Was it a moment of inspiration at a workshop?
A hug shared with a stranger?
Perhaps it was watching the next generation of ecovillagers play together, or the satisfaction of getting your hands (and feet!) stuck into some cob-building.
Whatever your personal highlight was, there were quite simply too many magical moments to capture in words at this year’s European Ecovillage Conference.
With over 600 attendees, this 21st edition was biggest ever conference, and our hosts at Angsbacka knew how to deliver an unforgettable experience, providing us with delicious vegetarian food from their beautiful gardens, stunning workshop spaces and above all a warm, open-hearted welcome.
Supported by a 10-strong team of EVS volunteers bursting with enthusiasm, energy and ideas, our dedicated conference team and manager delivered over the course of five days a vibrant programme thanks to the dozens of co-creators who offered their gifts: from planning new projects with Dragon Dreaming to letting go with ecstatic dance, from getting hands-on with bio-construction techniques to learning how ecovillages can respond to the migrant crisis, workshop leaders gave both seasoned ecovillagers and curious visitors plenty of food for thought.
And none of it would have been possible without the participation of hundreds of ecovillagers who had travelled from far and wide to participate, to share their knowledge and experiences of creating - in the words of our keynote speaker Charles Eisenstein - the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
Meet the Ecovillages was a highlight for many: for the first time, ecovillagers had the chance to showcase their communities in a brand new way, setting up miniature versions on a giant outdoor map of Europe. The capricious Swedish summer sun decided to smile on the afternoon, and participants were able to cross the continent on foot, making music in Germany, tasting local delicacies in Poland and ItaIy - and even take a surprise trip to Jamaica, where a new community is being dreamed up!
The second ever Ecovillage Sustainable Technology Expo inspired many with its presentation of innovative low-impact technologies developed by ecovillagers. Some visitors took a turn on the Whyke - a sail-equipped wind-bike - while others learned how to hand-build a Piggott wind turbine. The travelling biogas digestor was a particular highlight (if your community is interested in building their own digestor or learning more about the GEN biodigestor project, please contact us).
Amongst our many wonderful presenters, we were lucky to welcome two keynote speakers who engaged the crowds in stimulating plenary sessions. A warm and humble address from Charles Eisenstein emphasised the need for faith in the impossible, and faith in ourselves, making space for us to embrace new forms of activism in tune with our own wisdom and that of the natural world around us. Meanwhile Helena Norberg Hodge, drawing on her experiences in communities in Ladakh, joined the dots between happiness in community and “big picture activism”.
Showing just how far our message is spreading, the event sparked interest from local, national, and international media, with stories from the conference appearing on Swedish national television, in The Guardian- and even in coverage from Turkey, Italy, and Slovenia!
As the conference came to a close, next year’s hosts from Lilleoru gave us a taste of what to expect, with traditional Estonian singing and dancing, and a sneak preview of the exciting spaces that are being created to hold us in 2018.
From all of us at GEN-Europe, a warm thank you for coming, for co-creating, for giving your all to make this event one we’ll remember for years to come. We hope you left inspired, energised and ready to carry on your vital work in your communities, and beyond.
We’ll see you in Estonia in 2018 - keep an eye out here for more details!
What were your favourite moments? Anything you’d like to see next year? Let us know on Facebook, by emailing conference(at)gen-europe.org and by filling in the conference feedback survey you will have received.