Auroville has planted over 3 million trees, providing shade for the mostly Caucasian residents while rejuvenating the soil and bringing back wildlife.

The forest also provides firewood for the 40,000 Tamil villagers who live around Auroville.

While most Aurovilians live far more comfortably than the local villagers, some—like this young woman—choose to live in a traditional keet capsule.

Larger homes are built with compressed earth bricks, made from a simple machine pioneered by Auroville’s Earth Institute, and run on solar electricity.

Guests enjoy a range of accommodations, including this forest hut where I stayed.

This French website designer works for his clients in Paris from his home and office in the forest.

Located at the heart of Auroville, the Matrimandir and a well-tended banyan tree offer very different mediation spots for residents and guests.

A large solar bowl on the roof of Auroville’s Solar Kitchen provides steam for cooking several hundred meals each day.

Auroville begins its birthday celebration at the amphitheatre with a pre-dawn fire and meditation.

Johnny, an Aurovilian from Australia, simultaneously teaches and plays with children at Aikyam Bilingual School.

Tamil women perform a traditional dance at Auroville’s Aikyam School.

The school’s principal, Shankar Vengadesan, grew up in a local village and joined Auroville as an adult.

While Auroville does not fully feed itself, it farms organically and shares its practices—like Effective Microorganisms (EM)—with local villagers.

Joss Brooks, with the help of local residents, is bringing Auroville’s sustainability practices to Adyar Poonga in Chennai. (see pp. 181-3 in the book)

Adyar Poonga is bringing ecological restoration to a former slum.

In perhaps the most desperate form of recycling, this Chennai woman makes her living by picking through the landfill.

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Auroville is first and foremost an international township with a spiritual objective—to embody the ideal of human unity—and its ecological work comes as a consequence. Auroville’s overarching vision is grounded in the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, which understands biophysical reality as an evolutionary unfoldment of Spirit.

Founded in 1968 upon a severely eroded plateau in south India, the first order of business for the pioneers was to revitalize the land. Three million trees later, Auroville is home to over 2,000 people from 43 different countries and is one of the few places on Earth where biodiversity is actually increasing.

The community is also a world leader in compressed-earth building techniques, rainwater harvesting, plant-based sewage treatment, solar and wind energy, and Effective Microorganisms.

Auroville’s tremendous dynamism is partly due to its proximity to 40,000 traditional Tamil villagers, many of whom work in Auroville’s guesthouses and cottage industries. While most Aurovilians live very simply by American standards, their lifestyles are far more comfortable than those of the surrounding villagers.

The inevitable social and economic tensions suffuse every aspect of Auroville’s existence—from housing policies, to the division of labor, to race and gender relations. In this way, Auroville is a microcosm of the world. To the extent that it succeeds in exemplifying the ideal of human unity, Auroville’s discoveries for every facet of E2C2 will therefore have global significance.

Official website:

Auroville Photo Gallery

Journeyman Pictures documentary about Auroville

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