A Town and Its Ecovillage: A Case Study of Two Massachusetts Communities.
Abstract: This case study seeks to understand the interaction between two
communities in Western Massachusetts, one "intentional" and one "natural." The intentional
community is a self-described "ecovillage" based on principles of environmentalism,
spirituality, community and education. The natural community is the rural "host" town in
which the ecovillage exists. Examined here are the ways ... read moremembers of both communities define
community for themselves; their perceived barriers to, and facilitators of, community
building and maintenance; the interaction between the two communities; and larger societal
impacts on their interaction. Members of both communities defined community primarily in
terms of physical location, interests, and relationships. Ecovillage members reported more
definitions and cited "intentionality" as an important defining factor in their community.
Participants cited a variety of factors that led them to feel more or less connected to
others in their group, such as expectations of other residents and the physical design of
the communities. Most participants cited little to no interaction between the two groups.
Reasons given centered around physical distance, different interests or values, and weak
relationships, with ecovillage residents emphasizing different interests or values but town
residents emphasizing physical distance. Perceptions of one another were also negatively
affected by public policy, such as zoning and tax codes. However, participants also
discussed specific points of interaction, positive changes in the relationship over time
and the creation of a third community surrounding the ecovillage made up of friends and
former members. Future research could explore the role of "bridging" community members,
"neutral" spaces for interaction, and institutionalized contact in creating deeper and
broader connections between ecovillages and their rural host communities.
Thesis (M.A.)--Tufts University, 2011.
Submitted to the Dept. of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.
Advisor: Francine Jacobs.
Committee: Robert Russell.
Keyword: Urban Planning.read less