About This Newsletter What is an Ecovillage? Ecovillage Resources Diana Leafe Christian, Editor

Ecovillage Living, Money, and Quality of Life

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By Toña Luisa Osher, Huehuecoyotl Ecovillage, Mexico

(May/June 2010)

Author Toña Maria Osher (center) with fellow community members at Huehuecoyot Ecovillage in Central Mexico.
I think we have to think broadly and deeply when considering money and finances in an ecovillage. Economic sustainability can be measured not just in cash but also in terms of our quality of life and how we provide for our families.

In a way it’s like preventative medicine. Being able to use all our talents, live a meaningful existence, and being relatively free of the stresses of mainstream culture may be as valuable in the long run as having expensive health insurance coverage. Are we capable of learning to value ourselves and a healthy, service-oriented way of life that may earn less actual money than in mainstream culture? So many people in mainstream culture have acquired money and power, but still feel empty, trying endlessly to offset the empty feeling with activities and purchases.

Ecovillagers regularly share meals and conversation.
Here are some questions ecovillagers might ask others to ponder (and I believe most ecovillagers can say Yes to these questions):

• Do you regularly enjoy and celebrate life’s journey?

• Do your neighbors represent healthy role models for your children?

• Are there mentors on hand, easily accessible to you and your family?

• Are you free of concerns regarding the safety of your family?

• Is there an infrastructure that allows you to complete daily tasks with fluidity and minimal transportation expenditure?

• Do you feel useful to your family, community and society?

• Do you have an opportunity to serve others as well as yourself?

And celebrate!
• Can you live through a crisis and grow from it, confident that you have emotional stability and support from your neighbors?

• Are there preventive health measures that enable you to live confidently without fear?

• Can you count on your neighbors to be like a close family?

• Does the collective feedback of your group prove useful in your development?

• Do your jobs and endeavors permit creativity and spiritual growth?

• Does your life allow you to spend quality time with your children on a regular basis?

• Could you say that your lifestyle puts into practice the values you believe in today and for future generations?

• Are you and your family by and large healthy, happy, close, and creative?

• Are your talents appreciated frequently?

• Do you feel you are growing as an individual?

• Are you able to work on improving your ecological footprint?

At Huehuecoyotl, people make time for music and art (and murals and puppetry).
Questions like these challenge us to analyze the true value of living in community. Actual earnings may be lower in monetary terms, but the collective pooling of talent, intelligence, creativity, and resources may be able to provide unexpected solutions, even for rare or severe emergencies. Also, being willing to adjust our values and criteria through dialogue with neighbors can help us to face a challenging situation — a new baby, a school-age adjustment, a sudden accident, a health emergency, or some grave and external challenge to the community — which test the mettle of families and groups. This coming together in a crisis around individual and collective needs contrasts sharply with the common emotional isolation that afflicts most people living a mainstream style of life.

Personal growth and self-expression are important in ecovillages.
Living in an isolated nuclear family, where some family members regularly commute to work over long distances, can create considerable anxiety. Over time, that could translate into emotional or physical health challenges. Ecovillage living is not for everyone, perhaps, but living in a healthy community can be seen as one of the priceless, immeasurable health benefits that more than transcends the value of currency.

Toña Luisa Osher is an artist who lives at Huehuecoyotl Ecovillage in Morelos, Mexico.

Related articles:

  • What Visiting Huehuecoyotl Taught Me - May '09
  • The Ecovillage Movement Today — May '08

Also in this issue:
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Newsletter Staff

  • Diana Leafe Christian,
  • Jan Steinman,
    Website Designer, Mailing List Administrator
  • Marie Marcella,

Mission & Purpose

To encourage and inspire new and existing ecovillage projects with news about ecovillages and related projects worldwide.

Advisory Board

  • Lois Arkin,
    CRSP; ENA; Urban Ecovillage Network; Los Angeles Eco-Village, US
  • Peter Bane,
    Permaculture designer; publisher, Permaculture Activist, US
  • Albert Bates,
    Co-founder, GEN; Post-Petroleum Survival Guide; Director, Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm, US
  • Tree Bressen,
    Consensus & Facilitation Trainer; Cofounder, Walnut St. Co-op, US
  • Ernest Callenbach,
    Ecotopia, Ecotopia Emerging; US
  • Giovanni Ciarlo,
    GEN; ENA; Huehyecoyotl Ecovillage, Mexico
  • Raines Cohen,
    Cohousing Association of the US; Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC); Berkeley Cohousing, US
  • Leila Dregger,
    Peace journalist & writer, Peace Research Center & Ecovillage, Tamera, Portugal
  • Chuck Durrett,
    Cohousing; Senior Cohousing; Architect, The Cohousing Company; Nevada City Cohousing, US
  • Jonathan Dawson,
    Ecovillages; Findhorn Foundation, Scotland
  • Robert Gilman,
    Co-founder, GEN; Ecovillages & Sustainable Communities; City Council Member, Langley, Washington, US
  • Michael Hale,
    Yarrow Ecovillage, Canada
  • Jeff Grossberg,
    Guidestone Consulting Group, US
  • Martha Harris,
    Earthaven Ecovillage, US
  • Scott Horton,
    Editor, Permaculture Activist, US
  • Hildur Jackson,
    Co-founder, Gaia Trust; cofounder, GEN; Ecovillage Living, Denmark
  • Kosha Joubert,
    Editor, Beyond You and Me, GEN's EDE Program; Ecovillage Sieben Linden, Germany
  • Elana Kann & Bill Flemming,
    Co-developers, Westwood Cohousing, US
  • Joseph F. Kennedy,
    Designer/educator; The Art of Natural Building, US
  • Fred & Nancy Lanphear,
    Northwest Intentional Communities Association (NICA); Songaia Cohousing, US
  • Mark Lakeman,
    Founder, Portland City Repair & Village Building Convergence, US
  • Max Lindegger,
    Cofounder, GEN; Director, GEN-Oceania/Asia; Crystal Waters Ecovillage, Australia
  • Chris Mare,
    GEN's EDE Program; Village Design Institute, US
  • Ronaye Matthew,
    Canadian Cohousing Network; Cranberry Commons Cohousing, Canada
  • Kathryn McCamant,
    Architect/Developer, Cohousing Partners, Inc.; Co-author, Cohousing; Nevada City Cohousing, US
  • Dr. Bill Metcalf,
    Findhorn Book of Community Living; Professor, Environmental Sociology, Griffith University, Australia
  • Ina Meyer-Stoll,
    Co-director, GEN-Europe; ZEGG, Germany
  • Tim Miller,
    The 60s Communes; Professor of Religion, University of Kansas, US
  • Hank Obermayer,
    Mariposa Grove Cohousing, US
  • Toshio Ogata,
    Professor of Economics, Chuo University; GEPA (Global Environment Project in Asia), Japan
  • Craig Ragland,
    Executive Director, Cohousing Association of the US; Songaia Cohousing; New Earth Song Cohousing, US
  • Penelope Reyes,
    President, GEN-Oceania/Asia; Tuwâ - The Laughing Fish, Cabiao, Philippines
  • Michael Rios,
    Network for a New Culture Summer Camp East; Chrysalis, Washington DC, US
  • Jim Shenck,
    Enright Ridge Ecovillage, US
  • Nicola Shirley,
    The Source Farm Ecovillage, Jamaica
  • Tony Sirna,
    Communities Directory; Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, US
  • Jan Steinman,
    EcoReality Co-op, Canada
  • Liz Walker,
    GEN's EDE Program; Ecovillage at Ithaca; EcoVillage at Ithaca, US