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GEN-Europe council members

Robert Hall (President of GEN Europe; Suderbyn Permaculture Ecovillage, Sweden) Robert Hall was born in Los Angeles and grew up in rural northern California. He received his Bachelors in International Relations from the University of California, Davis; a Bachelors in Economics from the Lund University, Sweden and an International Masters in Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Infrastructure from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm.

Interested in global development issues, Robert has worked for the Swedish government, EU, OSCE and the UN, living at least one year in eight different countries. Visiting Svanholm Ecovillage, Denmark in the late 1980's Robert became fascinated with the ecovillage concept. After 20 years of visiting ecovillages all over the world, he finally help found Suderbyn Permaculture Ecovillage in Sweden 2008, which led to his involvement in the revival of the Swedish national network ERO in 2010, and then the creation of the regional Baltic Ecovillage Network in 2011. He was elected into the GEN Europe council in 2010 for 2 years. He became involved as well in GEN International and witnessed the birth of GEN Africa in 2012 before being elected GEN Managing Director by the membership in 2014. Since 2013 Robert has been assisting with the launch of the more-inclusive European ECOLISE network of local initiatives on behalf of GEN Europe. As Managing Director of GEN-Europe, Robert initiated the move of the GEN Europe Main Office to Arterra Community, Spain where it is to remain through 2018. He continues to be fascinated by ecovillages and the wisdom that they collectively create and the potential they offer for the wider society's transition to resilience.



Thomas Heuser (ZEGG, Germany) I studied business administration and worked for one of the largest German construction companies almost 20 years.
I am living in ZEGG community since the beginning of 2010. For almost two years now I have been one of the two managing directors of ZEGG GmbH. A challenging task in many different ways. My contribution is bringing together the working and decision-making of a large community and the demands of professional business. 

Why did I move to ZEGG? I felt at home there from the beginning and love to live and work with friends. ZEGG offers seminars, workshops and camps to give people the experience of a cooperative and sustainable way of living. We also share our knowledge about living together as a community. This makes linving and working in ZEGG my personal contribution for a better world.

What do I love most in ZEGG? My goddaughter Jessica. She is the child of two friends of mine and "joined" the community two weeks after me. I got to know her on day 4 of her life and have since spent time with her as often as possible.

Why GEN-Council? I have been impressed since day one by the variety of communities that form GEN. Its diversity on a common ground makes it a powerful organization. I was asked to become part of the GEN-council during the 2012 conference in Krishna Valley. When I was asked to join the Council I felt that I am needed there just now. I knew that I have so much to do for my community at home, but I followed my heart. I am intrigued by the inspired and inspiring people that form GEN community.

My tasks in the GEN Council? I will help with office structures, work flows, the financial overview and the annual budget. I am looking forward to have a share in building the ecovillage movement.

İnci Gökmen (Guneskoy, Turkey) I have graduated from Middle East Technical University (METU), Department of Chemistry, Ankara, Turkey. I married with a colleaque from the same department, Ali Gokmen. After receving MS degree at the same university we went to US and received PhD from the University of Maryland. We started working at METU and we are both professors in the Chemistry Department. We have a son, Onur, who is a visual artist.

Our roads with GEN crossed through a friend Mete Hacaloğlu who was one of the early council members. Mete started an ecovillage inititative near Ankara and did wonderful activities. However they had a problem with the ownership of the land. Later with a group of ten families we bought a 7.5 ha land near Ankara and started our ecovillage initiative, Guneskoy, Sun Village. We have attended the GEN meeting in Poland with Mete. After Poland we have attended almost all of the GEN meetings. We have witnessed GEN’s childhood, and how GEN become a beautiful organization reaching thousands of people each year. We had so many friends through GEN and feeling as part of GEN family.

We are trying organic agriculture on our land and becoming an example to the villagers as Guneskoy is next to a traditional village, Hisarkoy. Traditional villages are disappearing in Turkey. We are hoping our presence can contribute the sustainability of Hisarkoy. Our GEN family always inspired us and we shared our experiences at the GEN meetings. I have served as a council member in GEN-Europe in the past.

We have organized EDE courses and Dragon Dreaming workshop and permaculture meetings, and helped students to start vegetable garden at the neigbourhood and in our university. Besides chemistry I am teaching “Sustainable Living and Green Chemistry” course at METU and talking about ecovillages among other sustainability topics. We are practising Nonviolent Communication with a group of friends. As Gandhi said “I am trying to be the change I want to see in the world.

Françoise Janin (Hameau des Buis, France) I’m retired from teaching, I have 4 children who grew up in a small village in southern France. When they became adults, I looked for a place to share a simple, easy life. I joined the adventure of Hameau des Buis in 2006 while it was still a vision. I subsequently participated in the construction site. It was a beautiful adventure shared with more than 1500 volunteers over 4 years. Some of them went on to live here, and others became professionals in strawbale house building. We have now 20 strawbale houses, some huts, caravans and yurts, and a wonderful school with 80 children and teens from 3 to 15 years old.

I have lived in the Hameau des Buis since the spring of 2008. I host visiters and am part of the team of trainers of "Living in Ecovillage" a 5-day seminar in which we share our experience in education , green building, shared governance, and living together . I participate in several working groups including réception and governance. I also offer homemade soap workshops with teens in the school, and adults. I like living here because living in community helps me grow as a person, and participating in a sustainable society expérience is a rewarding.

I discovered the existence of GEN in 2012, taking part in a discovery week at Sieben Linden ecovillage, Germany. This opened my horizons and gave me a lot of energy and hope. I returned to Sieben Linden in 2013 to attend the seminar EDE, and then got more actively engaged in responsibilities at home. As part of the GEN Council, I would help connecting what is happening in France and Europe, in order to share with the national network experiences of other countries.


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