San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ecovillages: The way of the future

From the print edition

By Stephen Brooks

Do we have a choice in creating the world of our dreams? Do we have any say in the way our communities, towns or cities are designed?  In where our food and water come from and where our wastes go? Can food be produced right where people live, or must it be shipped around the world before it graces our dining room tables?  

These are such important questions, and for a long time they have been completely removed from our scope and power of decision. However, an ecological movement is bubbling globally and it is emerging with extreme vigor; communities of people around the world are dedicated to changing the way things are by creating and living in what are being called ecovillages.

The Global Ecovillage Network defines an ecovillage as an urban or rural community of people who strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low-impact way of life.

Sounds logical, right?  

For thousands of years people have lived in communities close to nature and also deeply connected to the source of their food, water and the materials they used to build their homes. It is only in the last 100 years or so that modern cities began to break these ties, creating a disconnect that has resulted in depression, social divide, poverty and scarcity.

From rural hippie communities in the woods of Northern California to coastal Scotland to urban China, groups are forming that are working to break the mold of today’s cities and take back control, while reconnecting with the land and with their neighbors.  

Ecovillages are now spreading throughout Costa Rica. This is not a passing trend, but a transition to a whole new way of interacting with our surroundings and with each other.

Ecovillages integrate green building, organic agriculture, alternative energies, along with Earth-based spirituality and progressive education for our children.  The Ecovillage Movement is manifesting itself in Costa Rica in many different forms, from high-end ecologically planned communities to groups of friends pooling their resources to secure land and unfold their dreams.  

For many years, Costa Rica has attracted alternative people from around the world, and many have come to Costa Rica seeking community and a simpler way of life.  Eco-living does not mean that one has to live rustically or in a thatch-roofed shack.  There are ecological living options for all budgets and all kinds of people.  

 The ecovillage is a solution to many of the drastic problems we are facing on our planet today, as population explodes and resources dwindle. Living in Earth-based communities could be the way to stop destructive environmental practices and help us leave our grandchildren a world we are proud of, and a legacy worth carrying on.

Stephen Brooks is founder of the Punta Mona Center for Sustainable Living and Education (, La Ecovilla ( and the Envision Festival (, and offers  permaculture design consultations. Contact him at

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