What it means to live in a Living Laboratory for sustainability?

What it means to live in a Living Laboratory for sustainability?

Posted on: June 7, 2019

Ecovillages are considered local solutions for the global future challenges. The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) defines an ecovillage as an intentional or traditional community using local participatory processes to holistically integrate ecological, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of sustainability in order to regenerate social and natural environments.

People who join the ecovillage movement are usually innovative-minded, looking to become part of an intentional community and to practice low-impact, high-quality lifestyles. Ecovillages are often referred to as “Living Laboratories” for sustainable design. That means ecovillagers are undertaking community-scale design experiments at home 24/7. But what it actually means to design for sustainability in intentional communities? What are the essentials skills to be part of a “Living Laboratory” where people of diverse backgrounds try to live, learn and work together? Here are some questions we ask in O.U.R Living Laboratory:

Ecological sustainability – How do communities access food, water and energy in ways that respect the cycles of nature on a daily basis? Can we design lifestyles that increase biodiversity and regenerate ecosystem? What are the new green building and renewable energy technologies that can be applied to small scale communities? How can we turn more waste into resources?

Social sustainability – How do we cultivate inclusive and responsive decision making? Can leadership and governance be participatory? What does holistic education mean? How does a “leaders-full” team co-lead a project together? What are good practices for conflict exploration and peace-building?

Cultural sustainability – How do we recreate “village culture” that respect diversity and cultural traditions? What are the worldview/narratives for a regenerative culture? How to celebrate life cycles in community through rituals and the arts? How to deepen our connection with nature and with our fellow non-human living beings? What about sustainable wellness?

Economical sustainability – Does our current economic practices serve the needs of local people and ecosystems? What are the sustainable alternatives to think about wealth and values of all aspects of life? How can we build collaborative forms of ownership and of sharing resources? What can we do to strengthen local, circular economies? Can we consider environmental cost in social entrepreneurship?

If you are asking these questions, the Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) course may be right for you. The EDE curriculum, developed by Gaia Education, is based on these 4 dimensions in sustainability to guide an interwoven, participatory learning experience for community leaders and change agents. 5 years ago, O.U.R Ecovillage education team “permaculturized” it further, so that the international recognized Permaculture Design Course (PDC) is integrated as part of O.U.R Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) certificate.

O.U.R EDE course is a 5-week “Living Laboratory” immersion. The first 2.5 weeks is the Earth Activist Training with Starhawk and Charles Williams (which is also a PDC certified by Permaculture Institute of North America). Participants will learn how to apply permaculture ethics and principles in landscape and community design, through a mix of lecture, hands-on and evening presentation. During the second 2.5 weeks, participants will move into a small, intimate learning environment and get a chance to learn with pioneers of the ecovillage movement, including Robert Gilman, May East and Diana Leafe Christian. Participants will experience and practice Joanna Macy’s Work That Reconnects, inclusive leadership and Dynamic Governance (decision making model). There will be field trips to visit local permaculture examples, co-housing projects and renewable energy project in indigenous communities.

Everyone will work collaboratively to develop 2 design projects based on personal and group learning interest, which leads to two final presentations at different times during the 5 weeks program. Design Studio are woven throughout the schedule, so learning team can develop design processes for the final project/presentation.

The EDE course is certified by Gaia Education and is a prerequisite course for being Gaia Education certified facilitator.

If you have taken Earth Activist Training with Starhawk and Charles Williams, you can register ONLY for the second half of the course. For more information or questions, contact education@ourecovillage.org.