The ecovillage: a hotbed of conscious capitalism
Ecovillages don’t get a lot of press coverage, so you can probably be forgiven if you automatically associate them with EASY RIDER and the word “commune.” Those associations typically gloss over the diversity present in these communities (which continue to spring up), including their economic diversity. Nope, they’re not all socialist utopias… while sharing is a big part of almost any intentional community, entrepreneurship and commerce also figures into the equation in many cases.
Sometimes, these businesses are community-run enterprises to which all residents must devout some time and labor. Others are pure entrepreneurial efforts by individual community members. Some are “brick and mortar”; others exist online. Nearly all are “green” in some form or fashion. And, like the “regular” small business community, their forms and functions are only as limited as the founders’ imaginations and the market’s demand for their products and services.
Just a few ecovillages with thriving commercial sectors…
- The Farm: This Summertown, Tennessee community grew out of early ’70s Bay Area counterculture, and now hosts sixteen for-profit businesses… including a book publisher, a supply store for mushroom growers, and, of course, an attorney (because they’re everywhere).
- Dancing Rabbit: This ecovillage was also conceived in the Bay Area… this time during the 90s tech boom. As such, online businesses thrive at this Northeastern Missouri community, including a search engine optimization firm and an online Latin tutoring service. If you want to visit, an eco bed and breakfast provides very comfortable accommodations. (Disclaimer: I’m a member of Dancing Rabbit’s board)
- Twin Oaks Community: This Virginia-based ecovillage is probably best known for its hammocks… but other businesses do back-of-book indexing and make tofu.
- Acorn Community: Also in Virginia, this community funds itself with two companies: a seed exchange and a tin-crafting business.
- Ganas: Located on Staten Island, Ganas supports itself through three retail locations: a refurbished furniture store, a used book store and cafe, and a thrift and vintage clothing store.
We’re definitely just scratching the surface here: if you’ve got a favorite ecovillage-based business, let us know about it.
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Image credit: GaylaLin at Wikimedia Commons