Global Villages = local, self-sustaining, learning communities that are 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!) (also sometimes named "Planetary Villages", see the reason -> here) is the name for the vision of a new human habitat - offering virtually all of the services and amenities of cities (or even better equivalents!) while still preserving the rural quality of life and care for healing and human dimension.
So the question is if this circumstance already exists, if it is even possible, if it is thgere in embryonic form etc. That is what we are researching on and the general result of our findings is that the pattern increasingly comes into existence, while lots of functional solutions still have to be met. We seek to create 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 and therefore their activity is heavily knowledge - dependent.
Their human relation does not necessarily mean direct reciprocity (exchange, mostly monetary), this is a rather primitive and unusual form from the point of view of a system flows 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 reinforcement and cycles. 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".
One important aim of the Global Villages Movement / Network is to focus Peer Production on tools that help us to achieve these goals.
Principles and Goals of the Movement
By Franz Nahrada :
Principles of the Global Villages Network
"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 (or small town) 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 - landscape, plants, the regenerative cycles - 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 that 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.
(Note: we believe that the degradation and deserting of natural and cultural landscape is the main cause not only of desertification, but in consequence of this also the main driver of climate change - through distortion of the cooling water cycles that influence our climate)
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 coexistence 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". Locality bears a "genius loci" and the main problem of our cities is the destruction of this simple truth.
What do we want to achieve
So there result some intermediary goals:
1. Make the concept of a Global Village clearer and operationalize it in the most simplest way and PUT IT INTO PRACTICE. 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 innovation environment (test field) 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. Thus it is the ultimate answer to the crisis of the capitalist - industrial system.
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 virtuous 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 the self-increasing 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 to feed the 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 and communities 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 r&d labour, and we need basic life maintenance agreements to free our designing ingenuity from the individual struggle for survival (Maybe a revival of the monastery idea?). We need to exchange and evaluate different forms of local economic organisation, be it monetary or non-monetary.
We also need to empower people who have not yet discovered this potential to cross the digital divide in their own, special, particular way. Whatever one does in this local world, it may get better by forming global virtual communities of practice. 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 alignment with global cultural communities that support competence and passion, give support and know-how.
This is, in the deepest sense, the reason why we call this new world not "Global Village" but "Global Villages" - a multitude of interconnected localities.
So the immediate goals could be
1. to identify learning centers that have the potential to feed into a village / locality and join with all likeminded institutions to a "virtual university of the villages"
2. to identify actors which will be supportive in this respect. For this we also team up with the Project Unavision (http://www.unavision.eu)
3. to identify contents shared and developed locally or in global teams, relevant to improving local life in all its dimensions.
4. to draw maps of change in all peripheral regions of the world, to identify strong centers, hotspots and achievements,
Global Villages follow the Hannover Principles
URL = http://www.mindfully.org/Sustainability/Hannover-Principles.htm (with some additions by Franz Nahrada)
- 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. "Everything is connected"
- Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems and their right to co-exist. "Design for small, incremental changes; Design for failure and learning"
- 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. "cradle to cradle - the waste of the one is the food of the other"
- Rely on natural energy flows ad material 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. Keep in mind that water is the bearer of life.
- 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. Form open Design communities. release early, release often.
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."
Franz Nahrada wrote in 2024 a few lines further explaining the concept:
Four Meanings of Global Village according to McLuhan
"There are four meanings of the metaphor "global village" in McLuhan's work, and it seems that this ambiguity did not bother him, but even pleased him. ˧ Tthe first meaning is "as if": We are confronted with realities in real time that give the impression that what we experience via the media AS IF is was taking place in our immediate neighborhood. Keep in Mind: this creates not only fascination, but also pain, confusion and repulsion, The second meaning is what he often called electronic tribalization, which stands in sharp contrast to the first meaning. Cultural bubbles form, demarcated spaces shaped by common uniformity that function in a certain way like virtual tribal or village cultures. Often enough, "global villages" is used in this sense - and as I said, this is entirely in the spirit of the inventor. The third meaning, however, is the transition to the material world. The intensification of virtual relationships leads to the emergence of places that, charged with the energy of these virtual relationships, turn to the "renaissance of the local", the "cosmolocal" or "hyperlocal" formation of communal living and the focus on real local spheres of the same. This is where my concept comes in and created a lo9t of musings on this third meaning Only in this way does the fourth meaning come into being, which dissolves the illusory nature of the first meaning, the fragmented nature of the second and the isolated nature of the third into a complex reality in which the "villages" of this world actually enter into a cooperative relationship with one another and the initial phrase of the "global village" becomes fully justified after all.
GV as a cosmolocal idea with political consequences:
That is a vision that in my view is strong enough to counter the national state in the long run.
Global Villages (in the plural) are manifestations of habitat design according to aesthetic, cultural, ethical, social, etc. principles, which, precisely because of their diversity bear witness to the creative energy and potential of humans in interaction with nature, of which they are a part. The human sphere of life is not only embedded in a natural "environment", but forms an organism with it. Culture is the human contribution to this organism, determining its shape and form just as much as the laws of nature. It is able to constantly refine itself through knowledge impulses.
A Global Village is a local community with a knowledge center that both preserves knowledge and continuously researches in communication with the world. As much as a basic 'cultural tone' is needed to shape the living environment, this is energized by the encounter, differentiation and resonance with the other, the strange - this is the basic principle both on a small and large scale. Every culture that should be taken taken seriously is open and in dialog.
We live through communicative processes with others, development happens through interaction with others. We complement each other because we are different; this applies both on an intra-community level and to the global power of the diversity of cultural designs.
I remember the deepest motives for my vision of Global Villages: that the immense progress in knowledge and skills that humanity has achieved, manifests itself in a way of life in which the rediscovery of our own nature - as connected and harmonized in millions of details with external nature - leads to an intense interaction in vibrant, shimmering, radiant microcosms, radiating the one health of man and planet in colorful diversity.
All the elements of such another world are real and continue to develop with each passing day. I have always felt it to be one of the most urgent tasks to show that if humanity allows itself to be inspired by such a task, there would have to be no lack and no poverty in this world. "We" in quotation marks, i.e. humanity speculatively conceived as a unit, have the technical and organizational potential to produce enough for the basic needs of all people in the foreseeable future. In truth, the potential wealth of this world is being squandered on an immense scale, which is directly visible in war, a medium-sized version of which we are currently witnessing (and a cataclysmic big one is more likely than ever before). Global military spending has risen continuously over the last seven years to 2.1 trillion US dollars, with an estimated global gross domestic product of 96 trillion. All this for things that at best produce nothing and at worst destroy wealth and lives in their aftermath. ˧
However, waste of our real and potential wealth is also prevalent in times of peace, and it has so many dimensions that it could make you sick. On the material side, i.e. without considering the social form, we see that our production is based on the production of waste rather than on circulation. Nature is also wasteful, but in a different way: over millions of years, it has learned to create an almost perfect system of multiple cycles.
So the vision of global villages is also the vision of a deep System Change in which the focus is not on abstract wealth in the form of money, but on concrete, sensual wealth in the interaction between people and nature. We do not yet know how this system change will come about. Perhaps it is the rapid spread of self-help organizations such as Society 4.0, an initiative by Rotterdam professor Bob de Wit, which is currently spreading in the Netherlands in response to the energy crisis and inflation - cooperative associations that are regionally networked and work at a high technical level. We are hardly aware of this network of alternatives that is imperceptibly spreading in different parts of the world, but from Kurdish communities to grassroots movements in Mexico and India, at least one thing is clear: the network idea is developing more vividly than the old and new nationalisms. Balaji Shrinivasan is promoting similar ideas with the "Network State", a concviction that "Global Villages" in the second sense (Global online communities) will produce so much wealth that they can acquire land and resources (Global Villages in the third sense) to eventually challenge the Nation State.
In contrast to the currently dominant forms of geopolitics and their imperial subjects, it is about a world model in which local autonomy and cycles are strengthened through global networking. Global knowledge cooperation and targeted transfers of resources to build a new integration of human settlement and ways of life with the respective potentials of the cultural landscape worldwide as the necessary response to the obsolete world of megacities, the global depletion of resources and the various catastrophes such as climate change, species extinction, ocean acidification, poisoning and pollution and so on. The necessary response would be not to complain that "humans are massively interfering with natural processes", but to promote a massive change in our way of life that would turn our relationship with nature into a symbiotic relationship, into a truly productive interdependence.
I recently met a young woman with whom I was discussing these issues, she came out as a communist and she was very surprised to learn that I am doing everything I can to use the theorem of global villages to propagate a social model that takes seriously the radical freedom of people not to be dictated to in terms of their economic system and social form. In this I agree with Marx, who understood communism as the free association of producers, today many would say producers. Even if de facto communism has become an ideology of justification and a label for a certain kind of state power that is being reactualized in our time as the Chinese challenge, there is a broad strand of thought that takes up the challenge of making free association the basis of the theory and practice of social organization.
One thing is clear: what we call our freedom today is inextricably linked to the state, power and violence. On closer inspection, the guarantee of freedom proves to be a perfect system of rules and regulations in which state power guarantees the pursuit of people's conflicting interests and, as the saying goes, "gives them a course". One thing is already ruled out: that a significant group of people would be able to remove themselves from this coercive context and create their own form of economic activity beyond the market economy. A camel is more likely to go through the eye of a needle than for the system of money and profit to be questioned even in one single autonomous zone. Our everyday mind usually overlooks this invisible totalitarianism of our system and declares the underlying social contradictions to be natural. But in reality, we only need the state and money because we can't really communicate with each other, nor do we want to. That needs to change !
The essence of cooperation
The discourse on alternative concepts of society brings us back to Rousseau. He wrote his "treatise on the social contract" as a citizen of a city-state, Geneva, and although his book was immediately banned in his home country, it is clear that it was primarily intended for manageable communities. At one point, he even speaks of the "other trees" that one must be able to join - that is in fact the thought that is central for my idea of Global Villages.
The task he sets himself is as follows: "Find a form of association that defends and protects the person and property of each individual member with all their combined strength, and through which everyone, by uniting with all, obeys only themselves and remains just as free as before."
Free association, i.e. networking without external coercion, is also what German author Christoph Spehr described in 2000 in his book "Gleicher als Andere. Eine Grundlegung der Freien Kooperation"  (in a certain analogy to Rousseau's writing on the social contract, also a piece entered in a competition). While in Rousseau's case it was the Academy of Dijon in 1749 that posed the question "Has the restoration of the arts and sciences contributed to the purification of morals?", in Spehr's case it is the question posed by the left-wing Federal Foundation Rosa Luxemburg: "Under what conditions are social equality and political freedom compatible?".
Both writings basically have the same theme, freedom and equality
however, show a substantial difference. While Rousseau invokes the principle of universal rightness, called volonté générale, for the utopian commonwealth of his vision and derives its validity beyond the rights and privileges of the nobility and royalty purely from the common good, i.e. the benefit for all  , Spehr denies any prior justification for the existence of the common good by referring to competing views and social contradictions:
"Free cooperation does not start with the regulation of negotiation, but with the actors. Whether a negotiation is free and equal does not depend on the rules, but on the actors: whether they are able - and if necessary willing - to say "if this is the case then just not", and whether this is possible at a reasonable and justifiable price. On this basis, the players can also negotiate the rules of the negotiation. They can create and change rules, adhere to them or no longer do so. Free cooperation does not set the rules, it strengthens the equal negotiating position of the actors. Justifications like 'scientific knowledge', 'democratic majorities' or 'social necessities' are not able to override them"
While Rousseau, with his identity of "objective interest" and "common good", must therefore also advocate the violent enforcement of the common good against individuals if necessary -
"So that the social pact is not an empty formality, it implicitly includes the following obligation, which alone can lend weight to the others: Whoever refuses to obey the common will will be forced to do so by the community. This means nothing other than that he will be forced to be free. That he will be forced to be free." 
- Spehr rejects this (proto-fascist) construction:
"The right of individuals (and groups) to influence the rules, to make their cooperation subject to conditions, or to reject cooperation that does not suit them, cannot be overridden by any objectifying consideration or alleged need for development, at any time. A mechanism of 'now you cannot negotiate, but later you will be free' is completely contrary to the concept of free cooperation." (S. 23)
Freedom and equality in Spehr as well as in Rousseau are not in contradiction to each other, but are mutually dependent.
"However, the concept of free cooperation insists that individuals should be equal in their power to influence the rules and to terminate or condition their cooperation at any time. Free cooperation does not imply that the participants in a cooperation are homogeneous or identical. It does, however, imply that the participants face each other in a social position of equality. Cooperation is only free if it is equal; and individuals can only be free in a cooperation where they are equal." (S. 24)
Actually, much of the social side of global village theory is due to this antagonism. In other words: If we do not assume to a certain extent a structure-forming power of cooperation as reflected in Rousseau's Volonté Generale, then reliability and coherence can hardly be assumed; the accidental and particular interests do not necessarily give rise to lasting and organic cooperation. At most, such a thing could be imagined under the conditions of nomadic association, for example in the fluid urban formations of seastading, where the termination of cooperation simultaneously means the decoupling of one's own houseboat from the existing maritime urban boat clusters, which many utopians in recent times have imagined as existing outside the sovereignty of nations and under extensive self-government.
In reality, at least for Rousseau, the Volonté Generale does not arise from the particular interests that enter into a negotiation situation. He allows an additional figure to appear, the legislator, who constructs the basic framework before the association, so to speak. In the free software world, it is the maintainer who puts a programmatic project design into the world and may or may not find fellow campaigners. Linus Thorwalds called this the function of a "well-meaning dictator". And a management theorist named Peter Koenig chose the term "source" for the first founder of a project or company to emphasize that this first person has a very special relationship to the project and the associated responsibilities and privileges - with similar phenomena occurring in all sub-projects.
This compels us to add a positive side to Christoph Spehr's negative side of free cooperation: There needs to be a generative process of projecting social designs. And that is the crucial point: what would it be like if we had a variety of associations between which we could vote with our feet?
This is the bottomline for the Global Villages political theory. Imagine a world that gives space to diverse cultures and yet assures that individuals have the freedom to leave and join whatever they resonate with. A world that has no power to coerce anybody against their will, in which there is always space to exit, nowhere land, to build alternatives."
(email, January 2024)
Vision Statement on Global Villages by Franz Nahrada
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.org/
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