Ecovillages provide important insights into the human dimensions of sustainability, but remain relatively unexplored. In this paper I highlight critiques of the society/nature divide and emphasize the need to pay attention to the paradigms that influence how people think and what they do. I discuss the ecovillage model as a rejection of the outmoded “dominant western worldview” in favor of one that recognizes human-ecosystem interdependence. Drawing on field research, I examine the practical means by which ecovillages strive to institute and reinforce an alternative paradigm. In addition to explicit intention, rules, the organization of social interaction, and physical characteristics, I identify an expanded notion of community and its accompanying ethic as distinguishing features of the ecovillage. I suggest the possibility that these are necessary features of a sustainable society.
What’s the organization of a society that is capable of doing ecological design? What does such a society
look like?… And what’s the point, the ultimate object, of ecological design? It’s not just about
houses or water or any particular system. It has to be about how we think. The ultimate object of ecological
design is the human mind – Orr, D.