Ecovillages as Communities that Promote Social and Environmental Well-Being

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20th century urban planners have argued that merging nature with the built environment is an important feature for maintaining the well-being of a community. These ideas placed strong value on restraining urban growth and connecting people with nature by constructing greenbelts and city parks, which many generations continue to enjoy. Reintroduced as New Urbanism, the search for a way to bring nature into the city has become poignant as the adverse effects of global climate change remind us of our rapidly depleting natural resources. Although the search for living close to nature encouraged suburban sprawl, some families who felt isolated have begun to reject what they believe is an unsustainable lifestyle. Ecovillages, or ecological cohousing communities, are emerging as an alternative to suburban sprawl. Specifically, they offer the possibility of living a lifestyle that reduces the environmental impact of the residents through intentionally designed neighborhoods that incorporate “green” technology, such as passive solar heating and strawbale insulation. But these new communities also provide attractive spaces for neighbors to informally gather, share meals, and create a sense of community. This paper presents a case study of an ecovillage in New York State which is attempting to create a village that models a sustainable lifestyle.


Keywords: Ecovillage, Cohousing, Community, Sustainability
Stream: Natural, Environmental and Health Sciences
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Tendai Chitewere

Assistant Professor, Liberal Studies, San Francisco State University
San Francisco, California, USA

Dr. Chitewere is a cultural anthropologist. She uses ethnographic research to study the everyday lives of people who attempt to create a social and ecologically sustainable lifestyle. She examines the rapidly emergent trend of consuming green commodities as a means to address the local and global environmental crisis. Originally from Zimbabwe, she is a strong advocate for environmental justice. She teaches courses on human rights and the environment, consumption, and the relationship between nature, culture and technology. She serves on the board of several nonprofit environmental organizations that serve disadvantaged children and youth.

Ref: I08P0334