Cohousing Groups Calling Themselves Ecovillages
From: Michael Mariner (
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 15:53:42 -0600
[I haven't been following coho-L too closely lately, so forgive me if 
this topic has been thrashed or trashed by this list -- just tell me!]

At last year's Seattle cohousing conference, I heard Chris Hanson say 
that when his group called themselves "an ecovillage" they generated much 
more interest than when they called themselves "cohousing."

How do others feel about this?  Most cohousers and cohousing sites *are* 
more ecological than typical suburbanites, but is this enough to use the 
term ecovillage with integrity?

Ecovillage status is an ideal -- a goal to shoot for.  Most (all?) 
communities that call themselves ecovillages are quick to say they are 
*aspiring* ecovillages.

In a book called "Eco-Villages and Sustainable Communities" the authors 
(Gaia Trust/Context Institute) defined an ecovillage as a

    human scale

    full-featured settlement

    in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural 

    in a way that is supportive of healthy human development and

    can be successfully continued into the indefinite future. ***

[The defintion is broken down as above because each line is expanded upon 
by the authors in subsequent paragraphs.]

Ecovillage at Ithaca has cohousing neighborhoods as components of the 
overall ecovillage that also has businesses and agriculture and other 
features that help it to be an *aspiring* ecovillage.

A typical cohousing development doesn't have that wider environment, but 
whats stopping them (us) from becoming the hub of a wider community that 
has multiple neighborhoods participating to become "a full-featured 

Further, if a cohousing group has this intention as it builds it's 
(first) neighborhood, why not call itself an (aspiring) ecovillage?

Mike Mariner

***In Memoriam:  Diane Gilman of Context Institute, who I understand was 
one of the main authors of the above mentioned book, died recently of 
brain cancer.  She and her husband lived in the cohousing site on 
Bainbridge Island for several years. She was a truly marvelous person.

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