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Episode 028: Raising Our Voice for Intentional Communities and Ecovillages with Morag Gamble and Michael Ney

Mar 17, 2020

Raising our Voices for Intentional Communities and Ecovillages

We are so excited to share this episode with you today. Morag Gamble and Michael Ney are such amazing sources of knowledge and experience, it was a pleasure to have them on the podcast. If you’d like to learn more …


Morag Gamble ( is a global permaculture and ecovillage ambassador who has lived for over 2 decades in Crystal Waters Permaculture Village, a UN award-winning ecovillage in Australia. Since the early nineties she’s educated permaculture teachers and leaders on 6 continents, founded the Permaculture Education Institute ( and mentors women, youth and local farmers through her permaculture charity, Ethos Foundation (, and the new Permayouth ( movement. 

Morag shares permaculture widely through her Our Permaculture Life YouTube channel ( viewed 2.5 million times), blog (, and forthcoming podcast ( She also co-founded the Northey Street City Farm and Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network. ( Morag can be contacted by email too at [email protected]

Michael Ney lives and works at Crystal Waters Permaculture Ecovillage, near Maleny, Queensland, Australia. He is the editor of Eco Village Voice - an online community publishing 2 different quarterly magazines (local & global) which includes free preview articles, an integrated video channel, and relevant webinars, podcasts and forums for intentional communities. Become a member here: - and if you’d like to discuss an article please email: [email protected]

Eco Village Voice newsletters: 
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Michael is also a filmmaker (producer, director, editor, cameraman) and his latest project is "Crystal Waters - 30 Years On" - a feature documentary celebrating the past, present and future world's first ecovillage and evolving community. View online at: 

More information on the documentary - Crystal Waters - 30 Years On


We Are Caretakers

As many people in the sustainability and permaculture realm understand, we are caretakers of this earth. One of the first steps to becoming a good caretaker of anything is raising your level of consciousness. 

Only when we are truly conscious of where things are at, and where we want them to go, can we create real sustainable change and prosperity. 

 What is your current level of consciousness?

 What resources are at your fingertips?

What are the opportunities for growth and development around us?

 What can I do differently to be a more conscious caretaker?

Living With Nature

In the podcast episode, Morag tells a beautiful story about walking along in the Crystal Waters ecovillage with her young child in a sling across her chest and having a deeply connecting experience with a kangaroo mother and her joey. She is living in such a way that she feels truly connected with nature.

From nature we can draw incredible power, inspiration and healing. But if we cut ourselves off from that energy source, we separate ourselves from an infinite source of connection.

We can talk for days about all of the physical and emotional benefits of being out in nature, but there’s a whole other level of benefits when we connect ourselves with nature.

How do we do that?

There are quite a few, here are some ideas…

  1. Get out in nature. Not just parks in the suburbs, but really where natural ecosystems are thriving.
  2. Design your landscape to work in harmony with the local ecosystem, and create systems to invite local wildlife into the space.
  3. Grow more of your food and medicine, and learn how to use it.
  4. Invite nature inside with indoor plants and maybe even a worm bin.
  5. Look into relocating to a home with closer ties to the environment.

Back to the Land vs. Embedding Where You Are

Morag brought up an interesting juxtaposition between the Back to the Land Movement, and embedding where you are.

Every thirty or forty years, there is a Back to the Land movement where people will leave the urban and suburban areas and re-establish themselves in a rural environment in hopes of living a simpler life, more connected with the world around them.

Josh and I were part of that when we left for Montana. While there is value in that pilgrimage, there is also value in staying where we are, wherever that may be, and embedding yourself deeper into that space.

We can build up the community, pioneer local cultural change in reference to food acquisition and sharing, among other endeavors. If everyone left to go “back to the land,” the higher populous areas would wither and die, and connections would be broken, not developed.


We are not meant to be solitary creatures. And yet, as Morag mentions, nearly half the population of Sweden lives 1 person to 1 house. Divorce rates are driving higher, birth rates are dropping, and more and more people are finding themselves isolated from the world around them, only digitally connected. 

This breeds incredible loneliness.

But I get it, it can be scary to connect. We must be vulnerable to connect with those around us in a real, tangible way. I remember when I was a new mother, my friend told me a story about how a horse can pull 500 pounds, but two horses can pull 2,000 pounds. That always stuck with me. We are stronger together because we are vulnerable together. Out of vulnerability and connection we breed strength like we’ve never known before.


Ecovillages Everywhere

When I first heard about ecovillages, I was a little bit skeptical. Even though the draw of an intentional, naturally-built community did have its draw (natural building was probably my first love in terms of sustainability), but I still imagined a bunch of hippies. I didn’t see that as a place for me to raise my family by any means.

Since then I’ve grown a lot and learned a lot more, and now I definitely see the draw. Every ecovillage is different, and I’m sure there are some like the ones I initially imagined, but the majority is genuinely a collective of intentionally-living people, committed to creating a better world, a better community, and a better life.

However, as Morag mentions, we all don’t have to leave home and join an ecovillage to benefit from this type of lifestyle. We can create ecovillages wherever we are at. We can educate our neighbors on sustainability and permaculture, we can start a community garden, we can do so many things to come together for a greater purpose and build eachother up. 

Start where you’re at with what you have.

(But let’s be honest, after Morag’s description of Crystal Waters ecovillage in Australia, my mouth was drooling a bit and I was eyeing Josh. It sounds like a pretty magical place!)

Eco Village Voice is working on trying to incorporate ecovillages more into mainstream society, as well as general regenerative and permaculture practices, so it is a great resource for inspiration and ideas.

Attracting Rather than Pushing

There are many ways to educate people around us and help them change their mindset when it comes to permaculture and sustainability. But let’s be honest, guilting them about their current decisions isn’t the way to go.

One of the best ways to inspire change and open mindedness is by showing them what is possible through our own example. Show them the amount of rainwater they could be collecting off their rooftop. Show them the beauty of a food forest instead of a lawn. Show them the amount of food that could be growing. Show them the beauty of working with nature rather than against it.

I am always a believer in living by example and Morag totally confirmed that strategy in the podcast. Go be the change you wish to see, and people will hop on board if you do it in an inviting way.

Permaculture Puzzle Pieces

Another topic we covered in the podcast was about how we are all different. You don’t have to be the gardener, or the landscaper, or the chef. Just do what you do best, and use that strength to complement the strengths of those around you.

A community of gardeners would fail if they didn’t know how to cook. We are all puzzle pieces in the larger global permaculture picture. So find what you’re good at, develop that, and share it with the world. Use your strength to build others up. That’s when real, sustainably change happens.


Keep Growing!