Commons in Intentional Communities - 2013

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In a Nutshell

Side-Event to the „Economics of the Commons Conference – From Seed Form to Core Paradigm” (ECC), for further information on ECC see: Overview of the Economics of the Commons Conference.

Berlin, 21 May – Time: 13:30 - 18:00
Pilot event: International Roundtable of 10 persons (max). Two speakers, discussion.
Participation only after registration and communication with the organizers.

There is a gap between ecological commons activists and digital commons activists - concerning age, habitat, world view, life style and communication style. Not seldom do the former feel comitted to rural life styles, the latter are not seldom oriented towards urban life styles. Using the example of the holistic approach of ecovillages, the roundtable will examine opportunities for mutual learning, exchange of practices and mainstreaming of the achievements of both camps.

The pilot workshop to the event series "Sustainable Lifestyles through a Commons Economy" will examine this challenge by contrasting socalled 'ecovillages' with the modern digital commons scene. They represent different generations and different life styles, but share the same understanding of a good life and well-being. The commons economies created in both milieus reflect these life styles and life ideals.


The movements for protecting ecological commons (such as the protection of biodiversity or climate) and the movements for cultural commons (such as open source software or free access to knowledge or music) both share a deeper understanding of sustainability. A coalition will presumably increase the viability and impact of both camps. But the alliance between them is neither broad nor deep nor strong – if it exists at all. Not seldom do the former feel comitted to rural life styles (and emphasize corresponding ideals), the latter are not seldom oriented to urban life styles. Sometimes activities of the other side are belittled as irrelevant, sometimes they are seen as a step backwards. How can they be interlinked and integrated? How could they benefit from each other?

Ecovillages: wealth and prosperity even for low income households

Due to their size and the quantity of residents, ecovillages are the best known examples of intentionally created communities for an ecological and social sustainable way of life (Intentional Sustainable Communities = ISCs). Based on a holistic approach, ecovillages are important laboratories for commons-sensitive lifestyles and a new kind of economy. Ecovillages have developed intelligent structures for dealing with scarce economic resources. Even if their members often have only a low monetary income, nevertheless ecovillages secure wealth and prosperity for them. This can be seen, for example in the living comfort, provision of household appliances, services for child-care and care of the elderly, forms of accommodation adjusted on individual needs, low prices for high quality food, for healing services and for mobility. Ecovillages offer suitable conditions for family formation and family stability. Their communal life also provides experiential and experimental spaces.

Digitals as ambassadors of a new understanding of participation and co-creation
and as door openers for a young urban culture

The milieu of digital commons activists creates new technological instruments, which are able to overcome obstacles (e.g. geographical distance) against maintaining social contacts as well as barriers against enjoying and making cultural products such as music, film, poetry and fiction. They offer knowledge resources like Wikipedia or Open Source Ecology. They provide know-how and experience in the effective coordination of political, social and economic activities through the Internet, which have significant impact in the physical world (e.g. crowd sourcing, the Pirate Party, Wikipedia or the blogosphere). The Digitals, who tend to be younger than the people from ecovillages and are deeply rooted in urban milieus, have access to and connect with the modern cultural sector. They observe and participate in new cultural and artistic trends. But just like the ecovillagers they are deeply committed to participation, inclusion and grass root activities. Their solutions live from sharing and giving and often seek to transcended the monetary-based market economy.


The roundtable wishes to focus on the possibilities of implementing social and technical innovations of ecovillages into urban contexts (such as new types of housing and living) and to consider the value and usefulness of urban commons activities for a rural sustainable development and the economic cycle of ecovillages.

The event seeks an understanding and exchange of experience between

  • commons activists dealing with digital and knowledge based commons and people living in intentional communities
  • commons activists representing urban and metropolitan milieus and commons activists representing rural milieus

The roundtable is planned to be a part of a series of workshops and conferences in 2013 under the title: "Sustainable Lifestyles through a Commons Economy”, organised by the European Business Council for Sustainable Energy (e5) and the Global Ecovillage Network of Europe (GEN Europe). All of them will be held in Germany and in the German language. This series will explore the commons economy in ecovillages (and other intentional communities) and their technological, social or economic innovations. Which of them could be mainstreamed into the established economy? Activists from ecovillages, the urban commons movement and sustainable business, as well as representatives from science and politics, will come together to work on the question how impulses from ecovillages can support the transition of society. The findings of these meetings will be integrated into a concluding study concerning the economic potential of the commons economy in ecovillages.

The general project will be funded by the “Umweltbundesamt”, the federal German environmental protection agency. However, the responsibility for the content of this announcement and for the content of the roundtable lies exclusively with e5.

Date and Venue

  • Date: 21/05
  • Time 13:30 - 18:00
  • Venue: Berlin Mitte, Germany
    Germanwatch e.V., Schiffbauerdamm 15, 10117 Berlin


Commons in Intentional Communities (CIC)

<tab class=wikitable sep=comma head=top> Time,Agenda,Speaker, 13:30, Welcome, , 14:00, Introduction
Ecological versus Digital Commons, Julio Lambing (e5), 14:15, Introduction of Participants, , 14:45, Input and Discussion:
Ecovillages as a Holistic Way of a Commons Economy, Jonathan Klodt (GEN Europe)
Lara Mallien (OYA), 16:15, Coffee Break, , 16:30, Discussion:
Ecovillages and Digital Commons Movement – Possibilities for mutual learning?, All participants, 17:30, Personal Conclusions and Recommendations, all participants, 18:00, End, ,



  • Statement from participants:
    Ecological and digital commoners: What do they have in common? What are fundamental differences?


Responsible for content and design of this roundtable is Julio Lambing

The European Business Council for Sustainable Energy (e5) was founded 1996 in Germany in order to promote the potential of sustainable energy use and the implementation of modern, climate-friendly technologies in the European Union (EU) and at the early international climate negotiations. Now, the future viability of European business depends on whether we terminate the global overexploitation of our ecological resources and whether we can foster and advance the human web of life based on ecological, social, cultural and technological commons. e5 meets this challenge by posing four questions: How can business contribute to the advancement of sustainable lifestyles? How can eco-innovation be accelerated? How can business assist in the endeavours of poor societies for resources-efficient economic development? How can business advance the commons sensitivity of the modern economy?

Here you will find more information about e5 and e5's commons strategy:

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) was set up in 1995 to support the experimental creation and preservation of human settlements that not only sustain, but regenerate their social and natural environments. The Global Ecovillage Network of Europe (GEN Europe) is the European ecovillage association promoting social resilience, environmental pro­tection and restoration of nature through the concept of ecovillages as models for sustainable human settlements. GEN europe actively supports the de­vel­opment of ecovillages and networks in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

More information about GEN and the general project:


Project Manager
Ms. Katalin Kuse
[email protected]
Tel: +49 (0) 178 6935137


Working Language: Probably English

Participants: ca. 10

Design: 2 presentations, expert discussion


Participation is only possible only after registration and communication with the organizers.
Participants of the CIC roundtable may be part of the ECC, but this is not mandatory.

List of people participating in ECC or only in the Rountable CIC <tab class=wikitable sep=comma head=top> Name,Contact,To ECC?,To CIC?, Organization, Function Heiner Benking, Katalin, No, Yes, Global Villages Network, Quergeist Constanze Cremer, Julio, No, Yes, Netzwerkagentur GenerationenWohnen, Project Manager and Consulting Dr. Daniel Dahm, Katalin, Yes, Yes, Ethical-Ecological Rating at Goethe-University, Executive Director Achim Ecker, Julio, No, Yes, ZEGG, Facilitator for community building and Cocreator of sustainable energy systems/construction and permaculture Judith Egger, julio, nein, ja, Kunstprojekt Schwelle 7, Vorstandsmitglied Kai Ehlers, Julio, Yes, Yes, , Author and Researcher (focuses on on political economic and cultural developments in the post-soviet area) Jonathan Klodt, Katalin, No, Yes, GEN Europe, Project Manager Julio Lambing, , Yes, Yes, e5, Managing Director Dr. Christian Löwe, Katalin, No, Yes, Federal Environmental Agency, Senior Researcher Prof. Dr. jur. Jens Lowitzsch, Katalin, No, Yes, European University Viadrina, Inhaber der Kelso-Stiftungsprofessur Katalin Kuse, , No, Yes, e5, Project Coordinator Lara Mallien, Julio, Yes, Yes, OYA magazine, Chief Editor Johannes Heimrath, Julio, Yes, Yes, OYA magazin, Author of book "Post-collapse society" Nikolai Wolfert, Katalin, No, Yes, Leila, Owner of "Leihladen Berlin" Antonius Zehringer, Katalin, No, Yes, ZEGG, Lars Zimmermann, Katalin, No, Yes, OÖWi, Organizer of the Open Ecology Economy Fair in Berlin