A Practical Guide to Sustainable Communities

Jan Martin Bang

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A comprehensive manual for planning, establishing and maintaining a sustainable community. Includes issues of management, design, farming and food, water and sewage, energy sources and economics.

244 x 188 mm
Floris Books
Philosophy of Human Life
100 colour photographs
288 pages
Publication date:
21 Apr 2005


The Ecovillages movement is a worldwide network of communities which strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low-impact way of life. Examples include Kibbutz, Camphill communities and others based on frameworks such as Permaculture.

This book explores the background and history to the Ecovillages movement, and goes on to provide a comprehensive manual for planning, establishing and maintaining a sustainable community. Issues discussed include leadership and conflict management, house design, building techniques, farming and food production, water and sewage, energy sources and alternative economics. In the final chapter, the author brings it all together in a step-by-step guide.

Throughout, this book is packed with handy tips, useful insights and sage advice. Theory is brought to life in a series of striking 'Living Example' case-studies from around the world, which include Sunrise Farm Australia, Woodcrest Bruderhof New York, Camphill Solborg, Kibbutz Lotan, Findhorn Scotland, Kimberton Hills Camphill, ZEGG Germany, Wilhelmina Holland, Earthaven Ecovillage North Carolina, Twin Oaks Community Virginia, Anghieri Italy, Kibbutz Ketura, Terre d'Enaille Belgium, Kibbutz Samar, Lebensgarten Germany, New Bassaisa Egypt and La Paix-Dieu Belgium.

Table of Contents

I Introduction
1. Why live in ecovillages? The story of GEN
2. Patterns in Nature

II Design
3. Modelling the Ecovillage -- the Social Aspect
4. House Design and Building Techniques
5. Soil, Plants, Gardening and Farming
6. Water and Sewage
7. Energy Sources and Alternative Technology
8. Alternative Economics

III Putting It All Together
9. Design Hands-On


'Inspiration for seeking out a community of our choice, or creating our own. This is where the book really shines: Bang is able to share his knowledge and observations and present us with a book that is on the one hand a pleasant and informative read, and on the other can be used as a workbook for a nascent or existing community.'
-- Laurence Dungworth, Star and Furrow, Summer 2006

'This well designed book constitutes a comprehensive review for those who seek to initiate an ecovillage or for those in existing community who seek a transformation to a more sustainable way of life.'
-- Dr Michael Livni, International Communal Studies Association Bulletin, December 2005

'The book has a clear and anecdotal style, and the interspersing of details of many of the worldwide communities that make up the Global Ecovillage Network keeps you inspired. Ideal for people interested in setting up a community.'
-- Lesley Rice, Clean Slate: The Practical Journal of Sustainable Living, Summer 2005

'A useful guide if you are considering planning or even joining an ecovillage.'
-- Building for a Future: The Independent Journal for Green Building

'A comprehensive guide to the principles and practice of sustainable communities [which are] conveyed in a way that could inspire new experiments in the genre.'
-- Scientific and Medical Network Review, Summer 2005

'Part life testimony, part textbook for all kinds of sustainable living, working and organising yourself and part 'taking stock'. What I like about this book is the non-judgemental inclusion. It is an important snapshot of how community life has evolved since the communes of the 1970s. Life-affirming.'
-- Vivan Griffiths, Camphill Correspondence, July 2005

'Having myself been involved with founding and building a community, I kept coming across advice and thinking, "that would have been useful!". Jan Bang clearly has hands-on experience. This is a veritable source book.'
-- Christian Thal-Jantzen, New View, Summer 2005

'Peppered with case studies of villages from all over the world, this book weaves together permaculture and ecovillage design as coherent strategies for sustainable living and is full of practical hands-on information as well as inspiration and insight.'
-- Maddy Harland, Permaculture, Summer 2005

'Both these books by Jan Martin Bang [also 'Sustaining Eco-Communities'] a long time member of the kibutzes and alternative communities are therefore very welcome for anyone interested in the concept, but has no practical experience with which to decide whether or not it's for them. Both books are basic in a good way: a readable overview of the essential physical considerations -- food, energy, transport for successful community living -- uncluttered by details that you don't need to know unless/until you actually decide to take this path.'
-- Les Wallace, New Leaf News, Autumn 09


Jan Martin Bang has spent a lifetime working in alternative communities, ranging from Kibbutz in Israel to his present home in the Camphill community of Solborg in Norway. He leads training and development for new Ecovillage projects around the world.

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