A photographic journey through ecovillages.
Recently, I got a commission by ECOLISE to kick start an inclusive image bank that portrays accurately and captures the diversity of community-led initiatives. During the first stage of the project, funded by Actiris, I had the privilege of embarking on a journey to explore different ecovillages across Spain and Portugal, documenting their unique approaches to sustainability and inclusivity.
My journey began in Tamera, a vibrant community nestled amidst the Alentejo region of Portugal. Tamera stands out for its deep commitment to cultivating a nonviolent culture and regenerative ecosystems. Their focus on studying the inherent logic of love and creating sustainable social structures resonated deeply with me. Through community building, they strive to discover healthy and open ways to express sexuality and cultivate genuine relationships. The sense of safety and belonging I experienced within the community was truly remarkable. Within the 150 hectares of land, there was an undeniable sense of harmony with nature, evident in the wild boars grazing peacefully and playing with their mothers amidst the fields.
Molino de Guadalmesi was really captivating with its diverse array of bioconstruction architectures, harmoniously spread around the original watermill buildings and almost blending into nature. Located alongside the Guadalmesi River, aptly named for its feminine essence, the community exuded an idyllic ambiance, with panoramic views stretching towards the African continent. Witnessing the goats being herded back to their shelters during the golden hour was a truly enchanting experience, reminiscent of Millet’s iconic painting, “The Angelus.”
Arterra stands out for its strong physical presence. Operating as a sociocracy-based community, their cooperative model brings together a diverse range of entrepreneurial ventures, including an artisanal brewery, a bakery, organic gardens, and the headquarters of GEN Europe and the Ecohabitar magazine. I was particularly impressed by their openness to discussing organizational and economic matters.
Sunseed Desert Technology was, back in the time, one of the first sustainable projects I have ever visited. The project is placed in a small off-grid village where life is dedicated to water conservation and the regeneration of arid landscapes. This commitment to sustainability makes it a rewarding place to live, offering a unique opportunity for those who are passionate to learn about off-grid living firsthand.
Throughout my journey, I was consistently inspired by the profound impact ecovillages have on fostering sustainability, inclusivity, and holistic well-being. These communities demonstrate that a paradigm shift towards a more harmonious and sustainable future is not just a possibility but a reality.
As the feminist Bolivian activist María Galindo eloquently stated, “La lucha social debe ser un paraíso donde quedarse” –the social struggle should be a paradise to stay. Ecovillages embody this vision, creating spaces where individuals can connect with nature, each other, and their true selves, fostering a sense of belonging and purpose that transcends the materialistic pursuits of modern society.
Ecovillages serve as beacons of hope, reminding us that a future where sustainability and inclusivity are not just buzzwords but integral aspects of our daily lives is not a distant dream but a tangible possibility. By embracing the values and practices that these communities embody, we can collectively shape a world where humanity thrives in harmony with our planet and each other.
Eva San Juan is a photographer and communications professional with a passion for storytelling and a keen interest in promoting sustainability, intersectionality, and cultural exchange.