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Close to nature: Eco-houses and villages

April 7, 2010

By Linda Parfenoviča

Moving to a nature-friendly house or even a village is a big step towards sustainable living. Alternative energy technologies replace traditional energy sources, houses are being built from environment friendly materials and people seek more green technologies to benefit from nature`s treasures.

And at the same time people try to live with nature itself, new ways of living are also being sought. Eco-villages have become more and more popular around the world and some sources assert that there are about 4 – 5,000 nature-friendly villages.

If not fully green, then one of the most naturally built architecture examples in Latvia is the village Amatciems near Cēsis. Besides renewed land relief, the author of the idea Aivars Zvirbulis ensured that next to every house is at least one pond. Houses are built from natural materials and fences are not allowed.

Daina Narkeviča, an inhabitant of the Amatciems, had the opportunity to take a part in the development of the village and work in administration. When asked about her choice to live in such countryside, Daina says, “I need a rural landscape, meadows, flowers, opportunity to swim by my home, at any time and places to go for a walk or ride a bicycle, or even ski in the moonlight. And at the same time, I don`t feel lonely here. There are other people living around me. And all necessary communications are accessible- water, warmth, Internet, etc”, says Daina.

In a broader aspect, eco-villages are sustainable, self-sufficient systems, where people can provide for themselves everything they need within the community with a low-impact way of life. According to Global Eco-village Network, to achieve this, “villages integrate various aspects of ecological design, permaculture, ecological building, green production, alternative energy, community building practices, and much more”.

One example of such villages is Healing Biotope 1 Tamera in Portugal, where people already provide themselves with food and solar energy. At the same time Tamera is also an international training and experimental site, where approximately 200 people live, study and work in order to build an example of peaceful living between people and with nature.

In Tamera like in many other eco-villages, people live like on a commune, which tries to “live on a communitarian base instead of a private one”[1].

A list of many other eco-villages can be found at Fellowship of International community homepage and also on Global Ecovillage Network.

In any case, to live shoulder to shoulder with nature is not a simple decision for everyone. Inese Osīte, who is also an inhabitant of Amatciems, thinks it might be difficult to live in such a village especially for those, who are used to the life in a city.

But for Inese her desire to live in the village was like a scream of the soul.

“This is very special place. You are in one place all the time, but in the same time everything around you is changing. Nature doesn`t stop playing and you are a part of this game. There are no winners or losers; people simply flow together with this place.”

Amatciems. Picture from http:// www.amatciems.lv

House in Healing Biotope 1 Tamera. Picture from: http://openfarmtech.org/weblog/?p=869

Healing Biotope 1 Tamera. Picure from http://www.wiserearth.org/uploads/event/98308605ac5420f2a14480c74ab7af48/holzerseminars.png

Building house at Healing Biotope 1 Tamera. Picture from http://www.selba.org/EngTaster/Social/Community/ThePowerOfBC.html


[1] http://www.tamera.org/index.php?id=447&L=0

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