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Ecovillages: good practices and human and plant biodiversity


Ecovillages gathered in a network, because "Unity is strength", and, in this case, it creates and spreads good practices for a better world. Today Rive, the Italian Ecological Villages Network, guarantees permanent collaboration and exchange between communities, projects, associations and individuals interested in the development of the community idea. It is a growing project, with a European and global scope, which has so much to teach all citizens, whether they move there or not.

1) When were you born and with what goal?

There Italian Network of Ecological Villages-RIVE was born in 1996 but was formalized as a voluntary association only in 2004. The experiences of community life are for us real laboratories of social and educational experimentation for a better world, so we promote experiences of community life based on new forms of coexistence and participatory democracy, according to principles of solidarity, freedom, peace and ecological awareness. Aiming at the adoption of decisions based on the consent of all, we encourage the dissemination of the experiences of existing communities and ecovillages and the support of projects in formation.

2) How many and what typology of realities gathered? What do they have in common?

They join the RIVE 20 ecovillages and 20 projects as well as associations and individual members. There are realities made up of a high number of people, such as the 600 presences in the federation of the Community of Damanhur (Piedmont - TO), or the 200 of the Popolo degli Elfi (Tuscany -PT), but normally the ecovillage nuclei count on average 20 people.

The characteristics vary according to the personal inclination of the members, there are more spiritual, others more oriented to social and political research, others to ecology, others of vegan or vegetarian inspiration. Common to all is the community dimension and the goal of energy and food self-sufficiency. Each reality seeks an eco-reversible lifestyle: sharing of resources, including economic ones, and decisions, search for authentic relationships along a path of personal growth.

3) Are there realities similar to yours in the rest of the world?

The RIVE is associated with the Global Ecovillage Network- GEN, the international network of ecovillages: meetings are held, documents or databases are studied and produced to make information, experiences and skills more accessible. And also best practices: in Gaia Ecovillage, Argentina, for example, they have reached the production of zero waste: everything is recycled. At The Farm, in the United States from 1971 to 2012, over 2,000 children were born with natural childbirth, in Findhorn in Scotland, they make use of Living Machine technology for wastewater treatment, in addition to rainwater harvesting and phytodepuration. All the ecovillages focus on the ecology of the environment and relationships, experimenting with new forms of social and economic approach and the management of power, but each has its own nuance. The important thing is that everyone is looking for new solutions for a more compatible life for man on earth, without having to go back to living in caves.

4) What specific actions do you carry out for the protection of primary common goods?

We organize a national gathering in the open year and explain how to best protect primary assets. This year it will be held from 25 to 28 July in Il Vignale (Blera, VT). We teach how to cultivate in a biodynamic, synergistic way, to design in permaculture, to create food forests, limiting water consumption with mulching. We promote biodiversity within the garden and throughout its territory with great attention to water consumption. As for the building aspect, we prefer to recover volumes rather than build new houses, and in any case the criteria adopted are those of green building, whether rebuilding a stone village or opting for houses made of wood, straw and raw earth.

5) And for the protection of both natural and human biodiversity?

There biodiversity for us it is represented both by seeds and by social categories that are less protected. In the ecovillages, for example, there are also people with relationship problems, the elderly, the handicapped: all diversities that become a wealth in an environment not based on maximum productivity and competitiveness, but on mutual support and respect. As regards seeds, however, recently we have created a database to exchange products and knowledge that are not easily available in the common market. For example, flours produced with ancient grains or sourdough and fermented products, the processing of boiled wool or basketry, the use of spontaneous medicinal and food herbs. You have to start small to make a big change.

6) How is the attitude of young people towards Ecovillages?

Recently the age of those who come to our network has significantly lowered. Young people, even minors, frequent us attracted by innovations, stimuli and practices that satisfy their need for creativity, emotional support and to “feel useful” socially and environmentally. The average age of those who choose to live in a ecovillage hovers around the 30 years. Within the ecovillages there is already the second or third generation of children born in the context of a community life who sometimes remain or who, going "their own way", take the learned values ​​elsewhere.

7) What kind of collaboration do you have with local and national institutions? And with private realities?

Since RIVE is an association that brings together various realities, the main task is to support and connect individuals, realities, research institutes and both local and national institutions. The people of the Elves are in dialogue with the Tuscany Region, for example, and with the Province of Pistoia for a project to protect the Pistoia Apennines, to foster dialogue and integration with administrations and civil society. We are often invited to collaborate with universities and research institutes and we collaborate with associations which, through programs financed by the European Community, foster knowledge and the exchange of knowledge between our realities, Italian citizens and realities or individuals from different countries Europeans or the world.

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