Altenem – Energy alternatives and mid-mountain eco-environments

2022 - ...

Eco-groups are developing a model of energy, material and economic organization in response to the climate crisis. How do their operations and external relations inform us about what could be the organization of a more sober society? Altenem sets out to meet these mid-mountain collectives.

© Arthur Contejean

Ecolieux are collective living spaces in rural areas, where citizens set aside a shared plot of land to experiment with alternative lifestyles based on ecology, mutual aid and sharing. Ecolieux seem to be gaining ground in the south of France, away from the metropolises, particularly in the rural valleys of the mid-mountains, which are open to major corridors.

Eco-environments could play an important role in the ecological transformation of societies, by proposing new, more sober models of organization, a point that is still largely unexplored in existing literature. The central hypothesis is that the mode of operation of an eco-environment – singular and alternative – is at the crossroads of two partially antagonistic objectives: aiming for autonomy by intensifying links with the “natural” environment and the surrounding territory, and promoting a broader transformation of society through exemplarity. If the collective is to survive, shared intentions must be balanced with material and economic viability.

This project analyzes the energetic, material and economic functioning of several ecolieux in France, and the links they maintain with the outside world. The method combines an ethnographic approach to places, ethnoaccounting of resources and goods produced or used, analysis of metabolic and economic flows and, in so doing, of social interactions with the outside world.

Search Pyrénées Climate and ecological transitions Energy, mobility and environmental quality Populations and territories