Building Village 3.0

Re-imagining how we live and work in the 21st century

By Aaron “Pearl” Perlmutter (@aaronispearl), Anton Chernikov (The Exponentials,) and Victor Vorski (EarthSkyLab, Village.Builders)

Introduction

We live in a time of rapid, wide-scale societal change with technology transforming every aspect of work and life. Just as we begin to see the deeper impacts of the internet revolution, the next wave of transformative technologies is upon us; artificial intelligence, bio technology, 3D printing, green energy and more. If we are to address the growing social, economic and environmental challenges, society must advance to the next stage. The only way forward is to fundamentally rethink, redesign and reinvent how we approach family, work, health, business and community. Oft-quoted, Buckminster Fuller proposed:

‘You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.’

This idea is at the core of our message.

Imagine living in alignment with your values, deeply connected with the land and the people around yet keeping a strong connection to the wider world. What if you could design, build and nurture an environment that is perfectly suited to allow you to thrive in life and work? Imagine building your ideal village with friends, family, and community. How would you design it? How would you choose to live?

We call this vision of a lifestyle so many of us are searching for “Village 3.0”. Village 3.0 seeks to find an authentic balance between old and new, rural and urban, individualism and community, technology and nature. A new generation of village, integrating the wisdom of philosophy, tradition, ecovillages and intentional communities combined with latest insights from systems-thinking, psychology, sociology, ecology and organisational design. A village designed around the possibilities of bottom-up, peer-to-peer global collaboration and location free-livelihoods enabled by the Internet. Village 3.0 is a place of thriving entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, whilst also nurturing intimacy, well being, consciousness and shared purpose.

Village 3.0 is based on a holistic understanding of health and wealth. Village 3.0 draws upon many movements including next-stage organisations, intentional community, lifelong self-directed-learning, as well as permaculture, natural and ecological building. We believe that there is a growing demand for Village 3.0’s where we can live truly balanced, thriving lives.

In this article we share our vision of Village 3.0.

Interested?


Earth Sky Lab : A Village 3.0 project gathering

A holistic understanding of life and health

When we ask ourselves: ‘what do I value most in life?’ most of us think about family, friends, community, our passions. Traditional wisdom and mounting scientific evidence show that happiness comes from a sense of place and purpose; a life within a rich social network of meaningful relationships. This more holistic understanding of “thriving life” is required for humanity to move towards a healthier and happier future.

Ultimately, what we crave are more meaningful moments and life-experiences; more time to spend following our curiosity; time and space to work on what we really care about, time to build nourishing friendships and collaborations. Time to enjoy life and really experience the world. Time to be present with ourselves, our loved ones, our friends, collaborators, neighbours and the strangers we meet along the way. The rat race starves us of what is most precious — the chance to live as we truly are — social, curious, playful and purposeful humans. Rather than falling into the vicious cycle of working longer hours to earn more money to spend on things we don’t need, let’s join together in conscious community to co-create villages which will support a thriving life.

What makes life great? How to live a life you don’t need a vacation from? How can we create work and community where we are safe to be our authentic selves and can truly express all our skills and talents? How do we create deep community and connection in our daily lives? These questions are at the heart of Village 3.0.

The changing nature of work

Today a growing number of professions are location independent. Designers, entrepreneurs, marketers, software developers, craftsmen, artists and creative professionals have access to an explosion of online opportunities allowing them to build livelihoods in the global marketplace whilst living anywhere with an internet connection. Our ability to communicate online makes possible fluid remote collaboration and distributed organisations based on virtual teams. Indisputably, project-based collaboration, self-employment, and freelancing are integral to the future of work.

The industrial revolution gave us the paradigm of organisation as machine, a pyramid with a few at the top thinking and planning whilst a large workforce below executes commands. Organisations built on a rigid hierarchy with information flowing up and instructions flowing down. This system worked well in the 19th & 20th century realities, enabling unprecedented economic growth and development, despite giving little freedom or opportunity for creativity to workers. However in the 21st century we live in a world with increasing volatility and change, a radically new reality requiring businesses to adapt and learn at a speed which hierarchical companies are incapable of. It is becoming clear that many of the systems and institutions around us are no longer fit for the times we live in.

We are seeing the rise of new models of organisation including thousands of office-less distributed companies around the world. For example: Automattic which develops WordPress.com and is valued at more than $1 billion. Powering 24% of all websites on the internet today with a 400-person team spread across 40 countries without a central office.

“This has been amazing for the company in that we can attract and retain the best talent without them having to be in New York or San Francisco or one of the traditional tech centers.”
-
CEO Matt Mullenweg in interview with Glenn Leibowitz

Another example is Buffer, valued at $60 million, and employing a workforce distributed across multiple time zones. At Buffer, a team member is available to speak with customers around the clock, delivering real time customer service, one of their core company values. Removing a centralised office and trusting teams to self-organise to best respond to customer needs has enabled these organisations to drive innovation and achieve a lot more with a lot less whilst giving employees much more freedom and fulfilment

As work becomes location independent and self-employment continues to rise, more people have freedom and flexibility to work when and where they like. Village 3.0 asks: Given this new freedom, how can we re-design our lives, communities and built environment and create villages which support thriving human life?

Shirakawa-gō (白川郷) is a historic village in Gifu.

Co-Working, Co-Living, Co-Housing — Co-Everything

Over the past decade we have seen explosive growth in co-working spaces in cities across the world. Coliving and cohousing is experiencing a resurgence. In London: The Collective, Tipi London, Essential Living, Fish Island Village and Pocket Living. New York is home to the the first WeLive space and Common. OpenDoor, Podshare and 1532 Harrison are leading the way in San Francisco. In Berlin the groundbreaking Holzmarkt development is setting a unique precedent for community-funded residential development. In Stockholm we have Tech Farm and Hus24. The driving factors for this are simple — a practical need for affordability and a basic human need to live and work in community. By sharing more we can individually live leaner whilst collectively living richer.

However, co-living is not just micro-apartment blocks with a community manager and ‘hipster-hotel-style’ services. The real challenge is to build deep community and a culture of co-creation, shared ownership and mutual support. As a community we can co-create shared spaces and projects such as gardens, makerspaces, workshops, childcare, schools, playgrounds, pop-up cafes, skill sharing and peer learning clubs, community celebrations and more. We can support each other in both life and work, giving support, sharing knowledge, skills and networks.

Coworking and coliving, done right, is a scalable solution to many social and economic problems seen in major cities including loneliness and social isolation, loss of community and extended family support and rising housing and living costs. In fact people working deeply on improving very different aspects of our society such as parenting, education, mental health to elderly care are all arriving at the same conclusion — we need to deeply re-think how we build and nurture meaningful, supportive, local community.

“It is probable that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the earth.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh

With Village 3.0 we explore new ways of bringing together the best of rural and urban life and consider how we can design our lives in such a way that we are ‘connected to community’ everywhere we go.

Village 3.0 is the natural next step in the evolution of the co-everything movement.

Are you interested?

Manarola is a small town in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy.

Introducing Village 3.0

Village 3.0 explores how to create an environment which truly supports thriving human life given the context of our times. Village 3.0 is the next step in the evolution of the co-everything movement, an exploration of the possibilities opened up by location-independent livelihoods. Village 3.0 envisions a new way of life for the 21st century, and rather than prescribe a single model, we advocate wide-scale experimentation and peer learning. A Village 3.0 can take many forms: it can be manifested in rural or urban settings, and it can have different purposes at the core. However, regardless of their differences, all Village 3.0s share a spirit and values which guides the village builders who bring these places to life. The spirit of innovation, bottom-up organising, peer-to-peer learning and community co-creation expressed in the values: conscious, creative & collaborative.

Every Village 3.0 participates in a global network of movements and organisations, striving to create a balance of local and global connection, giving the advantage of deep local community with the benefits of global connection.

Village 3.0 is not a brand name nor a prescriptive model, it is a collaborative search to the question: “Given the holistic knowledge we have today about human needs and the possibilities presented by technological developments, how can we co-create a village which most fully nurtures thriving human life?” An ancient question which needs new answers for the realities of the world we live in today.

Village 3.0 — a new answer to an ancient question.

A Framework for Dialogue

We believe that “Purpose, People, Place, Livelihood, Learning and Health”, together provide a complete framework for discussing everything which needs to be considered in the designing an environment to nurture thriving human life. This is not to imply a search for self-sufficiency at the village level in each of these areas, rather that these are areas for consideration and planning.

In life everything is connected, so any division is arbitrary to an extent, but to enable learning and collaboration, especially between very different kinds of villages, we need a shared framework for dialogue. The following diagram is the framework we propose to use for Village 3.0, mapping out the integration of Purpose, People, Place, Livelihood, Learning, Health.

The Village 3.0 Hexagon: Our framework for approaching Village 3.0 development.

Each Village 3.0 is has at it’s core it’s own purpose — a source, a meaning, mission or founding story — which creates the basis for deep connection and a common language for everyone in the village. This could be the goal of creating an ecologically sustainable life, shared religious faith, artist collective or something else. There are many different purposes around which a community can unite. We invite village builders to be clear about their purpose and to be open to inquiry and dialogue with other villages as to how their purpose, values and vision support the thriving life of the village’s members.

From a shared purpose emerge people and place. In some cases, the people come first and an intentional community is formed, then the search for a physical place begins. In other cases the place comes first around which a an intentional community is built. ‘People’ includes the topics of governance, ownership, finance, communications and cultural elements of village life. When we refer to ‘Place’ we consider the physical infrastructure, the landscape, the local context, the construction processes and the architecture.

The final three elements are livelihood, learning and health. By livelihood we refer to how we spend our time, how we make our living, how we participate in the global economy so that we can ensure that each Village 3.0 member is able to live a thriving modern life. Village 3.0 strives for an environment where everyone is able to pursue their passions whilst being independent and economically resilient . Learning refers to self-directed lifelong learning, in Village 3.0 the community participates in supporting the professional and personal development of all members, regardless of age. By health we refer to an environment which holistically nurtures our mental and physical wellbeing.

These elements of purpose, people, place, livelihood, learning and health are anchors for deeper inquiry and dialogue. They help us to navigate the complex, multidimensional and interconnected ideas forming Village 3.0.

Village 3.0 is a framework for dialogue on how to create thriving human life in the 21st century.

Designing for diversity and multiple generations

Multi-generational living is one of the foundations of Village 3.0. Planning for many generations is required for a long-term sustainable village; a village that won’t die out after one or two generations. Village 3.0 asks: How can we create a great home for working professionals, as well as families and elder residents? Today, young parents, without family support, experience parenting as a much greater burden than in traditional societies. Modern society’s approach of marginalising and institutionalising our elders is shocking. Children grow up without the company of grandparents and extended family whilst the elderly suffer from loss of meaning and loneliness, communities lose the wisdom of their elders. In a Village 3.0 the elders continue working part-time, contribute to community projects, help take care of the whole village’s children, and mentor and support the youth and adults.

A key question of Village 3.0 is: How can we design a place and community which best integrates the needs of all generations?

Rural Spain, outside of the city Huesca.

Village 3.0: Promise of a rural renaissance

Since the industrial revolution, cities have pulled people in from the countryside with the lure of jobs, education, culture, shopping, and the overall promise of a better life. As a result of this mass urbanisation, we have seen an exodus from the countryside, leaving behind a landscape of struggling and abandoned rural villages. Overall, Europe has eleven million empty homes, with Spain taking the lead, largely as a result of the 2000’s real estate bubble. These empty rural homes, many of which are in inspiring nature filled settings, await a new dream and a new entrepreneurial energy to rebuild and repopulate them.

Paradoxically, at the same time across Europe we are seeing a dramatic rise in housing prices within major cities. Urban life is increasingly hard for young families, the elderly, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Why don’t we use this housing crisis as an opportunity for a creative renaissance? Why not transform these abandoned properties into cultural and entrepreneurial hubs? What if some of the best and brightest decided to invest in building new communities?

Like the movement to cities, the wave towards rural villages will be driven by a combination of push and pull factors:


Village 3.0 is not exclusively about the return to life in the countryside, but we do see rural return as one of the most compelling use cases. As work and life becomes increasingly digital and location independent, an opportunity emerges for a radical transition. Rather than buying property in crowded high-price cities, we envision many families and professionals choosing to move out of cities and build their own villages. Of course, there are many practical challenges to consider. How can we ensure the economic resilience of the community? How can we attract the best people? How can we create local work opportunities? How can we incubate businesses and establish a healthy economy which is able to bring money from the global economy into the village? How can the village effectively integrate with the existing local and regional economy, community and culture in mutually beneficial ways?

Village 3.0 is the search for models of modern, globally connected life in the countryside. The search for a healthy local & global balance.

Village 3.0 — A new idea for urban renewal

The Village 3.0 framework is intended to be applied to all types of human settlement, including urban and suburban. Village 3.0 is intended to “cross the chasm”, entering into the idea of return to village-centric life out into mainstream conversation to show how these ideas are valuable to broad demographics.

One way of realising an urban Village 3.0 is as a “Virtual Village”. A group of people who get together to create a Village 3.0 community of mutual support, shared celebrations, and so on, could come together and create an organisation, a community, a shared culture. They could have a number of shared spaces such as a co-working, child-care, learning centre (aka school), but would not all have to live in direct proximity to each other, although being within easy walking or bicycling distance would be advantageous.

Village 3.0 is not a fixed formula or blueprint, but a collection of recipes, conversations, case studies — a pattern language which can be applied and remixed according to the local context and needs of each community.

Thimphu is the capital and largest city of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and known for its “urban villages”.

Village.Builders

Village.Builders is a non-profit organisation whose purpose is to catalyse the Village 3.0 movement. We bring together village builders from across the world to enable connection, peer-learning, and collaboration. We believe that the Village 3.0 movement has the potential to contribute to building a better society. Throughout 2017 Village.Builders will be hosting local events and online conversations.

Join Us!

Join Village.Builders to connect and collaborate with other village builders around the world, develop your dream village and explore how to create your life-path towards living in a Village 3.0.

If you want explore these ideas with like-minded peers and contribute to building the Village 3.0 movement

Thanks for reading,

Aaron, Anton & Victor,
-The Village.Builders Team
village.builders