By Mailys Henry (ToT participant, GENOA volunteer)
Can you hear this humming sound in the distance, moving closer in your direction ? As the native bees of Australia flying in groups, about twenty passionate change makers came together during GEN’s Training of Trainers (ToT) at Narara Ecovillage in NSW, in order to learn how to voice and expand their message about the benefits of ecovillages. This is the sound of our stories.
We were all coming from diverse backgrounds such as ecovillage members, humanitarians, students, teachers, healers, events organisers, activists, artists. Yet a common purpose was weaving us together, “in harmony and love”, to regenerate life through social, ecological, economical and cultural aspects. Gathering is one of the strengths of Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and it provided us with the mutual support needed in helping our communities.
These communities are the First Nations people of Australia, youth, people with additional needs, migrants, our families, people interested in the ecovillage movement and people who don’t know about it yet. Our call to lead a change comes from the alarming observation of a drained system that we don’t want to reproduce. Each of us has experienced this burning realisation in different contexts. The birth of a child made us feel responsible for the condition of the land and the culture we will leave to this new generation. A childhood trauma gave us the fire of passion to heal and educate the victims of today. A turnaround in our lives gave us the momentum for quitting a job and taking care of ourselves. Our aloneness in the city drove us to seek more simplicity and deeper human connections.
Connection. More and more people are struggling with fulfilling this basic need. Beyond their relationships, they are cut off from their traditions, ancestors, land, food, Nature, purpose, until their own bodies and feelings. We are convinced that ecovillages and their design and principles are the answer to these issues, as they bring back the sense of belonging that is missing. We, humans, are here to live together and cooperate. It’s not only about happiness, it’s about justice. The whole system we want to design aims to be a model for the world, and it requires involvement from all of us.
It starts small and local. Illustrating Joanna Macy’s encouragement : “You don’t need to do everything. Do what calls your heart; effective action comes from love. It is unstoppable, and it is enough.”, our host for this training, Narara Ecovillage, is one good example of action from the heart. They spent ten years building the community before buying the land to make their dream come true. A lot of effort has been invested in creating this holistic project. The design of the buildings enhances social interactions. Sociocracy as a system of governance allows efficient decision making and builds trust among members. The houses meet precise requirements of sustainability. Reconnection with Nature is provided by the surrounding of gardens and forests, the place being a former horticulture research centre.
You don’t need to do everything. Do what calls your heart; effective action comes from love. It is unstoppable, and it is enough.Joanna Macy
We used the GEN’s Design Cards to map the assets and needs of Narara Ecovillage. One leverage point is to connect deeper with the cultural tradition of the First Nations people of the area. GEN Australia is also exploring the relationship we build together with indigenous peoples, because it is only when we join forces we can find the power to take action in this worldwide learning journey.
Although all the trainers present were already part of the solution through their inspiring projects, we are aware of the necessity to empower new leaders. This will be possible by bringing our passions together and educating youth.
In five days, we recognised in GEN a family of choice. The established trust made us feel like belonging to the hive of GEN Oceania and Asia (GENOA). Our team work will help the leaders to flourish and pollinate the flowers of actions in order to provide the golden wellbeing to the community.
Immense gratitude for the facilitators of this ToT, Kosha Joubert (GEN International), Trudy Juriansz (GENOA) and Shane Sylvanspring (GEN Australia). Sharing and reflecting together on the treasures of ecovillages was a pinnacle moment for each of us as individuals and as a network. In this time of climate emergency, we hope we can say soon “I was part of the solution.”
The national network, GEN Australia aims for building trust and strong connections among the local ecovillages. GEN Australia’s volunteer team offer a well-established field experience to support existent and aspiring communities in order to feature a regenerative way of living and to expand the Ecovillage Network in the country.
GENOA connects the communities of Asia and Oceania that implement the principles of ecovillage. GENOA ensures the communication between GEN international and the national ecovillage networks through promoting, providing support, and sharing about holistic sustainable living.
GEN International builds bridges between policy-makers, governments, NGOs, academics, entrepreneurs, activists, community networks and ecologically-minded individuals across the globe in order to develop strategies for a global transition to resilient communities and cultures.