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An Important element in the creation of an Eco-Village would be the legal structures behind land division.

Many people would need to have the following elements:

  1. 1.Sense of ownership

  2. 2.Land is held in perpetuity - As the designs are created to develop gardens that are intended to be self sustaining for future generations, mini eco-systems, people would want to know that they are planting not just for the rest of their own life, but for future generations.

  3. 3.A fair system

  4. 4.An exit strategy, for those that buy in and want to leave and sell up at some later point.


Community Land Trusts are a form of group land ownership that helps with affordability, etc.

Legal Structures

Public seminar: Community land trusts: perpetually affordable housing & community resilience from Kelly Lanfranca on Vimeo.

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The following talks about how O.U.R eco village in Canada overcame some of the problems of land Zoning by forming a collaborative relationship with local government, by essentially saying ‘whet so living sustainably is illegal - how can we make it legal - together’, and getting appropriate changes made to land zoning, the building code etc. It also discusses other topics.

A village charter, or set of rules would need to be established before creating a village. Establishing The rules BEFORE creating a village or community is important so that all people who join know what they are signing up for.


Having a community which has in intent behind it, until such a stage that humanity is mature enough to not need one, would need it’s own legal charter to define the do’s and don’ts of the village. It would have to be done like a constitution which describes a process of changing rules, and when rules are made they have to be stuck to.


Some Important factors:

  1. *Charter would have to be written in simple terms, in the primary language of the nation that the village is being established in, for the following reasons:

     * All potential members can understand and have their say in what is needed.

     * People who join know exactly what they are consenting to when they join.

     * Easy to follow once the villages is established.


Rules act like a container for what can and can’t happen in a village or community.

If there are too many rules, or rules are too tight, then the container is too small, reducing the freedom, spontaneity, creativity of those that live there.

If the rules are too few, then the focus and combined energy of the village of community is lost.

Creating a set of rules that create a healthy container that is satisfactory to the people who join is important and would need to be well though out.

With to many or a to ridged set of rules, to few people will join,  With to few rules, or broad a focus, the wrong people can join and as they would still be abiding by the village charter, no one would be able to make them change the behaviour or leave.


Intentional communities are communities that built around a particular focus.

Eco villages and communities are intentional communities that are designed with environmental consciousness in mind.

An eco village that also has another intention (eg. religions, spiritual or historical) would have a different set of rules than a regular eco village.


Some simple example rules:


For those with kin domains are required to plant food bearing plants and attempt to grow their own food.


An example or a rule in one community that functions well was that all members of  the village are required to work 50hrs a year in common community land maintenance and working bees, or pay $20/hr if they were unable to make it, in order to pay for someone to do their work instead. People were asked to leave the community if they did not attend a working bee for more than two years, as they had given no personal energy.

Establishing a Village Charter

Dealing with Legal issues within the community.

Another important factor to implement before a village starts is to have a conflict resolution strategy or procedure in place before village creation has begun. Many people have moved out of eco communities for a number of resolvable reasons. It could be that a more aggressive and dominant resident is trying to impose a ‘way to be’ on less dominant people who are unable to voice their concerns or stand up to confrontation, and so move our of the village as a form of fleeing. There also may be ongoing and growing concerns about a particular matter that leads to residents continued dissatisfaction eventually resulting in some people leaving.

Plans for ways to resolve all possible conflicts needs to be in place before people join a village.

Conflict Resolution Strategy

Other Models:


For some other descriptions of legal structures got to: Legal Structures in New Zealand. Similar structures exist in other areas of the world, though may have different names.

A proposed design:


Once enough people have agreed to village designs and areas we would follow the following steps:


  1. 1.People pledge an amount they can pay for the initial purchase of land that would be held by the trust.

  2. 2.A trust is formed that would own the land to be held in perpetuity. One stipulation would be that the village land could never be sold, only individual lots, which are sold through the Trust.

  3. 3.Pledge money is pooled and suitable land is chosen for purchase. It’s important that all contributors and future residents make a unified decision.

  4. 4.An agreement is formed between contributors, residents and the trust such that all those who have contributed less would have to pay the trust, and the trust would pay those who contributed more, so that eventually all people who have contributed an equal amount (or course if someone is more wealthy in the financial sense, and wishes to make a donation because that just want to see it happen and make it easier for every one else they can do this and waver this step, or it can be done partially if they want to make a donation and also a larger than average contribution)

  5. 5.Land is divided by design into specific lots.

  6. 6.A preferential system is implemented so that all people can get their most preferred lots (eg. maybe no one will get their first preference, but everyone would get their 2nd or 3rd)

  7. 7.A lease term is drawn up between future residents and the trust. It would stipulate the conditions for the land use, amount of land rent each resident would pay to the trust (to cover running costs, land tax, rates etc.) and would also stipulate that the land would be held by the tenant in perpetuity, with hereditary title, unless they at some point wished to sell or leave.

  8. 8.People can move in an commence land rehabilitation, planting and building of their homes. Some conditions on the housing that would be built would be determined by the trust, and also are still governed by the council regulations.


There is the simple model of all those who want to create a village or community contribute what they can on the basis of what they can afford. The land can be bought outright with the monetary contributions and whoever is involved can then move in as their life permits. People are more important than money remember. More people in a village creates a larger skill base, more creative input, many hands making light work. Not forgetting great skills such as cooking or minding children.


Land could be bought on a donation / gift basis.

Land could be bought in a on donation / gift and loan / pay back over time basis, where those who can afford more at the start pay more to purchase the land, and then those that move in can pay back over time. This option is also open to people donating a portion towards the land purchase.

Some other scenarios:

Someone wealthy enough likes the idea enough to just donate money outright for eco village creation - just because they like the idea.

A farmer who is struggling with mortgage payments could see his property better used as an eco-village, so sells the portion of the land to a village creation group, pays the balance off so he’s debt free and keeps his home and a portion of the land, and gets to have a vibrant community living near by.




Other links Relevant to Community Land Trusts:

Community Land Trust Network - A USA site.

Watch “Homes and Hands - Community land Trusts in Action” - part one below

 
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