There are about as many definitions of eco village or 'ecovillage' as there are eco villages. Some developers have hijacked the name to take advantage of the increasingly popular concept yet this is just another example of greenwash as eco villages are all about the culture of the community which takes intention and time to build. Essentially they are places where people live in harmony with nature and with the intention to connect with other people who have shared values. Those who live in eco villages share an appreciation for living lightly on the earth which may extend to creating habitat for wildlife, reducing their own carbon footprints, using renewable energy, growing organic food and native trees, and other regenerative practices. People who live in eco villages may or may not be involved in business activities at the eco village which could include eco tourism, food businesses, tours, workshops, festivals, etc. One of the reasons eco village life is appealing to many is that they can be surrounded by community-minded people and have company as they age regardless of their family situation.
Eco villages can be roughly divided into three categories when it comes to the expected contribution of the residents: low demand, moderate demand or high demand. Generally eco villages in Australia are low demand communities - the only requirement is to purchase or rent property and pay the required levees. High demand communities would often arise when all residents derive some sort of income from the eco village and spend a large amount of time contributing to the operations of the community. Eco Villages Australia aim to create moderate demand communities where there is a shared meal every night that some people are rostered to help prepare and residents take ownership of various tasks according to their skills and interests. Sharing a lawnmower is great but sharing lives is even more rewarding and eco village life can provide a deeper connection than suburban living which is the standard for most Australians.
There are a number of well-known eco villages in Australia yet there are not many new eco villages being created as property prices remain high and planning regulations make it more difficult than ever before. Eco villages could be large in size or quite small. Currumbin Eco Village, for example, is home to 470 people while Korinderie Ridge in New South Wales is home to around 30 people. Eco Villages Australia aim to create small communities of approximately 15 to 25 people.
Often eco villages are rural or semi-rural but there's no reason that eco villages couldn't be urban and there are examples of both in the book 'Creating a Life Together' by Diana Leafe Christian. This book is a must-read for those wanting to start or join an eco village. Living in an eco village is not necessarily easy, as Diana Leafe Christian explains, but it can be extremely rewarding for those who are able to navigate the path less trodden.