Words like “ecosystem” and “ecological” are so popular these days, they feel so specific and yet I challenge you to try and describe them with any specificity. I tried and failed. So I looked up just the first part – three letters “eco” and a little snooping around brought me to the greek word Oikos.
Originally the word Oikos meant “family” or “household” – a “basic unit of society”. But what I found to be even more interesting was that the use of the word morphed, I am guessing, together with society itself. It was later used to describe a larger unit of society – the city-state which was an independently governed area in ancient Greece. I am guessing that this indicates that a core change took place in society – and that the single household lost some of its distinctive relevance in the overall view of society – something bigger was needed to make sense and bring social order.
As we begin this segment of our journey – which brings us closer then ever to creating a home – ideas such as ecology and sustainability are vibrating in our consciousness. The closer we move to the realities of a home the less obvious these ideas become. Though we are aiming to create a “self-sustaining” home – the reality of it is more complicated then it may seem. While it probably is possible to create a completely self-sustaining home – there seems to be a potential for a better life by creating a wider system that includes more people, skills and qualities. It is somewhere between a single family and an entire city 🙂
The wikipedia entry on Oikos indicates that the Greek Tragic form of theatre portrayed a conflict of values between the “family” and the “city-state” – a conflict that led to the decay of society. I can relate – I am writing these words living in an apartment in the city, looking forward to moving out to a village home. The city disturbs me – I have reservations about how well a city, as I have come to know it, actually supports life. I just finished spending some time in the kitchen – I made some carrot & apple juice and then cooked a vegetable soup. I was left with a pile of organic waste. Here in the city it becomes garbage, in the village it is food for the animals and compost to rejuvenate the land.