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Albert Bates: What is a good life?

Posted by Kaie Kotov on March 05, 2018

Albert Bates

Leaving the Age of Limits, and entering the Age of Consequences, many new challenges confront us. What is our most strategic response? We see three interconnected parts:

  • Regeneration of the natural world
  • Ahimsa (harmlessness)
  • Satyagraha (truth force)

As ecovillagers, regeneration requires us to repair the Earth where we are, and then to reach out to heal her at ever greater distances. We work first at the square centimeter field, but recognize that the square centimeter is part of the square meter, and the cubic meter, and the whole Earth.

To begin to heal the Earth, we must first do no harm. This requires us to adopt practices that may seem to others in the modern consumer culture as heresy, but they need not be hair shirts — we can live both simply and elegantly. Our businesses can provide both right livelihood and be profitable. Simple ethical choices govern our daily activities. Ecovillage magic (advanced technology) enables these to be successful in the unfair competitive context of the dying, fossil culture.

The power that living with purity of intention gives to us is stronger than most imagine. It threw the British Raj out of India. It brought civil rights to African Americans. It elevated a humble prisoner to the presidency of South Africa. This power must always be guarded with care and used with utmost caution. It must be continuously, ritualistically re-purified to remain strong. This is the keystone of ecovillage design. It holds the entire arch.

But speaking of arches, we will also speak together of buildings and infrastructures, looking at natural materials, ancient techniques, passive heating and cooling in all climates, and practical ways to draw carbon from the atmosphere and oceans by how we construct human habitats at all scales.

Ecovillages are viral memes. They travel, like the scent of new flowers, on sweet fragrances. They pass from person to person as good advice, friend to friend. They come from the ground, from the grass roots, and they fit into the context of their surroundings, while at the same time enchanting neighbors with their exceptional beauty and grace.

Climate change is nothing new for our species. Living within the confines of a solar energy economy is something we had done until just two centuries ago, in all climates and topographies, in areas of good soil and water and in regions of almost none. Being aware of limits is essential to design, and to a good life.

Albert Bates is a conference keynoter. Former President of Global Ecovillage Network and an ecovillage pioneer, he has fervently and with a great sense of humor been exploring ways to reverse climate change and the decline of civilization.


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