EcoVillages of The Future Part 1

EcoVillages of The Future

Key Terms: emergence; edge of chaos; synergy; tipping point; Living System Theory; self organisation; social network; ecological; holistic; intentional community; sustainable; post-industrial society; information revolution; opportunity window

Wikipedia defines the term Ecovillage in the following way: Ecovillages are intended to be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable intentional communities. Most aim for a population of 50-150 individuals because this size is considered to be the maximum social network according to findings from sociology and anthropology. Larger Ecovillages of up to 2,000 individuals may, however, exist as networks of smaller “Eco-municipalities” or subcommunities to create an ecovillage model that allows for social networks within a broader foundation of support.

> Emergence of The Ecovillage
The Ecovillage is now an emergent phenomenon. The emergence of ecovillages within an increasingly unstable social and planetary system signifies a special kind of self-organisation taking place. Could this indicate the evolution of our socio-culture to a higher state?

In Chaos Theory and Complexity Science Emergence is a key concept. Emergence refers to the way complex patterns or systems are born out of an aggregated number of smaller relatively simple elements. There is a certain kind of mystery associated with emergence as a phenomenon of Systems. This is partly because where Strong Emergence occurs the synergistic result is not simply greater than the sum of its parts but is often unpredictable from the sum of the parts. This is a critical distinction. Interestingly, the unpredictable manifestation of order that arises out of chaos runs counter to the Newtonian concept of entropy.

The fact that ecovillages are now an emergent phenomenon makes the subject one of deep relevance and vital importance to our social and cultural future. As an emergent socio-cultural phenomenon at the level of the built environment on the one hand, and social meaning and organisation on the other, it can be argued that ecovillages are a reflection, a sure sign of a new kind of social consciousness. Emergence highlights the fact that ecovillages are in the early stages of self-organisation within the broader social framework. Given the current state of global ecology the significance and implications of such a type of emergence would be difficult to overemphasise. Considering this perspective and taking into account the fractal nature of Chaotic transformation it is clear that how we respond to this phenomenon will have major reverberations into the future.

The possibility now exists for individuals, organisations and communities to qualify as the advance agents of a revolutionary socio-cultural construct and contract without stepping outside the front door both metaphorically and literally. This fact is in every way ironic and easily overlooked, partly because various historical attempts at social engineering, reconstruction and reform have all too often failed.

Emergence displays, in a very real sense, the wonder of the universe. Despite the mystery and the magic with which it has been imbued, emergence must follow specific universal laws in order to operate so reliably. If we consider that the state of disorder and chaos is a dialectical moving away from an invisible centre then the emergence of new order from such a state signifies an invisible superposition around which both order and disorder convene.

The invisible superposition exists apparently within every open system. That is within every atom, every cell, every entity, every individual, every business and organisation and so on right the way through to . . . every universe. The question that naturally follows pertains to the identity or definition of the superposition. This may provide some fuel for thought. Within the context of the emergent ecovillage phenomenon, human beings may be expected to derive greater meaning, value and an evolving identity both individually and collectively. What actually occurs will no doubt surprise us all.

Interestingly emergence displays a universal tendency towards the very opposite of entropy. Emergence suggests that there is at lease a countervailing force to entropy that tends towards novelty, variety, evolution and creativity. Thus there is a fundamental paradox inherent in the creative and evolutionary forces of emergence within the context of a universal law guiding its manifestation and the concept of entropy. The spectre of increasing and self-organising novelty raises the question: what is driving this phenomenon? Whereas Newton’s laws of thermodynamics posit that the universal condition is a tendency towards entropy, emergence throws a proverbial spanner in the works of the Newtonian model. God did not simply wind up the universe and retire to some far removed location to watch as a detached observer. Or did she?

According to Living System Theory emergence and self-organisation are phenomena that we can expect to find in connection with a system that is operating in a state far from equilibrium where the stability of the system is increasingly fluctuating or oscillating. In simple language a living system that is becoming increasingly unstable will eventually either collapse in on itself or self-organise to a higher state. It will not, cannot, remain in the unsteady state of flux for an extensively long period without moving up or down in resonance, variety, order and hence significance and meaning.

The far from equilibrium state and instability are both descriptions that apply to the current planetary dynamic as well as the sub-systems within it; societies, economies, ecology, climate etc. The condition of an unstable system in flux describes a state known as the edge of chaos and it is distinct from what may be thought of as the turbulent chaos of wild and destructive disorder. The latter forms of instability are what are known as or further become, explosive or catastrophic system change states. It is rather at the edge of chaos, in the margins, that we discover something both profound and powerful. It is fertile, exciting and earth-moving creativity. This is the type of creative change state channelled through the minds and lives of both the creative genius and of and through periods of cultural renaissance.

EcoVillages of The Future Part 1


Joined May 2009

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The Ecovillage is now an emergent phenomenon. The emergence of ecovillages within an increasingly unstable social and planetary system signifies a special kind of self-organisation taking place. Could this indicate the evolution of our socio-culture to a higher state?

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  • Hugh Fathers
  • QuantumResults
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