Some Reasons why Ecovillages have struggled to take off in South Africa?

Some Reasons why Ecovillages have struggled to take off in South Africa?

  • Clear Vision Needed. The agreed vision binds us, reminds us why we are here and together, and what it is we are trying to do.


  • Land has been owned by one person or family. Naturally leads to unequal power and decision-making relationships. Vision also wants us to move away from model where people ‘own’ land.


  • Not enough finances from committed people to buy land and get infrastructure going to stimulate their own sustenance. Villagers often then needing to work offsite. Need to recognise ongoing costs of land


  • Laws against building multiple homes on agricultural land.The Western Cape is especially tight here. Re-zoning needs to happen which can be timely and costly. Or we find loopholes for building, or build and apologise later. Relationships will local government could be key


  • Not enough committed people. Attempts at Ecovillage have struggled to attract enough people to create a thriving social and economic hub. People aren’t sure how they will survive, unsure of how resources will be shared, unsure of how their children will be educated and if there will be enough other children around, and struggle to uproot their current lives if that’s what it means. City folk also struggle to settle into the slower pace of life.


  • I’m working harder than them! Resentment can set in if there are not feelings of fair exchange.


  • Lack of Organisation and Clear Structure. These things create the container where the magic can happen, and the magic can help create the container. It is about balancing the masculine and feminine. Structures and leadership are required to hold the things that need to be done. One of the main things the structure needs to address is how people with different economic resources can come together and be equal partners. There are many resources required to get things going, not just economic.


  • Agreements and Decision-Making Processes. These need to be clear. Villagers need to be able to honour the Agreements made between them, and honour the decision-making processes, which will be reviewed over time.


  • Fear of Conflict. Conflict can happen for structural reasons when there is not enough clarity in the model and agreements. Then there are interpersonal conflicts. We all need to learn and practice the various tools on offer in order to be able to communicate better and express our feelings constructively. We will also have people in the village that are designated to help when people can’t resolve something themselves. Various Ecovillage type attempts have been brought down by interpersonal conflicts, because there are not enough people in the community to dilute these dynamics, so they sour everyone’s experience when things are not resolved.