The villages of today will become the cities of the future

Interview with the founder of one of the oldest eco-settlements in Russia, Nevo-Ekovil, which is located in the Sortavalsky district of the Republic of Karelia. Nevo Ecoville is part of a global network of ecovillages and received a $1995 grant in 50 from the Danish organization Gaja Trust, which supports ecovillages around the world.

You can say that I left the unjust world. But we did not so much run away from, but,.

I left the city of St. Petersburg for two reasons. Firstly, there was a desire to recreate the atmosphere in which my happy childhood passed – in nature during the holidays. The second reason was some ideals based on Eastern philosophy. They were deeply woven into my inner world, and I strove to turn ideas into reality.  

We were three families. Courage and other human qualities made it possible to turn our desires into action. Thus, from sweet dreams and conversations in the kitchen, we moved on to building “our own world”. However, it was not written anywhere about how to do this.

Our ideal image was this: a beautiful location, away from civilization, a large common house where several families live. We also represented gardens, workshops on the territory of the settlement.

Our original plan was based on building a closed, self-sufficient and spiritually developing group of people.

At the moment, it’s quite the opposite. Instead of a large common monolithic house, each family has its own separate one, built in accordance with its (family’s) taste. Each family builds its own world in accordance with the existing ideology, resources and opportunities.

Nevertheless, we have a common ideology and clear criteria: the unity of the territory of the settlement, goodwill among all residents, cooperation with each other, self-confidence, freedom of religion, openness and active integration with the outside world, environmental friendliness and creativity.

In addition, we do not consider permanent residence in the settlement to be an important factor. We do not judge a person by how long he has been in the territory of Nevo Ecoville. If a person joins us only, for example, for a month, but does everything possible to improve the settlement, we are happy with such a resident. If someone has the opportunity to visit Nevo Ecoville once every two years – welcome. We will gladly meet you if you are happy here.

For starters, suburban areas are surrounded by fences – this is a fundamentally different concept. Further, our home is still a settlement. For example, I spend 4-5 months in Nevo Ecoville and the rest of the year in a city that is 20 km away. This alignment may be due to the education of my children or my own professional development, which are still dependent on the city. However, my home is Nevo Ecoville.

Freedom of choice must be present at all levels, including among children. If the “world” of our settlement is not as interesting to children as the city, then this is our fault. I am glad that my eldest son, now 31 years old, has returned to the settlement. I was also happy when the second one (a student of St. Petersburg University) recently said: “You know, dad, after all, it’s better in our settlement.”

None, I’m afraid. Just a forced necessity.

I can speak on this topic as an architect and urban planner with experience living in different places. As a person who consciously observes life in these environments, I am deeply convinced of the hopelessness of the city as a platform for a fulfilling life. As I see it, in the future cities will become something that is now in the villages. They will play a supporting role, a temporary, secondary form of residence.

From my point of view, the city has no future. This conclusion is based on a comparison of the richness and diversity of life in nature and urban areas. Living people need wildlife around. Starting to live in harmony with nature, you come to this realization.

In my opinion, the city is like a “radioactive zone”, in which people have to stay for a short period of time to achieve certain goals, such as education, professional issues – temporary “missions”.

After all, the purpose of creating cities was communication. The crowding and proximity of everything to everything solves the issue of interaction for the coordinated work necessary for the functioning of the system. Fortunately, the Internet allows us to reach a new level of communication, in connection with which, I believe, the city will no longer be the most desirable and ubiquitous choice for living in the future. 

Leave a Reply