|Unleashing EDE Curriculum V5: The Urban/Ecovillage Intersection|
Giovanni Ciarlo, Gaia Education Product Development
The exciting first phase of development of Gaia Education's Ecovillage Design Curriculum (the result of which was the EDE V4 curriculum) has been tested in settings across the globe ranging from established ecovillages to forming ecovillages, rural ecovillages to urban ecovillages, traditional villages to university programs and training centers. The very success of the curriculum has prompted development of new materials and content for an updated version of the curriculum – Version 5.
All the information and content of the V4 curriculum also applies to urban šettlements. While this curriculum was designed for local cultural and sociopolitical adaptation, it has become obvious to Gaia Education that additional curriculum development was needed. Some of these changes have been due to the pace of change in the sustainability movement in the first decade of this century; others due to an increase in urgency as the issues of Peak Oil and Climate Change take on larger magnitude and accelerate towards dangerous levels. The most urgent matter that has come to the fore at this time is the need for additional content specific to urban šettlement design. This has been an emerging trend with the GEESE since the beginning. We have therefore now added this new component to the V5 curriculum with the purpose of supporting, guiding and providing teaching content to the growing number of groups wishing to deliver EDEs in a variety of urban šettings.
The basic reason for creating urban habitats has been to maximize exchange and minimize transportation. The built community can thus be designed to achieve "maximum energy efficiency, instead of being designed solely to be the engine of industrial production and consumption," as Jane Jacobs observed.
The term Ecovillage in the urban context is used as a development model and metaphor for the re-organisation of our neighbourhoods.
Urban ecovillages have in the past taken backstage to the more common rural ecovillages. However, urban ecovillages are growing in popularity and with them, the need to address sustainable lifestyles and community organization associated with cities, suburbs and high-density šettlements worldwide. In this sense the addition to the existing curriculum does not seek to change the proven valuable components of the 20 modules already in place in V4, but rather, to focus on issues that are particular to communities that develop in high density, urban contexts. One of the many purposes for re/designing sustainable urban šettlements is to reduce or withdraw our dependency on oil and decrease urban sprawl.
It is also important to keep in mind that the urban/suburban/rural dichotomies are largely a result of the industrial/capitalist worldview which has dominated human civilization for the past couple of centuries. Ecovillages offer a new vision and a new worldview in which all these forms can interrelate: ecovillages are systemically designed and harmonized to the needs of the natural environment and human social relations, a vision which honours traditional and indigenous cultures and their way of creating synergy with the environment and within the community.