The process that started with the NextGEN-Europe Conference of 2014, has been moving forward ever since, leading to the development of multiple new project ideas. It has been a repeated pattern in our group that, after being highly inspired in events such as the amazing NextGEN-Europe Conference, the level of inspiration and commitment then slowly decreases over time after the young people return to the reality of their daily lives . However, so far it seems that this time we have crossed the borderline to change this pattern. Ewa Clausen and Arturs Polis report.
The NextGEN-Europe Conference 2014, that took place at ZEGG this July, was a great success, bringing together around 55 participants from 20 countries, including South Korea, Canada and USA. The eight-day long conference program aimed to inspire participants and give them educational input through sessions using various group building processes such as World Cafe, Open Space and Hypernetworking), as well as several other workshops, including Initiation/Possibility Management by Clinton Callahan, Non-Violent Communication by Ethan Hirsch-Tauber, Sociocracy and Games by Fredjan Twigt and Nicoletta Geiersbach.
Many more workshops (like Dragon Dreaming, Animal Communication, etc.), were available in the second half of the conference, when the NextGEN-Europe and GEN-Europe conferences overlapped.
Many project ideas arose directly from the sessions held during the conference and were accepted, and committed to, at a meeting of the NextGEN Europe Core Group directly after the conference. Another congruence of NextGEN-Europe members occurred at the Secret Giant workshop in Schweibenalp, where the ideas continued to develop. Since the upcoming New Story Summit at Findhorn will gather NextGers again, projects will be able to evolve even more fully there.
A deeper look into some of the projects
1. Office: One promising project is to create the NextGEN-Europe Office starting from 2015. This project will be closely related to the GEN-Europe office relocation to Spain – as both offices will most likely be in the same place (very sunny and warm, of course). It is planned that two European Voluntary Service (EVS) volunteers could work there solely for the support of NextGEN-Europe projects, thus bringing the capacity of NextGEN to a whole new level. The application for EVS volunteering is being written now, so that the volunteers would start their work in January next year.
2. Education: Another project idea – NextGEN-Europe Education program– is taking shape with the support of other partner organizations. Committed NextGEN members would have the opportunity to attend a series of different trainings at reduced costs, in order to develop a central set of skills and tools that all leaders within NextGEN would share. Such a skillset could include methods such as Dragon Dreaming, the Art of Hosting, Sociocracy, Non-Violent Communication, and Possibility Management. One exciting potential that has emerged, is the exciting idea of a nine month apprenticeship program, that would allow attendees to spend three to four months each, in several different European ecovillages, learning about community building, communication, participatory decision making, project management, and other topics.
3. Home Bases: Sometimes we all want to get down to Earth, settle in and feel at home. NextGEN-Europe is no exception; therefore another project is based on the intention to create NextGEN Home Bases. This project aims to create zones within existing ecovillages where youth could stay for an affordable cost, mutually support the local community, and learn skills for their lives. A strongly motivated group of NextGENers will test the idea at ZEGG ecovillage this October. Schweibenalp is also considering the possibility of creating a similar site. One of the options to solve the financial issue is to ask NextGENers to work thirty hours per week, to cover the living expenses.
4. Mentorship: Since NextGEN is the youth movement of GEN, another project is to create a mentorship program, which can support the exchange of wisdom and knowledge between elder and younger generations in the ecovillage network. NextGEN hugely acknowledges the experiences of its parent generation and sees how much effort people who are engaged in GEN have made towards building the path of sustainability that we are walking now. The mentorship program could bridge the gap between generations and transform it into connection, community, and celebration of the movement’s diversity. NextGEN mentors will help provide guidance and feedback to the NextGEN youth leadership.
The NextGEN core team is steadily gaining more members and expertise. After the New Story Summit at Findhorn, the increasing energy and movement will be reinforced by several days of solid strategic planning. After being reborn several times (in one life, not to forget all the re-incarnations it must already have experienced), NextGEN-Europe is about to learn to walk again – gaining structure, pace, and direction. The changes in social structure, online presence, financial management, outreach and project coordination are all aimed at increasing the stability and accessibility of NextGEN over the upcoming months and years.
Although no actual human birth has (yet) happened within NextGEN-Europe, many projects have now been born after years, months or even mere minutes of pregnancy. We will keep you updated about how they grow and develop. We are eager to see what they will mature into.
Until then, we will enjoy the mistakes and successes that occur along the process!
Anyone who is interested, is welcome to join NextGEN-Europe by supporting our projects, initiating new ones, and receiving mutual support from the team!