Here we reprint an interview published today in Slovenian newspaper Vecer with ecovillage pioneer Nara Petrovič as he prepares to celebrate the European Day of Sustainable Communities on September 22nd. Find out more about the European Day at https://www.sustainable-communities.net/
"Ecovillages improve the foundations of living"
Bojan Tomažič with Nara Petrovič
On Saturday, September 22, ecovillage day will be hosted at the farm of Potočki family In Spodnje Hlapje near Jakobski Dol. “In the embrace of synergies we will inspire each other and our surroundings,” announces Nara Petrovič.
Do people who live with nature dislike the reality we write about in the media, I ask him. “A falling tree makes more noise than a growing forest, says a Japanese proverb. I don’t mind the media reporting mostly about noise and devastation,” he replies wisely. “People want to know when something threatening takes place, which puts us at risk. Problems begin when the media are full of exaggerated scary news. There are also very few deep articles about the serious crisis, which threatening us through the climate change.” Nara Petrovič, the initiator of Slovenian ecovillages, who lives in one such initiative in Slovenian Istria, emphasizes that ecovillages improve the quality of foundations of living. “On top of this each of us adds a little something for diversity and personal fulfilment,” he makes it sound very easy.
Keep the foundation healthy, transform what is rotten
“A big challenge is how to apply such principles in cities. My friend once said that we’ll consider the quality of life in cities truly high, when people won’t feel the need to leave cities for vacations or holidays and will prefer to stay at home.” Ecovillagers are proactively working “towards self-governance, self-sufficiency and regeneration, while networking and sharing experiences with others,” Nara explains. “We are doing this on all levels: global, European, national, regional and local, in our home village.”
To inspire ourselves and others
“We are organising the Ecovillage Day on 22 September, because such events will be taking place all around Europe in the framework of the European Day of Sustainable Communities. It is already traditionally for our day to be self-organised with the Open Space technology. Everybody is welcome to present their knowledge or to participate on many available workshops,” explains Nara, independent researcher of harmful habits, co-creator of a more beautiful world, writer, translator, lecturer, chef, masseur and, above all, lover of life. “In the embrace of synergy we will inspire each other and our surroundings. Only a certain percentage of people changes anything in their lives exclusively by their will. Most are lazy and stuck in their own ways.”
Because people are lazy and stuck, Nara wishes for a global crisis, but only a minor or medium one, “to sober up sufficient number of people and get us to the critical mass, sufficient for proper transformation. The crisis should not be too big, because a cataclysm would cause chaos, people would react with panic and individualism, except in cases, of course, where we have been cultivating a culture of community and solidarity.”
Solidarity is more or less forgotten. “A few years ago, on the Italian ecovillage festival with 700 participants, I listened to an elder talk about his community Il Popollo di Elfi. In the end, someone asked him, how does he imagine surviving his last years without pension and insurance. He said that he trusts community would take care of him. As he said it, some young people from this colourful community surrounded him. We all had tears in our eyes.”
You can experience this in ecovillages, not elsewhere. “The individual in today’s system and way of life is under tremendous pressure. Young people need two decades to get on their own feet, the old don’t get a decent pension. Bond between generations is very weak; network of solidarity is fragmented and institutionalized. We are not even allowed to help our relatives and neighbours because we could be accused of undeclared work!”
External experts shouldn’t be blindly trusted
Petrovič does not believe in one formula of living for everyone. “Education should direct both children and grownups to shape their lives in accordance with natural and cultural qualities of their environment. And in accordance with their own nature. The way of living should emerge from interactions between people and their environment, it shouldn’t come from an external expert. Chinese agriculture, for example, had developed a technology with which they kept the soil fertile for 5000 years. Green revolution, introduced by experts, almost ruined this knowledge. A lot was damaged, but luckily not everything.” In all his books, especially in the three Instructions for Use – for human, for God and for Slovenia – Nara holds the position of not being an expert. “I inquire and question and report on what works for me and for the groups I work with. In particular, I encourage people to try things out on their own and not to believe anything just because an expert said so.”
Nara is not pessimistic. “The twentieth century was not only a century of failures. Yes, many trees have fallen, but let's look at the growing forest, and we’ll have a lot to celebrate!” We have choices. “In the history most people did not have many choices at all, even today they don’t have them. Reading can help people make better choices and get the courage to actually change, but even more than reading it is essential to be with people who have changed their lives for the better,” Nara speaks from his experience. “In ecovillages we celebrate societal development, but we also point out negative side-effects of the development. We don’t advocate going back into caves or radical conservativism. We want to preserve healthy foundations and transform everything that is rotten or parasitic.”
On the farm in Spodnje Hlapje, on 22 September you can participate on many of the thirty workshops, there will be good food and drinks, and it will be fun, concluded Nara Petrovič.