Environment and sustainability, Community development, Self-sufficient habitats with regenerative communi

Intentional eco-communities for rural transition

Building a model for transition of rural areas by introducing an innovative intentional eco-community, to be realised in cooperation between citizens and local administration.


Who is behind this?

Zofia Litawińska

Fundacja Edukacyjna Dzieci Matki Ziemi



Who is joining forces?

Municipality of Leśna, Lower Silesia voivodeship in Poland



Intentional character of an eco-community defines further partners representing the idea of ecologically sound lifestyle and common purpose (self-development, effective collaboration, education).


Idea pitch

It’s not just about an eco-village. Inspired by best practices of intentional communities since decades, we know it’s time to make them actual in Poland - responding to local conditions and global questions. We want to learn what exactly makes a COMMUNITY THRIVE - and make it real. Innovative forms of co-habitation will appear in the Community of Leśna, a fertile ground for fresh ideas and cross-sectoral collaboration. Our model will be transferable in a clear form to groups and municipalities.

Where will your project idea take place?

Leśna community, Lower Silesia Voivodeship, near the Polish border with Czech Republic and Germany.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Leśna belongs to the least developed areas of the Lower Silesia voivodeship. According to statistical data, it has been characterized by high unemployment, low economic activity and structural issues. In the National Strategy of Regional Development categorized as under sustained threat of social marginalization. This results from depopulation of “provincial” areas, drainage of social capital and breakdown of local economy after the closure of textile factories.
The developmental barrier can be summed up as growing social difficulties and budget deficit of the local government. These are connected to alcoholism, drug abuse, aging (and often loneliness), growing needs of foster care, growing costs of social services, rapid increase of those in need of social welfare homes.

Who are you doing it for?

1 Members of an initiative group that are already working on creating an intentional community (around 80 people interested)
2 The Municipality of Leśna - the municipal strategy for eco-settlements will be involved in the official strategy for climate change and development of local crafts
3 Local community in Leśna and surroundings, including NGOs and cooperatives (e.g Izerska Cooperative)
4 Other communes and municipalities in Poland, aiming to implement this strategy in future (educational service provided by experts is one of the results of this project)
5 Other initiative groups, communities, eco-villages etc. that can use our model and tools to create effective community projects (also by providing the educational service)

How do you plan to get there?

Project steps:
1 Formation of working group(s), of those committed to form an eco-community based on the core values.
2 Selecting the elements in local and national policies, as well as of EU, in relation to sustainable development, planning, housing, services.
3 Sociological participatory focus on local population’s needs.
4 Research into building and running of exemplary intentional communities and ecovillages.
5 Participatory workshops, resulting with a preliminary proposal for the community to be grounded in a chosen area.
6 Elaboration of the model to be presented locally and to all interested.
Further steps:
7 Creating the intentional eco-community in Leśna, based on the elaborated model.
8 Providing educational services and expertise for local authorities and communities.

What are the expected results?

When the basic activities of building the conceptual model for an intentional eco-community and approaching realisation are substantially advanced, the local community (including us) will become empowered to take up chances for sustainable development put in practice - thanks to courage, refreshing ideas, openness, attractive professional perspectives, participatory approach. Individuals and groups (all age and social groups) will feel chances to build their reality step by step, working together day by day to enliven the areas struck with depopulation and decay. We expect the model to be well grounded and internalized, reaching critical mass (felt as obvious by many); educational package for dissemination ready; the planning concepts and proposals for territorial development prepared.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

One of the objectives is to work out practical methods of intentional eco-community’s’ self-governance and relations to local administration, combining bottom-up initiatives of local leaders, youth, newcomers. and top-down policies. Establishing a regenerative community in Leśna is aimed at enhancing active citizenship, participation, proving that local communities of relatively small scale are valuable driving force for the changing World. We will inspire to care for natural, cultural, social resources and act to influence the surroundings.
Currently, there is no local administration in Poland having a strategy to invite eco-community projects. And there is no eco-community of a substantial scope. We will create a strategy serving the municipalities to become eco-community friendly.

Why is this idea important to you?

We are sensitive and aware of present global challenges. We feel that we have no chance in a battle against climate change. Today's world situation makes us seriously reflect on the existing economic model based on constant growth and GDP, industrial agriculture causing pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity. Deep adaptation is a way, a response to the global crisis - economic, environmental and social. These problems have a chance to become solutions, belong to a new paradigm. Not only in the sphere of food security, water management, financial self-sufficiency or closing the circulation loops, but also the internal work - ethics, morality, empathy, an understanding of oneself, mirrored by others. We need space to create, transform, regenerate nature as well as human relations.

€ 56864,-

Total budget

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Civic Europe Idea Challenge:
€6,000 - research
€5,000 - case study visits: travel, visas, accommodation costs and preparing results
€3,000 - workshops
€2,000 - pilot strategy for Municipality of Leśna
€3,000 - dissemination: 3 workshops for other communes
€3,000 - website and graphics
€14,000 - project main coordinator
€14,000 - administration and second coordinator
from European Solidarity Corps (Solidarity Projects):
€864 - coach
€6,000 - workshops - developing strategic documents

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We aim at close contacts with exemplary eco-communities in Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic and chosen contemporary kibbutzes in Israel. We study local situation deeply and would like to get feedback on the priorities for realisation of the idea that seems utopian in Poland.



Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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