For my final section of “An Ecovillage: Anywhere?” I thought it would be interesting to compile the words used to describe ecovillages, as written by those who took my poll into a word cloud map, which will be attached to this post. I like this mapping style because it takes information and presents it in a visually-appealing way that also shares the weight that each word holds. Additionally, I thought it necessary to comment on my conclusions from my data collection: can an ecovillage exist at UVM? Can an ecovillage exist anywhere?
In regards to whether or not an ecovillage can exist at UVM, I would like to vaguely answer by saying yes, and no. From my interviews with Walt and Leila, I think it is safe to say that both the GreenHouse and Slade share common goals with many eco-village communities, and in that sense, there is definitely the spirit of an eco-village on campus. Moreover, because eco-villages come in so many different styles (as you can see from some of the examples referenced on our blog), each community has its own features that make it similar to an ecovillage. Nevertheless, neither of my interviewees considered their programs to be ecovillages perse. In Walt’s case, there seemed to be a more distinct line between the GreenHouse and ecovillages than with Slade. Interestingly, for the same reason that Leila deemed Slade similar to an ecovillage, she saw it as different: in one sense, UVM acts as an overarching beaurocratic system that they must live with, but at the same time, the university provides them so much assistance that they may not have the same self-sufficiency as other intentional communities. Keeping this in mind, since an ecovillage mindset, and a partial ecovillage structure already exist here, I would argue that an ecovillage can exist at UVM from direct proof. The level to which these programs can grow is debatable, however it seems obvious that in some shape or form, this school does have the ability to maintain intentional living.
As for whether or not an ecovillage can exist anywhere, I would say it depends on your definition of an ecovillage. If using Robert Gilman’s famous definition (which will be included at the bottom of this post), I would say no, because there are quite a few requirements that need to be met, and even if Slade and Greenhouse meet some of the criteria, they may not meet them all. However, if we consider an ecovillage to be something different, like “a community of people with trade skills”, “a group working towards self-sufficiency”, or “a group of people living with respect for the environment” (all answers in my poll), then I would argue that yes, an ecovillage can develop anywhere.
Because my data is so limited, it is hard for me to draw major conclusions. Regardless, since a Public University is a very rigidly-maintained environment, the fact that multiple communities that resemble ecovillages exist there is quite an accomplishment that leaves me optimistic with the future and possibility ecovillages hold. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to comment on this post.