03 Aug GEN Conference, Ängsbacka Ecovillage, Ambassador Status and Damanhur EDE Residential
John-Paul training to become a GEN Ambassador with Executive-Director Kosha Joubert
Another busy month ‘at the office!’
Highlights from this month are that Enriched Earth Founder and Director John-Paul Patton went on behalf of our Ecovillage project to Ängsbacka Ecovillage in Sweden to attend the Global Ecovillage Network (Europe) Conference. It was an incredible event with over 600 people from all around the world and from a wide-range of Ecovillages mainly from Europe (but also folks from as far as Australia and South America).
The conference was truly inspirational and left our founder with a real sense of GEN as a cutting-edge organisation on a global basis in addressing head on the big issues of our time in terms of a chronic need for sustainable living becoming a reality in the face of climate change, mass extinction of species and other pressing issues.
John-Paul was particularly delighted to see the beginnings of a new GEN Education initiative and programme in the making which he is keen to be involved in as an Educator. He was also very impressed with the work of nextGEN in terms of leadership around the world being shown by young people, some of whom are literally the nextGEN of Ecovillages through having been born and lived their entire lives in places like Findhorn Ecovillage in Scotland.
It is with great pleasure that we can also announce here that John-Paul as of today has been successful in his application to become a GEN Ambassador. He is very passionate about furthering the great work of GEN in Ireland. It is very telling that while GEN are currently working with a staggering 10,000 Ecovillages across 5 continents, advising governments and councils to help them meet their sustainability targets, Ireland has a grand total of one Ecovillage in Tipperary. Northern Ireland has none. Enriched Earth thinks its time for change and we plan to see the Ecovillage movement see a period of significant growth under our banner, working in close cooperation with GEN and other pioneers who are creating solutions rather than waiting on someone else to do it.
John-Paul with Lasse, Founder and Director of Ängsbacka Ecovillage in Sweden
John-Paul was very impressed with Ängsbacka Ecovillage and its pioneering work in Sweden and was delighted to get a tour of the site with it founder. As with John-Paul’s previous case-study visits to other Ecovillages inc. Cloughjordan (Ireland), Solheimer (Iceland), Findhorn (Scotland), Lammas (Wales) and soon to be Damanhur (Italy). He was keen to learn as much as possible from those who have succeeded in the field in which he is pioneering. As with so many Ecovillages Ängsbacka had some resistance at first from local residents who viewed the project with suspicion. Again, the same pattern as in others is that after a while this has completely turned around were the Ecovillage is now celebrated and seen as a massive asset by the local community. A place that brings tourism, employment and inspiration to the local area.
I think perhaps the ultimate symbol of their success and acceptance is that the local Municipality (their equivalent of a council) has literally GIVEN the Ecovillage the local school. It had needed massive repair work and suffered from falling pupil numbers. They saw what Lasse did as an entrepreneur with Ängsbacka (which was previously a church built retreat for clerics) and felt he could help save the school. They were right. Lasse used the old school as soon as he got it, as part of the Syrian Refugee Crisis programme. He made it a temporary home for 200 refugees. The central Swedish government paid him for hosting the refugees and the refugees, with the Ecovillagers, all worked together to restore and renovate the school. The refugees have now mostly been rehoused and the school is going to be reopened as a new progressive school ran by Ängsbacka. Fanatastic!
Lasse also told me that their Ecovillage events sell out every year, with a 1,000 person capacity. Ängsbacka Ecovillage has an annual revenue of €1.8 million, any profits from which go back into developing the project. The latest of which is a new ‘Forest Dream’ Ecovillage on the site for which he has won planning for a series of ‘Tiny Houses’ and a Community Hub. Totally Inspirational! <3
Map of ‘The Forest Dream’ Ecovillage at Ängsbacka which is currently being developed
In other news…. John-Paul will be going to do a residential course at the incredible Damanhur Ecovillage in Italy, which has been going since 1975 and is very successful. He will be undertaking the internationally recognised Ecovillage Design Education course ran in association with GEN by Gaia Education. It is an active member of UNESCO’s Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Part of a global effort to generate and scale up action in all levels and areas of education and learning to accelerate progress towards sustainable development. Damanhur Ecovillage is a Key Partner in the implementation of the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Exciting stuff! This course will also qualify John-Paul to run the EDE in Ireland as a Course Facilitator.
As for Enriched Earth Ecovillage… as reported previously, given the lack of any Northern Ireland Assembly since January 2017 to progress action on reviewing PPS21 to enable a One Planet Development system, we have been casting a wide eye ref alternative sites to the green field site in Fermanagh which we had been exploring as an option. We do have a number of new potential sites in the Republic of Ireland and we also have had significant interest from a number of investors. We are currently putting together with the help of our business advisor an ‘Investor Brochure’ and package. We intend to buy a site for Spring 2018. The intensive work over the last three to set up Enriched Earth Ecovillage is about to bear fruit.
However we have not given up on Northern Ireland, nor it adopting the progressive One Planet Development policy and getting an Ecovillage! John-Paul as a member of the Green Party in the North will be putting a motion at this years AGM for the adoption of support for OPD by the party. We also have another potential site in Northern Ireland and in due time, the province will get the kind of Educational Ecovillage our children deserve and then we will get them to teach the adults; as we really don’t have time until our Eco-Schools educated children become the lawyers and councillors to sort it out. We need action, now.
Be part of the solution.
We are the future.
Meeting of the European Ecovillages at Ängsbacka, Sweden