Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) Newsletter, January 2016
Dear Friends of Ecovillages, Ambassadors, Members, and Allies Throughout the World,
Two major crises of our time - climate change and the refugee crisis – are intertwining to reach historical dimensions. People the world over and all beings of nature are existentially threatened with nowhere to turn.
The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) was actively present at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris this December (COP21), both in the official zone and sharing a booth with other organizations focusing on community-led change by NGOs. The need for strong, binding agreements and good governance that helps to spread solutions and implement the aims of keeping temperature increases beneath 1.5 degrees is clear.
Climate change, in the guise of a long-term drought from 2006-2011, was one of the factors that led to the war in Syria. In the past three years, the number of people boarding rickety fishing boats, leaving Myanmar and Bangladesh for countries further south in southeast Asia, has tripled, skyrocketing to 63,000 people in 2015. More than a million refugees have crossed into Europe in that same period! The face of our planet is changing forever. GEN is responding.
In many countries, ecovillages and activists have volunteered their services and found ways to help. Coming from the power of community, years of experience in self-organization, and commitment to life on our planet, GEN as a global network offers numerous examples of best practices, from a fossil-free future on the one hand to integration of migrants and refugees on the other.
GEN has committed itself to providing immediate help to the refugee problem. On the Greek island of Lesbos, RefuGEN has dedicated a circulating presence of at least five volunteers for the next half a year to help refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and other countries arrive safely in Europe. With this we follow one of the last wishes of our beloved Hildur Jackson, co-founder of GEN, who passed away in 2015.
Perhaps New York writer and #Occupy activist Daniel Pinchbeck was right when he called the present crisis a chance for an initiation for humankind. An initiation is defined as a series of challenges, which, when responded to with full, heartfelt presence, empower us to enter a new level of development. We hope that responding to current crises may lead to an evolution of humanity - with compassion, cooperation with nature, and true solidarity.
In this GEN International newsletter, we showcase examples from around the world of local change towards a global shift.
Kosha Joubert (Executive Director) Leila Dregger and Jenefer Marquis (Editors)
Best Practices in Renewable Energy
Auroville, India, a growing international community, is an inspiring model for sustainable practices and ecologically responsible living. Founded in 1968, Auroville is based on the vision of "the Mother" from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and is endorsed by UNESCO and Government of India as an ongoing experiment in human unity. Auroville has won international acclaim for its efforts in social and environmental sustainability.
Carbon Farming The Best Way to Sequester Carbon and Reverse Global Warming
Many ecovillage communities have been experimenting with different means of carbon farming and have gone well beyond carbon neutral to become net-negative carbon communities. These villages provide best practices models for sequestering billions of tons of carbon and reversing global warming.
Essential Reading: GEN Representative to the United Nations, Rob Wheeler, brings you stories of success from ecovillages around the world. We think it's a must-read!
Damanhur, Italy Food from the Earth
Eating locally sourced, organic foods is one solution to reducing fossil fuel consumption. For ecovillages, this means growing your own food on your own farms and gardens. Creating a food supply for hundreds of people means finding the balance between producing in quantity with attention to variety and quality, while maintaining purity in the physical production and in intention.
United Nations Climate Conference (COP21) "These are our friends that are being existentially threatened"
A GEN delegation of more than 15 leaders participated in the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris this December. Through our participation, we explored the questions: what role do ecovillages have in climate change and what do we seek to accomplish?
Heilhaus Kassel Community, Germany
A New Home for Refugees
Founded by Ursa Paul 25 years ago, the Heilhaus Kassel Community was created with the vision of being a spiritual home, offering a place for all stages of the lifecycle: birth, living, and dying. Alfred Hohmann reports on their experience welcoming refugees.
ZEGG Community, Germany
Heart Communication with Refugees
"If I don't deal with the fears in myself, I am all too ready to project them on to others," writes Dolores Richter of the ZEGG Community of Bad Belzig, Germany. She explores the question: "How can we communicate with people from a different culture who have lost everything?"
RefuGEN: "Nothing prepares you for Moria"
RefuGEN was created by GEN Europe to help support refugees arriving in Lesbos, Greece - more than 1,000 arrive to the island daily. GEN has established a volunteering hub on the island, committing volunteers through June 2016. Leila Dregger of the Tamera Ecovillage shares her experience as one of RefuGEN's first volunteers.
Want to help?
Click here to volunteer. Donate (all RefuGEN efforts are volunteer).
1. Together Network launches the Co-Act Project to counterbalance the power of economic lobbies. Read more
2. Green Phoenix Gathering: "Deep sharing among communities." Read more
3. Join Friends of GEN: support ecovillage projects from around the world. Read more
4. NEWS FROM THE REGIONS:
1. Egypt - GEN Africa Strategy Meeting: Resilient communities as seeds of hope and abundance for Africa. Representatives from GEN Africa and regional ecovillage networks came together in Sekem, Egypt this December to exchange best practices and determine future strategies for the region. Read more
2. Palestine - Waters of Hope: Nourishing the Heart of Sustainability. In November 2015, the first Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) course took place in Palestine: two weeks of learning, sharing, and community empowerment. The village of Farkha has great promise for becoming a model of sustainable ecological development. Read more
3. Greece - Alternative Economy: "A crisis can turn into a chance." The SKALA Ecovillage leverages the economic crisis in Greece as a chance to implement alternative economic systems. SKALA co-founder Anna Filliopu reports. Read more
4. Turkey - "Peace at home and peace in the world," was the motto of Turkey''s founder Ataturk. Turkey is currently riled with violence and aggression. Inci Gokman explores the question: "Can we try to become healers of these souls?" Read more
5. China - First Ecovillage Network Forum: "Green land and pure water is true wealth." The Sunshine Ecovillage Network Forum of China held its first meeting in October 2015. Dorota Owen reports. Read more
6. Mexico - The Power of Grandmothers to create and maintain healthy communities. Collected and translated by Tracy Barnett. Read more
7. American Tour by ZEGG Community of Germany: "Deepening Community, Deepening Love." Founding members of ZEGG, Ina Meyer-Stoll and Achim Ecker, embarked this October on a teaching tour to intentional communities in California, Colorado, and New York under the theme of living in a community embraced by love, partnership, and friendships. Read more