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Want to help create an Ecovillage?

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

A week or so ago I received the most exciting email ever. It was from a reader of the Simplicity Collective who had just finished reading my book, Entropia. Inspired by the vision, he told me that he wanted to help develop an ecovillage, outside of Melbourne, Australia, based on the ideas outlined in the book. Not only that, he said that he had 20 acres of land on which to build it, and significant funds to get things started. I fell off my chair.

He said he just needed help turning the vision into a reality. Naturally, after getting up off the floor, I accepted the challenge, and now we’ve decided to open the invitation up to anyone who is interested in being a part of this hugely exciting project. So, do you want to help design an ecovillage? Do you want to live in an ecovillage? Keep reading. Anything is possible.

The property, which I visited last weekend, is about an hour and half from Melbourne city centre, just past Moe, which has good rainfall for Victoria and is along an active train line. As noted, the property is 20 acres, about half of which is treed, and there is a three bedroom house, a significant shed, and a large dam. That’s the essentially blank canvas we have to play with. Planning regulations seem flexible and open to more dwellings. Now we are aiming to form a working group to discuss how best to proceed with the aim of creating an ecological work of art.

Although the vision remains very open, some initial possibilities include:

 

  • Getting solar for the property
  • Expanding water storage
  • Creating a large organic farm / orchard / permaculture food forest
  • Establishing alternative dwellings (e.g. yurts, shipping container homes, caravans, dome houses, earthships, etc.)
  • Retrofitting the shed
  • Establishing a small community

 

The intention is to have alternative / unconventional dwellings as the centrepiece of this project. House prices in Melbourne are ridiculously high, locking people into decades of labour. We need to explore radically cheaper but sufficient alternatives. It will require a shift in thinking, but the reward will be freedom.

As well as these types of ideas, we’ve also talked about the possibility of using the property as a demonstration site, or a place to hold workshops or retreats. The basic vision, however, is to create a small community based on radical simplicity of living, renewable energy, and high self-sufficiency, in order to show that resilient, flourishing lives don’t have to cost the Earth. That is, we’re not interested in creating a sham ecovillage of million dollar eco-houses, affordable only to rich people. We’re interested in exploring ways to help create a truly sustainable and affordable alternative to the status quo, and that implies radical simplicity. What this means and what this ends up looking like, however, is up to us. It will also be important to engage, work with, and inspire the local community, of which this property forms a part.

Once we’ve got this first place set up, the dream is to facilitate the creation of other similar, larger projects. After all, the purpose of creating an ecovillage – at least, this ecovillage – is not to ‘escape’ the system, but to ultimately ‘transform’ it. These are early days, of course. I will address the prefigurative politics of ecovillages in another post.

Also, just in case there is someone wanting a ‘tree change’, two of the neighbouring properties are also for sale, so perhaps there is someone out there who wants to buy one or both of those properties? Thought I’d ask 🙂 Be in touch if possibly interested.

There is much to think about, but if you’d like to be part of the working group, or even want to contribute ideas via email, please send me a note outlining your ideas, situation, background, and funding potential to: entropiaecovillage@gmail.com.

We’re planning to have an initial meeting sometime in the next few weeks to gauge interest. We’re impatient to get started. Exciting times.

Dream large dreams.

29 Responses to “Want to help create an Ecovillage?”

  1. Lars R. Knudsen says:

    I would love to be part of your project. It seems like you got off to a flying start!

    I live in Denmark (Europe) and will not be able to take part though. But I sincerely hope that your project succeeds and will be an inspiration for others.

    Wish you all the best! 🙂

    Lars

  2. SJ says:

    This is an exciting project. I am on the wrong side of the continent for direct involvment but will be interested in something like this in the west. As far as input is concerned, I would appeal to the folks involved, to put as much land as you can spare, back to it’s natural condition. I have done this on my own 7 acres, using only what I need for house and shed and growing food and mangement of fire. Sharing the land, as we should, with native species is a very critical component of simple sustainable living and is also remarkably rewarding.

  3. Lauren says:

    I have a friend who is interested in designing shipping container housing etc. I can pass along your details if you like.

    Also you could aim this towards societies disadvantaged. I am a single parent and am looking at never owning and constantly struggling financially. Since the Government pushed 100,000 single parents on to newstart payments there is now nearly 20% of children living in poverty in Australia.

  4. Samuel Alexander says:

    Hi Lauren, by all means, pass on the details. Would be good to have input from as many people as possible. Thanks for your comments. Equity issues will certainly be informing the project. I’ll be sure to raise them during the first meeting, where the vision for the project will be unpacked and shaped.

  5. Hi,

    Very interesting project. Would love to join. But how…?

    Here are some solutions from this part of the world (Kerala/India)
    1. Bamboo as a building material
    http://www.inspirationgreen.com/bamboo-buildings.html
    2. Alternative Energy Centre
    http://www.mithradham.org/live/welcome.php
    3. Auroville Global Village
    http://www.auroville.org/

    Warm regards
    Santhosh

  6. Karen says:

    Hello,

    I am interested in your project and would like to know how I can participate.

    I am from Melbourne, growing up on the banks of the Warrandyte river I have a strong/passionate interest in developing another model for living.

    I am a teacher currently working in the Middle East and will be heading home soon.

    I have a range of skills that may have value in this new community. I am also looking to build and design my own home and be part of a caring community that values the individual and much as the common vision. Have a nice day:)

  7. Liz M says:

    Great to hear about this project. I have been driving past an old run down propperty about 20min drive up the highway from Coburg and think that would make a great peraculture site. It would be good to find ways to invest superannuation fundsin such projects.

  8. Samuel Alexander says:

    Hi, thanks for the note. I’ve added you to the mailing list, will keep you posted. cheers
    Sam

  9. Penny Mitchell says:

    Wonderful awesome fabulous! A dream I have cherished most of my adult life. I am in process of moving to South Gippsland. I would love to come and help. A colleague and I are just beginning the process of setting up a community garden for young people who experiencing a range of disadvantages and hardships. The garden will probably be in Moe as this is most likely location for available land. When we get going we would love to exchange ideas, energy, resources, labour.

  10. ben stanford says:

    hi there, im a land owner and already building something similar on my property in Olinda, Melbourne, please let me know how i could also get involved!
    ben

  11. Kate Power says:

    Wow this is inspirational!
    To Lars Knudsen – we are also based in Denmark and would love to make something like this happen here – we are also interested in non-violent communication, peaceful activism, holistic health, gentle parenting and lots more You can get in touch with me if you like: katebpower@yahoo.co.uk.

  12. Sean Smy says:

    Hi, this sounds really very interesting and I would love to participate in something like this, or at least be updated on the progress. I currently live in Ballarat so not too far away.

  13. Samuel Alexander says:

    Thanks Sean, I’ve added you to the mailing list.

  14. Jack Reed–Community Planet Foundation has been working on this issue for years. I sent him your information in case your paths have not yet been crossed. Jack Reed is a marvelous person and hopefully you two will meet at some point in time.
    betsy shipley
    Port Hueneme CA

  15. Bela Beke says:

    Hi I am interested in knowing your plans.I grew up in a subsistence farming community in the Hungarian part of what now is Serbia.
    I am a permaculture practitioner and just started advertising in a few magazines withe the intention of finding people who may be interested in starting an intentional community/landtrust/ecovillage.
    Perhaps we could compare notes?Work together ?
    Regards ,Bela

  16. […] in this coming December, as part of the ecovillage project which I’ve written about here. I’m happy to say that I’ve also just locked in a 6-day mud building workshop in […]

  17. […] just locked in a 6-day mud building workshop for February next year, out at the developing ecovillage project I’m involved in, near Moe, Victoria. The workshop is being run by the amazingly […]

  18. […] Earthship-inspired building workshop I was organising, as part of the ecovillage project outlined here. As you can see in the pictures, the build was a resounding success, with our new […]

  19. Karen Dahl says:

    Thank you. What you are offering is the next stage. We will be combining the tried and tested with the new and experimental. I love the combination and wish to utilise it at the eco-village Bega Eco Neighbourhood Development BEND where I have a block of land. It is a narrow block, only 14 metres wide and on either side of me are being built large eco houses. I have proffered the idea of building an earthship. There has been some resistance because of the use of tires with the sense that they will leech off bad chemicals. I’ve got a feeling that the block will be too narrow. What are your thoughts? Congrats on starting something similar near Melbourne, my home city. I currently live in Canberra where I run a small business Embassy of Sustainability under the banner of which I am the agent for Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF) for the South Coast region and the Canberra region too. WEll done!

  20. Robert McCarthy says:

    Hi, I am very interested in this project both as a good social movement and a possibility of living there. It is great to put it close to public transport and adjacent to Melbourne. I have built a mudbrick house in Kinglake back in 1986. I wonder what sort of costs would be involved in having somewhere to build. I will be away in February but live in S.E. Melbourne currently. best wishes to all Rob

  21. […] months I’ve posted about the ecovillage project I’m helping develop out near Moe (see here). It continues to be an exciting and enriching project. To complement the Earthship we built in […]

  22. […] Article written by Samual Alexander of The Simply Collective – […]

  23. Jo Nemeth says:

    This is very exciting to hear! I’ve had a rapidly growing desire to live with others and grow food together for a while now, in an attempt to live as lightly as possible. Have been living in and around different MO communities here in Northern Rivers (NSW) for 11 years with the most recent being spending most Saturday mornings attending gardening working bees at Dharmananda (near The Channon). I find it so inspiring to visit the crew there. I am struck by the difficulty people in disadvantaged positions face in being able to live lightly as the cost of rent usually keeps us stuck on a treadmill. Will read more of your stuff now that I’ve found it and keep learning. I’m about to try going moneyless for a while as an experiment! I’d like to then be involved in setting up something like what you are proposing up here as it’s needed everywhere like you said! Unfortunately most MOs/ecovillages are not really living very lightly either and are out of the financial reach of so many.
    To sum up though, I could possibly help with advice (esp via the crew at Dharmananda who have 40 years of experience growing food collectively), and, if anyone in this part of the world wants to start something here with me, I do have a little bit of money coming my way (probably next year) and would like to pool it with others who are really committed to low impact living.
    Thanks for being inspiring to myself and others out there who are searching for a lighter and more meaningful life…..

  24. Rowan says:

    Hi Samuel, still reading your book, but I’ve always wanted to be part of something like this. I have tried several ICs and have been actively looking. I’m committed to living without a car and all of the hundreds of communities I’ve been able to find have been too car dependent. How far is this property from the station? I really hope you’ve picked a good place to be car-free. I have money to invest in the right place.

    Cheers
    Rowan

  25. James says:

    Hi Samuel,
    this sounds like an interesting project. I’d love to come and have a look at the site. Please add me to your email list.

    James

  26. Megan says:

    Hi there,

    I am fascinated in what you’re planing I’m reading your book at the moment Sam and loving it. Please add me to your email list too.

    Cheers,
    Megan

  27. Jeff Clearwater says:

    Hi Folks! Can you update us as to whether the ecovillage project is still in the works? Best to you!

  28. Samuel Alexander says:

    Hi Jeff, here is the latest: http://wurrukan.org/

  29. Hazel says:

    Hi, I have just finished a short course on Transcendentalism and Thoreau’s name came up with a short description about Thoreau’s Walden. The idea is great and I wish you all well.

  30. Colleen says:

    Hi, We are wanting to go off grid and create a community either in south Qld or Northern NSW.
    We have been trying to sell our current 2 mortgaged houses to free up money to purchase Acerage to do this and leave our jobs or work minimally.
    After watching your movie I am now questioning the possibility.
    Would it be possible to create a community type house share with permaculture suburban yard, residents to share all expenses including minimal rent to cover the mortgage.
    Having one main resident to oversea that individual property.
    Offering long term or short term if available home to put down roots for people interested but not able to purchase.
    As equity grows invest in another property and create another home.
    Any feedback would be appreciated.
    Kind Regards
    Colleen & James

  31. Hello Colleen & James & other readers, I live in northern n.s.w. on 5 acres and live a fairly simple life although I still work full-time in the construction industry, mainly because I have several sustainable projects that I am wanting to bring to fruition. I have being doing a degree on-line on sustainable development and am trying to ‘walk the talk’ with these projects, one of which is 3 units mainly built out of recycled building materials & rendered straw-bale.
    On my 5 acres I have many of the attributes to start a small eco-village, namely; a solar orientated house with solar panels, chooks, ducks, fruit trees, vegetable garden, a spare cabin,recycled building materials, am a member of the Earth Building Association. I have found it rather lonely being sustainable to the degree that I am and would be interested sharing with like minded people. Age, young or old, does not matter, in fact, I believe that a mixture of ages is desirable. I can be contacted on 0407 255884. Noretta Terry.

  32. Ahsha says:

    I loved reading ‘entropia’. It’s a vision that translated my wish for human culture into hope, and exactly what I was trying to describe years ago when I won the opportunity at 17 to speak at a sustainability and planning summit at queensland university.

    Fast forward 12years, jobs, home loans, kids and that moment when I thought:”there must be a better way?” That become the catalyst for everything in living to collapse as ideas were put to the scrutiny of transparent-authenticity; …and that describes the last 5 years for me
    . This dissolution appears to becoming a common trend all over the world.

    Thank you for being one part of the solution. It does raise faith in humanity. My partner And I are also working at becoming an example of a better way.

    We must come up for one of the working bees.

  33. Jean says:

    I would love to be part of something like this in the South Island of New Zealand.

  34. Lisa manuel says:

    I am still readingyour book, but I’ve always wanted to be part of this type of thing. We have tried several ICs and have been definitely looking. I’m committed to living without a car and all of the hundreds of communities. I actually really hope you’ve selected a good destination to be car-free.

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