One of the core pillars of GEN Europe’s work is capacity building: offering support and training in tools that help individuals and communities live more sustainably and collaborate more effectively. We regularly work with the EU’s Erasmus+ scheme to create international trainings that bring young people and youth workers together in an intercultural setting to build their skills with tools used and developed in ecovillages, and to spread their networks by meeting likeminded people from across Europe.
As part of this programme, this year we held a training for 17 youth leaders and youth workers with a focus on “social intelligence for sustainability”: tools and methods to improve participatory collaboration, collaborative leadership, decision-making and facilitation. Hosted by Arterra Bizimodu ecovillage in northern Spain, it was also an opportunity for participants to share experiences of living in community and working with youth in the area of sustainability.
The training was held by expert trainers with years of experience in participatory governance and decision-making methods, with a focus on ecovillages, communities and networks. There was a particular focus on sociocratic methods: a governance and decision-making model frequently used in ecovillage that encourages agile decision-making, efficient meetings and regular review and feedback. Using case studies from GEN Europe, the trainers offered guidance on how to put tools and structures from sociocracy into practice in when working in networks, self-organised groups and with youth. Participants were also highly involved in the facilitation of the training, as a chance to put their skills and to receive feedback.
Participants attended from networks and ecovillages in Germany, Denmark, Slovenia, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. Each of them brought and shared their experiences: for example, GEN Germany’s projects working to bring sustainable living and working opportunities to rural areas, or the Danish ecovillage network’s pioneering work on supporting refugees. This cross-pollination of experiences is one of the most enriching elements of these trainings, and lays the groundwork for future projects and collaborations.
During the visit participants were also able to get a flavour of life in Arterra Bizimodu ecovillage, enjoy their annual ‘fiestas’, and visit some of the beautiful landscapes of the local area. It was an intense, enriching experience and we look forward to future collaborations between participants!