Last year Andrew and Claire attended a regional gathering of the Global Ecovillage Network at Currumbin Ecovillage. This year, the executive director of the Global Ecovillage Network was brought to Australia by Polkadot for a two day conference at Maleny Community Centre in May and for a training-of-trainers at Narara Ecovillage in June. These events were a great opportunity to reconnect with the Global Ecovillage Network and understand how it can help strengthen our efforts and our movement in Australia.
Of particular value was the interactive 'playing cards' framework that can be used to identify strengths, weaknesses, blind spots, possible goals and future direction. The cards are excellent conversation starters and can be used in many ways with groups of varying sizes and stages of eco village development. The playing cards are organised into five 'areas of regeneration' and each area has a number of cards which outline strategies to build a thriving, balanced eco village and ultimately the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible. They are:
Embrace diversity and build thriving communities
Cultivate responsive, inclusive and transparent decision-making
Develop fair, effective and accountable institutions
Practise conflict facilitation, communication and peacebuilding skills
Empower participatory leadership and good governance
Ensure equal and lifelong access to holistic education and healthcare
Invest in fair trade and ethical systems of exchange
Ensure equitable ownership of land and resources
Empower and strengthen local economies
Cultivate social entrepreneurship to create sustainable solutions
Reconstruct the concepts of wealth, work and progress
Generate wellbeing for all through economic justice
Move towards 100% renewable energies
Clean and replenish sources and cycles of water
Innovate and spread green building technologies
Grow food and soils through organic agriculture
Increase biodiversity and regenerate eco systems
Work with waste as a valuable resource
Reconnect to nature and embrace low-impact lifestyles
Engage actively to protect communities and nature
Respect cultural traditions that support human dignity
Nurture mindfulness and personal growth
Connect to a higher purpose in life
Celebrate life and diversity through art
Whole Systems Design
Build networks and alliances for mutual support across all divides
Learn from nature and practice whole systems thinking
Identify the appropriate scale for efficient solutions
Find strengths, weaknesses and leverage points in all areas
Engage all stakeholders in designs for the future
Honour traditional wisdom while integrating positive innovation
The wording of the cards have been tested and updated over nearly two years to reflect the goals that are universal for people around the world. There was some conversation at the training-of-trainers that the word 'ownership' could be replaced with the world 'stewardship', which is very close to our hearts at Eco Villages Australia.
The framework allows for visionary planning at the macro level and also practical, focus at the immediate and individual level. Eco Villages Australia has developed a vision that strongly aligns with these goals and will be incorporating them into the vision in many different ways. We think governments at all levels could be using these principles to enact better outcomes for people, animals and the environment. While the Global Ecovillage Network is working at the macro level with the UN and world governments, we at the grassroots level don't need to wait around for governments to act. The message is empowering and full of hope. Community organising can bring the pieces of the puzzle together. The change begins with us.
Claire will be running a facilitated session using the Global Ecovillage Network playing cards from 2:00-3:30pm on the 13th of July at the Maleny Eco Village. Everyone is welcome. For more information, see the event invite here.
For more information about the Global Ecovillage Network, visit their website.