is a human-scale full-featured community in which human activities are
integrated into the natural world in a way that is supportive of healthy
human development and can be successfully continued into the indefinite
to a size in which people are able to know and be known by the others in
the community, and where each member of the community feels he or she is
able to influence the community's direction.
The idea that human
activities be harmlessly integrated into the natural world brings the "eco"
into the ecovillage. One of the most important aspects of
this principle is the ideal of equality between humans and other forms of
life, so that humans do not attempt to dominate nature but rather find
their place within it.
The principle of
support for healthy human development recognizes that ecovillages
are, after all, human communities, and without genuine human health at the
core, these communities are unlikely to be successful. Healthy human
development involves a balanced and integrated development of all aspects
of human life--physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. This
healthy human development needs to be expressed not just in the lives of
individuals, but in the life of the community as a whole.
principle--that the community can be successfully continued into the
indefinite future--forces a kind of honesty on ecovillagers.
Without it, it would be easy....in the short term to create human scale
communities that seem to be harmoniously integrated into nature and to be
full-featured, but in fact are....living off the capital accumulated in
other parts of the society; or dependent on unsustainable activities
elsewhere; or not inclusive of a major aspect of life (such as childhood
or old age). The sustainability principle brings with it a profound
commitment to fairness and non-exploitation--toward other parts of today's
world, human and non-human, and toward all future life.
Robert Gilman, Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities, 1991