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 Respecterre boutique and dressmaking shop.

“La Cité Écologique” is not the only example of an ecovillage, as there are several hundred 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.

Whole Village

In the summer of 2013, I discovered Whole Village thanks to a series of videos on YouTube. Later that year, some “La Cité Écologique” residents went to Ontario to visit this ecovillage located about an hour’s drive north of Toronto, as a meeting was held there for the Canadian ecovillage network. A few months later, at the beginning of 2014, a resident of Whole Village at the time, Peter, came to La Cité for a short internship. We shared a living space for a few weeks and, when he left, I told him I would one day visit him at Whole Village.

Therefore, the following summer, I stayed at Whole Village (WV) for a weekend. I must say that for my work, I travel to Ontario every six months for about a week. Since WV is located in a central area, I could settle for a few days at the same place to visit customers in the area. I thus visited Whole Village with the intention of going back every year.

Map of Greenhaven (collective spaces in yellow, private spaces in white)

Greenhaven

What most impressed me when I arrived was the building called “Greenhaven”, which encompasses eleven apartments (or suites) connected by a collective living space and kitchen. Most of WV’s thirty residents live in this building, constructed in the early 2000s with sustainable development in mind: both in terms of materials used and of energy savings. There are about twenty skylights on the ceiling, which save electricity by allowing lights to be turned off during the day. An impressive masonry heater is set up in the dining room and heats the whole building in the winter. Furthermore, solar panels are installed outside, which provide energy for water heating.

From recycled materials to bamboo floors, everything about this house is eco-friendly. Of course, due to local by-laws prohibiting multiple-unit buildings, the founders had to cope by only installing two ovens in the whole building. It’s a bit of an inconvenience, but since most meals are cooked collectively, the ecovillage inhabitants can live with it.

Cuisinne collective

Community kitchen

Salle à manger

Dining room

Masonry Heater

 

Interesting people

It has now been five times that I go spend a week at Whole Village. This place makes me feel a little as if I were at home. There is an energy in the air similar to what I know here at “La Cité Écologique”. I have become well acquainted with most of the residents—every time I come back, it’s like a reunion with old friends. Although challenges recently emerged in regards to cohabitation, the ecovillage’s group of pioneers is very interesting and sympathetic. As for Peter, he has moved to a similar like-minded community in Western Canada called “Chuckleberry Community Farm”. Maybe one day, I will visit him there! 😊

Wall painting outside of Greenhaven, by my friend Maxim Grunin

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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.