Learning to live and work together in an ecovillage community of practice
Lisa Mychajluk: University of Toronto, Canada
Read article:
Full article (pdf)
No. of pages:
Publication type:

Ecovillages are citizen-organised residential communities that strive for a more sustainable way of life based on a culture of cooperation and sharing, as deemed necessary to support a shift to a post carbon world (Dawson, 2006; Lockyer & Veteto, 2013; Korten, 2006). While much can potentially be learned from the study of these experimental sustainable communities, perhaps their greatest contribution is to help us understand how to transition from individualism and competition in order to live ‘smaller, slower and closer (Litfin, 2014)’. Drawing on a social theory of practice (Wenger, 1998) and concept of communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998), this paper considers how one ecovillage is learning the social competencies necessary to live and work well “in community”, and in doing so, it coconstructs and sustains a cooperative culture.

Keywords: Ecovillages; cooperative culture; social competencies; situated learning; communities of practice

Volume 8, Issue: 2, Article 2, 2017

Lisa Mychajluk
Learning to live and work together in an ecovillage community of practice:

Avelino, F. & Kunze, I. (2009). Exploring the Transition Potential of the Ecovillage Movement. Invited keynote lecture and paper, presented at: European Conference on Sustainability Transitions: Dynamics & Governance of Transitions to Sustainability, Amsterdam, 4-5 June 2009.

Baker, T. (2013). Ecovillages and capitalism. In J. Lockyer & J. R. Veteto (Eds.), Environmental anthropology engaging ecotopia: Bioregionalism, permaculture, and ecovillages (pp. 267-284). New York, NY: Berghan Books.

Bradbury, S., & Middlemiss, L. (2015). The role of learning in sustainable communities of practice. Local Environment, 20(7), 796-810. https://doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2013.872091

Brown, S. L. (2002). Community as Cultural Critique. In S. L. Brown (Ed.), Intentional Community: An Anthropological Perspective (pp.153-179). Albany: State University of New York Press.

Burke, E. K. (2017). Transition Framingham: The Cultural Commons in Action. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, (2017), 91-100. https://doi.org/10.1002/ace.20224

Burke, B. J. & Arjona, B. (2013). Creating alternative political ecologies through the construction of ecovillages and ecovillagers in Columbia. In J. Lockyer & J. R. Veteto (Eds.), Environmental anthropology engaging ecotopia: Bioregionalism, permaculture, and ecovillages (pp. 267-284). New York, NY: Berghan Books.

Butler, C.T.L., & Rothstein, A. (2007). On conflict and consensus: A handbook on formal
consensus decision making, 3rd Ed. Licensed under Creative Commons. Available at:

Cato, M. S. (2014). What the willow teaches: sustainability learning as craft. Learning and Teaching. 7(2), 4-27. https://doi.org/10.3167/latiss.2014.070202

Christian, D. L. (2003). Creating a life together: Practical tools to grow ecovillages and intentional communities. Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers.

Christian, D. L. (2005). Trust, Connection, and Clear Agreements, Communities, 128, 18-23.

Clammer, J. R. (2016). Cultures of transition and sustainability: Culture after capitalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-52033-3

Dawson, J. (2006). Ecovillages: New frontiers for sustainability. Schumacher briefings, Book 12. Cambridge: Chelsea Green Publishing.

De Young, R. & Princen, T. (Eds.) (2012). The localization reader: Adapting to the coming downshift. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Folke, C. (2013). Respecting planetary boundaries and reconnecting to the biosphere. In T. Prugh (Ed.) State of the World 2013, WorldWatch Institute, Washington, DC: Island Press.

Foster, J. B., Clark, B., & York, R. (2010). The ecological rift: Capitalisms war on the earth. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Fuller, A., Hodkinson, H., Hodkinson, P. & Unwin, L. (2005). Learning as Peripheral Participation in Communities of Practice: A Reassessment of Key Concepts of Workplace Learning, British Educational Research Journal. February, 49-68. https://doi.org/10.1080/0141192052000310029

GEESE - Global Ecovillage Educators for a Sustainable Earth (2012). Ecovillage design education. Version 5. Gaia Education. Available for download at: http://www.gaiaeducation.org/index.php/en/why/publications

Gladwell, M. (2002). The tipping point: how little things can make a big difference. Boston: Back Bay Books.

Hall, B. L. (2009). The right to a new Utopia: Adult learning and the changing world of work in an era of global capitalism. In R. Maclean & D. Wilson (Eds.), International handbook of education for the changing world of work (pp. 97–110). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-5281-1_6

Handley, K., Sturdy, A., Finchman, R., & Clark, T. (2006). Within and beyond communities of practice: Making sense of learning through participation, identity and practice. Journal of Management Studies, 43(3), 641-653. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2006.00605.x

Hawken, P. (2007). Blessed unrest: How the largest movement in the world came into being, and why no one saw it coming. New York: Penguin Books.

Heinberg, R. (2005). The party’s over: Oil, war and the fate of industrial societies. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Heinberg, R. (2004). Power down: Options and actions for a post-carbon world. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Hopkins, R. (2008). The transition handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience. Green
Books/Chelsea Green.

International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century., Delors, J., & Unesco. (1996). Learning, the treasure within: Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century. Paris: Unesco Pub.

Joubert, K. A., & Dregger, L. (2015). Ecovillage: 1001 ways to heal the planet. Axminster: Triarchy Press.

Korten, D. (2006). The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press / San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511815355

Litfin, K. (2014). Ecovillages: Lessons for sustainable community. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Lockyer, J. (2010). Intentional communities and sustainability. Communal Societies Journal, 30(1), 18-30.

Lockyer, J. & Veteto, J.R. (Eds.) (2013). Environmental Anthropology Engaging Ecotopia:Bioregionalism, Permaculture, and Ecovillages. New York: Berghahn Books.

Macy, J. & Johnstone, C. (2012). Active Hope: How to face the mess we’re in without going crazy. (New World Library).

McKibben, B. (2008). Deep economy: The wealth of communities and the durable future. New York, NY: Times Books.

Merriam, S. B. & Bierema, L. L. (2013). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Moore, J. & Rees, W. E. (2013). Getting to one-planet living. In Prugh, T. (Ed.) State of the World 2013. Washington, DC: Island Press. https://doi.org/10.5822/978-1-61091-458-1_4

Niewolny, K., & Wilson, A. (2009). What happened to the promise? Adult Education Quarterly, 60(1), 26-45. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741713609333086

Poland, B., Dooris, M., & Haluza-DeLay, R. (2011). Securing supportive environments for health in the face of ecosystem collapse: Meeting the triple threat with a sociology of creative transformation. Health Promotion International, 26(S2), ii202-ii215. https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dar073

Pretty, J., Ball, A. S., Benton, T., Guivant, J. S., Lee, D. R., Orr, D., Pfeffer, M. J., & Ward, H. (eds.) (2007). The SAGE handbook of environment and society. London: SAGE.

Quarter, J., Mook, L, & Armstrong, A. (2009). Understanding the social economy: A Canadian perspective. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Rosenberg, M. B. (2015). Nonviolent communication: A language of life. 3rd Ed. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press.

Schaub, L. (2010). Good news in hard times – State of the Communities Movement –2010. In The Fellowship for Intentional Communities (FIC), Communities Directory, 6th Edition: A comprehensive comprehensive guide to intentional communities and cooperative living. Rutledge, MO: The Fellowship of Intentional Communities.

Schaub, L. (2016). Defining Cooperative Culture. Lairds Commentary on Community and Consensus. Accessed May 12, 2017 at http://communityandconsensus.blogspot.ca/2016/11/definingcooperative-culture_20.html

Seaman, M. (2008). Chapter 19: birds of a feather? Communities of practice and knowledge communities. Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, 10(1-2), 269-279.

Trainer, T. (2016). A critique of Leigh Phillips’ assertion of the Tech-Fix Ecomodernist faith, Resilience, April 7. http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-04-06/a-critique-of-leigh-phillips-assertion-of-thetech-fix-ecomodernist-faith

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511803932

Walker, L. (2005). Ecovillage at Ithaca: Pioneering a Sustainable Culture. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Whole Village. (n.d.). Whole Village: Intentional community and ecovillage [Pamphlet]. Caledon, Canada: Author.

Worthen, H. (2014). What Did You Learn at Work Today? The Forbidden Lessons of Labor Education. NY: Hardball Press.

Volume 8, Issue: 2, Article 2, 2017

Lisa Mychajluk
Learning to live and work together in an ecovillage community of practice:
Note: the following are taken directly from CrossRef
No citations available at the moment
Export in BibTex, RIS or text