Global Villages = local, self-sustaining communities that are nevertheless globally connected.
combining the immaterial wealth of global connectedness and peer design with the material wealth of local natural resource cycles and human community.
"The core subject of Global Villages is the way we can live physically if
we have all the support that the communication revolution can give us.
The core assumption is that we can, for the first time, deeply follow the insight of Kohr and Schumacher that smaller units of social living are potentially more rich in terms of human experience and compassion."
A contribution of Franz Nahrada, who played some role in the Oekonux mailing list and their third conference in Vienna 2004, on the concept of Global Villages, local, self-sustaining communities that are nevertheless globally connected and collaborating - to even increase their degree of autonomy..
"Global Villages (in plural!) is the name for the vision of a new human habitat - offering virtually all the of services and amenities of cities while still preserving the rural quality of life and care for healing and human dimension. ...But your question is if they already exist. Thats what we are researching on and we find that the pattern comes into existence, while still lots of functions still have to be met. We created a directory so we can look at more individual examples of what are or might become GlobalVillages. There is innumerable attempts around the globe, and they have a need to be connected to each other:
Global Villages as conceptualized around a free but organized material resource "flow" like in a biotope. That means producers and participants of a humane ecosystem are planning the flow and transformation of material resources.
It does not necessarily mean direct reciprocity, this is rather primitive and unusual from the point of view of a system and you do not see too much reciprocity in ecosystems. Rather it is a challenge of design of interrelatedness of human activities so their material component mediates mutual reenforcement. It is neither exchange nor automatic unlimited availability; it is systemic symbiosis.
There are important preconditions for that. The system is based on the McDonough-Braungart formula of "There is no waste in clever production".
The aim of the Global Villages Movement is to focus Peer Production on tools that achieve these goals. Which means that there is a lot of matter involved.
Principles and Goals of the Movement
By Franz Nahrada :
"I want to focus on the special goals of the Global Villages Network based on the following underlying assumptions:
1. We think that the biggest requirement of our time is to rebalance our lifestyle with the planet we are living with; in particular this means a physical transformation from a world of large industrial and administrative centers to a cellular-fractal world of highly sophisticated villages.
2. We do not want to loose the achievements of science and technology, of culture and art; rather we want to manifest them in physical spaces that represent more and more perfect encounters of the cultural and the underlying natural. By going deeper into the nature of things we have discovered that nature is nothing that we can just leave behind us, but in itself an incredibly complex technological system, a web of life that transcends many of our highest technological and artistic abilities in ingenuity, sustainability, perfection and usefulness. The village is an environment in which these two layers - nature and culture - can coexist and influence each other in the best possible way. Aligning ourselves with nature is the best and most productive way we can overcome boundaries; it is not the boundaries of nature that are hindering us but our limited understanding of nature and its creativity. Whilst the dominating monetary economies have led to narrow-scaled costly battles for shrinking buying power in the short-term cyclical consumption game and abandoned and exploited everything which could be made productive in the long run, Global Villages are directly linked to the constant long-term regeneration of natural environments. Permaculture has proven hat humans can largely enhance and support natural systems instead of distorting or destroying them, an activity which results in the creation of really sustainable abundance.
3. By the very same means the village is also the perfect environment to represent our diverse cultural designs; it allows people to live and breathe locally alongside shared values, whilst not hindering other people in other villages in realizing theirs. An unprecedented culture of reconciliation and coesistence between formerly hostile cultures can result out of this, but also a positive competition of entirely different solutions to common problems. Moving out of each others way will not require heavy migration, just maybe a little relocation. Many cities have successfully drawn their strength from this pattern, as Christopher Alexander describes in "a network of subcultures".
So there result some intermediary goals:
1. Make the concept of a Global Village clearer and operationalize it in the most simplest way. So the proposed formula is: a Global Village is simply and basically the synergetic relationship between a local learning center with access to global knowledge (Telecenter, Hub, Library, ...) on one side with a local environment in which this knowledge can be applied, tested, enhanced on the other side. A Global Village needs to be resourceful in access to the world of information and culture, as well as it needs to be resourceful in access to local resources, material - energetical cycles, inhabitants, processes, biotopes etc. The purpose of a Global Village is to provide a high quality, healthy, satisfactory, secure and sustainable lifestyle to its inhabitants and improve and densify the local life process.
2. Paradoxically, the main means to accelerate this process is to increase the number of likeminded places around the world. Because of the enormous knowledge and ingenuity needed to fulfill their task, Global Villages have a strong positive interest in the growth of partner villages around the world, a positive virtuos cycle that we see eventually ending in their becoming the dominant form of human community of this planet - something which seems almost crazy to predict today when we are still hardly at the end of a self-supporting depopulation wave towards and in favor of big cities. It is therefore very important especially today to start creating and showing more and more examples of this reversal trend. It is not important to focus on quantity today, but on the quality of design and the scope of cooperative and generative activities. Global Villages of today are "pioneer plants" .
3. Creating the infrastructure and the technology to make these villages co-developing and co-producing. We need virtual design boards for machines and devices that can be assembled locally, we need the tools and the regenerative skills to obtain local materials for assembly and production, as we need design languages to facilitate effective cooperation on complex issues. We need ways to quickly and effectively assign tasks in a virtual division of labour, and we need basic life maintainance agreements to free our designing ingenuity from the individual struggle for survival. We need to exchange and evaluate different forms of local economic organisation, be it monetary or non-monetary. We need to empower people who have not yet discovered this potential to cross the digital divide in their own,special, particular way. The healer, the baker, the shoemaker, the artist, the thinker, the singer, the resource broker .... everyone has the opportunity and the challenge to develop their individual talent and contribution in allignment with global cultural communities that support competence and passion.
So the immediate goals could be
1. to identify learning centers that have the potential to feed into a village and on the other hand villages that have the potential to generate a learning center. We might want to make a difference between these two approaches, because the first one is more focussed on "germs" and smaller institutions (or even single people!) that bring a larger potential to a locality, whilst the second one is focusing on communities and large, official institutions, regional features, achievements etc.
2. to develop and deliver a criteria catalogue for BOTH appoaches without confusing them.
3. To turn this into a questionaire because the potential GlobalVillages all over the world are lining up!" (http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?GlobalVillages/Principles)
Global Villages follow the Hannover Principles
- Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition.
- Recognize interdependence. The elements of human design interact with and depend upon the natural world, with broad and diverse implications at every scale. Expand design considerations to recognizing even distant effects.
- Respect relationships between spirit and matter. Consider all aspects of human settlement including community, dwelling, industry and trade in terms of existing and evolving connections between spiritual and material consciousness.
- Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems and their right to co-exist.
- Create safe objects of long-term value. Do not burden future generations with requirements for maintenance or vigilant administration of potential danger due to the careless creation of products, processes or standards.
- Eliminate the concept of waste. Evaluate and optimize the full life-cycle of products and processes, to approach the state of natural systems, in which there is no waste.
- Rely on natural energy flows. Human designs should, like the living world, derive their creative forces from perpetual solar income. Incorporate this energy efficiently and safely for responsible use.
- Understand the limitations of design. No human creation lasts forever and design does not solve all problems. Those who create and plan should practice humility in the face of nature. Treat nature as a model and mentor, not as an inconvenience to be evaded or controlled.
- Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. Encourage direct and open communication between colleagues, patrons, manufacturers and users to link long term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and re-establish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.
The Hannover Principles should be seen as a living document committed to the transformation and growth in the understanding of our interdependence with nature, so that they may adapt as our knowledge of the world evolves.
Developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, the Hannover Principles were among the first to comprehensively address the fundamental ideas of sustainability and the built environment, recognizing our interdependence with nature and proposing a new relationship that includes our responsibilities to protect it. The Principles encourage all of us - you, your organization, your suppliers and customers - to link long term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and to re-establish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.
When you make decisions in your organization, remember these essential Principles:
- Recognize interdependence. Simply put: everything you do personally, in your organization and through your work interacts with and depends upon the natural world, at every scale, both locally and across the globe.
- Eliminate the concept of waste. Are you considering the full, life-cycle consequences of what you create or buy?
- Understand the limitations of design. Treat nature as a model, not as an inconvenience to be evaded or controlled."
Full Text Presentation
"The Vision of Global Villages
The term Global Village originally was coined by Marshall McLuhan to express the sensation of proximity in an era of mass media and mass communication. Increasingly, the very near and the very remote – something anywhere on the globe - can happen and be experienced synchronously by the users of media. For McLuhan, the media that connect our thoughts and our feelings were the primordial structures that shape the direction of our perception, intention and culture. A change in media would allow certain things to grow to new extremes, while blocking out other things. Also this change would revitalize and retrieve older structures, while preparing new developments in future.
When we use the term Global Village it is in plural: Global Villages. What can grow to extremes is the potential of human beings to access any kind of information or experience from any point of this globe, which can mean that we either can be “nomads” or we can be “settlers” and bring work, relations, learning with us. This holds an exciting promise: we can gain new liberty in choosing the place of our lives, without being lost in a strange place. We can choose to ignore the place of our lives as well and dive into the sphere of communication and virtual excitement. But we can also do the very opposite: use the power of communication to enhance the quality of a place, its capacity to support life, solve problems.
A very few people can create a dense field of local interactions especially when supported by the immense power of ingenuity, know-how, counsel, creativity, inventiveness that emerges between likeminded beings around the world. We have chosen to use the term “Global Village” in this particular sense, as the description of an information–enhanced physical place. Its also connected to the idea of “retrieval”, expressing that we can finally return to a more healthy and more appropriate environment that has been the environment of humans for thousands of years; a place that relates to nature, is of human size, allows the individual to influence its surroundings. We bring our mind home again, as architect Tony Gwilliam once said. We take some sophistication out of the centralised institutions, the sophistication that helped so much to increase our knowledge and abilities, and we apply and melt it to the small and immediate environment around us that allows us to unfold in freedom and self-determination. This environment is one that has its own traditional sophistication, often forgotten. This environment used to be the village, which is often connotated with terms like “miserable”, “dumb” and “poor”. We retrieve the village and we want to make it smart and abundant. In this goal, we are at the same time linked with a large number of equal-minded people who live and work somewhere else on this globe. We discover that this ubiquitous village spaces hold much more space for human development than the overcrowded cities. We discover that we can blend the natural potential of landscapes, plants, animals with the technological potential of automation - to form a new “city-organism” embedded in cultured landscape in which we live efficiently and safe. We might still be adventurous, hungry for experience and therefore nomadic – but we know there is something to return to, where we can spend most of our life at. The main goal of our lives is to cultivate this network of villages by increasing the technological base that helps us building, growing, harvesting. From primarily market oriented we return to primarily subsistence – oriented, and we share all knowledge freely that allows us to build, grow, harvest better. We share it with all villages and people of the world, and the world of Global Villages shares with us. Thus we out-cooperate structures of intellectual property and competition. Yet we might want to continue to buy and sell, but it is not for outperforming each other - which led to the monstrous structures of industrialism. It is rather a retrieval of craftsmanship, skill, uniqueness. We don’t have “trade secrets”, but there is more individuality and uniqueness than ever – a blend of place, people, culture that materializes in products and services.
Villages might join together in different ways, as virtual cooperatives, trade partners, barter circles, might use currencies or gift economy schemes: the exciting thing is that all those possibilties are open. If in this pattern we choose a place to live, it is because not just the place but also the people with whom we live are in resonance with us. Culture is an issue of choice, and this choice creates diversity between cultures on one side and a test of cultures on the other side. We might intentionally choose certain belief systems to live them out in full consequence, but we will not claim there is only one true belief system, rather put them constantly to test. Imagine a world where capitalism and communism is possible at the same time, just at different locations!
This also means that we are decreasing dependence on external factors. One of the main sources of the Kenyan Crisis in 2008, for example, is that a decent life according to the promises of civilisation is not possible without a share of money. When there is not enough internal accumulation in a country, the source of that money is corruption. The scarce resources are allocated by a system of monopolisation and power, and it is existential to be in the right group to survive. The result of elections determines the conditions of survival. This holds true not only for Kenya, but for many countries and areas in the world. So it is about time to radically think about internal accumulation of resources – but in a new way, not for the sake of competition.
Global Villages as we foresee them will survive and thrive by their internal capacities, which are constantly supported by networking. Every invention or pattern that proves efficient and meaningful on one corner of the world can be multiplied, tested elsewhere, can thus be refined and enhanced. To give a simple example, only one percent of the sunflowers mass is used for valuable production, the rest is “biomass” that is burned one or the other way. Green chemistry is discovering enormous wealth in this biomass, that can be processed in many ways and be the source of much more valuable stuff.
Global Villages are a project of peace. The idea is to make it possible for everyone, every group, each culture, to have a home place, to thrive and share knowledge and therefore thrive more and so also develop a positive interest into the growth of the commonwealth of villages regardless of their denomination– simply because the more there are, the greater the possibilities for all. The idea has to be tested, and it has never been tested before. We know that the building blocks are there: sophisticated communication technologies and therefore unlimited local learning by access to networks, a new and deepened understanding of the power and capacities of nature - if it is well-understood and well-managed - , new patterns in architecture, solar and material technology, of feedback cycles, interactions, fields. Carpenters will work with virtual cooperatives of carpenters, shoemakers with shoemakers, bakers with bakers and brickmakers with brickmakers! Almost each person in the village is supported by a global network that cares about the persons profession, calling, endavours, allowing to raise the quality and find the worlds best answers to each question that might arise locally.
There are several perspectives why we think that Global Villages are an important and substantial goal to work for.
From the perspective of the individual, especially of the independent thinkers that we care for, villages in the broadest sense are environments where there is potentially a larger degree of freedom and choice. In large institutions and in crowded settlements little respect is paid to individual freedom and creativity, to a balance between social norms and the personal ability to modify them, change them, refine them. There is anonymity and a feeling of alienation, of distance between what determines society and what moves the individual (and what the individual can move). Creativity is seen as a quality of entertainment, not of life. Even though such alienation might even be worse and crushing in circumstances of smaller communities, when an individual is labelled outsider by an old elite, we can imagine that this situation is easier to change by intensified local communication and direct challenge. In the context of the Minciu Sodas / Orchard of Thought network we support the creative power of people against the inertia of institutions, because institutions tend to dampen and discourage the inventiveness and inner potential of people, which is the main source of progress and evolution. We think that independent thinkers seek an environment which they can influence (and thus might even be found in villages rather than cities), and we help each other bringing out the best – which also means manifestation in the life circumstances of a community.
There is a radically different perspective - the perspective of the planet as a living entity - which also supports the idea of Global Villages and converges with the first. In this perspective, the better cooperation and connection between humans, landscape, plants and animals stabilizes and enhances the ecosystems, supports the intensification of the web of life and the layer of beauty that is the surface of our common home. The earth will look radically different if we continue to choose to live in urban agglomerations or if we dare to reverse the trend and strengthen the peripheries. In the latter case we understand that human presence and regenerative design can also be the key to fertility and integrity of soil, ubiquity of plants, stabilisation of climate, in short the breathing and vitality of the being that we are part of. Human needs not to be alienated and separated from ecology; human activities can be shaped in a way that they are both creating abundance for humans and resources for natural cycles. One example is the human-supported building of soil, something that biological farming and composting is at the very beginning to understand completely. New ways of composting, recycling, planting, building, producing are sought that feed back in a non-toxic way into the sources of life stock. Human presence and interest is required to do that, and therefore the Global Villages where people live a more decentralized life, assimilated to the exciting possibilities of every kind of landscape, spreading but not sprawling, gentle and dense at the same time, lean and green, connected by the virtual networks of united problem-solving, are an interesting and essential element of our planets future.
What are the next steps?
It is self – explanatory that we are far away from even coming close to the vision of Global Villages just outlined, but we can start weaving the pattern by understanding that each and every telecenter, networked education place, virtual cooperation project, sharing of information and so on is a tiny step towards a great goal. Therefore it is crucial to foster and enhance networking around practical questions, mutual support, solidarity of local communities around the world in cherishing their immediate places. We must increase the awareness and the perception of each others presence, we must start to understand that it is necessary to invite and engage others into our local circumstance. We should be able to find each other quickly and commonly develop a matrix of problem-solving activities around the world.
Franz Nahrada, Hochegg, February 2008
More info from the GIVE initiative:
Definitional work at
Key Books to Read
The following 2 books are recommended by Franz Nahrada:
1. Design Outlaws, at http://www.designoutlaws.com/
crossing architecture, ecology and technology.
2. Local Action / Global Interaction Edited by Peter Day and Douglas Schuler
- Global Ecovillage Network
- Open Digital Village
- Global Village Construction Set (GVCS)
- Marcin Jakubowski on Building the World's First Replicable Open Source Global Village
- The Venus Project