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ECO-COMMUNITY / Updated by the "war in Europe" (Ukraine), European countries today are forced to accelerate the development of renewable energy – as with solar heating and wind turbines.


In the Anthropocene age, populations are socialized into a fossil dependency relationship with a predetermined power structure, economy, and struggle for natural resources.

Today we know that that «development» can not continue. Out of nine indicators have, for example Stockholm Resilience Center determined that Earth has exceeded the planet's limits on four out of the nine.

Therefore, the world community must be designed so that development can be adjusted. Initially, the labor movement articulated an alternative to capitalism, but the labor movement imagined and adapted as economic growth allowed "the establishment" to provide economic benefits to groups of workers.

All over the world, eco-societies based on various ecological themes – and as a counterweight to the materialistic world of consumption – have established living communities as alternatives to the "American way of life". This has been further updated by the publication of the frightening reports of the UN IPCC.

Waste sorting and food supply

The idea of ​​establishing eco-community or # eco-villages are usually started by individuals joining forces and – from below – deciding to socially start an alternative project outside the institutional framework of society. How comprehensive a theme that will be part of an eco-community or eco-village will depend on the knowledge and entrepreneurial skills of the affiliated residents – as well as on the financial resources.

To exercise self-government and self-sufficiency completely isolated from the institutional framework of society.

Over the years, "alternative lifestyles" have been developed into increasingly conscious infrastructural efforts regarding to be able to exercise self-management and self-sufficiency. However, only in individual cases has it been possible to develop actual off-grid systems, which are completely isolated from society's institutional framework.

Waste sorting, own partial food supply in the form of vegetables, fruit and nuts as well as own energy supply have so far been dominant themes in the establishment and development of eco-communities and eco-villages. Establishment of biotopes, centers for the development of inclusive decision-making processes and a focus on the development of personal authority by the residents of an eco-community are also often included as more or less parallel themes. Without an interest in your neighbor and the desire to learn conflict resolution, no eco-community will be able to survive. The dialogue with the existing established community is increasingly challenging the alternative eco-communities – this is happening at both municipal and regional authority level.

A mosaic governance

In the city, where different apartment types (own, rent and share) are included in larger or smaller blocks, the residents are often divided into different interests. The necessity of a transformation brings topics such as biodiversity, waste sorting and recycling, energy communities, shared IT and TV solutions onto the agenda.

Here, citizens have – on the basis of recognition and motivation – the opportunity to act as independent citizens and in local communities, which often find themselves together with the municipality and thus support the latter's wishes to work closely with the municipality's residents, possibly organized in districts or urban areas. An appropriate governance structure thus deals with neither a bottom-up nor a top-down structure, but can be characterized as a mosaic governance, where the overall orientering is aimed at seeking the general interest in a life within the planet's borders.

If the apartment buildings in the cities are a challenge in the transition to sustainability, then the detached house quarters (villas) in the area around the city centers pose a completely different challenge. Not only by the private value increase, but also by its land use and – with extensive extensions to manicured grasslands – often completely without regard to biodiversity. In the case of a redevelopment of the extensive detached house quarters, the municipalities' efforts will remain insufficient and will eventually require government intervention.

Actualized by the "war in Europe" (Ukraine), the European countries are now forced to increase the speed in the development of renewable energy (with solar heating and wind turbines). This opens the door for local and regional engagement in renewable energy – and for more self-organised and self-governing solutions. But also for solutions, which are sustainable and resilient – away from the imperative of sustained economic growth on a planet with limited resources.

Recommended Literature:

The sustainable society – can it be built from below? Edited by Mats Friberg, Adlibris 2014

Communities, councils and a low carbon future – What can we do if governments won't? Author Alexis Rowell, Green Books 2010

Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Juhl-Nielsen resides in Copenhagen.

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