Individual escapism or eco-community: selected cases of ecovillage initiatives in Turkey

Arıcan, Ebru
The aim of this study is to examine ecovillage initiatives in Turkey by focusing on green lifestyles and community strategies as agents of political change. In Turkey, the first ecovillage initiatives started to appear in the 1990s. Ecovillage initiatives, like ecovillages in the world, are intended to create models of sustainability and selfsufficiency and to promote ecologically sound practices and values. Members of ecovillage initiatives taking part in this study, have concerns about quality of life issues. They associate quality of life with healthy food, physical/spiritual health and well-being, all of which are based upon sustainable ecological principles. Ecovillage dwellers escape from cities to practice an ecological lifestyle in settlements of their choice because they perceive that their basic quality of life is threatened by poor environmental quality in the cities. They emphasize individual actions, not macroeconomic, social and political structures, as the major cause of environmental degradation. This study is a modest attempt to explore whether ecovillage initiatives have the potential to become the kind of human-scale, self-sustaining eco-communities suggested by social ecology perspective. It also addresses whether ecovillage initiatives should be considered as the flight of certain members of the urban middle classes to rural areas, and whether they should be understood as individualistic and private efforts of educated and propertied (urban) middle classes.