ecoVillages Journal #34 : Week 3 of life off-grid: Going to pickup my first long term volunteer!

7개월 전


Bom Dia as we say here in Portugal. That is sadly about the extent of my Portuguese right now, and something that I hope to improve on very soon. Learning a new language is perhaps the most important and challenging part of moving to a new country., and i hope to start some Portuguese classes very soon! SO it is week 3 of my settling in and today is a very special day for me and the ecoVillages project! Until now i have spent the past several months working along and managing every aspect of building my off grid Yurt and the basics i need to survive here. Things have gone well, and I am now able to function somewhat normally, in a rustic way but functional. I am at least able to host my first volunteer, Josh, who is arriving today. We don't yet have water, but i hope within a week or two the borehole people will turn up and find it for us! In the meantime I am very frugal with water, and source about 30 litres at a time from a nearby spring. It is amazing water!

Its fair to say that i have spent more in the last couple of months than i have in the past 5 years combined! It was very difficult to let go of all my savings, including the emergency one, and spend it all on just the very basic things I have needed to get the many things I have needed to live. It has been a shock to see how much things cost, even in Portugal. I had gotten used to the cost of living in India, and also never had a car or any taxes to pay! These taxes are just out of control, and i think totally unethical, but that’s another story.

So Josh is arriving at just the right time. He will be a good influence on me, and is very good at finding things, connecting with people, and is a great all round helper. We will do many things together, and Josh will help me to start the whole process of building our first Earthship in this location. A huge part of this build will be training, volunteers, and workshops, and we will have a lot to prepare to make that happen well. I am just about to connect with a local architect and being the process of getting planning permission for this earthship, which is a very exciting step indeed! If we get planning permission, that will be the last major hurdle before we can actually start building and setting this entire project into action!

So wish me luck as i set off for a long drive to Lisbon... the next update should be a good one!

If you haven’t heard about this ecoVillages project before here is some more info!

Our primary goal is to help you build and live off-grid and sustainably with a minimal burden on the local environment, and yourself. Your decision to be a part of the ecoVillages Community (I'm tempted to call it a cooperative but i prefer community) will be entirely yours to make, and can be made at any time.

In this new decentralised approach so many tensions are removed. Yes we can and will have people collaborating under the banner of ecoVillages, but you will get to choose who you work with, what you do, or if you work at all. Since you will all have your own land, and are responsible for your own lives, we can each engage as much or little as we desire, without having to deal with a community feeling angst toward them because they are not doing enough.

So people will engage as they naturally do, as neighbours do, and without the pressure or feeling of being stuck with certain people. This ecoVillage could be spread out over many Km's of land in and around Penamacor, which is a beautiful and very small village in rural Portugal. Penamacor are very welcoming, and really want to encourage just the kind of people that want to build and live sustainably and self sufficiently.


We have just bought just one plot of land and will start building our first ecoHome on it we hope later this year. Once we have built the first home, we will then be ready to facilitate others to do the same. What we will do is lead you through the entire process, from buying land, to planning and design, legal work, right through to the build itself, planning regulations etc., until the home is complete. We will have all the connections and knowledge to make it easy and very cheap for you to build your own ecoHome in Portugal.

There are 100's if not 1000's of small and medium sized plots for sale in and around Penamacor, Portugal. If you know the right people, it is possible to acquire a plot big enough for one person or family to build a home and have a little land for food production. Right now it is possible to secure your own private land for as little as $3,000USD. If a small group of 4 or 5 families get together, you could also buy a slightly larger plot to share, and have the costs become even lower. The choice is YOURS now, with the micro-villages approach you will be charge of your own life, and not be forced to have to deal with community issues and problems. There WILL of course be problems and issues, but you can now have a choice, and I think that is psychologically a much better approach.

Each time we build, our community will get stronger! I have personally led four workshops in India, building with 90% unskilled volunteers. The friendships that blossom from each and every workshop are very powerful and special, and if at the end of it these people become neighbours then I think that opens the door to great potential with future collaborations and exchanges.


I see us as great facilitators and doers. Our role will be to facilitate ourselves and others to build and live in the most sustainable way, to provide a lifetime of self sufficiency with almost no ongoing bills and maintenance. Homes will be spread out, but there will still be a strong community. Those who wish to join the ecoVillage community will be welcomed to join and collaborate on projects and receive support. If at any time people feel their collaboration is not working out, they can leave the community without it having to have other implications on their personal security. Likewise, if the community feel that a member is not acting in accordance with our pillars, we may also choose to not collaborate with those people.

Here are some bullet points to highlight the features of ecoVillages as they now stand:

  1. Self ownership of your land and property with ALL the rights and privileges of ownership.
  2. It is optional to join the community, and you may leave the community collaborations without risk to your home or location.
  3. ecoVillages will lead and guide you through the entire process of land purchase, planning, legal, and build work near and around Penamacor, Portugal.
  4. ecoVillages will help you get substantial discounts on Land, Legal Fees and many other costs by working with our partners.
  5. We will drastically reduce build costs by holding workshops during each build, thereby reducing labour costs by a huge margin.
  6. ecoVillage will build homes using the Biotecture approach. Our homes will be by far the best performing models that can run completely off-grid, with almost no bills, and little to no additional heating or cooling.
  7. Community spaces already exist in the village of Penamacor for many things like schools, yoga etc..
  8. New community land and spaces will be created by ecoVIllage to support community operations and new ventures, especially for Permaculture and food production.
  9. Those that choose to become members of the ecoVillage community will abide by the pillars of our community as set out by our founding members.
  10. ecoVillage members will collaborate and support each other in many ways, and especially through trade, exchanges, discounts, use of ecoVillage currency.
  11. ecoVillages will develop and provide the tools and systems needed to facilitate a healthy community trade system, e.g. a website for exchanges and trades.
  12. An Ultra decentralised and viral approach to both eco building and community living, that honours all of our basic needs.

So, all eyes are now on our first build, because once that is completed it will set this great ball in motion. I believe this can work, and the timing could not be better. We are so close now to being able to begin! My current timing for this first build will be in August / September 2020.. but lets see how things pan out with the lock-downs! We will be attempting to build a demo tiny home that will perform well in high heat and cold nights, with a minimal budget and built with reclaimed materials and volunteers whenever possible.

Once built we will monitor and live in the building to understand its performance, strengths and weaknesses. We will also then know how much it costs, and can then give others a realistic sense of costings. That is always the question, how much will it cost... and there is no way to say until we have done it, in that location.

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