How to keep young people involved in ecovillages?

Written by Nébesna Fortin, interns coordinator and sustainable development officer of Cité Ecologique, born in Cité Ecologique.


In many ecovillages the question of keeping young members active in the community is a big challenge. Many young adults leave their home ecovillage to experience other lifestyles.

Today, I would like to share my experience with you. I was born in an ecovillage in Canada, La Cité Écologique where a program works pretty well keeping the young adults involved. The avenue brought forward is to create entrepreneurship and leadership aspiration to young members. For myself, and the major part of my colleagues, this idea was effective.

The basic idea is to get the young adults involved as much as possible in all community aspects. Already at the high school level, we were invited to participate in one or many business we had interest for. Internships and practical hands-on learning classes were given in all domains: cooking, accounting, sowing, gardening. We were invited to manage and do all the planning of great projects like the preparation of a meal for all members each week, creating a theater play by getting younger kids involved and so on. One of our projects was to take care of three greenhouses! Yes, it was a nice and big challenge, and yes, at one time, all the plants burn in the sun and were flooded the week after! Now, I can imagine how confident and patient were the adults who sacrificed the production of three greenhouses, the plants and all this growing space… for the only result of giving us a formidable learning experience!

The next step was when I graduated. At 18 years old, I was given the opportunity of becoming the kitchen manager. I was happy to have this great chance, and once more, I admired the devotion and acceptance of the adults who let me make my experiences and take assurance in this managing position while being always there to support me. This was one unique and precious opportunity to really get involved in my ecovillage. Other folks my age got experiences in our existing business, such as managing the designing of news collections for our Respecterre’s clothing and Kheops gift products. Others were involved in accounting and child care.

As the years passed by, we are called to change job to let younger people take our place. Now I am managing the Internship Program and the touristic aspect of La Cité. A few months ago, I was eating with one of our intern and a young high school student. He asked her what she wanted to do when she would graduate. She replied: I want Nébesna’s job! She was proud and I was happy! Yes, it will soon be my turn to pass on my responsibilities and get involved in a new aspect of our community. I think this is the best that could happen: knowing that the next young adults are going to be there with us to pursue this great project.

And for the job… let it be as it will happen. As long I am involved in the ecovillage, I am at home! Because from the moment I opened my eyes at birth, I was welcomed as an active member of my Ecovillage.

As we speak, young adults raised at La Cité are managing the enterprises in the Ecovillage and the administration board is in their hands. Most of the kids stayed on the premises and some are running their own businesses.

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