I was privileged to get to explore Chambalabamba, an ecovillage in Ecuador. They have beautiful grounds with ample infrastructure in a beautiful river valley. I have visited many ecovillages, and I always pay particular attention to how their agreements work. Many times ecovillages turn people off because they have too many rules. It's also common for ecovillages to be under the leadership (or control) of a single person, usually the landowner. Communities that function by consent without centralized leadership are hard to find.
From talking with Mofwoofoo, I learned that Chambalabamba is just such a place. Mofwoofoo could easily have installed himself as the leader, as it was he who bought the land and provides most of the funding, but he has no interest in being the king. All decisions, I learned, were made by consensus, and no one at Chambalabamba has any authority.
"We don't like rules," Mofwoofoo told me. "We can all make agreements, but we have no rules here." The agreements are simple. Do no harm to others, show respect to each other and the land, and contribute to the common efforts. Volunteers and residents at Chambalabamba take turns providing a shared meal every day, but there's no rule requiring them to take a certain number of shifts. In voluntaryist communities, people get into a flow with one another, where they know when they should take on a job that presents itself or when to leave it for someone else. It's a dance we do together, requiring trust and communication. When done well, everything seems effortless.
We didn't spend a great deal of time at Chambalabamba, but it certainly seemed like kind of place where things go smoothly. The lunch was wonderful, and afterwards Mofwoofoo took several of us on a tour of the grounds. Afterwards, he and I sat down to do an interview, where I asked him about the project, and what blessings and challenges they've faced over the years at an ecovillage without rules.
You can check out the Chambalabamba website here