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Book part
Publication date: 6 September 2010

Tendai Chitewere and Dorceta E. Taylor

Purpose – Ecological cohousing communities, or ecovillages, are emerging as contemporary housing models that attempt to recreate a sense of community and encourage an…

Abstract

Purpose – Ecological cohousing communities, or ecovillages, are emerging as contemporary housing models that attempt to recreate a sense of community and encourage an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. This chapter analyzes a rural ecovillage (Ecovillage at Ithaca – EVI) to find out how the community conceptualizes and practices sustainability. The chapter also examines whether and how the community incorporates issues of equity and social justice into its activities.

Design/methodology/approach – The chapter uses a multi-method approach. It is a case study; however, participant observation was conducted at the site. In addition, interviews with residents were conducted and archival materials from the community's newsletters as well city government documents were also used.

Findings – As practiced at EVI, the green lifestyle emphasizes comfortable living that is both esthetically appealing and good for the environment. In making the decision to focus on building a community for the middle class, residents have limited their engagement with social justice issues and have struggled with incorporating minorities and the poor into their community.

Originality/value – This is one of the first papers to analyze the ecovillages from an environmental justice perspective. It shows where there are overlaps between the ecovillage and environmental justice movements. The chapter also fits into a growing body of scholarship that examines the concept of sustainability from a social justice perspective also.

Details

Environment and Social Justice: An International Perspective
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-183-2

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Article
Publication date: 25 June 2020

Rebeca Roysen and Tânia Cristina Cruz

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the pedagogical tools that can enhance transdisciplinarity in higher education and stimulate sustainability transitions, based on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the pedagogical tools that can enhance transdisciplinarity in higher education and stimulate sustainability transitions, based on the case study of a partnership between the University of Brasilia and an ecovillage in Brazil.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative study was carried out, based on professors’ experience, students’ reports and registration data. Emergent themes were discussed based on the concepts of sustainability transitions, transdisciplinarity and active/experiential learning methods.

Findings

Undergraduate classes at the ecovillage have motivated students to work towards sustainability transitions by presenting them with new repertoires of sociotechnical configurations and social practices, by promoting a feeling of belonging and co-responsibility for the world and by a horizontal sharing of knowledge and affections that instigated reflections about their purposes in personal and professional life.

Practical implications

This experience demonstrates the potential of transdisciplinary pedagogical approaches to education for sustainability that promote collaboration with different stakeholders and the reflection on individual and collective motives and values – the inner dimension of sustainability.

Originality/value

It describes an innovative and transformative initiative in the heart of Latin America.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 27 May 2014

Paul A. Cunningham

This pilot study aims to explore the case of Cloughjordan Ecovillage from the perspective of the consensus-based decision-making approach adopted by this like-minded…

Abstract

Purpose

This pilot study aims to explore the case of Cloughjordan Ecovillage from the perspective of the consensus-based decision-making approach adopted by this like-minded intentional community. Ecovillages have grown in number around the world since the early 1990s. This growth is largely due to the contested nature of postmodernity and the desire to establish a simpler, meaningful and sustainable lifestyle centered on participatory democracy within the local community. The primary research question guiding this study was – Does consensus work in an intentional community such as an ecovillage?

Design/methodology/approach

Data collection included semistructured interviews with current and former ecovillage members, questionnaires (reported elsewhere), literature review, content analysis of relevant documents and media and participant observation.

Findings

The preliminary findings suggest that despite the impressive nature of the built infrastructure at this site, the community continues to struggle with governance, decision-making, consensus and communication issues.

Originality/value

Considerable interpersonal conflict, leading to the departure of half of the community membership in 2007, acted as a catalyst in calling in outside experts to resolve disputes and to implement a more effective and sustainable framework within which to organize and govern the community. The “Viable Systems Model” was adopted in the same year and thus far appears to have provided a more viable and equitable leadership model that has generally been well received by the current membership.

Details

International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, vol. 7 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8270

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Article
Publication date: 10 June 2019

Isabella Tomassi and Giuseppe Forino

The purpose of this paper is to aim at exploring the relationship between community building and the changes occurred in the context of a post-disaster self-built…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to aim at exploring the relationship between community building and the changes occurred in the context of a post-disaster self-built ecovillage (EcoVillaggio Autocostruito (EVA)), spontaneously born after the L’Aquila earthquake in 2009. The community eventually dissolved in 2014, following a series of changes in the organization, that resulted in an increasingly centralized decision-making process, and in individual and community relationships, that were fueled by conflicts and contrasts.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a self-ethnography method, the paper provides the insider perspective of the lead author who was a part of EVA since the beginning. Self-ethnography allowed developing a narrative of EVA across its life course.

Findings

Findings reveal that the community into EVA was initially pursuing community-building goals through self-construction, sustainability, mutuality and reciprocity relationships out of market. However, several events occurred and changed community goals, organization and decision making. Eventually, individual goals and vertical decision making emerged among the community members, leading to the death of EVA.

Research limitations/implications

The paper just considered those main events that marked the collective and individual life of the lead author since the beginning until the end of the ecovillage. Others events, equally important, were not considered due to word length. In addition, self-ethnography is still considered by some authors as a subjective method.

Originality/value

The paper is one of the few exploring community experiences into post-disaster ecovillages. Moreover, there are no papers investigating post-disaster ecovillages through a self-ethnography approach. Therefore, the paper offers an innovative and original perspective on the under-investigated topic of post-disaster ecovillages and employs a promising research method in disaster studies.

Details

Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-3562

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Susan Allen‐Gil, Liz Walker, Garry Thomas, Tom Shevory and Shapiro Elan

To provide an example of how colleges can partner with local EcoVillages to further sustainability curriculum on campus and the educational mission of the EcoVillages, and…

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Abstract

Purpose

To provide an example of how colleges can partner with local EcoVillages to further sustainability curriculum on campus and the educational mission of the EcoVillages, and to strengthen ties with the community.

Design/methodology/approach

Describes four structured courses developed for the Environmental Studies Program, including sustainable communities, sustainable land use, sustainable energy and environmental futures. Additionally, independent research opportunities in wind energy, solar photovoltaics, and GIS/GPS developed as part of the curriculum. Describes numerous ancillary activities that have promoted sustainability across campus and the community.

Findings

Provides information about how to develop educational partnerships with community groups, foster sustainability education on campus, recruit additional faculty involvement, and influence college operations with respect to sustainability.

Practical implications

A very useful source of information for those involved in building sustainability curriculum and linking it to campus operations and community outreach.

Originality/value

This paper describes a unique partnership between a college and an intentional community that serves as a model for other colleges and universities.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 26 July 2021

Ana Margarida Esteves

This research article addresses the role of processes of normative regulation, driven by distinct approaches to collective action and underlying narratives of social…

Abstract

Purpose

This research article addresses the role of processes of normative regulation, driven by distinct approaches to collective action and underlying narratives of social change, in the construction of “solidarity economy” initiatives as parallel spatialities to that of the mainstream economy.

Design/methodology/approach

This article is based on a comparative case study analysis, informed by aspects of the Grounded Theory and Extended Case Study methods, of an ecovillage, an alternative commercialization network and an “integral cooperative”. The analysis is illustrated with fieldwork data on food production, commercialization and consumption, given its centrality in the construction of human livelihoods and lifeworld.

Findings

The resulting conceptual framework identifies three methodologies of normative regulation: Prefigurative social technologies and capitalizing upon power and reputation to exert influence over other economic actors; being part of a wider class-based emancipatory political project; mobilizing online peer-to-peer platforms and community currencies to construct an alternative institutionality.

Research limitations/implications

This article constitutes an exploratory analysis. Further research, based on the application of mixed methodologies to larger samples, will further expand the setup and applicability of these concepts.

Practical implications

This analysis will allow scholars and practitioners alike to gain a deeper understanding of how different approaches to collective action, based on distinct structural standpoints and narratives of change, constitute alternative economic spatialities to those of the mainstream economy.

Social implications

The comparative approach used in this article, as well as the resulting concepts, have the potential of contributing to the convergence of “solidarity economy” strategies between initiatives and movements with different approaches to collective action, therefore contributing to improve their capacity to exercise influence upon incumbent institutional regimes, as well as promote socio-economic change.

Originality/value

This article aims to bridge a significant gap in the understanding of how “solidarity economy”-based parallel spatialities emerge and coexist with the mainstream economy: It analyses how processes of normative regulation result from narratives of change with distinct approaches to collective action, based on the standpoint of actors located differently within structural power relations.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Book part
Publication date: 27 December 2013

Geoff Berry

This chapter considers the environmental damage related to Ireland’s recent ‘ghost estates’, placing this disastrous waste of resources in the long historical context of…

Abstract

Purpose

This chapter considers the environmental damage related to Ireland’s recent ‘ghost estates’, placing this disastrous waste of resources in the long historical context of ancient ruins that also dot the land.

Methodology/approach

It considers ruins from an ecocritical perspective, as material artefacts attesting directly to people’s relationship with their environment.

Findings

From ancient megaliths and sacred sites to imposing castles, Ireland’s impressive ruins ignite romantic reflections in many. Yet, just like the modern ruins of ghost estates, they also tell of an often oppressive relationship between human cultures and the natural environment. Ironically perhaps, stone circles and tombs that seem to speak of people living in much closer relation to non-human nature than we moderns do are also associated with the environmental scourge of deforestation. Yet, they at least stand testament to an ethic of timelessness and robust building, as well as resistance to a seemingly irresistible process of capitalistic modernisation; the recent ruins are devoid of such ethical commitments. Given this, however, creative responses should also be noted to the logic of the ghost estates, including Cloughjordan’s Ecovillage and the NamaLab project.

Practical and social implications

Three sets of responses that all work more realistically with a recognition of the limits of sustainable development are considered in the conclusion: Transition Towns, an Ecovillage and architectural reutilisation of defunct buildings.

Details

Environmental Philosophy: The Art of Life in a World of Limits
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-137-3

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Article
Publication date: 24 May 2013

Wendy Miller and Laurie Buys

The challenges of providing housing that sustains its inhabitants socially, economically and environmentally, and is inherently sustainable for the planet as a whole…

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Abstract

Purpose

The challenges of providing housing that sustains its inhabitants socially, economically and environmentally, and is inherently sustainable for the planet as a whole, requires a holistic systems approach that considers the product, the supply chain and the market, as well as the interdependencies within and between each of these process points. The purpose of the research is to identify factors that impact the sustainability performance outcomes of residential dwellings and the diffusion of sustainable housing into the mainstream housing market.

Design/methodology/approach

This research represents a snapshot in time: a recording of the experiences of seven Australian families who are “early adopters” of leading edge sustainable homes within a specific sustainable urban development in subtropical Queensland. The research adopts a qualitative approach to compare the goals and expectations of these families with the actual sustainability aspects incorporated into their homes and lifestyles.

Findings

The results show that the “product” – a sustainable house – is difficult to define; that sustainability outcomes were strongly influenced by individual concerns and the contextual urban environment; and that economic comparisons with “standard” housing are challenging.

Research limitations/implications

This qualitative study is based on seven families (13 individuals) in an Ecovillage in southeast Queensland. Although the findings make a significant contribution to knowledge, they may not be generalisable to the wider population.

Originality/value

The experiences of these early adopter families suggest that the housing market and regulators play critical roles, through actions and language, in limiting or enhancing the diffusion of sustainable housing into the market.

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2015

Angela Espinosa

While there is some agreement on the usefulness of systems and complexity approaches to tackle the sustainability challenges facing the organisations and governments in…

Abstract

Purpose

While there is some agreement on the usefulness of systems and complexity approaches to tackle the sustainability challenges facing the organisations and governments in the twenty-first century, less is clear regarding the way such approaches can inspire new ways of governance for sustainability. The purpose of this paper is to progress ongoing research using the Viable System Model (VSM) as a meta-language to facilitate long-term sustainability in business, communities and societies, using the “Methodology to support self-transformation”, by focusing on ways of learning about governance for sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

It summarises core self-governance challenges for long-term sustainability, and the organisational capabilities required to face them, at the “Framework for Assessing Sustainable Governance”. This tool is then used to analyse capabilities for governance for sustainability at three real situations where the mentioned Methodology inspired bottom up processes of self-organisation. It analyses the transformations decided from each organisation, in terms of capabilities for sustainable governance, using the suggested Framework.

Findings

Core technical lessons learned from using the framework are discussed, include the usefulness of using a unified language and tool when studying governance for sustainability in differing types and scales of case study organisations.

Research limitations/implications

As with other exploratory research, it reckons the convenience for further development and testing of the proposed tools to improve their reliability and robustness.

Practical implications

A final conclusion suggests that the suggested tools offer a useful heuristic path to learn about governance for sustainability, from a VSM perspective; the learning from each organisational self-transformation regarding governance for sustainability is insightful for policy and strategy design and evaluation; in particular the possibility of comparing situations from different scales and types of organisations.

Originality/value

There is very little coherence in the governance literature and the field of governance for sustainability is an emerging field. This piece of exploratory research is valuable as it presents an effective tool to learn about governance for sustainability, based in the “Methodology for Self-Transformation”; and offers reflexions on applications of the methodology and the tool, that contribute to clarify the meaning of governance for sustainability in practice, in organisations from different scales and types.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 44 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2016

Nadine Levy

The purpose of this paper is to explore a researcher’s emotions in the field. It argues that a researcher’s emotional responses can lead to insights into certain aspects…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore a researcher’s emotions in the field. It argues that a researcher’s emotional responses can lead to insights into certain aspects of participants’ emotional and social worlds, while simultaneously obscuring certain lines of inquiry and limiting data collection. On this basis, the author calls for researchers to maintain a high level of awareness and reflexivity while working with strong emotions in the field. This, the author argues, allows a researcher to remain open to new understandings and address any limitations skilfully and transparently.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on feminist theory and emerging scholarship pertaining to fieldwork and emotions, this paper examines the methodological dilemmas the author faced in relation to the own subjectivity while carrying out field-work at radical ecovillage in the USA. It analyses sections of the reflexive diary and explores the insights the author gained by remaining aware and reflexive while in the field.

Findings

The author demonstrates how feelings of unease, alienation and entrapment prompted to explore new lines of inquiry and, in turn, consider certain emotion rules and ideologies present in the research setting. The author also speculates about the ways such feelings impacted the data collection by obscuring certain phenomena in the field.

Research limitations/implications

The author makes a number of practical suggestions about how researchers can work skilfully with emotions in the field. In addition, the author proposes that by remaining mindful of one’s emotional responses valuable lines of questioning and themes may emerge for consideration.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to emerging scholarship on the importance of examining a researcher’s experiences and reactions to a research setting in conjunction with other data. It offers a practical example of how this approach can elicit insight into the lives of participants.

Details

Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 16 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1443-9883

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