9 Ecovillages Working Towards Sustainable, Intentional Living

From Palestine to Portugal, here are the world's most inspiring ecovillages.

All across the world, people are gravitating towards sustainable communities known as "Ecovillages."

According to ecovillages.com, "An ecovillage is an intentional, traditional or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social, culture, ecology and economy) to regenerate social and natural environments."

This definition is intentionally broad, as ecovillages can take many different shapes and forms. They can be made from scratch or can be created in existing towns and villages. Always, ecovillages are dedicated to fostering societal change—and not only through sustainability efforts, but also by facilitating economic equality, spiritual awakening, and human compassion.

Most responsible ecovillages prioritize working with local communities, and actively avoid the trap of becoming a kind of walled village for rich, usually white environmentalists. In this, they provide valuable lessons for the environmentalist movement on the whole.

More research is needed to fully understand and apply their success and failures to new projects, but these innovative ecovillages—sometimes inspired by spirituality, other times on the cutting-edge of green technology, and often doing both at the same time—can provide valuable visions for how the world could look in the future's best-case scenario.

1. Crystal Waters, Australia

Wordpress

When it was founded in 1984, Crystal Waters was the world's first permaculture village. Permaculture is a style of farming based on emulating natural systems, utilizing nature's mechanisms of reproduction and rebirth to ensure a sustainable way of sourcing food and energy; today, it's spread across the globe as more people realize the importance of living in a sustainable manner.

Today, this community cooperative is an environmentally friendly permaculture farm that offers living opportunities for people looking to live in harmony with the earth. Located on 650 acres and home to 250 people, it's a prime example of what all of our communities are going to need to become if we want to learn to coexist with the planet and each other.

Ecovillages

The community features compost toilets, grid solar-power systems, heat pumps, land restoration technologies, artificial wetlands, dams, and much more. Inhabitants are surrounded by lush wildlife sanctuaries, and their homes are organized into community-style circles that emphasize spirituality, social interaction, and meaningful activity alongside clean living.

2. Finca Bellavista Treehouse Community, Costa Rica

Destination Magazine

Have you ever wanted to drop everything and live among the trees? The residents of Finca Bellavista have done just that. Community members design and build original treehouses, which are connected to each other by an aerial walkway that extends through the jungle canopy. The community emphasizes sustainable living and self-sustainability—one of their requirements states that each resident must buy a biodigester, which is a machine that converts waste into energy.

If you don't want to commit to living there forever, you're in luck: Some of the houses can be rented out, and they also have a special aerial venue designated for weddings.

3. Eco-Yoff, Senegal

Gaia Trust

Environmental action means nothing if it doesn't work with local, low-income communities who are already on the front lines of the worst of the environmental crisis. One of many Senegalese ecovillages, Eco-Yoff village puts this into practice, as it's designed to focus on "poverty alleviation through social and environmental micro-enterprises," according to the Handbook for Gentrification Studies.

This ecovillage trains villagers in environmental practices like waste water recycling, solar power, and vegetation. Its efforts are dedicated to resisting gentrification that can occur as flooding moves wealthier homeowners closer inland, and they're also meant to help the community develop a symbiotic relationship between environmentally conscious living and improved quality of life.

4. The Los Angeles Ecovillage

ECO HOMES + COMMUNITIES

The Los Angeles Ecovillage developed after the 1992 LA riots inspired a resurgence in social justice activism. Today, the village is home to 40 people committed to focusing on community life and environmental action.

"Our vision is to reinvent how we live in the city," its website reads. "We do this by demonstrating higher quality living patterns at lower environmental impacts while striving to connect the social, economic and ecological systems of our neighborhood."

5. Hakoritna Farm, Palestine

Global Ecovillage Network

When Israelis built a wall right through Hakoritna Farm in Tulkarm, Palestine, farmowner Fayez Taneeb decided to convert what was left of his damaged land into a sustainable symbol of peace. Taneeb found his way into permaculture and sustainability while protesting the wall with international peace activists. "That was when I started to hear about permaculture, and to realise its potential," he said. "I received the message that water, food, and energy are available to all humanity if we work with the laws of nature. That's a powerful resistance tool, because water, food and energy are things that Israel does not want us to control."

International Women's Peace Service

Today, the farm is an up and running ecovillage that teaches locals how to build biogas tanks and convert waste and sunlight into energy. The farm also hosts a unique aquaphonics installation (which grows plants and fish together in one integrated ecosystem) and uses solar drying, seed collection, trading, and many other sustainable technological solutions.

6. Auroville, India

Andalou Agency

Auroville is an ecovillage and sustainability education center in India. With a population of around 2,000, the eco-city is most notorious for having restored massive amounts of lush forests to a formerly barren land. Today, it's a utopian community born of 1970s idealism that has visions of becoming a 50,000-person multicultural township. Land, school, health care, and electricity are free, and Aurovillans work together to keep the community running in a sustainable way.

Today, Auroville hosts volunteers, university students, and scholars, as well as community members and trains people in sustainability, medicinal plant gardens, philosophy, medicine, and much more.

Quora.com

The community was originally inspired by the teachings of Indian thinker Sri Aurobindo and his partner, a woman known as the "Mother." Together, they emphasized the connection between peace and work, and the Mother went on to found the Auroville Ashram, which was the blueprint for what Auroville would become.

Auroville has gone through changes, successes, and failures since its inception, but one thing remains constant. It's dedicated to shaping a better way of life, one completely free from ownership, excessive waste, and corruption, one where people can pursue a higher consciousness together.

7. Damanhur, Italy

positivelife.ie

Located in Piedmont, Italy, Damanhur is an ecovillage that consists of around 600 people. The community has its own Constitution, currency, and education system, and it offers many retreats and courses for visitors and locals. Its citizens use green building principles and work in ecologically friendly clothing production, renewable energy, and similar programs.

Environmental consciousness is part of Damanhur's framework. One of its many programs is Music of the Plants, which involves research on plants' ability to communicate and which facilitates concerts inspired by nature's melodies. According to its website, "In the Damanhurian Spiritual Vision, humans are part of a spiritual ecosystem with forces and intelligences, and it is important to establish a conscious contact with them."

Damanhur is also famous for its cathedral, known as the Temples of Humankind. Dug by hand into the side of the mountain, the temples are full of mosaics, stained glass, and art, and they've been called an Eighth Wonder of the World.

Youtube.com


Tripadvisor

8. Ivory Park Ecocity, South Africa

Located in a township near Johannesburg, South Africa, Ivory Park melds indigenous African technologies with western technology to create a wholly new vision. According to Gaia Trust, the city's projects "include ecologically-friendly homes, a zero energy community centre built by local women, solar energy, water conservation and harvesting, medicinal herbs, paper-making and traditional crafts, smokeless fires and solar cookers, eco-tourism, youth and women's empowerment, youth environmental activities, sanitation, product recycling, food security; finance and eco-banking, eco-construction, eco-businesses, co-operatives; non-polluting transport, eco-urban planning; pollution, waste, and natural resource management."

Built in 2002, the village focuses on economic development in conjunction with ecological sustainability. The town still has no electricity, but its buildings are made to stabilize internal temperatures and its design incorporated technologies like solar lanterns and solar-powered air heaters.

9. Tamera, Portugal

ideas.ted.com

Founded in 1995, the Tamera Peace Research and Education Center in Portugal is dedicated to achieving peace on Earth. The community, which consists of around 200 people, follows no mandatory ideology, but it prioritizes love and connection between people, animals, and the earth.

Tamera envisions a new model of living for human society, which it calls a "Healing Biotope." It was founded by three German professors who left academia to focus on tapping into the core problems that lead humans to destroy each other and the environment, like greed and jealousy. Tamera began as a social experiment dedicated to finding ways to surmount these problems. Its founders developed a complex philosophy that theorizes that the existence of peace research villages is necessary to create global healing.

Today, the research village partners with many environmental organizations and is involved in many projects. It emphasizes scientific advancements like permaculture and solar power, as well as mental advancements like reducing the "war between the genders" and inspiring others to work towards their mission of world peace.

ideas.ted.com

BONUS: Tiny House Community

While this is not yet an ecovillage, owners of tiny houses all across the globe are connecting, and many hope to eventually create an eco-friendly community (or several) of tiny house owners. Plenty of tiny house communities exist, but we've yet to see one grow into its true ecovillage potential. Check back for updates.

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Celebrate Endangered Species Day.

An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.


Of course, nature doesn't need saving—humans do—and climate change and environmental destruction are threats to humans as well as animals, but if you need a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world, check out these extraordinary species.



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Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!

Food & Drink

The Best Apps for Craft Beer Delivery

Try beers from all over the world–from your phone.

With breweries and distilleries out of business for the foreseeable future, your favorite beer may feel particularly out of reach this time of year, especially with the weather changing. But don't let quarantine suck all the fun out of summer. Luckily, thanks to technology, a lot of craft beer is now deliverable straight to your door step. Here are a few of the best apps to help make sure you stay up to date on the latest trendy brews.

Tavour

Tavour

Simplistic and elegant, Tavour allows users to easily fill up a box of beer over a period of time before shipping. The app offers more than 650 different breweries both local and national and is perfect for those who like to experiment. It's easy to use, and their menu rotates regularly so you and your beer never grow stale.

TapRM

TapRM

TapRM offers a wide range of both craft beers and hard seltzers. While based almost exclusively in New York City, the app offers fast, same day delivery from some of the best beer brands in the world. They also provide a unique selection of beers to help you find your new favorite. All you need to do is download the app and place your order!

Drizly

Offering a stark variety of craft beer, Drizly allows its users to mix and match 12-packs, sixers or by the bottle. Their guarantee is that they can have whatever you order delivered to your house in less than an hour. You can even schedule your delivery for a specific time, with each delivery taking around 20-40 minutes.

Saucey

Saucey takes delivery very seriously. When you order with them they guarantee that they'll deliver in 30-minutes or less, or they guarantee two day shipping. Also, beer aside, their entire liquor cabinet is also up for grabs. From tequila and whiksey, to vodka and wine, nothing is off the table for Saucey.

Beer Menus

BeerMenus

For those who enjoy strictly local beers, BeerMenus features a tap list from local bars and a broader stock list from your neighborhood beer store. With that, you can make sure to create a list of your favorite beers in your neighborhood, so that when they're in stock you can be ready to go.