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Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community

ISBN: 978-0-7456-7949-5
224 pages
December 2013, Polity
Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community (0745679498) cover image
In a world of dwindling natural resources and mounting environmental crisis, who is devising ways of living that will work for the long haul? And how can we, as individuals, make a difference? To answer these fundamental questions, Professor Karen Litfin embarked upon a journey to many of the world’s ecovillagesÑintentional communities at the cutting-edge of sustainable living. From rural to urban, high tech to low tech, spiritual to secular, she discovered an under-the-radar global movement making positive and radical changes from the ground up.

In this inspiring and insightful book, Karen Litfin shares her unique experience of these experiments in sustainable living through four broad windows - ecology, economics, community, and consciousness - or E2C2. Whether we live in an ecovillage or a city, she contends, we must incorporate these four key elements if we wish to harmonize our lives with our home planet.

Not only is another world possible, it is already being born in small pockets the world over. These micro-societies, however, are small and time is short. Fortunately - as Litfin persuasively argues - their successes can be applied to existing social structures, from the local to the global scale, providing sustainable ways of living for generations to come.

You can learn more about Karen's experiences on the Ecovillages website: http://ecovillagebook.org/
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List of Figures vi

Acknowledgments viii

1 Living a New Story 1

2 Around the World in Fourteen Ecovillages 15

3 Ecology: Living in the Circle of Life 33

4 Economy: Prospering in the Circle of Life 77

5 Community: Relating in the Circle of Life 111

6 Consciousness: Being in the Circle of Life 149

7 Scaling It Up 187

Epilogue 205

Resources 208

Index 213

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Karen Litfin is associate professor of political science at the University of Washington.
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"In lively, honest and reflective prose, Litfin offers deep insight into how this research project has been part of her own mission of living more sustainably. While Litfin provides us with a range of practical information about the principles of ecovillage organising – including countless nuggets of inspiration that will be useful to anyone, not just those intending to live in communities – she also puts forward a theoretical framework for analysing these emerging ways of sustainable living."
Times Higher Education

"If you can't take a year off to visit ecovillages around the world, this marvel of a book is the next best thing. It’s actually even better for the carbon it saves, the questions it asks, and the wisdom it shares. Karen Litfin’s journey enlivens our understanding of the Great Turning. I am eager to share it with all my students and fellow teachers."
Joanna Macy, author of Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy

"In these times of political gridlock and myopia, Karen Litfin's tremendously engaging and informative exploration of eco-villages around the world points the way to a viable and attractive future very different from the bleak place to which we are now headed. You will enjoy this book!"
James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for New Economy

"Ecovillages offers that rarest of gifts: wisdom. It asks not simply how to address the build-up of carbon, dwindling of species, and toxification of our world, but how we can live together joyously on a single earth. Among the book's many beauties is that it is written from the wellspring of experience and expressed through Litfin’s hands, voice, and soul."
Paul Wapner, American University

"The world is in for a major transition, a huge downshift, ready or not. For those inclined to roll up their sleeves and get ready (as opposed to lament the trends and decry business as usual), ecovillages can offer insight and hope. As Litfin shows in this compelling book, they exemplify an 'affirmative politics,' a politics at once ecological, economic, community-oriented and spiritual. Ecovillages aren’t for everyone, but in these uncertain times, their lessons may be."
Thomas Princen, University of Michigan

"Karen Litfin is a perceptive, thoughtful, and gifted observer of the human predicament. In writing Ecovillages, Litfin combines her intellectual prowess with her sensitivity and compassion to tell a hugely important and inspiring story."
Chris Uhl, Professor of Biology at Penn State and author of Developing Ecological Consciousness

"Karen Litfin has not only written a book of great importance to all of us at this pivotal moment in history, she has also done it in a way that is lively, moving, informative and compelling. This first-rate book deserves to reach the widest possible audience; we must pay attention to it if we are going to thrive as a species on this fragile planet."
Nina Wise, author of A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life

"Ecovillages have for many years acted as micro-laboratories for building a low carbon, post-growth society. But what can we learn from them? How much of ecovillage life is scaleable and replicable? Karen Litfin set out to find out, and her learnings and insights are invaluable. We owe her road trip and her research a great deal, there is much wisdom and treasure here!"
Rob Hopkins, author of The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience

"An inspiring and instructive journey to the wide range of communities pioneering a sustainable global future."
Jakob von Uexküll, founder of the Right Livelihood Award and former member of the European Parliament

"Nature teaches us that nothing disappears when it dies, it merely becomes something new. Karen Litfin's lucid and heartfelt book reveals the new life emerging in the cracks of failing systems. Through her eyes, we meet people everywhere who are building high-joy, low-impact communities. Litfin is the perfect guide: intellectually rigorous, spiritually awake and deeply caring. If you want to create a richer, gentler life for yourself and your community, read this book!"
Vicki Robin, bestselling author of Your Money or Your Life and Blessing the Hands that Feed Us

Karen Litfin understands that today we need inspiration as much as information, to forge the vibrant communities that will carry us into an enduring future. The success stories she brings to life are just what we need to revivify our existing communities on a planet perched at the precipice.
Kurt Hoelting, author of The Circumference of Home: One Man's Yearlong Quest for a Radically Local Life

"One of the most powerful questions asked of us by our world crisis is, 'How can we live together in ways that allow us to "be the change" together?' Karen Litfin's book gives us answers. These ecovillage experiments – idealistic, imperfect, courageous, creative and honestly described - will help us transform our consciousness and find our way forward."
Terry Patten, co-author (with Ken Wilber) of Integral Life Practice
 
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