Our Ecovillage – Eco Community – Brazil

Who are we?

Today our intentional Ecovillage is formed by 3 families that already live here in Cardinot a rural neighbourhoud at the outskirts of the atlantic rainforest but also close to the city of Nova Friburgo. It started off with the Bijen family who moved here in the beginning of 2015, followed by Roger and Vanessa and recently the Smit family. We further have a few families who have shown interest in joining us and moving here.

 

Our Mission 

Our intentional community (ecovillage) in Brazil has mission of becoming more socially, culturally, economically, and/or ecologically sustainable. We want to leave this beautiful piece of nature better than we found it. We want to share knowledge, resources with young and old, rich and poor.

 

Our Values

  • We follow the permaculture principals.
  • We believe that trust and respect are fostered in an active community (or neighborhood) environment.
  • The village is solely governed by its residents in a non-hierarchical model.
  • Decision-making is a group process in which all present must consent before action is taken.

 

 

How does our ecovillage work?

We try to keep the organization as simple as possible. The community sense is created through friendship and the exchange of knowledge, work and resources. The level of exchange is completely flexible. A few basic expectations we have from people to be able to join our proposal:

  1. Following the permaculture principals of working with rather than against nature.
  2. Understand that to integrate with the other members and to benefit from the ecovillage it is important that there needs to be a balance between giving and taking.
  3. That the members of our ecovillage actually want to work towards self-sustaining.
  4. We do not allow the usage of drugs forbitten by Brazilian law in the community.

 

Our choice for cohousing

We choose a cohousing format for our ecovillage.

“Cohousing[1] is an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. The term originated in Denmark in late 1960s.[2] Each attached or single family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen. Shared spaces typically feature a common house, which may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry, and recreational spaces. Shared outdoor space may include parking, walkways, open space, and gardens. Neighbors also share resources like tools and lawnmowers.

Our Households have independent incomes and private lives, but we plan to collaboratively plan and manage our community activities and shared spaces. We also plan events, meetings, workdays (mutirão). Our kids love to play together and frequently we meet to celebrate a birthday or simply just have a nice evening togehter.

 

Community Current activities

We have 2 monthly meetings to discuss the development of the ecovillage, the exchange of resources, knowledge, eco-tourism, events and work. Just to give you some practical ideas of how we currently work together:

  1. There is general exchange of knowledge and experience in bioconstruction, agroforestry, land aquisition, legal matters, purchase of tools.
  2. Roger bioconstructs at Eco Caminhos (Bart and hilaine’s property) and is paid for this service
  3. Bart decided to take his work team to help Robert and Dace to plant 200 trees
  4. Vanessa Roger’s wife watches Robert and Dace’s children
  5. Frequently community members invite each other for dinner, barbeque, eastern event etc.
  6. We bring each other’s children together to the public waldorf school

 

Infrastructure

The infrastructure up arround the properties of the ecovillage members.

  1. Safe area
  2. Beautiful and biodiverse nature
  3. Abundance on clean water
  4. Good infrastructure town nearby
  5. Quality education for the children.
  6. Good climate to be able to work around the year.
  7. Public Waldorf School at 6.5 km from the community

We found in our eyes the perfect spot only 6,5 km away from the nearby city Nova Friburgo where our children study at a public waldorf school. Cardinot the rural community where we bought the property is very clean and organized rural community with nice people, great climate to work around the year and beautiful nature of the Atlantic Forrest. There is an abundance on clean water, creeks, waterfalls. There are still small and larger properties for sale.

 

Who can and how can you join?

We have no religious, financial or social requirements for people to join our Ecovillage. You can simply show interest by contacting us. We will do an interview to get to know you and understand your expectations. We will also explain ours. In case both parties continue interested we recommend people to start with an experience in our intentional ecovillage. This so you can get to know us and we you. There are several options of touristic programs or volunteer programs. The Smit family started with a tourism program after which they decided to buy a property and join the ecovillage concept.  For those who can not afford a house there is the opportunity to join one of our long term volunteer programs to develop skills to generate income up and around the community. This is not easy but possible. The long term programs are free for qualified people and for non skilled workers the program can turn free after 3 months. Roger and Vanessa (ecovillage members) started of as volunteer and now both are generating income to rent their own place and hopefully soon build their own house.

 

Challenges we face

  1. Although we have been quite successful in generating income, for the new members this is a always a challenge. We expect that if our ecovillage expands and we maintain the union among the people more and more income generating possibilities should arise. We do believe that we have an extraordinary offer in tourism and increasingly in knowledge on bioconstruction and agroforestry.
  2. Another challenge is to overcome economic and panepedim crisis. We need to diversify our sources of income. Besides eco-tourism, contracted bioconstruction building project, sales of our products from our agroforestry we plan to open a restaurant where will serve our own products from our own garden.
  3. It will be important to create a neutral communal space for the ecovillage. A space that is managed equally by all members of the ecovillage. A space where can have meetings, events, courses etc.
  4. Probably the most difficult challenge is the human aspect of the ecovillage.  Good and non-violent communication, trust and equality will be essential for the community sense the thrive.

 

Generate your own income

Are you concerned about how to sustain yourself as a eco community member? Well, it is a good concern as generating income is not easy, however possible. We feel that there are plenty of imaginable projects that could generate a stable income. We offer new members support through meetings/brainstorm sessions where we discuss potential projects and forms to generate income. The actual implementation of projects depends on the members themselves.

And if you do not have the money to invest or sufficient resources to buy or rent your own property you can always start of in one of our volunteer programs where you get free accommodation, food and the opportunity to learn a width variety of skills.

People who are unable to learn suficient skills or earn themselves an income will eventually leave. This might seem harsh, but we believe it is impossible to sustain everyone if the individiual or family does not do the effort to really make this work.

 

What we expect to happen

We will live as neighbours, cooperate in projects, share resources, skills, and friendship, while maintaining our privacy. For some the community sense will be stronger than for others; it all depends on what the individual person wants. The more you contribute, share and exchange, the more you get out of it. The less you interact, the less you will feel like you are participating in a community. We will invite tourists, organise courses for students, welcome people with depression for rehabilitation, and offer free quality training to underprivileged teens. It is very important to us that our neighbours from the local community can also join the network. We envision a future in which there will be a strong exchange of products, services and knowledge, and where all participants benefit from one another. It will function as naturally as any market, with the sole difference that we intend to maintain and promote our values of preserving the planet, being self-sustainable in food, energy and building materials, and educating underprivileged people.

For our local community we expect the agroforestry, bioconstruction and interaction between people to increase through our ecovillage. Young and old will feel more included. There will be strong reduction in polution through natural waste water filters, recycling and cultural, educational and social events in the community will florish. We also expect to get a lot of publicity.

 

If you feel like joining us, please visit our volunteer pages.