• Noel Williams

Ecovillage or Timebank?


Before getting into what an ecovillage is, it is important that you familiarize yourself with what a timebank is. Once you understand what a timebank is, you will understand that timebanks are an inherent aspect of ecovillages. The following section will delve a bit deeper into the basic components of an average ecovillage. We phrased the previous sentence as such because like timebanks, no two ecovillages are exactly the same.


What is an Ecovillage?


The name “ecovillage” does an adequate job of describing itself. According to an article by Medium, ecovillages “are essentially designed communities which strive to produce the least possible negative impact on the natural environment through intentional physical design and resident behavior choices.” The “eco” part of the name explains that these communities strive to respect the earth and environment in all they do, and the “village” aspect of the name describes the communal idea behind it all; everyone serves a purpose that helps sustain the whole of the ecovillage.

Generally, ecovillages consist of anywhere from 50-200 people. Some are larger, but many are even smaller.


The Mother of all Ecovillages


The ecovillage in Findhorn, Scotland is widely regarded as the trendsetter for all other global ecovillages. It is now one of the largest in the world, but its beginnings are much humbler. Founded, almost by accident, by Peter and Eileen Caddy in the early 1960s, the Findhorn ecovillage was born when the Caddy’s lost their jobs as keepers of a local 4-star hotel. With unemployment from the government their only source of income, the Caddy’s moved to a caravan park in Findhorn, where their self-sustaining lifestyle began with Peter’s choice to grow vegetables in the sandy soil. Despite the seemingly poor growing conditions, the Caddy’s turned the caravan park into a bustling garden that produced an overwhelming amount of food. What’s more, it brought the Caddy’s and their carpark a lot of attention.


Over the coming years, the original community of six grew continuously. As members were added, new skills were introduced and before long buildings were constructed, an education curriculum was established, and the community began to take shape. Without help from the outside world, the Findhorn ecovillage was able to not only sustain itself in terms of nourishment, shelter, and education, it excelled.


Nowadays there are hundreds of community members at the Findhorn ecovillage, each contributing to the village’s success in their own individual way. Though Findhorn’s site does not make mention of a timebank, their belief that “work is love in action” tells you all you need to know. They value the contribution of each community member equally, and each community member can see their contributions actively improving the community within which they live. In many ways, this is exactly what timebanks strive to achieve.


How do Ecovillage Contribute to Creating a Sustainable Society


According to the Worldbank over 55% of the world population now lives in urban areas which are mainly cities. That is around 3% of the earth’s land area, yet figures show these urban sprawls suck up around 70% of the world’s energy and produce roughly 70% of the world’s emissions.


Some key contributors to these statistics include:


  • Far more traffic jams creating more carbon emissions

  • More street lights in cities vs rural areas

  • Advertisement lights for entertainment suck energy

  • Cities have large industrial areas creating carbon emissions

  • Urban areas usually have plenty of construction causing carbon emissions


The problem is, the statistics above show that people prefer to live close to each other in a large community where there is plenty of commerce and economic benefits. In fact, large community living appears to be most of the world's population's first choice. While there are many reasons for this, this is beyond the scope of this particular blog, but you can find out more about the reasons people live in a community here.


The problem with these large communities is the effect they have on the environment. The United Nations says that the trend of urbanisation is also causing fear within communities. That fear relates to environmental concerns. Fresh water supplies are becoming polluted, there is too much waste water whereby governments simply don’t have the finances or resources to treat all of it, and public health within, and 100s of miles outside, these urban areas is worsening due to air pollution.


Eco Villages Lead by Example

This is where eco villages come into the frame. The way that they operate sets an example to the rest of the world how we can create sustainable areas that help us continue living our ever advancing technological lifestyles in a manner that does not severely affect the environment. And in the future, time banks are likely to become a part of creating these communities.


The diagram below shows just how eco villages set an example for how our communities should operate to promote sustainable living environments:


How will Timebank Communities Help in the Future?


Time bank communities have many similarities with the way eco villages function. In the future, when mass adoption of timebanking inevitably occurs, the integrated and systematic community networks will form alliances to help fight against the negative effects of urban living. With the ‘an hour for an hour’ concept of timebanking people can also help others to create more sustainable home living. This could be something as simple as recycling as a starting point.We actually have a blog about this topic giving you 6 reasons why you should recycle.


Timebanks in Comparison to Ecovillages


Timebanks are the same as ecovillages in that they both strive to dismantle the highly monetized and socially unequal aspects of modern society. Through equitable human interactions, members of timebanks and ecovillages strive to create a more socially equitable system that values the contributions of everyone equally. Ecovillages often incorporate elements of timebanking, but where timebanks often exist side-by-side modern society, ecovillages often disconnect from modern society and blaze their own trail.


If you view our previous blog post discussing how timebanks benefit society, you will notice that ecovillages also strive for social justice and step in where government is nowhere to be found. In the case of the Caddy’s they were fired from their jobs and forgotten by the UK government save for unemployment benefits that did not put food on the table. Not only were they treated as lesser members of society, there were no resources available to help them.

By starting an ecovillage, the Caddy’s realized that they could create a society all their own, one that valued the contributions of every member in a way that led to a self-sustaining community. These timebanking elements still exist in ecovillages all over the world today. While not every ecovillage keeps track of time credits for individuals, some do. Regardless of whether the system is formalized or not, you will be hard-pressed to find an ecovillage that does not utilize timebanking ideals.


Sources:

  1. About the Findhorn Foundation

  2. What is an Ecovillage? Here Are Some Of The Best International Ecovillages

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