Abstract: This article deals with the relationship between eco-communities and the proposal for sustainable degrowth. Through the study of two different eco-communities located in Greece, namely the eco-community of Gavdos Island and the one of Giourtsa in Pilion, the article hopes to contribute to the discussion regarding the transition from growth society, which, according to a significant number of indications, is ecologically and socially unsustainable, to a degrowth society which will lead to better living with less. Life in the eco-communities challenges many of the dominant perceptions of contemporary western lifestyle, invites us to re-evaluate issues to do with basic needs, ecology, social relations, democracy, freedom of expression, as well as working and spare time. At the same time, it subtly suggests a different path to prosperity. On the other hand, the questions that pose and are trying to answer many of the theoretical approaches to degrowth are similar. Even if the eco-communities, in most cases, do not constitute conscious ventures of the degrowth movement, they are closely linked with the ideas and the practices that this line of argument promotes. Additionally, these ventures, through concrete practices, actively promote the ̈decolonization of the imaginary ̈ of growth. In this sense they point to a procedure achievable from now, while they also constitute particularly useful social experiences, the study of which can contribute to the formation of a contemporary agenda for degrowth. Besides, the degrowth movement itself grew, to a large extend, through the experiences of squatting, neo-ruralism, reclaiming the streets, alternative energies, waste prevention, and recycling. If, as it is argued by many scientists, degrowth is inevitable for the planet, the challenge is how it may also be returned into a positive development alternative for the human societies, and to this end every eco-community and every social experience that is moving towards this direction, can contribute.
Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.