Thoughts and Words by: Grace McGrade – Photo Credits: Ciska van Stuijvenberg
Imagine an alternate universe, where people are self-governing, sovereign, and focused on nurturing environmental and social change. Imagine alternative currencies, gift economy and a “we” focus. Relationships with substance and joint purpose. Imagine quitting your nine to five and having the leisure to focus on delving into the subconscious, on growing what you love and building a system that serves everyone in it. Such a movement exists, and I was lucky enough to discover it at this years Global Ecovillage Conference.
When I first heard the term ‘Ecovillage’, I pictured myself wearing birkenstocks in an off grid yurt, occupied by a goat and maybe two other people. I will be the first to admit that I had harsh judgements and inaccurate connotations with the term, that have been disproven thanks to my interactions with the people whom I now think of as my tribe. When I think about Ecovillages today, what follows is a feeling- a feeling of deep rooted passion, love, hope and inclusivity.
I arrived in Estonia for the Conference with the intention of furthering my understanding of the Ecovillage movement. I wanted to find new avenues to apply and promote a culture of action in an increasingly disconnected and destructive world. I wanted to be a part of it.
I witnessed the sociocratic processes that GEN Europe (Global Ecovillage Network of Europe) uses to allow each community to have a voice, discuss things like carbon off-setting, budgeting, and how best to promote and further the reach that GEN has. Everyone present was dynamic and attentive. Spirits were high as games were intermittently thrown into the meeting, because “if it’s not fun, it’s not sustainable.”
I engaged in a Working Group with NextGEN, the youth arm and Next GENeration of GEN, led by and with a focus on youth. In this time of armchair activism, it was refreshing to see people who had committed to leading alternative lifestyles and following a path of direct difference. There was an energy of hope and fearless enthusiasm, and healthy acknowledgement of the work left to do.
As the conference progressed I participated in countless workshops, listened to incredible talks and musical acts, each one surpassing the previous with intensity and impact. I met people leading and curating lifestyles unlike anything I had ever thought possible, in buildings that seemed the stuff of fantasy novels, with people from all around the globe. I made new connections, my global Ecovillage family extending by each meal.
I left with a different world view and a revitalized sense of possibility. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be part of something that restores and regenerates our planet, lifts up our fellow human and pushes for self-development.
If you would like to find out more about what makes Grace tick, then head over to her blog/website/journal at https://palpablemagic.com/