To my knowledge, the formation of small spiritual groups that make a choice to leave mainstream society and form their own “intentional community” is at least 2,500 years old, being the exemplary manifestation of the first Axial Age. (All the major world religions trace their origins back to these first spiritual communities.) In the 1960s this saw a resurgence with the hippies and the whole counter-culture movement; this interest continues into the present and may well be intensifying relative to the multiple crises of the world.

Note these are NOT necessarily the same or identical to the ecovillages listed on this website on the Ecovillages page. But some might well overlap; many spiritually-oriented communities are also ecologically aware. There is significant overlap, for example, with Karen Litfin’s Ecovillage examples (  

Damanhur is in Italy, founded in 1974 by a small visionary group who had developed their own vision of spiritual development of consciousness relative to world religions and evolution. Damanhur is self-consciously a “living laboratory”, inviting research and experimentation into consciousness and the efficacy of its “Temples of Humankind” complex.

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Auroville was founded in India in 1968 by the Mother; its name is derived from Sri Aurobindo, one of India’s modern spiritual masters. Aurobindo together with the Mother developed the vision for Auroville as a way of manifesting a Hindu vision of the evolution of human consciousness appropriate to the 20th century. Auroville continues to thrive and attract many visitors, both Indian and international.

Depending on how one dates origins, Findhorn in Scotland began as a community & a Foundation in 1962 (unintentionally!), and later developed an intentional ecovillage project in 1982 as one part of what it does. (Part of Findhorn’s worldwide fame since the 1960s was due to the extraordinary sized vegetables that grew there, putatively due to spiritual reasons that science has been unable to explain.) Based on the Findhorn Foundation which is primarily a spiritual community, there are numerous initiatives at Findhorn in addition to the ecovillage such as a college, retreats, education programmes; while the Ecovillage itself is a “synthesis of some of the very best of current thinking on sustainable human settlements”.

Ecovillage Findhorn

Founded in 1964 in Guelph, Ontario, the Ignatius Jesuit Center began as a Jesuit retreat center and has developed into that plus much more, hosting a farm, an old-growth forest, retreats at Loyola House that include the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises (40 days).

A Rocha Canada is an environmental stewardship program rooted in Christian principles of creation care that focuses on protecting and/or remediating threatened or damaged environments. Its “flagship project” is in Surrey, BC, the Brooksdale Environmental Center, self-described as “a living lab comprised of forests, a threatened river system, organic gardens, and heritage houses”. It solicits volunteers and interns for working on its many projects, as well as providing guest lodging and running a CSA project (community-shared agriculture) on its farm.

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