Smart Cities or Eco Villages?

Anna Rosengren 2017-03-25

All over the world now, there are innumerable cities and villages that are built as or transformed into Smart Cities and Eco Villages. However, this tends to happen in quite separate sectors, as if we were divided into different paradigms or dimensions.
Without wisdom and skillful means our Smart Cities may turn out to resemble a neatly arranged and optimized panopticon. A panopticon is a kind of well organized prison, where everything practical functions perfectly, but where the management has perfect overview and the prisoners do not have any control over the system. According to Foucault and others (see his ”Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison”, see also my article on”GNH, Equality and Organization” here, it is in Swedish, contact me if you need translation) this is an image of what is happening in some parts of society today. This might be at risk in the most elitist groups of Smart City construction. Without wisdom and resilient methods we may loose contact with what it means to be a human.
Similarly, without wisdom and skillful means our Eco villages may turn out as isolated or utopian dreams, without connection to resources and integration. The GEN movement (Global Ecovillage movement) connects all the initiatives within the sector itself, while often leaving other sectors outside. Sometimes this reflects also on the inside, so that this movement too resembles an elitist exclusive club, controlled by a self-appointed central group. (See for example an article ”The Eco village: Divorced from reality” by Mary Garden. Most of all, though, it is important with skillful means, so that Eco Villages also can become attractive.
From a global perspective, we need to break up the bubbles and talk to each other. Every idea and initiative is worth taking into account, that leads us to a future that is more profoundly happy.

So if the question is Smart cities or Eco Villages…we say: both. Let us be part of the bridge.

There are so many diverse ideas of how to best build a resilient future. These are only two of them. Whatever we believe in, we cannot isolate ourselves in separateness – from our perspective dialogue is one very important key, wherever we are.
One of our contributions, therefore, is facilitating the kind of cross-sector dialogues and provide facilitating knowledge, mindsets, tools and transformations needed to bring in more holistic views.

Smart cities?

Smart cities are urban settlements that use modern technology and innovative cross-sector collaborations to offer more structured and hospitable living conditions for residents. These cities have intelligent control systems providing inputs on the status of water, electricity, public transport, healthcare and education. Energy consuming is reduced and based on renewable energy sources. Transport is also arranged so that traffic is minimized and transformed into ecofriendly alternatives. Smart communication tools facilitate management and administration. In short: A smart city is a smart way of living an urban life with maximum focus on resilience and human wellbeing.

Eco villages?

An eco village is an ecological settlement in which human activities are integrated into the natural context in a way that supports a holistically healthy human development that can be continued into an indefinite future. In an eco village only natural and regenerative building materials are used and the process of both building and living in the village is based on collaboration, cooperative decision making and mutual support. The village also uses resilient and organic methods for self sustaining farming and growing crops. In short: An eco village is a wise way to live a holistic happy life while reconnecting to nature, each other and to oneself.