Abstract: For centuries, intentional communities of various sorts have been formed to experiment with alternative socio-cultural and economic models. As we enter the Anthropocene and find ourselves in a world challenged to create a post-carbon economy that is no longer reliant on endless growth, such models are in greater demand than ever. Since the mid-1990s, hundreds of ecovillages around the world have been experimenting with ways to achieve prosperity without growth. Linking to three transition discourses, this article uses ongoing ethnographic research to describe how one intentional community – Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in northeast Missouri, USA –is forging such models by cultivating cooperative cultural values and behaviors, recreating the commons, and sharing their experiences and lessons with broader publics through media, research, and educational programs. Based on ongoing participatory action research, I present data on areas such as energy use, water use, solid waste production, and perceived happiness to illustrate that the community is achieving the decreased consumption patterns required for degrowth while maintaining a high quality of life for its members. Finally, the paper reflects on the role of the activist-researcher facing the dual tasks of helping the community move toward its goals while simultaneously translating the particular to more broadly applicable theory and practice.
Journal of Political Ecology 24: 519-542.
This is the sixth article in Lisa L. Gezon and Susan Paulson (eds.) 2017. “Degrowth, culture and power”, Special Section of the Journal of Political Ecology, 24: 425-466.