Margrit Kennedy, German architect and ecovillage pioneer, ecologist, writer, financial expert, and a visionary of an interest free economy system, died on December 28th at the age of 74. Her Norwegian student, Frederica Miller, remembers her.
As a young architecture student, I first met Margrit when she came as an invited guest lecturer to a seminar we gave at the Oslo School of Architecture, called: ‘Women, Ecology and Architecture in the early 80’s’. She gave a brilliant lecture called “Gyn – ecology” on exactly the theme of the conference.
For me it was instant appreciation, and the start of a wonderful friendship. It was the first time I had met a female architect with true concern for the environment; who was also doing something about it! At that time she was working in Berlin with inner city refurbishment, combining an ecological approach with participation and exciting results. Berlin was the place to go to find inspiring models of eco-projects. She was also one of the first people I met, to tell me about permaculture. Some years later after the first permaculture course we had in Norway with Max Lindegger, Margrit – always generous – gave me a set of 20 slides that started me off teaching permaculture and eco-architecture! She also taught me my first circle dance: “The Earth is Our Mother”, and introduced me to the joys of circle dance.
Many years later, in connection with permaculture, I also met Declan, her lifelong partner and soulmate. No description of Margrit would be complete without Declan and dance! Their relationship has always been an inspiration to me, a continuous loving search for truth and wonder.
Margrit was intellectually sharp, insightful and perceptive, all qualities that led her to move in different directions than most others. Through her work in Berlin she understood that one of the main obstacles to establishing ecological projects was the money system, with its compounded interest and system of interest. She wrote a book called: ‘Interest and Inflation Free Money’, that has been translated into many languages, and has been one of the great inspirations for the wonderful development of Complementary Currencies, and which gradually became MonNetA – the Money Network Alliance that carries on her work.
As a young inspired eco-architect, starting out in the early 80s, we felt very lonely in Norway. At best our approach would be regarded as highly eccentric, and marginally important. We therefore decided to invite those people from Scandinavia and Europe/the world … that we saw as being on the cutting edge of Eco-Architecture and that we had a personal contact with.
Margrit and Declan were obvious choices! This started Gaia-International – a group of eco-architects and designers that met once a year to exchange knowledge and experience. An invaluable academy for all of us taking part.
Never satisfied with staying on the safe side, Margrit and Declan have always gone for the main challenges. Having been inspired by a visit to Findhorn, they were looking for a place in Germany where an ecovillage could start. This place is what became Lebensgarten, their home and base since then, and an important laboratory for an exciting personal and professional journey.
Always visionary, I was lucky enough to do a competition for a new IKEA store with Margrit. Our submission was a description of 3 stages in IKEAs development, where it starts as the car dependent GIGA store we now know, and gradually changes into a village with workshops and local production, in fact a form of Eco Village as the ultimate goal. We didn’t win then, but I have little doubt that this vision will win in the end, when fossil fuels and the monetary system have collapsed.
Every time we met, Margrit would have some new insight, or method, or story of what was happening JUST NOW in personal development, the challenges and rewards of ecovillage living, ecoarchitecture, complementary currencies etc. Her bright, inquisitive and always rigorous intellectual capacity, gradually deepened to an understanding of the underlying subtleties of human and other nature.
From being a smart and clever woman, Margrit gradually evolved into a wise woman, and an important inspiration for many other both women and men. I feel immensely privileged to be one of those. In the last years I also met her daughter, Antja, and granddaughter, Nora.
Margrit would take Nora to a new city every year, and Oslo was one of them. Right up to the end Margrit was curious. Curious of what life’s end entails. She was certain that life’s adventures only carry on in another dimension. I can hear her joy and laughter. The circle of her life is fully drawn, as a modern woman of the earth she followed the ethics of permaculture – care of the earth, care of each other, and sharing abundance. Yes it is possible! Thankyou Margrit for lighting our paths.
With love from Frederica
Frederica Miller is part of the Gaia Architects network in Norway, and has been working with permaculture design and ecological building and planning since she was a student in the early 80’s. She has recently written a report in Norwegian, called ’10 ecovillages in 10 years’, looking at the challenges of establishing ecovillages in Norway, and possible ways of making it easier.
To Margrit and Declan on your 50th wedding anniversary
with love from Frederica and Julio – and fellow Gaians!
To the lairds of the dance! (Tune: Lord of the Dance)
They danced in the morning when the world was begun
They danced in the Moon and the Stars and the Sun
They came down from Heaven and they danced on Earth
50 years wedded danced to birth
Chorus: Dance, dance wherever you may be
They are the lairds of the dance, said she!
And they’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
And they’ll lead you all in the Dance, said she!
They danced for the planet and ecology
The power of the earth and all that be
They dance for life – what a pretty song
They came to us and the dance goes on
They dance every day to change the game
For the power of love is never ever tame
They dance with each other low and high
And for them this dance will never die!
They dance to change money from blackest black
They dance for Gaia and she kisses them back
The powers denied and thought they’d gone
But they are the dance and they still go on!
They live and they laugh and they’re super smart
We love you to bits and you dance in our hearts
Margrit and Declan you inspire me!
Now we’ll join you both in the Dance said she!
Final chorus: Dance, dance wherever you may be
Please join them both in the dance, said she!
They’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
They’ll lead you all in the Dance, said she!
I’m the author and publish it under the licence of Creative Commons.