Findhorn’s Ecovillage Programme is a deep immersion in community life that provides tools to create sustainable human settlements. If ever you’ve surveyed the world around you and wondered what you can do to make a difference, I would suggest the Ecovillage Programme as a practical and empowering forum for examining new ways of living and developing personal action plans. I took part in it in 2009 and my life has not been the same since.
In response to the urgent global need for viable and sustainable human settlements, EVT explores the lessons learned by the ever-evolving Findhorn Ecovillage and other communities around the world. The four-week programme looks to nature for inspiration and celebrates the interconnectedness of all things, recognising that we humans are but a strand in the intricate web of life.
Working with the simple principle of not taking more from the Earth than we can give back, it examines ways to reduce our ecological footprint and incorporates the Permaculture Design Course that is recognised by certain organisations and universities.
The 2012 programme during February and March attracted participants of all ages from all walks of life and more than a dozen countries, among them the UK, USA, Canada, Brazil, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. A common thread among participants is disillusionment with current systems that do not serve the needs of people and other species that share the planet, along with a desire to design ways of living that are joyful and fulfilling.
At the heart of the programme are ecological design principles derived from a study of the natural world that can be applied to almost every facet of life from food production to Eco-housing, relationships and the global economy.
The first week is devoted to People Care and examines human sustainability issues, the second to Fair Share and promoting equity, the third to Earth Care and the final week to a design process that draws upon all the lessons learned. My project three years earlier was to design a Findhorn-inspired ecovillage in South Africa that remains a dream.
Perhaps one of the most powerful and emotive components is the newly introduced Be the Change symposium that is inspired by a partnership with indigenous peoples and a commitment to bring about an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on the planet.
It also embraces principles of deep ecology created by Joanna Macy and John Seed using despair and empowerment rituals that help access the courage to face fears and a sense of hopelessness to break through to a more viable human consciousness that is heart centred and in harmony with all life.
It pulls no punches as it spotlights a greedy, materialistic world where the social gap between rich and poor continues to widen and the very future of life is under severe threat, vast tracts of rainforest being destroyed every minute while the planet is experiencing an unprecedented rate of extinction, resource depletion and pollution.
Many were reduced to tears before being shown that the opportunities are arguably greater than the challenges, an unnamed movement of individuals and organisations emerging as a powerful force for change that is gathering momentum on a scale never seen before.
“It is far different and bigger and more unique than anything we have ever seen. It flies under the radar of the media by and large. It is non-violent: it is grassroots. It has no cluster bombs, nor armies, and no helicopters. It has no central ideology… this movement is humanity’s immune response to resist and heal political disease, economic infection, and ecological corruption caused by ideologies. This is fundamentally a civil rights movement, a human rights movement. This is a democracy movement: it is the coming world.”
He is a voice of hope as he sounds a clarion call to action that resonates with many of the EVT participants, who believe the Be the Change symposium has created a sturdy platform on which to build ideas and new roles in life brought about by a raised state of consciousness.
I found it totally inspiring and was delighted to see its inclusion in the 2012 programme which demonstrates that the EVT programme, like the Findhorn community itself, is a work in progress that continues to evolve as a force for change and new ways of living upon the Earth.