A small team from GEN Australia travelled to up to far north Queensland in June 2021, to visit Jumbun Community and to facilitate a 3-day ecovillage workshop for Jumbun community members, their stakeholders and surrounding Indigenous communities.
We explored the ecovillage framework and 32 principles of social, ecological, culture and economy, integrating into whole systems design, which helps to create pathways to transition to being a thriving community. We had space not only to learn about a design system that aligns with indigenous culture and values, but also to hear Jumbun’s story from the eyes of elders, to listen to each other and the current issues we are facing and how we can address them collaboratively into the future. An important aspect that became visible is that Jumbun is rich in land and culture and the possibilities to regenerate their community are vast.
The Jumbun elders and GEN Australia team also visited the local school, Murray River Upper State School before the workshop, so the elders could engage the children and form stronger bonds with them. The elders shared openly and lovingly, their knowledge and wisdom with the children, of tree and plant species that have both medicinal values and are and have been bush tucker for many generations before.
We had the opportunity to have a representative from Permayouth, a youth-led network and the founder of AI.AM Naturals, an ecological and ethical enterprise making home and self care products, hold mini-workshops with the students and teachers from Murray River Upper State School at the Murray Falls National Park, where the workshop was held, a few kilometers away from the Jumbun community.
Next steps & broadening outreach
Through this workshop, many opportunities have emerged for Jumbun and the network. A few key projects have emerged from the process and Jumbun, GEN Australia, Permayouth and other stakeholders are exploring the next steps and are co-designing the initiatives.
The ecovillage design framework is a broad design system that can be applied to any type of community, as it is diverse yet easily adapted to any local context or country. The framework and design principles have been distilled over 25 years from thousands of communities (intentional, traditional and indigenous) worldwide and are constantly informed by the people and communities who choose to use it as a guiding tool. The approach we take in the workshop is interactive, yet intimate, sitting in circle, listening and sharing stories, while allowing the space also to connect to the broader global systems and issues and the state of the world.
GEN Australia uses a set of ecovillage cards (areas of regeneration and principles) and mat that are laid out on the floor so you can see the principles (words and pictures) and reflect on how that relates to our community. Jumbun is currently in discussion with GEN Australia about developing a project to adapt the cards with pictures and words that could be more relatable to Aboriginal communities.
If other Aboriginal communities are able to step into ownership of their pathways to self-reliance and sustainability, the opportunities for peer-to-peer exchange, knowledge transfer and collaborative work grows immensely.
We will share more stories like this as our connection and relationship deepens with Jumbun and other indigenous communities in Australia