operation.
Etopia is designed to be a showcase for all of these ideas and, in addition, a place where Real Life Businesses can have a home to offer their goods and services. It is an attempt to bring real life sustainable solutions into Second Life.
Eco-villages include both a Social and Community aspect 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 affect their own lives and that of the community on a transparent basis.
They have an ecological dimension, which allow people to experience their personal connection to the living earth. People enjoy daily interaction with the soil, water, wind, plants and animals.
People provide for their daily needs - food, clothing, and shelter - while respecting the cycles of nature.
The Cultural and Spiritual dimension of an eco-village respects and support the Earth and all living beings on it.
Residents encourage cultural and artistic enrichment and expression, and include a wide variety of spiritual practices.
Here is a listing of Eco-Village Design Concepts
1. Multiple Uses: As much as possible locations, objects, and resources are designed to serve more than one purpose. For example, the recycling containers you see scattered around the Island are also herb-growing containers which are available for harvesting by anyone.
2. Mixed Uses: Within a two-minute walk you will find businesses, homes, food production, wild areas and recreation.
3. Local Sustainable Materials: The materials used in an eco-village lean towards the use and reuse of material that are gathering whenever possible, from local sources
4. Human Scale: The height and scale of the buildings are kept in proportion to people so visitors and residents do not feel overwhelmed by their surroundings. It is not an accident that the tallest objects on Etopia are the trees and Eagle Mountain.
5. Permaculture Landscape: The landscape within an eco-village is rich in low water and edible plants. Fruit trees not only provide shade but an abundance of locally grown food.
6. Energy efficient Design: Homes and offices are deigned to capture as much natural sunlight as possible and are built to minimize heat loss in the colder months.
7. Multi-modal transportation: One of the key aspects of an eco-village is to offer a variety of sustainable transportation options and to emphasize walking, biking and mass transit (here the gondola the train and the free bamboo bikes).
8. Community Gathering Places: The creation of authentic community is encouraged by the numerous places for small and larger groups of people to easily gather to play and socialize.
By incorporating these concepts into the creation and renovation of our towns and cities, we can help reduce the effects of Global Warming and the need for fossil fuels. In addition, living more sustainably will help insure that our children's children will have a healthy world to live in.
There are examples of eco-villages all over the world and more being created every day. I am proud to be part of a movement to provide long-lasting solutions to many of our societies most pressing social and environmental challenges.
Over the past 30 years I have been involved in a variety of sustainable development activities including, solar design and construction, biological wastewater treatment facility design, and sustainable neighborhood development.