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Kosha's column

By: Kosha Joubert

The most underutilised resource we have today is the good intentions and creativity of citizens, and our willingness to make a difference. 

GEN is deeply rooted in these good intentions. GEN has created a platform that shows how it is possible for people like you and me to co-empower each other and to start living our visions now. We know it cannot be done alone – we can only do this together! And we know that we can’t wait for those in power to make the changes necessary at the pace necessary. We need to act ourselves. While we reach out and do our best to support those in leading societal positions in creating solutions instead of more of the same problems In turn, more and more of those in power are reaching out to GEN and similar movements for inspiration.

Studies have shown that the vast majority of the world’s citizens long for a life that serves the wellbeing of the whole. We long to leave this planet a better place for our children and their children. We wish to create beauty within our communities. We want to be of service to our wider societies. Growing up and living in a system which has relegated all this to a back seat in the name of economic progress and egoistic gains has done nothing to quench our thirst. The problems this system is running into now are serving to intensify the longing for a more meaningful life in many. 

GEN has an important role to play in showcasing pathways and possibilities for this longing to be fulfilled, both in the North and in the global South! The visibility of people’s projects that deeply care for local community while embracing global community is a vibrant tool for empowerment. Together with a myriad of other NGOs, GEN spreads hope and unleashes potential at grassroots levels. As we experiment in re-knitting trustful relationships and honouring low impact life styles, the authenticity of walking our talk becomes a source of inspiration. Our strength lies in co-developing and co-designing economic, social, cultural and ecologic solutions that support local ownership of sustainable futures. Honestly sharing the questions we face in this process may be as important as sharing any answers we find. 

My sense is that within GEN, we are no longer focussing on replicating the ecovillage model and creating more and more ‘green islands’ out in the countryside. The demonstration sites we have are invaluable and we can certainly do with more. But the focus has long moved on. Today we need every village to become an ecovillage and every city to become an ecocity. The whole of society needs to transition to a low-impact lifestyle in order to survive. All social networks need to reintegrate values of solidarity and mutual trust in order to become resilient enough to face the future creatively. The focus of GEN has shifted to sharing best practice - ecovillage-patterns that work!

As media, politicians, academia and business are looking to GEN with a growing interest, are we ready to meet them with a healthy sense of self-worth and a clear awareness of how we can be of service? I believe that it is time for our vision of who we are and can be to grow and adapt to changing circumstances. It is certainly not about discarding humility. On the contrary, in taking up our role in a moving and questing society we are asked to leave behind all traces of adolescent resistances and conspiracy theories. We are invited to bring an inquisitive open mind and our ability to build trustful relationships to the table. 

The movement of widening GEN to reach more sectors of society needs to be counterbalanced by deepening and strengthening our roots. Reaching out to traditional and indigenous villages and supporting the emergence of GEN-Africa may be seen as a part of this. GEN is in an excellent position to establish partnerships between projects in the North and South. The fact that we are visibly and tangibly lowering ecological footprints attracts interest and respect to Northern ecovillages from projects in the South. Conversely, projects in the North have much to learn from deep-rooted wisdom still alive within Southern projects and cultures. Grassroots leaders from both sides recognise in each other a similar sense of responsibility for global environmental and social justice. In the face of climate change, a network that builds bridges between North and South in a spirit of true collaboration, trust and mutual respect deserves special attention. The global need for and potential of North-South reconciliation work is huge.

As we continue to build bridges widely and deeply it is certainly a good moment for GEN to be updating its websites and PR-materials! The time seems to be ripe for the emergence of GEN-Africa. And GEN-Europe is ready to move beyond being a mere platform, used by individual communities to promote themselves and their activities, to a broader vision of collective creativity in the service of broader society. 

Thank you to all of you out there who in so many individual and colourful ways are playing a part in fostering this movement! Let’s continue weaving our strands together into the ever-changing tapestry of GEN…



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