An Ecovillage, Anywhere?: Part IV

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.


Word Cloud: People describing eco-villages


An Ecovillage, Anywhere? : Part I

Naturally, I am fascinated by the idea of living in ecovillage, but does everyone feel the same? Sure, these communities may be in vogue today, but will they ever be commonplace? In a previous post, I discussed Russ Purvis’ article on the affordability of ecovillages; keeping his article in mind, it seems obvious that ecovillages are better situated in some places than others. This begs the question: can ecovillages thrive anywhere? In order to figure this out, I decided to set my own parameters and see what would happen.

A current student at the University of Vermont, I thought, what better place to study than my home? If an eco-village could take root within the parameters of a public university, my faith in the accessibility of ecovillages would surely be restored.

My first step in exploring this possibility was to poll UVM students, and ask them a few questions about ecovillages. The poll included these multiple-choice and write-in questions:


1)    What is an ecovillage?

2)    Would you consider living in an ecovillage?

3)    Where is an ecovillage best located?

4)    Can an ecovillage be successful in any location and at any scale?

5)    Can anyone live in an ecovillage?

6)    Who lives in ecovillages?

7)    Will ecovillages ever become commonplace?

Only half the respondents (30 people) were able to give a description of an ecovillage, the other half answered with some form of “I don’t know”, or an incorrect response. Because the definition of an ecovillage is somewhat subjective, in my analysis I accepted multiple answers as correct, so long as they reflected a basic knowledge of what an ecovillage might be.

In regards to the other write-in question, “who lives in ecovillages?”, common answers included “anyone who wants to” and some form of “people who care about the environment”. Approximately a quarter of the respondants failed to answer the question, or included a negative remark like “dirty hippies” or “smelly hippies”. Some of the most interesting responses included “people with a trade”, “people who understand that the world isn’t ours for the taking”, and a rant about capitalism.

As for the other questions, I have included graphical analyses of them below. Feel free to scroll through and check out what UVM students think about ecovillages!

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data compiled online using the surveymonkey platorm 

Note: as this data was not collected in a perfectly random scenario, and because the sample size is very small, even though one can look at the trends, this data cannot be recognized as fact about what students at UVM and should be taken with a grain of salt.