25 Oct Site Agreed, New Team Members and EDE
It’s been a while since last blog as team EE has been flat out on the ground and things have been moving and developing at such a pace, the blog just couldn’t quite keep up! It’s an exciting time for this project…
Ecovillage Design Education Course
EDE 2017 Team during Straw Build Workshop at Damanhur Ecovillage
John-Paul and another member of the EE team, Aoibhinn Treanor, took part in an intensive Ecovillage Education Design course at the incredible Damanhur Ecovillage in North Italy. The course was wonderfully rich and educational and involved 21 students, all of whom are passionate about Ecovillages and sustainable living from around the world. We had colleagues from not just Italy and us from Ireland but the Basque Country in Spain, USA, Australia, Korea, USA, Palestine/Israel, Austria, Romania and Brazil. An amazing group of people with a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. Was also so much fun!
The course is designed by Gaia Education and supported by UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development.
The EDE was very intensive, with 207 formal hours of study, over a month. Effectively from 9am-9pm 7 days a week, with only one day off in the four weeks! It was however so much fun and very, very educational and inspiring. For the project design aspect Enriched Earth Ecovillage formed one of the team projects and John-Paul worked alongside colleagues from Palestine/Israel and Turkey in designing a blue-print model of an ecovillage that can be replicated to help others setting up similar projects.
John-Paul with the inspirational Macaco and Formica who led the course
“Right up there with my Degree and PGCE in terms of personal value” (John-Paul)
The depth and breadth of the course is really too much to write up in any detail but the highlights for John-Paul were getting to work first hand with Macaco as the main facilitator. Macaco has such a wealth of knowledge and experience she is nothing less than a Global Treasure in terms of education for sustainable living. She is not only a leader of the EDE programme and Damanhur Education but also served for many years as President of GEN Europe. John-Paul first met Macaco at the GEN Europe Conference in Sweden and this meeting, combined with a wish to visit Damanhur Ecovillage made him realise he just had to do this EDE! John-Paul feels that the knowledge, inspiration and experience gained over the course is priceless in empowering him in his role as a Director of the Enriched Earth Ecovillage project.
Other key highlights of the course was an overview of the work of GEN Globally, so inspiring to see countries like Morocco working on a massive scale to transform traditional rural villages into sustainable ecovillages. Aspects of the course that also stood out was the unit on Sociocracy as an enlightened governing system, getting to work on a Straw-Bale House and aspects of the personal transformation work through ‘Deep Ecology’ and Art projects.
John-Paul intends to take the next step and train as an EDE Facilitator and also intends to run an EDE in association with GEN for all residents of Enriched Earth Ecovillage and for the wider community in Ireland (and any international guests!)
Again, for an overdue Blog update, can only say a few words about Damanhur Ecovillage itself. It rightly deserves the many books that have been written about it. John-Paul had read a fair bit about Damanhur in advance of going but no book could really prepare him for just how impressive Damanhur is. Not only is it one of the most pioneering Ecovillages in the world, but its scale is incredible. Over 600 people living in an area of outstanding natural beauty spanning over 1,000 acres. Some areas of the Ecovillage are 15km apart! Damanhur is perhaps most famous for its “secular spirituality” and John-Paul was nothing but impressed with the depth and sincerity of a very enlightened and experimental spirituality and philosophy of life. So much so, that he was honoured to become one of the People of Damanhur in a short but potent ceremony at the breath-taking Temples of Humankind.
However aside from the more obvious wonders of Damanhur such as its Temples being rightly referred to as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World.’ John-Paul was most impressed with the pioneering commitment to sustainable ecological living exemplified and also their very successful economic and governance models.
The main farming area of Damanhur showed an incredible system of organic farming (now ran by a young man with a family who was born there! Oh and gosh what a feast they laid on for the EDE team visit!), their working with Tesla in testing the latest Eco-Battery, the incredible renewable energy systems from Geothermal to Solar, their pioneering ecological waste-water treatment systems, the cutting-edge low-impact housing units, the ‘Sacred Woods’ for its biodiversity, their restoration of an old local water-mill, the refurbishment of an old run-down factory building into literally an Eco-Shopping Mall with units on things from Renewable Energy to a beautiful art gallery and a Damanhur museum. Inspirational!
The governance of Damanhur on their own independently created system of Sociocracy was also very interesting, with very clear decentralised, participatory processes and annual elections for key positions. It says a lot for the place that Falco, the main founder and spiritual facilitator of Damanhur, refused to take any position of governance or authority for the last 20 years of his life, as he wished to see things from the perspective of a regular citizen of Damanhur and to make sure that the governance model worked on the ground. It clearly does for those who choose to live there and residents seem to all enjoy a very high quality of life, from Damanhurian red wine (delicious!) to whole community music and art competitions.
John-Paul was also very interested in studying the economic model of Damanhur and was very impressed with how things are ran from all children having their education and living expenses paid for by the community as a whole to the encouragement of individual and collective entrepreneurship on an ethical basis and having its own currency. The Renewable Energy company of Damanhur serves not just the Ecovillage, but operates right across Italy. The economic viability for regeneration of the local area, an area previously experiencing total brain-drain and in such economic decline that it didn’t even have a coffee shop (in Italy!) Has experienced massive regeneration from Damanhur. Such that the nearest village now has a council ran by people from Damanhur, with the mayor being reelected each year for the last 15 years with the support and essential votes of the wider local community. It now has a school, restaurants and a flourishing economy. The fact is that Damanhur (inc all the private business enterprises of its residents) has an incredible annual turn-over of €70,000,000+: no wonder local people (who were originally hostile to and fearful of the Ecovillage, until its medics saved the lives of two locals) vote to have their village mayor from Damanhur.
Damanhur is an incredible testimony to the viability of the Ecovillage movement and it is no wonder that they have been recognised by the UN as a Model for a Sustainable Future. Enriched Earth Ecovillage looks forward to a long and inspiring partnership with Damanhur and the inspirational friends that we have made there during a month long residential.
This is also now the sixth Ecovillage residential case-study that John-Paul has undertaken and the on-the-ground experience of a variety of Ecovillage models is priceless experience in his aspiration to exemplify best-practice in sustainable living here in Ireland.
New Team Members!
Enriched Earth are delighted to have two new key members to add to our core staff team.
Juliane Wothe is a trained Media Designer and Film Producer with a Diploma in Economics (Film Production) and with many years of experience in this field. She is also a professional writer and journalist. She is experienced in the areas of Permaculture and Environmental Education (having taught environmental education on the Galapagos Islands-no less!) Juliane has hit the ground running with Enriched Earth and has already made significant contacts with key investors and supporters of the project here in Ireland and Internationally.
Adam Pittman has owned and ran his own Design, Development and Construction firm in the USA for 15 years. He has also sat on sat on numerous: city, county, and non-profit boards, committees, and commissions. Adam has a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to the Enriched Earth project and is an invaluable addition to our core team.
Site Purchase Agreed!
Ok, well, while at Damanhur and with the best wishes of all the participants there, John-Paul, on behalf of the core team of Enriched Earth made an offer on a site for Enriched Earth Ecovillage, which was accepted just as he returned to Ireland!
We can’t say too much more on this at the moment as we are still in the process of purchase but draft contracts are due to be completed by the end of this week.
After over three years of incredible work… Enriched Earth Ecovillage is ready to take the next critical step in its journey to become a World-Class Centre for Environmental and Cultural Conservation and Education.
Watch this space…