Eco Villages and Beyond: 10 Communities Across the World
By Stephanie Rogers, EcoSalon
From tree house villages in Costa Rica to yoga communes in Hawaii, these 10 intentional communities are havens of peace, creativity and sustainability.
Imagine waking up to the sound of bells from a temple to share in a morning yoga ritual overlooking the mountains of Peru, or the glittering Pacific Ocean in Hawaii. Picking fresh vegetables from your neighborhood garden to cook in a community-wide meal in a spacious, shared kitchen. Building your own non-toxic, mortgage-free cob house in a low-impact neighborhood of like-minded nature lovers. Stepping out of your very own treehouse to gaze at a network of aerial walkways that look like something out of a sci-fi movie. These 10 intentional communities, from utopian eco-villages to cute historic houses in urban Los Angeles, bring people together with common goals of harmonic living, artistic exploration and sustainability.
Polestar Yoga Community, Big Island, Hawaii
What could be more relaxing than a yoga community in Hawaii? Polestar offers “an energizing lifestyle of daily yoga and meditation, karmic yoga or service projects, and outdoor adventure opportunities.” Though it bills itself as a spiritual community, people of all faiths are welcome at this cooperative living retreat which is home to full-time residents and also open to visitors and apprentices. Awakened each morning by the sound of music from the temple, a shrine dedicated to the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, guests enjoy daily routines involving organic food grown on site, volunteer service, art and lots of community involvement.
Photo Credit: Polestar Yoga Community
Eco Truly Park, Peru
It looks like something out of a fairy tale: adorable little cone-shaped buildings topped with colorfully painted spires, dotting the hillside on the Pacific coast of Peru. This ecological and artistic community, an hour north of Lima, was founded on principles of non-violence, simple living and harmony with nature. Both the architecture and the values of the community are inspired by traditional Indian teachings and lifestyles. Eco Truly Park has a goal of being fully self-sustainable, and currently boasts a large organic garden. Open to volunteers, the community offers workshops in yoga, art and Vedic philosophy.
Photo Credit: Eco Truly Park
Synchronicity Artist Commune, Los Angeles, California
Embodying the laid-back lifestyle of sunny Southern California, Synchronicity is a relaxed and welcoming intentional living community in the historic West Adams District of Los Angeles. Though it’s small – nowhere near the size of the rest of the communities on this list – Synchronicity is a great example of the thousands of similar shared households around the United States. Synchronicity has eleven residents and focuses mostly on artistic actions and holding monthly artistic salons that are open to the public.
Photo Credit: Synchronicity
Earthhaven Ecovillage, Asheville, North Carolina
Located in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Earthaven is just one of many similar intentional communities focusing on sustainable living. You’ll find virtually every type of natural building here, including earthships, cob houses and rustic cabins, with construction methods that eliminate toxic materials, logged timber and mortgages. Set on 320 lush acres 40 minutes southwest of Asheville, Earthaven frequently holds natural building workshops and welcomes the public to learn about permaculture, organic gardening and other sustainable topics. They offer camping and visitor accommodations as well as live-work arrangements.
Photo Credit: Earthhaven Ecovillage
Milagro Cohousing, Tucson, Arizona
Twelve minutes from downtown Tucson, Arizona, Milagro is a co-housing community with 28 passive-solar, energy-efficient adobe homes on 43 acres. Set against the Tucson mountains, Milagro is simply a community of people who want to live a green lifestyle, surrounded by like-minded neighbors. Each resident has access to 35 acres of undeveloped open space, as well as the 3,600-square-foot Common House, which has meeting and dining space, a library, a playroom and storage space. Gardens, workshops and a solar-heated swimming pool make it even more enticing.
Photo Credit: Milagro Cohousing
Finca Bellavista Treehouse Community, Costa Rica
If you’ve ever watched Star Wars and wished that you could live with the Ewoks in their magical tree house community, take heed: such a thing actually exists. And it’s in Costa Rica. Finca Bellavista is a network of rustic, hand-built tree houses in the mountainous South Pacific coastal region of this Central American nation, surrounded by a jungle that is brimming with life. The off-grid, carbon-neutral tree houses are connected by aerial walkways and include a central community center with a dining area, barbecue and lounge. Gardens, ziplines and hiking trails make it even more of a tropical paradise. Prospective community members can design and build their own tree houses. Additionally, some of the tree house owners rent out their homes, and there are visitor accommodations available.
Photo Credit: Finca Treehouse Community
Tamera Peace Research Village, Portugal
Aiming to be a totally self-sufficient community, the Tamera Peace Research Village is in the Alentejo region of southwestern Portugal and is home to 250 coworkers and students who study how humans can live peacefully in sustainable communities, in harmony with nature. It includes a non-profit peace foundation, a “SolarVillage” test site, a permaculture project with an edible landscape, and a sanctuary for horses.
Photo Credit: Tamera Peace Research Village
Dancing Rabbit Eco Village, Missouri
Another showcase of the beauty of natural building techniques, the Dancing Rabbit Eco Village is a sustainable community located near Rutledge, Missouri advocating low-impact living and dedication to social change. Everything from members’ diets to the way they use water is dictated by a commitment to living lightly on the earth. The village is on 280 acres including six ponds, a small creek and 40 acres of woodland, plus 30 acres where they have planted over 12,000 trees as part of a restoration program.
Photo Credit: Dancing Rabbit Eco Village
EcoVillage at Ithaca, New York
What would the ideal sustainable community look like? The EcoVillage at Ithaca is one example that is already thriving in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. It includes three co-housing neighborhoods called Frog, Song and Tree as well as an organic CSA vegetable farm, community gardens and over 100 acres of protected green space. The houses are all energy-efficient and share facilities like a common house, wood shop, metal shop, bike shed, playgrounds and centralized compost bins.
Photo Credit: Ecovillage at Ithaca
Conceptual Community of Tiny Houses
It’s not yet a reality, but tiny house enthusiasts have a dream: idyllic neighborhoods where people who have committed to living in very small spaces can get together and share resources and camaraderie. Tiny house communities are hard to come by because of various city and county ordinances, which favor large houses and conventional utilities. At TinyHouseCommunity.com, people who live in tiny houses – or want to build their own some day – get together to talk about making these villages happen. There are two tiny house communities currently in planning phases, in Washington D.C. and Texas.
Photo Credit: Conceptual Community of Tiny Houses