Before we arrived at the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) 2019 European Conference we were interviewed with our fellow panelists on key questions. Here below is the interview with Marilyn Hamilton, Found of Integral City Meshworks Inc.

GEN: What Profile is Marilyn Hamilton bringing to GEN?


  • Marilyn Hamilton is the Founder of Integral City Meshworks Inc. and author of the Integral City Book Series.
  • When I talk about “Integral Cities” I am looking at human habitats of all sizes (from village to town to city to metropolises) including their eco-regions
  • The city is the most complex human system yet created. 
  • I am passionate that we reframe the city as a Living System – an evolutionary organ of the Earth that builds on James Lovelock’s proposition that Gaia is a Living System and humans are her Reflective Organs – I think cities are the organs and people are cells in that organ
  • As Living, Evolutionary Reflective Organs cities are so complex that I use an Integral Framework that captures the individual and collective human groups at multiple scales, and multiple stages of evolution. This framework reflects the participants and priorities of the Integral City Master Code of Care: Self, Others,  Place, Planet – where we care for Self so we can care for Others, so together we can care for our Place(s) and in doing so we care for the Planet. 
  • One of the ways I engage human systems is through the Master Code of Care using the 4 Voices of the “Human Hive” – Citizens, Civic Managers, Business/Innovators and Third Sector/Civil Society

GEN: Ecology keynote questions and framing

Ecology is in the definition of our communities: the conference is where we learn of new practices in sustainable living, we share and draw inspiration from fellow ecovillagers. Those who are visitors will be able to experiment with a style of living that is comfortable yet at low impact Community living; bioconstructions and cultivation are all intrinsic to our lifestyle which will be shared with those who wish to join us during the meeting

Core theme and guiding questions: 

We have 11 years to change to avoid irreversible climate change and biodiversity loss. We wish to address the perception that ecovillages have been effective on addressing local-level ecological regeneration, but are ineffective on larger scale, and therefore how we can amplify the impact of the community networks, both individually and collectively.

  • What are the international transition needs we are facing as a global community? 

MH: There is a movement (through Frederic Laloux’s research) to reframe organizations as Teal Organizations (or Yellow in Spiral Dynamics Integral terms) – organizations that can serve a higher purpose and function as living systems. These types of organizations are slowly starting to come on stream with new values systems that flex and flow with environmental awareness. Where a critical mass of those arise, we will see the first “flickerings” of Integral City arising. 

BUT before that – especially in the next 11 years we must create the conditions in our organizations and villages for Sustainability to fully flourish. We must go beyond even the SDG’s (as single targets) and create a fully functioning network of sustainable organizations – functioning like the ISO standards for manufacturing – only in this case where lead organizations require/demand that their whole supply chain performs according to fully accountable, transparent sustainability standards. I have written a Manifesto about this – it was published in Enlivening Edge and read/declared at the Amsterdam 2019 festival. 

A copy is here

I think that ecovillages have the opportunity to demonstrate the fully integrated flows of sustainability through both Placecaring as well as Placemaking. In Placecaring many ecovillages (e.g. Findhorn) have a strong coherence around Consciousness and Culture. These are critical for the long-term sustainability of Placemaking through technology and infrastructure systems.

GEN: Examples of how local community-led solutions can scale up

  • How can we bridge and scale-up the local to the bio-regional and national/international levels?

MH: I think eco-villages have the opportunity to model sustainability standards and supply chains – precisely because of the scale they are at. They can set internal supply chain standards within the village and then model/require it for any supplies coming in from elsewhere – thus “leaking” it into the system. They can also report on the “story” of how they are doing this as news items for local interest. Within/across GEN as this is done it can become a meta-network of commitment to Sustainability Supply Chains.

GEN: What can we learn from allied change processes that communities can adopt to address climate change and biodiversity loss on the scales we need? 

MH: Perhaps an “allied change process” that could be useful is the use of what I call the “4 Voices” of the village/city = Citizens, Civic Managers, Business/innovators and Third Sector/Civil Society. When we make decisions and/or changes of any kind that can be effected/effective at village/city scale the 4 Voices must be at the table for the full system to be in the room.

I learned about these 4 Voices from the honeybees – who have 4 Roles that enable survival of the beehive as well as regeneration of their ecoregion (by their service of pollination). So, by living sustainably within our villages/cities we must set the goal to regenerate the resources we draw from our eco-region or elsewhere so that we are constantly renewing resource supplies.

GEN: How can we address the perception that ecovillage communities are seen as ‘hippies’ and ‘dreamers and highlight how the tools we have can be scaled up and be made palatable for mainstream? 

MH: I consider ecovillages – including Findhorn where I live to be models that cities can learn from. They need to see the experiments and prototypes that can happen quickly at ecovillage scale and bring that back for adaptation to larger human habitats. So, the 4 Voices of the City should be learning from the 4 Voices of the Ecovillage. Ecovillages are in the interstitial zones where change can happen – and we need to invite the 4 Voices of the larger scale cities to listen, learn, connect and act. In fact, we can even encourage the development of urban ecovillages.

This short blog series explores our experience at and contributions to the GEN Europe 2019 Conference: