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The NextGEN-Europe Conference 2014: July youth gathering at ZEGG brings a massive wave of energy and vivid project ideas

A couple of months have passed since we left the ZEGG community in Bad Belzig, but it feels like it was just yesterday. The days that we spent in the NextGEN-Europe Conference were very rich, intense and full of colorful impressions – we would like to share some of them:

The NextGEN-Europe Conference this year started a few days before the mega-event GEN-Europe Conference, which can be called the biggest annual event of the ecovillage world. The NextGEN-Europe Conference this time brought together around 55 participants from 20 countries, including many different European nations, as well as South Korea, South Africa, Canada and the USA. The eight-day long conference program aimed to inspire participants and give them educational input through various kinds of workshops, including Initiation/Possibility Management by Clinton Callahan, Non-Violent Communication by NextGEN mentor Ethan Hirsch-Tauber, Sociocracy and Games by Fredjan Twigt and Nicoletta Geiersbach. Many more workshops (such as Dragon Dreaming or Animal Communication) were available in the second half of the conference, when the NextGEN-Europe and GEN-Europe conferences overlapped.

Many of the participants came with a considerable level of knowledge and experience from their organizations and youth movements in their home-countries. The conference organizers therefore created a lot of space for networking possibilities through interactive tools like World Cafe, Open-Space Technology, Hyper-Networking and several others. In order to not lose the feeling of community, the program was designed in a way to give enough space for personal sharing and connecting with others on a deeper “heart and soul” level, which was sometimes a challenging task, but also so needed in order to build the new culture of sustainability.

What happens when such a great group of young activists come together and share their deepest dreams and passions? An amazing wave of energy and inspiration unfolds and transforms into ambitious project ideas! There are also challenges that come up in such a high energy, especially how to keep this momentum, fuel the inspiration and make each other accountable while the dream takes shape into reality. One solution that the NextGEN-Europe core team proposed was inviting interested participants to come along to a two-day post-conference meeting in Wukania community outside of Berlin. There the group further shaped and deepened its project ideas. The new core-team that formed at Wukania also doubled in size!

Since the meetings, we have started to work on truly inspiring and also quite ambitious projects including:

  • A NextGEN-Europe Education program, that would widely open doors for youth to attend permaculture, ecovillage design education and personal development courses and workshops

  • A mentorship program to continuously draw from the experience of most experienced actors in the ecovillage world

  • Videos that would make us visible and inspire many more young people to join the NextGEN-Europe with a feeling “I am a part of this!”

  • Partnerships with like-minded organizations and youth movements in Europe

  • Strengthening the links to existing ecovillages and exploring together ways to implement apprenticeships and “home-bases” where NextGEN youth can stay for less money

  • A NextGEN-Europe Office starting from 2015 (perhaps next to the new GEN-Europe office) with EVS volunteers working solely for the support of NextGEN-Europe

  • and many more…

People are always welcome to join the NextGEN-Europe and support these projects or initiate a new one on his/her own and receive mutual support from the team. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who participated in the conference and co-created it in one way or another! It looks like the coming year is going to be very rich in new events and possibilities to meet multiple times throughout Europe leading up to the next big gathering at the GEN Conference in Findhorn 2015.

In order to stay updated like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ngen.europe

We are very much looking forward to the next NextGEN-Europe Conference in 2015!

All the best,
the NextGEN-Europe Core team

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