Version 3.2

Ecovillage scale-up and its wellbeing challenges

Community level initiatives are important in the transition to sustainability. Ecovillages are often presented as examples of such initiatives that aim to combine high quality, communal life with low environmental impact. The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) defines an ecovillage as ‘a rural or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned, participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social, culture, ecology and economy) to regenerate their social and natural environments’ (Global Ecovillage Network n.d.). Despite the positive characteristics ascribed to ecovillages, they have been criticized for disregarding environmental and social justice (Mason 2014), for lacking a clear political stance (Fotopoulos 2000), and for being too expensive and therefore exclusionary (Cunningham 2014; Temesgen 2020). Still, ecovillages are one of the fastest growing local-level initiatives (Jones 2011), and there are studies that show the positive impact some ecovillages have on spreading sustainability practices among local municipalities (Boyer 2015).
This paper focuses on a Norwegian ecovillage, its transformation to a larger and more modern form (by engaging architects and developers) and the impact this transformation has had on the wellbeing of its inhabitants. This transformation has been hailed as a success through the lens of transition studies but our findings show that it has had negative consequences for the wellbeing of the inhabitants. By drawing on theories from the transition and wellbeing fields, the present paper aims to contribute theoretical insights to both fields and to the study of grassroots innovations and their success/failure.


Day: 2023-08-31
Start time: 10:45
Duration: 00:15
Room: ZV-8-8
Type: Paper Presentation
Theme: Alternative economies


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