Global Villages

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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.

This image is giving a visual expression of what a truly Global Village might be and look like is courtesy of Tony S. Gwilliam /Global Villager of the first hour.

The Concept of Global Villages
Global Villages Network - come and join where you feel at home!


Franz Nahrada:

"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."

go to the original Global Village conferences of the nineties:


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 [1]:

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.

Immediate Goals

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 (

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,

Hannover Principles

Global Villages follow the Hannover Principles

URL = (with some additions by Franz Nahrada)

  1. Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition.
  2. 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.
  3. 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"
  4. 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"
  5. 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.
  6. 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"
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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."

The Hannover Principles, 1992 USGSA website; Definitions used in Hannover Principles, at


Vision Statement on Global Villages by Franz Nahrada

See: Global Village Movement Status Report 2008

and: Global Village Movement Status Report 2010

More Information

More info from the GIVE initiative:

Definitional work at

See also related concepts such as Multi-local Societies and Glocalized Networks

Key Books to Read

The following 2 books are recommended by Franz Nahrada:

1. Design Outlaws, at

crossing architecture, ecology and technology.

2. Local Action / Global Interaction Edited by Peter Day and Douglas Schuler

Info at

More Information