The TI Ecovillage in India is the winner of the 2020 Hildur Jackson Award for Extraordinary Project. The Hildur Jackson Award is a €3,000 annual prize that supports and honours projects around the world that demonstrate regenerative best-practices in all dimensions of sustainability. The prize is awarded to projects bringing the most impactful inspiration about ecovillages/ecovillage lifestyles to a broad audience. In the 2020 edition, we received a record number of 70 applications of ecovillages and sustainable projects from all over the world.
TI Ecovillage is a unique enclave originally on the outskirts of Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Since 1995, they have been transforming the landscape and enriching quality of life in the community.In 2019 they have stabilized their permaculture practice and won over some skeptics, their ground water regeneration program with rainwater harvesting got initiated with several recharge wells, they have had about 25% of our residents installed solar electric power and rapidly increasing and 100% of them continue to use solar hot water. Their land is at a higher ground level and though water conservation in the last 20+ years by planting trees, making trenches, and collecting surface runoff water during rains they have improved groundwater benefiting neighboring areas well.
Also an applicant for the award last year, they have been learning from feedback and have initiated deeper connections inspiring elders to make way for the next generation and new social innovations. As COVID-19 brought youngsters back to the eco haven, they’re now excited, enthusiastic and have more appreciation for their parents eco lifestyles. Here is the interview with several members as they share their journey and representatives of the jury highlight what made them stood out.
Hildur Jackson Award Runners Up
We also celebrate two other close contenders.
Instituto Çarakura, Brazil
In the South of Brazil in a place known as The Magic Island, an area of 15 hectares was completely exhausted by years of burning, hunting and exploitation of the forest. Furthermore, this is a land where the native indigenous and the Africans had been decimated and made slaves throughout Brazilian history. These sad facts are reflected nowadays on the social inequality and marginalized population in a vulnerable situation. In this process, almost 40 years, Ney started the restoration work in a time when very few people would talk about environmental issues. After that, 20 years ago, a self-managed multidisciplinary team of people was created to incorporate the Carakura institute, this team has been implementing participatory processes to bring the vision to reality. By their involvement in the field of environmental education, scientific and technological research, facilitating the application of social technologies, Carakura is restoring the natural environment while improving the quality of life of indigenous populations. Their projects consist mainly in the construction of ecological houses, the use of renewable energy, the restoration of degraded areas, especially the Atlantic Rain Forest, treatment and use of bamboo, Permaculture, organic farming, alternative sanitation systems, and other initiatives fostering sustainable socio-environmental development and the recovery of ancestral knowledge.
Eco Clean Ghana
In the next 30 years, we’ll make four times more plastic waste than we ever have. Ghana produces about 270 tonnes of waste a day which sums up to 98,550 tonnes of waste a year. Only 2% of this waste is recycled. In light of this, Eco-Clean Ghana seeks to recycle and reuse waste into useful resources that turn up generating income to empower youth, farmers and women. The group uses permaculture and ecovillage sustainable modules in turning waste into resources and creating livelihood empowerment opportunities. ECG offers different training to the local people living in rural communities, such as mushroom cultivation, cosmetics production, production of school bags from waste and composting degradable materials into fertilizer. The project aims at creating livelihood opportunities for women and youth to achieve a sustainable lifestyle.
Top Finalists for 2020 Hildur Jackson Award
We highlight ten other projects and ecovillages that applied this year.
Eden Hope, Vanuatu
2019 and 2020 have been years of extraordinary transformation for the Eden Hope Ecovillage. Situated in the remote Western part of Espiritu Island in the Republic of Vanuatu, an IUCN-designated Biodiversity Hotspot, Eden Hope is truly a place that reawakens unity with people and the environment but also a place that challenges the physical, spiritual and social limits of our humanness. 2019 saw Eden Hope commence implementation of its first externally-focused projects with indigenous community neighbors. A biodiversity grant was provided to help them establish community conservation areas in several villages, alongside their key partner organization, the local Santo Sunset Environment Network. In addition, they commenced implementation of an indigenous women’s empowerment program, designed to build on sustainable livelihoods and village cooperation. In 2020, Eden Hope was centrally involved in the response and recovery activities to category 5 Cyclone Harold. The Ecovillage and its residents directly provided food relief to thousands of people, as well as helped coordinate government and humanitarian agency relief in this extremely remote and inaccessible area.
Since 2013 Unadilla Community Farm is building an off-grid solar-powered homestead and education center following the principles of organic agriculture and permaculture design. This year is the 7th season for them hosting 20-30 interns from North and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand at their Permaculture Internship program. College and university students in the U.S. and abroad have received school credit for completing their program. 2020 is also the 2nd season of their new veggie box delivery program. Over the course of 24 weeks from mid-June to mid-November, they deliver fresh, organic low-cost produce to families in Edmeston, NY, which is classified by the USDA as a low-income, low-access rural food desert. They are also having an edible food forest which they expanded over the last months with 200+ new berries, shrubs, and trees.
Sementeira (Seedbed) is a learning community initially created for the collective care of children, which has recently been expanding its scope to also include the care of adults and families. They prepare environments so that children can freely move around and play with all the available materials with autonomy and without a determined time. Adults supervise the interaction among children and materials by giving support and restraint when necessary, and by caring for the space, which favors the upbringing and well-being of children. An important part of the community resides in the way they deal with conflicts and emotions that arise individually or between children. As adults, they support the identification and expression of children’s emotions, be it joy, anger, sadness, fear or shame, and they incentivize conflict resolution by remaining as neutral as possible in facilitating exchanges.
Gaia Ashram, Thailand
Gaia Ashram is a community-based education center on Deep Ecology, Permaculture and Ecovillage Design Education and other sustainable living practices. In 2019, Gaia Ashram conducted a certified Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course, 4-week EcoVillage Design Education (EDE), natural building internships, permaculture internships, and an Essential Oil Extraction and Herbalism course. Gaia Ashram hosted over a few hundred volunteers and interns throughout the year. In 2020, Gaia Ashram became a showcase and learning center for the Network of Natural Resource and Environment Protection Volunteers (NREPV) of Udon Thani province which is a program under the national Department of Environmental Quality Promotion. They were also nominated by the network as a Best Practice for Holistic Management of Natural Resources and Environment for 2020. Despite the Covid-19 shutdown, 2020 has been a big year for Gaia Ashram, beginning to work with governmental organisations, reaching out to wider groups of local people, and expanding their regional impact.
As one of the Regions from GEN, CASA Latina has been trying out a new way using their potential over the last months. Together with UNE (Una nueva ecoaldea) and GAIA U Latina they created a historical convergence of organisations, ecovillages and famous experts, including stakeholders as CASA, Gaia Education, Transition Network, Gaia University Latin America, UNE, the top permaculture centres, Sociocracy International Organisation, International Institute for Facilitation, and many more. They have created a new course for Latin America, the biggest so far, with over 200 registered paying participants, the most complete and sustained in time for an introductory one and the most accessible and cheap. They did this by also changing radically the way to operate. Finally they have brought new air, energy, members and skills to the whole movement in Latin America by scaling up the encouragement to start new ecovillage projects in the region while tapping into the present special times.
Terra Alta Permaculture Education Center, Portugal
With 10 years of experience Terra Alta is serving as an off-the-grid Permaculture education centre. Over 20 Permaculture Design Certificate Courses (PDCs) taught, Terra Alta, led by visionary Permaculture teacher Pedro Valdjiu, offers Permaculture education and research at a high level. Last year they ran four Permaculture Design Courses and one apprenticeship, hosting over 100 students and volunteers. Alongside Permaculture, Terra Alta is committed to bioregionalism, evidenced by the involvement of local guest teachers and by the Waldorf school, “Escola da Terra”, that Pedro Valdjiu and his life partner, educator Rita Seixas run which, together with Terra Alta, form the nonprofit “Waldorf Association of Sintra”.
The Ecovillage Transition Asia (ETA) has it’s focus on eco-social activism. For ETA, the most important aspect of Asia is the potential and actual contributions in non-anthropocentric paradigm deeply rooted in the diverse cultural and spiritual traditions. In the last months they ran the 4th cycle of the International Awakening Leadership Training joined by a total of 80 participants, with half from China, and the remaining half from a number of countries in Southeast Asia, South America, Europe and the US. This September in collaboration with Bodhisastra University, USA, they officially started their first year of an alternative, project-based Master of Arts degree in Holistic Sustainability aimed at participants who have already completed the Awakening Leadership Training journey and are now wishing to carry out individual projects in their local communities. Moreover, they have started working more actively in establishing a thriving Alumni network, engaging their previous participants to help build a platform for sharing inspiration, skills, news, and opportunities. In 2021 they are planning a climate change awareness raising bicycle tour and continuing to be actively engaged in the Ecoversities Alliance, having been granted a residency opportunity in India for one of our staff, and support for a collaborative regional project with like minded educational institutions in SE Asia region.
Desert Matters, Palestine, Israel
Far away from attractions, big commercial international hotels, the vision is to create people-to-people tourism, more of hosting, less of tourism. Since 2013 a group of determined people from Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and Egypt, create together a warm relationship despite the governmental hostility between these countries. The goal of Desert Matters is to provide an economical alternative income for all their local colleagues, eco-tourism, local-communities, entrepreneurs and to improve the diversity of available options for both the communities and tourists today in the Arava Valley/Wadi Araba. Even more important, to create responsible tourism, that contributes its profits to the local communities while minimizing its Ecological footprint.
Inkiri Piracanga, Brazil
With 9 years of existence Inkiri Piracanga has been contributing actively to the world of ecovillages being very active in all four areas of regeneration. Despite having a period with several challenges over the last months such as the oil spill on the Brazilian coast, which hit the beach where they are located and the Covid crisis, they managed to achieve beautiful work. During this period they were realizing an online community gathering supported by GEN, sharing community life experience with over 1.000 people in different parts of the globe as well as creating online courses and retreats, reaching over 2.000 people in the past 4 months with a variety of subjects such as environmental practices, new education, health, well-being, food, self-knowledge and community creation.
Khetee has restored four acres of land from monoculture to regenerative agroforestry where around 24 types of crops and plants are growing now. They managed to change the soil quality, the soil water retaining capacity, the natural biodiversity and the quality of yields. Last year they have started their agroforestry fellowship program with 10 students as well as organising a two days Tendril meet with 25 college students and 15 organizational leaders. Besides being a place to study for many students from 20 different colleges they also successfully collaborated with twelve national and international organizations and as a result won awards for their smart projector and their farm library which contains 700 books. During the COVID-19 lockdown, they raised $20,000 for relief efforts and distributed dry rations to 11206 farmers.
Hildur Jackson Award
For Ecovillage Projects and Regenerative Solutions
The Global Ecovillage Network is made up of thousands of individuals and communities all over the world, innovating, rediscovering and implementing regenerative, just and pioneering ways of living together. The Hildur Jackson Award is given to extraordinary projects and exceptional solutions that bring the most impactful inspiration about ecovillages/ecovillage lifestyles into a broad audience. Together with Gaia Trust, GEN developed the Hildur Jackson Award, a €3,000 annual prize that supports and honours projects around the world that demonstrate regenerative best-practices in all dimensions of sustainability.
The prize is awarded to projects bringing the most impactful inspiration about ecovillages/ecovillage lifestyles to a broad audience. The 2021 prize will honour an Extraordinary Project (€3,000) and is already open to ecovillage communities or projects worldwide here.