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Ecovillages are socially, economically and ecologically sustainable villages of 50 to 150 people. This size is considered to be the maximum social network according to findings from sociology and anthropology. Accordingly, communities of over 100 people are often divided into separate neighbourhoods to facilitate governance. Larger towns of up to 2000 people are sometimes described as ecovillages, but technically, such ecomunicipalities transcend the definition of a single village and more properly describe clusters of same, each, perhaps, focusing on a different aspect of economy. Settlements of less than 100 are sometimes called "ecohamlets".
An ecovillage is a small community united by shared ecological, social or spiritual values (see Intentional community). It is often composed of people who have chosen an alternative to mainstream power networks. Many see the breakdown of traditional forms of community, wasteful consumerist lifestyles, the destruction of natural habitat, urban sprawl, factory farming, and over-reliance on fossil fuels, as trends that must be changed to avert ecological disaster. They see small-scale communities with minimal ecological impact as an alternative. However, they often cooperate with peer villages in a power network of their own (see Global Ecovillage Network for such an example). This model of collective action is similar to that of Ten Thousand Villages, which supports the fair trade of goods worldwide.
In 1991, Robert Gilman set out a definition of an ecovillage that was to become a standard. Gilman defined an ecovillage as a:
- full-featured settlement
- in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world
- in a way that is supportive of healthy human development and can be successfully continued into the indefinite future. 
The principles on which ecovillages rely can be applied to urban (see cohousing) and to rural settings, as well as to developing and developed countries. Advocates seek infrastructural independence and a sustainable lifestyle (for example, of voluntary simplicity) for inhabitants with a minimum of trade outside the local area, or ecoregion. Rural ecovillages are usually based on organic farming, permaculture and other approaches which promote ecosystem function and biodiversity.
An ecovillage usually relies on:
- "Green" infrastructural capital;
- autonomous building or clustered housing, to minimize ecological footprint;
- renewable energy;
- cohousing or other forms of supportive community.
- Local purchasing so as to support the local economy;
- local food production and distribution;
- moral purchasing to avoid objectionable consumption;
- consensus decision-making for governance;
- a choice to respect diversity.
The term ecovillage should not be confused with micronation, a strictly legal, not infrastructural, concept.
- Eden Alternative
- Free State of Christiania
- Green politics
- Intentional Community
- The Farm
- The Wintles
- Crystal Waters
- Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage
- Earthaven Ecovillage
- EcoVillage at Ithaca
- Findhorn Ecovillage
- Torri Superiore Ecovillage
- Twin Oaks Community
- Zegg Community
- Global Ecovillage Network
- Intentional Community and Ecovillage Database
- The Intentional Communities website
- The Land is Ours
- Ecovillage Network of the Americas
- Living Together: Sustainable Community Development
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