Does Living in an Eco Village Make You Happier [Continued…]
Last month we shared the research of our high school volunteer, Becca Lambert. After volunteering at EVO for 3 months, Becca set out to discover how living in community affects one’s level of happiness. You can read about it here. This month, we continue the study and share the results of her research…
The results of the Oxford Authentic Happiness questionnaire from both groups were compared, and the comparisons were impressive. The worldwide average results of this questionnaire are around 4.3; with the lowest possible score being 1 and the highest possible score being 6. Out of eight participants at EVO, only two subjects fell below the worldwide average with a score of 4.1 each. The rest of the test subject’s scores were 4.4 / 5.1 / 4.5 / 5.6 / 5.1 / 4.3. The total average for the results at EVO is 4.7, which is .4 more than the overall average of results worldwide. The results from the high schoolers in an environmental engineering class were drastically different than the scores that residents of EVO scored on the same questionnaire. Out of eight participants in the class, the majority of the scores were below the overall worldwide average. Their results were 3.5 / 3.7 / 4.2 / 3.6 / 3.0 / 3.4 / 4.4 / 4.3, which adds up to an average score of 3.8 for the high schoolers. That’s 0.5 less than the overall worldwide average, and a whopping 0.9 less than the average at EVO. It seems that choosing to do sustainable work to grow your chosen community is much more beneficial to yourself than having to do sustainable work for a grade.
Heyming says that the reason EVO is so successful is because of their atmosphere, community, and learnings. The work at EVO includes their volunteer program, land education, animal husbandry (chickens, goats, fish, bees, cats, and dogs), communal activities (yoga, meditation, meals, business meetings, etc), events (weddings, workshops, etc). Each of these activities help conduct, build, and solidify communication and self-improvement within the community.
Lauren Kennedy, a long-time residential volunteer at EVO, says that she’s personally benefitted from working, living, and socializing in the same place. “The quality of life is high, fresh food is prepared for me, and people entertain me.” Kennedy is thankful for the chance to contribute and interact with people. It makes her feel really good as a person. She says the community really benefits families because they can play and interact in a safe space with lots of support and community. Members are never stuck on their own. Kennedy also explains that EVO is also a huge supporter of local farms and businesses which boosts the local economy and lifestyle. (Their beehive helps to pollinate plants to provide fruits and vegetables to EVO and north county San Diego, which also helps us feed the goats and chickens, which provide fresh eggs and milk for us).
Courtney Devon, a newer resident volunteer at EVO, says “Living in a community has had a profound impact on my happiness and mental health, for a number of reasons. First, living in community is like being part of a family of at least 15 other people. There is an abundance of support and love, and the chances of feeling alone or isolated are virtually zero. I’ve also enjoyed feeling a part of an operation that’s greater than myself. We all take on daily chores and tasks (such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of the animals and plants, etc), each person playing a vital role in making sure everything runs smoothly at the village. It’s been a wonderful learning experience getting to live with people of all ages–from babies to the elderly, we have people from all walks of life at EVO.
I think my research has determined that living and working at an intentional eco-community like EVO is very beneficial for its members, the surrounding community, and of course the environment. Intentional eco-villages often grow and harvest their own organic or GMO-free produce, meat, and dairy, or purchase these things locally which benefits their surrounding communities. The beehive at EVO also helps to pollinate plants in their local surrounding community, which helps to save our bee populations and create produce for their neighbors. Eco-villages also often recycle water, live off of alternative energies, and practice other eco-friendly lifestyles such as permaculture.
As for me, I bettered myself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, as well as learned lots of new skill sets. I’ve come out a stronger and harder worker, which has made me really appreciate labor workers. I’d say the most important thing I’ve learned is to love, accept, and respect everyone no matter what, and how to provide for myself and others with my new gardening and animal husbandry skills. The whole experience has really improved my work ethic and appreciation for everything around me. I feel more in touch with myself and others. I sincerely think that everyone should have a similar sort of experience, whether it be something as big as actually living and working at an intentional eco-village, or just learning one skill to help better themselves and the environment (educate yourself about food options, learn how to garden or work with farm animals, take yoga and meditation classes, start a permaculture project at your house or school, etc).