Another consciousness-raising Ecovillage Training has come to a close. This marks the 6th year that Findhorn in association with GEN-Europe has run the 4-week course which explores how to transform our human settlements, be they villages, towns or cities, into sustainable communities, integrated into the natural environment. The ecovillage movement has grown from 9 seed villages in 1995 (first international conference at Findhorn) to more than 15,000 villages associated with the Global Ecovillage Network today, including several Living and Learning Centres, villages which have created training programs to assist other communities.
One of the most interesting aspects of this year’s course was that it brought together a diversity of participants from both over-developed and developing nations. These included Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Egypt, England, Hawaii, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States. This meant the life issues, spiritual and cultural background, experiences, languaging, understanding and needs of each of the participants and their countries varied enormously but what held the group together was the common vision to restore the web of life of the planet, by becoming sustainable and not taking more away from the Earth than we give back.
The challenge of holding such a diverse group and covering such a huge topic is not so much ‘what needs to done’, rather ‘how can it be done’ given each country’s unique circumstances. There is no single solution, no magic formula that can be applied world-wide. It would be naive to believe otherwise. And so the participants gently taught each other about how it is where they come from and what is possible. They enlightened each other, they encouraged and helped empower each other, and they dedicated themselves in small, practical ways to becoming more conscious and more sustainable in their everyday lives. They saw the weight of their ecological footprint on the earth, both as a country and as individuals. It was quite a humbling experience. They didn’t judge the situation. They did, however, commit to changing direction as far as they are able in order to lighten their footprint on the earth, and they did so with compassion.
May East, co-designer of the Training, says, “As we witness the ever-growing social-economic disparity between the rich and the poor, North and South, and the ongoing degradation of our planet’s resources, real changes are coming about as we unite, pool our resources, and do it ourselves. Programmes where people on the planet are making a difference today are, in fact, locally-based. We are advancing the cause of sustainability through our educational programmes such as the Ecovillage Training and through exchange with networks of people’s organisations in solidarity with local actors fully committed to establishing sustainable life styles in their regions.”
We say goodbye and send heartfelt blessings to our new friends around the globe. Some participants have stayed on to integrate their experiences, while others will be attending follow-on programmes to deepen their soul’s journey at Findhorn. We wish the highest and the best for all in our united efforts toward a peaceful, sustainable planet.
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