In the last twenty years ecovillages - local communities which aim to minimise their ecological impact but maximise human wellbeing and happiness - have been springing up all over the world. They incorporate a wealth of radical ideas and approaches which can be traced back to Schumacher, Gandhi, the 1960s, and the alternative education movement. This briefing describes the history and potential of the ecovillage movement, including the evolution of the Global Ecovillage Network and the current developments in both North and South. The threads that are brought together in "Ecovillages" include: learning from the best elements in traditional and indigenous cultures; Alternative economy: community banks and currencies, and voluntary simplicity; Designing with nature: using permaculture design, eco-building, small-scale energy generation, waste-management, low-impact transport systems, etc.; organic, locally-based food production and processing; reviving small-scale participatory governance, conflict facilitation and social inclusion as well as reviving active inter-generational community; and creating a culture of peace, and holistic, whole person education. In an age of diminishing oil supplies, the briefing examines the lessons that we can learn from ecovillages to show us how to live in a more ecologically sound and sustainable way.
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