No one owns the land and yet everyone owns the land through collective ownership.
Private ownership of land has been destructive, not least for first nations people. Eco villages 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 sale of lots. Selling lots can lead to breakdown in 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 land owners.
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.
Article 1 of 16. Next article - 2. Co-Living/Co-housing