In these communities, residents work co-operatively, make decisions, and take control of their own energy, water, and food as they work towards ecological sustainability, social prosperity, and economic viability.
Ecovillages are collectively owned. Individuals loan money to make the purchase possible. All residents pay rent which is used to pay back those who made loans and for eco-village improvements. When the loans are paid back, residents are then off the financial ‘merry-go-round’. You can read more about our collective ownership model on the “Our Eco Villages” page.
The first co-housing eco-village site has been purchased in March 2019 in Maleny, Queensland.
“Social disconnection has hit epidemic proportions. Now is the time to find a way to connect with self, each other and the earth.”
Andrew McLean – Co-founder EVA
Private ownership of land has been destructive, not least for first nations people. Ecovillages that sell plots under private ownership often 1) reflect the isolation currently experienced in our suburban culture, 2) miss out on the efficiencies of sharing, or 3) disintegrate into irreparable conflict.
Housing should not be a commodity – it is a basic right. The gap between rich and poor has become increasingly unequal largely due to the commodification of housing for investment. Besides this injustice, the concept of land ownership is unthinkable for many indigenous cultures who recognise that we can no more own the land than it can own us. At most, humans can be stewards of the land, caring for it but never owning it.
Eco Villages Australia’s model is that the entire property is owned by the non-profit company through a Community Land Trust (CLT). Philanthropists loan money for the purchase of the eco-village and all residents rent the spaces they require. This income covers operational costs and paying back loans. If the land is ever sold, the money goes back to the non-profit company after all loans have been returned. This structure makes it impossible for individuals to benefit from the sale of land, which means that the land is essentially locked away in perpetuity for affordable housing and wildlife habitat.
People can’t buy into the eco village. Rather, Eco Villages Australia operates on a contribution model where all land is owned collectively through the non-profit company.
This model is beneficial for a number of reasons:
Prevents the sale of lots. Selling lots can lead to a breakdown in the community over time as lots are sold or bequeathed to people who may have different values from the community as a whole.
Allows the movement away from the concept of ‘owning’ land and towards an understanding of being stewards and caretakers of the land.
Sharing keeps costs down.
All residents are renters. People who are wealthier do not have more say in the community.
If circumstances change it is easy for residents to leave.
Rental income is spent to benefit the eco-village residents rather than banks, shareholders or landowners.
The model is financially sustainable and fair.
Collective ownership of the eco-village is both philosophically and practically aligned with the Eco Villages Australia vision. To read more about the financial model, read article 16 of the vision.
A well-designed village creates the right balance of togetherness and privacy. Eco Villages Australia follow the hybrid elements of co-housing and co-living models, with tiny houses or tiny spaces surrounding a central common shared house.
“Everyone wants community in their life, but we tend to want the privacy that we’re used to having.… [co-housing] is very different to any commune or anything from the past, in that it really values independence, but at the same time, cooperation and community.” Laura Finch – Architect
Co-housing started in Denmark in the 1970s. Today, around 30% of the population live in co-housing arrangements in Denmark.
Two key things that define co-housing are the design and resident-controlled management. The people who live there are the ones who take responsibility for the community rather than landlords, body corporate, or developers.
The central common house is normally built first and has a shared kitchen, dining/lounge area, laundry, and other facilities as the community requires. A number of dwellings placed around the centre house is referred to as a ‘pod’. The village may have a number of pods depending on land size. Clustering housing is the most ecologically responsible method of village design. Each pod would most likely develop slightly different characteristics of its own as long as it aligns with the overall vision of the village (for example, one pod might be entirely vegetarian).
The intention to live together harmoniously with shared values is what makes this eco-village different from life in the suburbs or city. Rather than moving into an apartment with no idea who the neighbours are, residents of the eco-village will eat together and connect regularly while also having their own interests and outside lives. The eco-village will be a connected community while valuing privacy and independence.
The eco-village will be a place where reducing waste, reducing emissions, and regenerating the natural environment is a top priority. Some activities may include:
working with waste as a valuable resource,
moving towards 100% renewable energies,
increasing biodiversity and regenerating ecosystems,
reducing single-use plastics and other consumables,
carpooling and car-sharing arrangements and possibly electric vehicles,
Innovating green building technologies,
use of permaculture and syntropic cultivation principles to create healthy soil and a diverse ecosystem,
reducing meat consumption and
replenishing sources and cycles of water.
By living together, eco-village residents can help each other to make changes that promote a more ecological lifestyle.
Ecovillage life is not possible without financial sustainability. EVA provides sustainable management of the eco village’s monetary and material resources. Surpluses from rental income and other enterprises will be returned to the community through ‘participatory budgeting’.
Commuting and paying a mortgage can be a socially depleting way to live for many. Working fewer hours and working in passion areas is key to enjoying life. Residents of the eco-village will enjoy the freedom to travel and to live in the community part-time or full-time. In the future, there may be multiple villages that EVA members could choose to move between subject to space being available. Imagine spending summers in Tasmania and winters in Brisbane.
Resilience in a fast-changing world
Many people recognise that our current systems are being stretched to breaking point. By definition, unsustainable systems cannot go on indefinitely. By building community, Eco Villages Australia can help to create resilient systems that will not die out in the face of economic collapse.
Triple bottom line
Many large corporations pursue one thing – the “mighty dollar”. There are some things that should not be for sale to the highest bidder, like clean air, water, and our democracy. A triple bottom line community recognises business is not solely for profit but must also benefit people and the planet. Eco Villages Australia recognises the eight forms of capital which are social, cultural, intellectual, experiential, spiritual, natural, material, and financial capital.
ECO VILLAGES AUSTRALIA (EVA) website: https://www.ecovillages.com.au/