Translated with the help of Lucie Battaglia. Thank you Lucie!

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As you may already know, Respecterre is part of an ecovillage called “La Cité Écologique,” located in Ham-Nord. Respecterre’s owners and most of its employees live in this ecovillage, which is also home to the Boutique Respecterre dressmaking shop.

“La Cité Écologique” is not the only example of an ecovillage; there are several hundreds of similar projects around the world. Many of those have been visited by some of our residents here at La Cité. In this new series of articles, we will introduce you to these greatly inspiring alternative-living projects.

La Cité Écologique

Ever since my early childhood, I grew up in La Cité Écologique, in an environment designed for children. It started out as an educational project that brought many together, at the edge of 8e Rang in Ham-Nord. We knew in our minds that to bring about real change in this world, we must start by changing the way children are educated. Organic food and respect for nature go hand in hand with our pedagogical philosophy, which requires the active involvement of all parents, teachers and educators. Thus, the ecovillage project began around education in 1983-84.

Today, about 80 residents, both adult and children, live in La Cité Écologique. Our agriculture initiative called “La Ferme Bio Maraîchère” allows us to grow a lot of our vegetables, and we set up a purchase group to buy organic food at wholesale prices. We have been composting our organic waste from the beginning, Furthermore, we share cars and housing, work on site, and much more.

 

In my opinion, the biggest difference between our ecovillage and other similar places would be our financial independence. Although we are not self-sufficient in terms of food and do not live off the grid, those are goals we could meet in the long run. For now, all of us work for a company that belongs to La Cité Écologique’s residents. From the beginning, we have been working hard for companies that are now flourishing. This level of entrepreneurship is often less developed in ecovillages which focus solely on sustainable development. Yes, ecology is a priority, but we have found a balance between sustainable and economic development.

Here is another interesting, yet little-known topic: there is a second La Cité Écologique in New Hampshire, founded in 2003 in Colebrook, New Hampshire, United States. It is located approximately two hours by car from Ham-Nord, Quebec, Canada. Primarily to have a foothold for the company Kheops International, some thirty residents from La Cité in Ham-Nord settled down in the United States. The ecovillage offers on-site schooling, organic farming, collective living spaces, and purchase groups, and is financially independent. People have adopted the same life principles at this second Cité Écologique, and since its inception, both ecovillages have supported each other.

I think, the greatest strength of this community is the relationship of trust and friendship between individuals. We could refer to it as the “social fabric.” From the beginning, we have been working consciously on this aspect of community life. We’re not all necessarily friends, and there are sometimes conflicts. However, we share a strong sense of belonging, which makes us feel as united as one “big family.” It is actually the term we use to refer to the community as a whole.

What would remain to be developed at La Cité Écologique? We have yet to explore eco-friendly building practises. For the time being, all residential, commercial and agricultural buildings have been built using conventional methods. Last year, we built a greenhouse inspired by Earthships, with passive solar heating and aquaponic culture. This was really our first construction project striving towards sustainable development. I believe that the second and third generation have a firm intention to further look into green buildings.

More info about La Cité Écologique:    citeecologique.org 
Tours : http://citeecologique.org/en_US/eco-tourisme/visites-guidees/

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About the author Ugo Dutil: I grew up at the ecovillage “La Cite Ecologique” from 1 to 11. I decided to go back and live there when I was 25 years old. I like this way of life that allows us to prioritize human relationships over material possessions. I’ve been working with Respecterre since 2013. Voluntary simplicity and responsible consumption, especially in textiles, fascinates me.