EcoLabSS – Ecovillages as Laboratories of Sustainability and Social Change
In an historical moment where citizens of the world are called to take action to face ´multiple crises´- the emergency of climatic change, high and rising socio-economic inequalities, and the upsurge of intolerance and racism within and between countries - the study of transformative grassroots initiatives becomes crucially important and timely. ‘Ecovillages as Laboratories of Sustainability and Social Change´ (EcoLabSS) is conceived as an international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary project aiming at producing a theoretically grounded and methodologically innovative study of one of these grassroots initiatives: the ecovillage movement. EcoLabSS provides a multi-level and mixed method study of the ecovillage movement that combines the comparative study of two local ecovillages, respectively in Denmark and Italy, with a systematic analysis of the actions and networks of the transnational organization Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). The review and the fieldwork is used to develop a comprehensive theoretical and analytical framework centred on the path-breaking definition of ´community-based prefigurative social movements´. The empirical analysis is structured along three mutually informing levels of analysis: micro-individual level, meso-community level, and macro-societal level. The first level focuses on the study of individual life trajectories and biographies of ecovillage inhabitants. The meso-community level is analyzing the everyday practices and processes involving organization, decision-making and creation of future-oriented norms and codes of conduct inside the two case studies. Finally, the macro-societal level analyzes how the ecovillage movement - represented by the transnational organization GEN - translates and diffuse its practices, narratives and visions of a just and sustainable society to policy-makers, institutions, other civil society actors and the wider public.
This project is carried out by Lara Monticelli