Ecovillage Conference Tokyo 2007: Rise Of The Ecovillage Movement
To many, the word "ecovillage" may conjure up images of colourful, freewheeling individuals living hippie lifestyles on the margins of "normal" society, a legacy of the communes during the 1960s (as one historian points out: "rural hippie communes were media attention-grabbers, full of photo opportunities, wild anecdotes, and the weirdest-looking people most Americans had ever seen.")
But as this past weekend's second Japan Ecovillage Conference and this month's earlier Chicago Urban Ecovillage gathering demonstrates, the word "ecovillage" has quietly evolved to become an all-purpose, cross-cultural and positive term describing a global phenomenon of diverse people living and working together in communities with the common vision of building a more sustainable future, developing and testing different models of economy, energy and cooperative living (without the sensationalist media attention).
Aptly described as "living laboratories," ecovillages can now be found from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, Europe, South America, as listed on the searchable database Global Ecovillage Network (GEN).
According to Ted Trainer, Sociologist, University of New South Wales, Australia:
Would it be an exaggeration to claim that the emergence of the ecovillage movement is the most significant event of the 20th century? I don't think so.For the Ecovillage Conference in Tokyo, one of the aims was to discuss how the ecovillage movement applies to the Japanese context and simultaneously what locally-derived lessons can be brought to enrich the learning processes elsewhere. As the director of Japan's Permaculture Centre, Koji Itonaga, states:
In Japan, about 135,000 rural village cultures and in cities downtown community cultures remains. However, these are made brittle. These have been destroyed, and rapid globalization has been making the society, space and time which were standardized at a quick pace. In recent years, the exchange for reconstruction of the rural village environment by making ecological residential space, re-settlement, green tourism and eco-tourism, on the other, in cities collective houses, cooperative houses has started.
It is necessary to inherit Japanese history, culture, agricultural spirit, space, and social property, and it is necessary to revive them and to regeneration, and we need to create newly. Having the idea of three ecologies, re-settlement, and alternative globalization, we need to create Japanese Ecovillage and Ecovillage renovation based on Japanese singularity, and need to send them to the world.
::Ecovillage Conference Tokyo 2007