The 2nd Festival of Eco-practices took place on August 9 -12 on the Festival Field of the Union of Kin-domains Blagodat , Yaroslavl oblast, Russia. This festival was initiated by Russian Ecovillages and Eco-initiative Network (www.gen-russia.ru), where also the first festival had taken place in the last year.
The event is conceived by the organizers as a platform for exchange of practical experience in the field of environmentally friendly technologies and practices relating to all aspects of life both in rural and urban areas.
For these four days the empty festival field of Blagodat changed a lot: the multicolor tents and tipis, the outdoor kitchen with a stove, dining patios and an extensive dance field grew up, an attractive playground was constructed for children. From the morning to the evening, dozens of workshops and talks, lectures and presentations were conducted, organized in three daily sessions of 2.5 hours, in five spaces of the festival field simultaneously. The evening program included dances of universal peace, Russian round and traditional dances and singing, and movies on various eco-topics. Two evenings, local children from the Blagodat gave the mini – concerts of the national dances from other countries. Ecovillages and producers of eco-goods were invited to the fair, where participants could purchase honey, local organic fruits and wild berries, organic vegetables and hand-made nice things produced in the ecovillages. During the festival about 40 workshops were conducted on a variety of topics : separate waste collection, fuel-efficient stoves, green building , alternative energy, organic and biodynamic farming, environmentally friendly cleaning products and cosmetics, traditional environmentally friendly technologies and lifestyle, talks on voluntary simplicity and reducing excessive consumption, on natural birth-giving and healthy lifestyle, and many others. The festival participants had the opportunity to visit some of the kin domains in Blagodat , with the guided tours.
Four round-table discussions were organized: on the issues of education in the eco-villages and villages, on the interaction of traditional villages and eco-villages, on the interaction of towns and eco-villages, on ecovillage movement in Russia and Worldwide. The first topic provoked hot discussions which continued for 5 hours, instead of 2,5. At the last roundtable the participants had opportunity to know news about GEN-Europe conference, Gaya education, creating BEN, and to discuss the issues of Russian ecovillage movement. All the days of the festival on the children’s playground there was construction of a real adobe hut, organized by the masters from Krasivoe eco-village, and it was a big joy for children and adults to participate in this three-day long master-class.
The festival was attended by around 300 people from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, representatives of the 20 eco-villages and kin-domains settlements, of many environmental organizations , creative unions and other NGOs. If compared with the last year, much more of local people from Blagodat and nearest traditional villages showed interest to, and visited the festival. On the last day the festival was visited even by a group of retired people from the nearest town Pereslavl – Zaleski, with the excursion. So one could tell that the festival is becoming a local landmark.
On the last day the festival hosted back-to-back annual open meeting of the Russian Ecovillages and Eco-initiative Network. During this event, the last year results were summed up, and further plans, activities and strategy of REEN development were considered and discussed. Three new members joined the network: an initiative group from the ecovillage Kovcheg, city community «Dom Sredniy» and biodinamic farm Stavotino.
At the opening circle and at closing ceremony, all the participants joined hands in a circle and sang a simple song, brought by Michio from Japanese Konohana family to GEN GA, and by the author to the festival:
Peace, Peace , Peace
Light, Light, Light
Love, Love , Love
It was sang in Russian, and these words can be considered as essential message of the whole festival.