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An article donated by Alton C. Thompson:

A Promotion of an Ecovillage As I Conceive Them

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Last night (2020-JUN-30) I watched Oprah's "100 Black Fathers," and appreciated learning about the experiences, struggles, and thoughts of the participants in that program. As I watched the program, however, it occurred to me that:

  1. All of the participants seemed to perceive themselves as virtual “inmates” of the Existing Order: Although they recognized a need to adapt to that Order, and spoke of “reforms” that they would like to see implemented, none were critical of the Order per se (e.g., the values that prevail in our society, and guide behaviors).

  2. None of participants demonstrated any awareness of the fundamental problem facing our species today, that of global warming. A report published late last year, and signed by 13,593 scientists from 156 countries (!), warned

    equivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency."

    Those participants can be excused for not knowing this because of the poor job that our media are doing in reporting on this. But my point here is simply that none of the participants gave any evidence of knowing about this threat.

    I, in contrast, have not only become interested in that problem, but preoccupied with it; my focus being on how that problem might best be addressed. Perhaps because my Ph.D. is in Geography, and my dad was a carpenter, it was inevitable that the solution that I have “come up” with is of a geographical/building nature! My solution: Create ecovillages, and work for their proliferation.

    An ecovillage is a small community that emphasizes “light living” and maintaining a small “carbon footprint.” To have a proliferation of such communities, I believe that entrepreneurs would be needed to initiate the process -- which is why I specifically advocate the creation of “company-town ecovillages” (CoTEs). See my 33-page A Road to Survival? and much shorter Viking Villages for Today.

    To date my focus has been on why the creation of CoTES would be a good idea, along with developing a rationale for their creation. In the above two cited papers I have mentioned that the creation of CoTEs could contribute to the solution of some of our social problems (by, e.g., including as residents some people currently homeless); I have not, however, "peaked inside" CoTEs beyond that. I use this essay to remedy that deficiency. In doing so let me begin with two general comments. I perceive a CoTE as a religious institution. Not "religious" in a conventional sense but, rather, a Biblical sense."Religion" is defined in just one place in the Bible, in James 1:27):

    "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in
    their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

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According to the Bible, then, "being religious" involves:

Having, first, an interest in the well-being of others, rather than self, and doing what one can to help others who need help. Ironically, though, helping others also helps oneself! Recognizing that the "ruling" values in one's society likely encourage "self-serving" behaviors, and striving to resist their "rule" in one's life.

Although a CoTE “movement” would be a reform movement, it would be a special type of reform movement. It would be a movement that would occur within the Larger Society—would involve the creation of subsocieties within the Larger Society— but those subsocieties would not be simply miniature versions of the Larger Society. Rather, they would provide their residents with a situation different from what exists in the Larger Society, and that different situation would foster development of a more “natural” value system for its residents.

By more “natural” I mean one similar to what exists, and has existed, in hunter-gatherer groups.

  • 1: Here’s some background, in “The Case Against Civilization:"

    Anatomically modern humans have been around for roughly two hundred thousand years. For most of that time, we lived as hunter-gatherers. Then, about twelve thousand years ago, came what is generally agreed to be the definitive before-and-after moment in our ascent to planetary dominance: the Neolithic Revolution. This was our adoption of, to use [James C.] Scott’s word, a “package” of agricultural innovations, notably the domestication of animals such as the cow and the pig, and the transition from hunting and gathering to planting and cultivating crops. The most important of these crops have been the cereals—wheat, barley, rice, and maize—that remain the staples of humanity’s diet. Cereals allowed population growth and the birth of cities, and, hence, the development of states
    and the rise of complex societies.

    And this about anthropologist James Suzman: Mr Suzman argues that the dramatic cultural shift resulting from the adoption of agriculture gave rise to impulses that people in modern rich countries, the heirs of farming societies, regard as naturally human—especially the insatiable desire to accumulate. Farming teaches people to accept inequality and to valorise work  But for the vast majority of human history there was little point in accumulating, since most of what was needed could easily be got from the surrounding environment. Nor was there anything heroic about work; spending time getting more food than one could eat was a foolish waste.

    Dr. Suzman, by the way, wrote the book Affluence Without Abundance: What We Can Learn from the World's Most Successful Civilization, published in 2017. In short, our hunter-gatherer ancestors had “the good life”! And if they did, so should we moderns create a way of living that emulates theirs in important respects—and I believe that this could be done by creating CoTEs!

    As I envision ecovillages being created by entrepreneurs, the first advice that I would give to such individuals is to do some reading about ecovillages; this Amazon site lists a number of relevant books.
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  • 2. Become aware of the concept of “human design specifications,” and the fact that a variety of viewpoints exist about that subject; such knowledge can be gained from my 76-page Human “Design Specifications”. Third, I advise the entrepreneurs involved to promote use of the Life Enhancement Group institution (discussed in my 28-page "A Life Institution".)

    It is known that one's social environment influences one's behavior. For example, this:

    One of the factors that have a great impact on the behavior of human is the social environment and here all types of sociological effects are discussed. Various individual environmental factors and their impact on behavior are also discussed here. Inheritances also affects the human behavior and in this article two types of inheritances are discussed and that are cultural and the genetic inheritances.

    Behavior of the human being decides the overall personality and this behavior of human are influenced by many factors like cultural, economic, and sociological. Human behavior is influenced by the most discussed effect that is the sociological effect. The most complex society of any creature on earth is of humans and it means self-preservation beyond the level of persona; physical survival is extended by us. Humans live in a very typical society in which there is bonding between the groups for the purpose of mutual and protection. Families, friendships, associations etc are included in these groups. Due to the formation of society and humans social links increases the bond between different people which is a human behavior. One of the bad behavior that every human being have is of greed and this behavior of human finishes them completely but due to society and links with different families and groups decreases the human greed of money or anything else. Due to increase of population and the urbanization, the people have started neglecting the social relationship and everyone is giving importance to the money rather than social relationship and behavior. Because of this, the rate of crime and deviant behavior of humans are found in cities. All these sociological effects have impacts on the behavior of the human beings and the social environment plays an important role in the development of the child which includes the attainment of full genetic and human potential. (Conklin, 2004)

    CoTEd, I would like to believe, would enable the "full genetic and human potential" of its residents in the modern world.

    By the way, although a CoTE, as I envision it, would strive to emulate the way of life of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the sustenance of its residents would come primarily from agriculture! Just because the development of agriculture, during the Neolithic Revolution, was our "worst mistake" as humans, it does not follow from that fact that basing one's sustenance on agriculture now would be a "mistake"!

    Note that I have not provided a blueprint here for CoTEs, just some suggestions. Given that I will not be creating any CoTEs (being 80, in bad health, and poor!), so I must rely on the judgment of others to "do the right thing"!
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Original posting: 2020-JUL-01
Author: Alton C Thompson

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