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GEN-Europe Takes Action regarding the Refugee Crisis on the Island of Lesvos

Together we aim to provide help on the ground in Greece and take responsibility for an issue that affects us all.”

The flow of refugees from war-torn areas continues and crossing into the EU is a dangerous risk many men, women and children feel forced to take to survive. The Greek Islands and especially the island of Lesbos is the main entry point where many arrive in need of help; others do not survive the crossing. As the colder winter comes, the situation will become even worse. As ecovillages we stand for social justice and a humane world where people should not be hindered to seek their legal right to asylum in the EU. 

refuGEN is now ready to act. Our plan is to field a mission to the small city of Mytilini on the Greek island of Lesvos. We have already been there through our Team Member Anna of Skala and made connections with the local NGOs, municipality and university. Our mission will work seamlessly with local efforts and we aim to strengthen local capacities in Mytilini to utilise local residents and international volunteers to meet the needs of distressed refugees arriving, especially those who have lost family members, needed medical care and remain on Lesvos a longer period. We are working with the local community to arrange our accommodations and identify the greatest need for refuGEN to fill. The refuGEN mission will start its briefing in Greece 20-23 Dec and be on location in Lesvos no later than 24 Dec. Both Anna, from the ecovillage la Skala and Robert (President of GEN Europe) will be part the first group of refuGEN volunteers on location before Christmas. We now need your help. We need volunteers, financial support and materials.

VOLUNTEERS: Persons capable of helping others in need, with at least a minimum of basic skills in English are welcome to apply to become a refuGEN volunteer by filling in the application form here: Survey refuGEN

We need Arabic speakers and medical doctors and nurses as well as people with good community/inter-personal/trauma/practical skills. You must be willing to stay at least 7 days, but the longer the better. Unfortunately we cannot promise any financial assistance with travel and food/accommodation costs. We hope to be 5 persons at all times, with a team leader staying a longer period, a medic, an interpreter and two more volunteers.

DONATIONS: If you can, please contribute to the refuGEN fund. It is for paying common costs of the mission that we cannot ask individual volunteers to pay for. If we collect enough money we would like to help volunteers in financial need to help pay food, accommodation and possibly travel to the location. It is possible to donate via GEN Europe PayPal account or GEN Europe bank account. Please mark all donations with "refuGEN".

PAYPAL: http://gen-europe.org/spende/index.htm

Postbank Berlin, bank code 10010010, Account no: 7681105
IBAN: DE 11100100100007681105, BIC: PBNKDEFF100

GEN-Europe e.V. is a charity association - Donations to us are tax deductible depending on your country.

MATERIALS: We ask you to consider gathering needed materials to give to needy refugees. Men's clothes, sleeping bags, tents, and perhaps blankets will be needed. Sorting clothes by size and type is helpful. We want you to wait with sending any materials before refuGEN is on location and can confirm what is needed.

Please spread this request in your community and to trusted individuals connected to your community that you think could help with the refuGEN mission.

General Information

NOTE: The conditions on Lesvos change all the time!

Some weeks ago there were arriving on the island 6000-8000 thousand refugees per day, the last week the number changed into 1000-1500.

What is the Village "of All Together"
The Village “of All Together” is a self-managed-autonomous space, which has hosted during this time more than 6.000 refugees, some for few days and others up to a year. The refugees include asylum and family unification applicants and/or vulnerable groups of newly arrived refugees e.g. people with disabilities, sick, pregnant, refugees, who have experienced lost of parts of their families after sinking, etc. There, the volunteers are offered food, clothes, medicines, hygiene, legal counseling, and medical help as well as they organize activities for children and classes of Greek and English and occasionally, they provide them transport expenses and social support. In the Village “of All Together”  there are small wooden houses, many big tents, a big professional social kitchen, where they cook warm food for 600-1200 refugees per day, a medicin place, central Store
house, where they collect clothes, food etc… They share the food to the different camps, in Moria, in the port of Mytilini, in Kara Tepe. At the moment 60-70 people live there, but this can change very

What is most needed?
What they need is psycho-social support because they stay longer there.  There is also need for technical support, help in the Kitchen, work with children, creativity and art, empowerment for women, children, creative actions, to create a child friendly room, social spaces for, musical experiences etc. Also, they want to cooperate with us on ecological level and to help them creating better conditions in all levels for the refugees they host.


There are flights to Mytilini (Lesvos) from Athens and Thessaloniki. But not every day. So some days the plains fly from Thessaloniki and some days from Athens. Skala Ecovillage is located on the north of Greece, 40 km from the airport of Thessaloniki. If some people want to stay in Skala before or after their stay in Lesvos, are very welcome to do it. Food and accommodation in Skala costs 15 euros per day.

For the people that fly via Athens, it's better to go directly to Lesvos. The Village of All Together, in Pikra is close to the airport of Mytilini, 5 km from the city of Mytilini. That means that the volunteers need also transport possibility, to rent a car, bicycles… There is also a bus connecting the city with the airport, every half an hour.

„Models for sustainable living“

In this project funded by the German environmental protection agency GEN-Europe and the European Business Council for Sustainable Energy (e5) will be working together on two thematic strands cooperatively which aim at mainstreaming the ecovillage approach and connecting actors in the field across existing institutions and society groups.

The first thematic strand, held by GEN-Europe, will present ecovillage solutions and the ecovillage approach to sustainability to an urban audience and facilitate further connection between ecovillages in Germany.

The second thematic strand, held by e5, will focus on the field of the commons economy and bring together actors from ecovillages, the commons movement and business in German to look for potential technological, social or economic innovations.

German project website

NextGEN-Europe Conference, July 4th - 13th, 2014 in ZEGG, Germany

NextGEN-Europe Conference 2014 has been an enormously successful event full of opportunities. Young people from all over Europe came together to connect, share inspiration and weave a strong network. We warmly invite you to read a short-review of the amazing 8-day-long event and its results here

EU Ecovillages Project

An extensive EU-funded collaboration project with the name ECOVILLAGES, recently started operations and will run for a three-year period 2011-2013. It focuses on a survey of eco-villages around the Baltic Sea with a view to promoting ecovillages as innovative sustainable rural development. During the project, various approaches, problems and methods of starting and developing ecovillages such as in areas like eco-technologies, eco-practices like agriculture/garden and social community building will be documented and toolkits for ecovillage initiators developed. The project is funded by the EU Baltic Sea Region Programme (Interreg) with 1. 46 M EUR, dubbed a flagship of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and awarded the status of Baltic 21 Lighthouse project by the Council of Baltic Sea States. GEN Europe has become an Associate Partner of the project and will benefit directly by strengthening its presence in Northern Europe. more

Ecovillage Design Education in Sieben Linden, 2012

This year's EDE course was the fifth to be hosted in the Ecovillage of Sieben Linden. 33 participants from 23 countries (Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Palestine, Colombia, Brasil, and all over Europe) attended.

The international focus of this particular EDE has always been strong and creates an atmosphere of intercultural celebration at the core of all learning and exchange. A thoroughly new and fascinating aspect was the powerful presence of the Arab world following the Ecovillage Conference that took place in Sekem, Egypt in November last year. more

Development of GEN-Africa

Various activities have been held to support the emergence of GEN-Africa as an independent branch of the global network. One of them was Congo Conference which was held from the 11th until the 13th of May 2011, in Kinshasa, addressing issues of sustainable development and permaculture in the DR Congo. The other activity was North Africa Project, a project financed by the German foreign Ministry under the title ‘Supporting the emergence of ecovillage strategies for climate change adaptation and stability in the region’. This comes as an important recognition of the work of GEN. Part of that was also launching a new website which is available at http://gen-africa.org/. This is another step in the process of the emergence of GEN-Africa as an independent national network, supported by GEN-Europe. To join Africans Egypt Conference at Sekem happened on the weekend of 18-22 November, 2011. Over sixty Africans from many different countries and backgrounds, gathered at the farm site of SEKEM, a model for sustainable business development located about sixty kilometers from Cairo, Egypt. Education about ecovillages is crucial for further development therefore we are happy that Africa has attended EDE in Sieben Linden and also organized EDE in Senegalmore

EDE in South Africa

The Global Ecovillage network (GEN) and GEN Africa initiated the first Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) course in South Africa at Lynedoch Ecovillage in Stellenbosch, approximately 50km outside Cape Town. The course was funded by Heidehof Stiftung and Lush Cosmetics. 

23 Participants coming from various African countries and abroad gathered at Lynedoch Eco-village in Stellenbosch to witness and take part in the first EDE course held in South Africa. A mixed group of people passionately seeking to (re)connect to other people and find ways to live more sustainably with the earth.  more

Grundtvig Workshops

These workshops were fully funded by the EU, including participants travel and subsistence costs as well as organization and facilitation. 

  • Permaculture Design Course, May 2011
  • Cooperative Games and Circle Dances, July 2011
  • Communicate Yourself!, November 2011
  • Ways to sustainable Living, May 2012

Communicate Yourself! Workshop, November 2011 

This intensive workshop was held from the 27th of November until the 4th of December in Sieben Linden. Participants from 18 countries were perfecting their communication skills, shared their ideas and practiced to facilitate and harvest group conversations. The program contained a lot of exercises and gave useful tools to help community building in the future. The participants stayed in contact after the course to help each other's project the best they can. more

Youth meeting

Dreaming and celebrating are as important as planning and doing, if you want to make your dreams come true, says the Australian project consultant John Craft.

Sounds crazy, but it is extremely successful, over 700 projects all over the world have used this method to make their dreams come true.

One of these projects is the youth network NextGEN. From the 7th to the 11th of July 2011 over 40 young people from different ecovillages joined in Tamera where they were planning, celebrating and dreaming this organization into the world. But that is not the only thing that is special about this youth group. Because Next GEN is no organization, at least no organization the way we know it, it is a so called empty centered organization. This means there is no hierarchy and no council. Instead of a council there are common principles and a tool of communication. more

EDE Orissa

Back in 2007 John George from THREAD, Orissa, India took part in the first EDE in Sieben Linden, Germany. He brought with him news and inspiring images of a women’s movement: women taking an oath over fire as they step into leadership – pledging to safeguard their communities, their forests, their children; climbing on tables and pitching speeches to each other; in political protest to counter the potential of Monsanto to destroy seed heritage. Back then, John and I hatched a dream to bring the EDE to Orissa in order to further empower the Orissa Nari Samaj women’s movement and explore the possibility of recognizing their villages as ecovillages. Four years passed before this dream came true. more

Transition to Resilience Training

We are creating a European Learning Partnership that brings together the expertise of different European organisations for lifelong adult education in the field of social, economical and ecological sustainability, funded by the EU Lifelong Learning Program.

The goal is to develop a 2-year learning journey (the Transition to Resilience Training) to support those who work in... more

Past activities

Go to archive


14.12.2015 refuGEN

GEN Takes Action regarding the Refugee Crisis on the Island of Lesvos

30.11.2015 GEN-Europe at COP21

  GEN Europe is at the COP21 forum in Paris! You can find general information about the event here. Many of you would have heard about this...


21 representatives from nine European National Ecovillage Networks met in Torri Superiore, Italy, from October 31 to November 4, to begin designing...