It’s impossible to capture the myriad different ways in which ecovillages have inspired us this year, from solidarity campaigns and ecosystem restoration to the daily work of growing food and nurturing community: all acts that feel increasingly radical and necessary in the world of today. But we want to capture some of the year’s main activities at the secretariat, while we recognise that all we do is in service to the wider network of ecovillages that, through their daily actions, provide light and inspiration in challenging times.
Perhaps the most significant of the year’s activities has been ongoing support for our friends in the Ukrainian ecovillage network. There have been regular calls between members of our staff, board and GEN Ukraine as we monitor the situation. Early in the year, dozens of ecovillages in and outside Ukraine opened their doors in hospitality for refugees as part of the Green Road project. Many of our ecovillages and national networks have been particularly active in securing further funding and support for GEN Ukraine, in particular for the Busha Toloka project which is building an eco-friendly community space to host refugees and provide a meeting point for ecovillagers in future. The response to the war has shone a light on the importance of the ecovillage network across Europe, and we remain enormously inspired and motivated by the updates we receive from our Ukrainian friends as they work tirelessly to maintain their network and support all those seeking refuge in the community.
Of course, a highlight of the year was finally being able to come together at the European Ecovillage Gathering after almost three years apart. This too was given a uniquely Ukrainian feel thanks to the dedicated team of volunteers from GEN Ukraine who were instrumental in preparing much of the infrastructure and organisation, as well as bringing songs and dance from their homeland to the event. We also owe special thanks to the Ananda Gaorii community, who opened their doors and hearts to us at the last minute and enabled us to create an unforgettable gathering in a warm, intimate setting – just what was needed after so long apart. We’re now looking forward with great excitement to meeting in Nature Community in summer 2023: everyone is warmly invited to join us in beautiful Bavaria from 12-17 July and tickets will be available here from early 2023!
In other areas we were no less busy: much of our work focuses on projects that bring together ecovillages, national ecovillage networks and external partners to create resources, knowledge and experiences for our network and the wider world. We finalised the WESEEN project, which saw the creation of two new regional ecovillage networks, and kick-started Launch and Thrive, which will provide resources to support network creation and development. The Yes to Sustainability Partnership, launched in 2021, continued its work strengthening the YTS youth network and increasing its impact by supporting young people in creating sustainability youth exchanges. Other projects supporting youth included the EYE Project that saw a group of young people from Senegal and Germany travelling to meet each other in their respective countries to address themes of racism and colonial healing. And as always, we continued to welcome volunteers through the European Solidarity Corps, as did dozens of ecovillages around Europe, providing a much-needed way into community living for young people.
While we welcomed the return of in-person events, we also recognised the ongoing need for online connection to ecovillages, and we continued our work to offer insights into community online. We launched our Forum as a space for discussion and debate on all topics related to ecovillages, from economic models to how ecovillages are dealing with crisis and collapse – have a browse and join the conversation! The forum also hosts our Living Library project, showcasing the wisdom of leaders and innovators from across the ecovillage movement.
From here at the secretariat, as we reflect on the year we are enormously grateful for all your support, your curiosity about ecovillages, your questions and feedback, and above all and for our dear friends and colleagues across Europe’s ecovillages who make it a true joy and inspiration to serve this network.
We wish you a happy winter season and look forward to meeting you in 2023!
If you would like to make a winter donation to GEN Ukraine’s vital work, you can find donation details here.
If you wish to support GEN Europe’s mission to spread ecovillage culture and lifestyles across Europe and beyond, you can make a donation here.