Ecovillages

What is an ecovillage? What is cohousing?

Ecovillages can be defined as intentional communities whose goal is to become more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable.

Cohousing can be defined as an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. 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.

In Australia, both ecovillages and cohousing are usually based around private home ownership, usually through a form of strata title subdivision, including "community title".

They differ, perhaps, from mainstream strata subdivisions in providing more common facilities managed by the body corporate or community association. And they usually have aims which include community activity beyond providing private home and property ownership. These aims commonly include, for example, environmental or Permaculture practices, or social practices such as regularly eating meals together.

These forms of intentional community offer the advantage of having individual titles, allowing members to take out mortgage loans to help them buy into the community.

Similarly, members may buy or sell their homes on the open market, without the constraints of a lengthy joining/leaving process usually associated with landsharing communities.

Particularly in ecovillages, residents may be able to live much more independent and separate lives to those communities, where "active membership provisions" compel community participation.

From a planning and financial perspective, they differ very little from mainstream strata title developments.

Often these communities have project architects and builders, who construct homes to pre-defined standards and designs.

Most planning schemes across Australia make provision for strata developments, and the application process of planning permission is straightforward.

The number of strata developments in Australia has seen an industry develop with commercial strata managers, and with lawyers and accountants specialising in the field. Strata title law is fairly uniform across Australia.

The community's decision-making processes are usually strictly defined by strata law and, for example, are not democratic in that voting is per household. This contrasts with voting per adult community member (one person one vote) that is often adopted in landsharing communities.

The management requirements overseen by Government consumer affairs departments in each State, with disputes usually going to a consumer and administrative tribunal in a similar fashion to residential tenancy disputes.



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