ecoVillages Journal #16: The New Approach, and what it means for YOU!

in ecoTrainlast year (edited)


With all the changes to the ecoVillages vision, I want to write a post about how things would be and look for YOU, as someone who wanted to join in. Previously we had a lot questions and issues relating to the community and the many facets of starting and holding together a community from scratch. In this new model of ecoVillages, all aspects of the community will be entirely separate from your land, home, and personal life and personal security.

Our primary goal is to help you build and live off-grid and sustainably with a minimal burden on the local environment, and yourself. Your decision to be a part of the ecoVillages Community (I'm tempted to call it a cooperative but i prefer community) will be entirely yours to make, and can be made at any time.

I was talking with @nature-jon on the phone yesterday. Jon has seen many communities fail and has a good understanding of where things have always gone wrong. He has many great ideas and ways to overcome some of the problems that lead to communities falling apart. It got me thinking, and relating it to the new model of ecoVillages. What I think is that most communities that we see are in many ways like a pressure cooker, especially when the entire community are living on the same land, and there is even a possibility that you could be removed or forced to leave against your will. You never really own anything, or have something that you can really call yours! Any decisions can be difficult when everyone could be impacted by them in one way or another. When newcomers arrive it is a much more daunting prospect, because you will have to live and share space with them whether or not you personally get on with them or not.

All these issues, and more, are simply removed from the equation with the new ecoVillages approach. I believe I have stumbled upon a way to set the foundations up in such a way as to give a community the best chance for success, and with a diverse population! It is so much harder to live with someone who is very different from you, however much you appreciate them, when you live right next to them and are forced to either work or commune with them. It is much easier, and enjoyable to live in their 'neighbourhood' and see them when you choose to. You get to choose which projects you work on, and if the group you are working with isn’t working for you, then you can change and start working with different people.

In this new decentralised approach so many tensions are removed. Yes we can and will have people collaborating under the banner of ecoVillages, but you will get to choose who you work with, what you do, or if you work at all. Since you will all have your own land, and are responsible for your own lives, we can each engage as much or little as we desire, without having to deal with a community feeling angst toward them because they are not doing enough.

So people will engage as they naturally do, as neighbours do, and without the pressure or feeling of being stuck with certain people. This ecoVillage could be spread out over many Km's of land in and around Penamacor, which is a beautiful and very small village in rural Portugal. Penamacor are very welcoming, and really want to encourage just the kind of people that want to build and live sustainably and self sufficiently.


We have just bought just one plot of land and will start building our first ecoHome on it we hope later this year. Once we have built the first home, we will then be ready to facilitate others to do the same. What we will do is lead you through the entire process, from buying land, to planning and design, legal work, right through to the build itself, planning regulations etc., until the home is complete. We will have all the connections and knowledge to make it easy and very cheap for you to build your own ecoHome in Portugal.

There are 100's if not 1000's of small and medium sized plots for sale in and around Penamacor, Portugal. If you know the right people, it is possible to acquire a plot big enough for one person or family to build a home and have a little land for food production. Right now it is possible to secure your own private land for as little as $3,000USD. If a small group of 4 or 5 families get together, you could also buy a slightly larger plot to share, and have the costs become even lower. The choice is YOURS now, with the micro-villages approach you will be charge of your own life, and not be forced to have to deal with community issues and problems. There WILL of course be problems and issues, but you can now have a choice, and I think that is psychologically a much better approach.

Each time we build, our community will get stronger! I have personally led four workshops in India, building with 90% unskilled volunteers. The friendships that blossom from each and every workshop are very powerful and special, and if at the end of it these people become neighbours then I think that opens the door to great potential with future collaborations and exchanges.


I see us as great facilitators and doers. Our role will be to facilitate ourselves and others to build and live in the most sustainable way, to provide a lifetime of self sufficiency with almost no ongoing bills and maintenance. Homes will be spread out, but there will still be a strong community. Those who wish to join the ecoVillage community will be welcomed to join and collaborate on projects and receive support. If at any time people feel their collaboration is not working out, they can leave the community without it having to have other implications on their personal security. Likewise, if the community feel that a member is not acting in accordance with our pillars, we may also choose to not collaborate with those people.

Here are some bullet points to highlight the features of ecoVillages as they now stand:

  1. Self ownership of your land and property with ALL the rights and privileges of ownership.
  2. It is optional to join the community, and you may leave the community collaborations without risk to your home or location.
  3. ecoVillages will lead and guide you through the entire process of land purchase, planning, legal, and build work near and around Penamacor, Portugal.
  4. ecoVillages will help you get substantial discounts on Land, Legal Fees and many other costs by working with our partners.
  5. We will drastically reduce build costs by holding workshops during each build, thereby reducing labour costs by a huge margin.
  6. ecoVillage will build homes using the Biotecture approach. Our homes will be by far the best performing models that can run completely off-grid, with almost no bills, and little to no additional heating or cooling.
  7. Community spaces already exist in the village of Penamacor for many things like schools, yoga etc..
  8. New community land and spaces will be created by ecoVIllage to support community operations and new ventures, especially for Permaculture and food production.
  9. Those that choose to become members of the ecoVillage community will abide by the pillars of our community as set out by our founding members.
  10. ecoVillage members will collaborate and support each other in many ways, and especially through trade, exchanges, discounts, use of ecoVillage currency.
  11. ecoVillages will develop and provide the tools and systems needed to facilitate a healthy community trade system, e.g. a website for exchanges and trades.
  12. An Ultra decentralised and viral approach to both eco building and community living, that honours all of our our basic needs.

So, all eyes are now on our first build, because once that is completed it will set this great ball in motion. I believe this can work, and the timing could not be better. We are so close now to being able to begin! My current timing for this first build will be in August / September 2020.. but lets see how things pan out with the lock-downs! We will be attempting to build a demo tiny home that will perform well in high heat and cold nights, with a minimal budget and built with reclaimed materials and volunteers whenever possible.

Once built we will monitor and live in the building to understand its performance, strengths and weaknesses. We will also then know how much it costs, and can then give others a realistic sense of costings. That is always the question, how much will it cost... and there is no way to say until we have done it, in that location.

Does this sound much more exciting to you!? Please let me know, even if you have no intention of wanting to live in Portugal what you think about this new approach, especially if you have experience or have lived in communities that have failed before.. Your opinion and experience is so valuable!

<3 xxx be well everyone...



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Wow, I absolutely love the idea and all the details and features that you have mentioned! The way you describe it indeed really takes the worries/ second thoughts one might have away!

I am really tempted and I will consider it strongly and plan to be able to join over the next years that it will be built and will start growing!

I have always loved the idea itself but always have feared how this can actually work without giving too much pressure on the people of the community as members of it, how it could combine the strengths and benefits of building a community, especially an alternative and eco-friendly one, with the freedom of maintaining one's individuality, all with the prerequisite of respect by everyone to everyone of course!

I adore the fact that it's going to be in Portugal, I even started learning Portuguese a couple of months ago and the time I read this it really felt karmic!

I wish the best of conditions and great success to your start, I will be watching the news and every time I can help in some way I will do it!

Best regards from Greece!