Intro to me and my ecovillage project - Happitat


I post here, and will update as we get more detail, because one day maybe you will want to be part of this ecovillage project, either as a long term resident, or volunteer, or just visit to see what’s going on.

I’m Brian, from Ireland, and have been mad about ecovillages since I learned about them. I’ve done a little education in some European ecovillages

  • 4 weeks Applied Ecovillage Living course in Findhorn Scotland 2015
  • 4 weeks Community Course in Tamera, Portugal 2016
  • 10 days Love School in Tamera, Portugal 2016
  • 10 days Amine course in Damanhur, Italy 2016
    plus visits to the ecovillages Sunseed (Spain), and Permalab (Portugal)

Oh and at the moment I’m obsessed with geodesic domes, and can’t wait to try my first build: a geodesic sweat lodge heated by rocket mass stove. All going well, that’ll be my January :smiley:

I also say more about myself and the project in my profile

The ecovillage project
I am now in the early stages of creating a new ecovillage, with the name Happitat. We have little set in stone, but have been on the case for nearly 2 years. We recognise that how we interact with each other in work, play and conflict is foundational, and precedes any other work or decisions regarding the practicalities of meeting physical needs (food water energy etc.

Thus our efforts to date have been around finding a solid core team, building relationships and learning things like NVC (NonViolent Communication), giving useful feedback, and Sociocracy 3.0 (S3). We are currently a team of 4. We intend to meet for a month in March to get more details and decisions, a system of governance (probably S3), direction of project, embedding healthy social culture, and outlining tasks and roles to move the project on.

So drop a word here if you’re interested, have any questions or just want to say hi.

Best wishes for creating a new and better tomorrow!



Hey Brian, fascinating - so you are going to put together an EcoVillage in Ireland? Is the idea to apply the best things you gleaned from those other courses? If so, what are some of those practices and approaches you find best?

Actually, we are looking more at Portugal at the moment for a number of reasons:

  • Cheaper
  • Potential is higher to make a striking impact on the local ecology :evergreen_tree:
  • Better weather :sunny:
  • Already a network of established and establishing similar communities :family_man_woman_girl::family_man_woman_girl_boy::family_men_girls::family_men_boys::family_men_girl_boy::family_men_boy::family_women_boys::family_women_girl_boy::family_women_girl::family_man_woman_boys::family_man_woman_girls::family_women_boy:

Yes, you’re on the button. Take the best things we learn from each, and also listen for the worst things too, so we hold awareness of what to avoid. Each community has its shadow side too.

What I’ve gleaned so far:

  • NVC is indispensible. A clear understanding of human needs, and a language to articulate emotions and requests, how to give empathy in a way that heals, and how to resolve conflict.
  • Attunements from Findhorn. A simple and quick group circle at the start of a process (work, or play) to tune into each other and what’s about to happen. Truly magical.
  • Hand signals for meetings and sharings. A good system of these saves so much time, allow for better flow of communication, and for people to express and contribute without interrupting the current speaker.
  • S3. Where to begin. This system of governance hold so many little treasures for keeping a group on point and looking after the needs and desires of its members. Inspired by classic sociocracy, but also NVC, and Agile and Lean programming ideas.
  • The value of Elders.
  • Spirituality. In the three oldest communities I visited a sense of shared or individual spirituality was integral to their makeup.
  • The importance of a shared vision, that is bigger than the life of an individual. This is key. That I’m here for a bigger purpose than myself. The reason is: When things turn to shit (as they inevitably will, with life’s ups and downs), if I’m only there for my self-interest, I’ll just pack my bags and ship out. If everyone does this the community dies. If we are there for a bigger reason, we know there’s something more at stake, and are less likely to give up on it. Thus the community has more chance to survive.
  • Permaculture
  • Most new communities fail, not because they don’t have food or power, but because they can’t deal with interpersonal shit, and have poor governance.
  • A community is strongest when it is a community of diverse individuals, rather than a collective of followers.

I think you are on the right track!

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Hi Brian, nice to meet you. Impressive track record! Your geodesic sweat lodge sounds very solarpunk-y; it makes me jealous (in a good way!), as well as reminding me of the onsens in Walkaway.

You probably already know @vvorski, who also has been sniffing around Portugal with the intention of building an intentional community… we have not spoken for almost two years, I’m not sure where he is at now. Are you reading us, Victor?

How can we help you?

And just a curiosity: I was a bit surprised not to see Cloughjordan in your list of ecovillages. Is there a reason?

A sweat lodge is a good place to start with a dome before making a full-sized one, because, you know, they are notorious for leaking…

nay, i’ve not yet met Victor, but there’s a lot going on in Portugal. I’m sure I one day will.

Not sure yet how you can help me. At the moment I’m just letting you know whats going on, and maybe one day we’ll be at a point where collaboration would be mutually beneficial.

Cloughjordan. we intend to visit one day, but it is not a priority as it is still relatively young. We wanted to gain knowledge from the oldest ones first. I’m sure they’ve a lot to offer, and one day I’ll find out! :slight_smile:


Hm, I see… My sense from having read about these “eco dreams” (no pun intended) or projects-in-the-making, including Victor Vorski’s which I’m not sure even if it has kicked off at the physical level!), is that there arent resources and a clear framework in place - maybe the land, or some production facility and skills to start with etc… Somehow they dont manage to be legible outside of the group of initiators. Not sure if that’s your experience too?
Maybe thats also a function of a lot of focus put on ideation and dreaming, but not on how the work will help organise things.

From the other hand - having seen our own, more meanwhile spaces - OpenVillage in Morocco, or unMonastery in South Italy, even though they were organised around the work, they could have fared so much better in what you just wrote… maybe not enough attention to dynamics? just thinking out loud and expressing one version of the story.

I havent visited Tamera but it seems they are onto something. Other than that, the group that I’ve seen which tackles both strategic project/ development work and pays attention to interpersonal dynamics and governance is WBZ. Wrote about it here (they evolved more since it appears).

hi @Brian, I see you are in the initial stages of the project so far. Do you have a clear plan on how to proceed? Can you share it so that we know how we can chip in? Would like to know more, and possibly join your team :slight_smile:

At present our plan is to meet for a month in March, to get more clarity on what the project is and discover our timeline and plan. As things get more clear I’ll message here, yeah. Beyond that who knows, but we all intend to do this as soon as possible with due care given to the social structure. I have no idea how long this would take. I dream that I’ll be on a new piece of land this time next year… a man can dream. I know from studying a few cohousing projects that typically its 5-9 years before the moving in happens.

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Good luck! In another topic I made the comment that commitment brings to mind the image, “burn your ships.” Not to take this metaphor too far, but that was what Cortez did after landing in Mexico. So, it’s not the most pleasant image given what happened after that. But the point is the level of commitment.

Soon enough the commitment of every person involved will be tested. Some will go and some will stay. And in the process, you usually see that some people do much more work than others. I bet just about everyone reading this has seen a version of this, maybe in a college living situation or apartment sharing with a group.

In a capitalist society hard work is rewarded with money. But what if you pool your money? How do you then deal with the reality that some work more than others, some are less satisfied with the condition of “the vibes” within the group and some will want to avoid dealing with things if they involve conflict or disagreement (until something blows up), and some will prefer “hanging out” to working on the group’s energy and some will prefer to just go into their bedroom and shut the door.

Add to that the fact that some pairings, trios, groups, etc. have better chemistry than others. Sometimes you get lucky and everyone just loves to be together, work hard, share, have fun, etc. But most of the time you get a mix. So, within a relatively committed group, what do you do about the relationships that need “work”?

You work on it. For me, and this is something I say with online communities too, the key is to find something to like in the other person - almost doesn’t matter what it is - and focus on that until you can spread that “liking” to other areas. That plus simply talking things through, esp when that talk is difficult. If everyone shares a goal of clarity understanding and compassion, it is amazing sometimes how that chemistry can be improved. Do not seek conflict but do not avoid it. Rather, treat it as an opportunity to get to a deeper understanding. I say chemistry “can be” improved - not “will be.” It’s a journey where one does not know all aspects of the territory before entering it.

And even if you commit totally, it might not mean that you are going to be there with those people forever. But it might mean exactly that. You don’t know. But over time, if anyone is “hedging their bet” and holding back, you will know it soon enough.

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Also, lest you think I am a total flower child who thinks there are no bad people in the world - - not so, I think there are people with character so low and intentions so bad they won’t change.

Still, I don’t believe in writing someone off too fast. In a driver’s test, at least where I live, everyone starts with 100 points and as you drive, if you make a mistake, points get taken away. Too many mistakes means too few points and failure.

I am sort of that way with people. Everyone with me starts with 100 points. But you can lose those points with me in various ways. And some - they do exist believe me - have lost so many points with me as to be essentially irredeemable. Not that I don’t believe in redemption - I do. But I can think of a few people who are never going to get it back with me. Life is too short anyway…