Ecovillage: What Is It, and Would You Ever Live in One?

Explore and envision your ideal community with an ecovillage design project!
Ecovillage infographic
 Artwork by KT Shepherd.

What is an ecovillage?

An ecovillage is small or midsize eco-friendly community of people who strive to create a sustainable and ecologically friendly lifestyle by minimizing their impact on the environment, utilizing renewable energy sources, and growing their own food

Residents share resources, work together, and learn from each other. This can help foster a sense of community and make living more sustainable easier.

How to build an ecovillage

The stuff permaculture dreams are made of, an ecovillage could be the goal of your design project, it could be one small part of it, or it could be something you want to learn about but not necessarily live in.

There are a lot of different ways to create living communities that make sense for permaculture people, and this article is about exploring those options!

​An ecovillage is a whole-systems design. All the same principles apply. In 5 easy steps?

  1. Find the right people.
  2. Find the right place.
  3. Establish shared ethics and goals.
  4. Make a plan.
  5. Do the work.

As it is obvious, each of these steps will need a lot of time, energy, and understanding! It’s real easy to say “I want build an ecovillage,” but the very best way to become adept at these skills you will need to build one is by spending some years living in one (or several).

Here are 8 very different video examples:

Exploring Earthaven Ecovillage, a 25-year old community
My Life in the Dancing Rabbit Eco Village
Wana Duma Eco-Village
LA ecovillage: self-reliance in car-free urban homestead
Ecovillage Design Education Documentary Auroville | Youth Link | GEN | Auroras Eye Films
O.U.R. Ecovillage Permaculture Based Sustainable Community
Maitreya EcoVillage
Medieval Spanish ghost town becomes self-sufficient ecovillage

Examples of ecovillages around the world

The first ecovillage was established in Denmark in the 1970s. Since then, more than 1,000 eco-communities have been built around the world. They can be found in most countries and are often concentrated in areas with a high population of sustainability enthusiasts.

Ecovillages are built in a range of settings from urban to rural. Although there are no official statistics on how many are currently in existence, there is a growing interest in this type of community, because many people are drawn to the idea of living a simpler and more environmentally friendly lifestyle. If you want to see if there are any ecovillages in your area, check out the International directory at

Want to learn more about this and other topics related to permaculture, sustainability, and whole-systems design?

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Relevant Links and Resources​

  • People’s Manual: Guidelines on Governance of Land, Fisheries and Forests​. This is a new international instrument that can be used by peasant, fishing and pastoralist organisations, indigenous peoples, the landless, women and youth, and civil society as a whole, to assert their rights. Starting with a myth from the Guna or Kuna people, the experiences and views of peasant, fishing and pastoralist constituencies from all regions in the world have been included.
  • The Sustainable (Re)Evolution Project. Website and book documenting community projects including farms and ecovillages around the world.
  • The Economics of Happiness. This film produced by Helena Norberg-Hodge spells out the social, spiritual, and ecological costs of today’s global economy. It also highlights the many benefits of a shift towards the local and showcases some of the steps people are already taking worldwide. Featuring interviews with Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, David Korten, Samdhong Rinpoche, and other inspiring thinkers and activists.The film has been translated into 26 languages, including French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Arabic and Russian.
Ecovillage living - a new source of hope | Kosha Joubert | TEDxGeneva
Transition Towns Movement

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). This website includes a map of urban and rural ecovillages and communities all over the world, and these videos will give you more info about the network and about ecovillages in general.​

What is an Ecovillage?

The Global Ecovillage Network

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