For the first time, the Ecovillage Excellency Award was voted for publicly by all participants of the 2013 GEN Europe conference at the Schweibenalp Centre of Unity in Switzerland. With a large majority, the winner was NextGEN. Parallel to the GEN conference, international representatives of NextGEN were present and participated in the birth of the international co-ordination team. One of them was Linda Kabaira from Zimbabwe, NextGEN Africa.
Over 40 young people met to share and find ways to connect and co-operate together in bringing forth change at a global level. The presence and commitment of the diverse group was overwhelmingly inspiring. The first two days saw them going through brainstorming of vision, mission and values of the global network. On the third day, they presented their work at the conference, which reflected the immense power, richness and purity of the youthful network.
We saw representatives from very rural parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa, changing their lives and the lives of their villages by connecting to the ecovillage idea. We saw highly educated young people from cities in the US, Europe and Canada, seeing and believing in themselves as a planetary family – ready to help each other and the world.
This meeting was instrumental in framing the discourse around which the future of NextGENers will be shaped, focussing on the vision, mission and values of NextGEN. It was a significant first move towards building an international network. We saw confusion and whirling as the group developed the way, and we went through an intense process of searching through trying to be part of an identity: ‘how NextGEN’, ‘what NextGEN’, and finally branding NextGEN as a group or a network of young people desiring a better world with their hearts minds and souls.
Social and Cultural Interaction
The high quality, diverse participation, open interactivity, closeness to all people, and the sharing atmosphere with 40 NextGEN and 300 conference participants was amazing.
There were many highlights, but the greatest eye opener for me was my realization of how much l am embedded in my traditional African culture, business and perspectives. It was nice to get out of my “Zimbabwean box” and see things through other people’s realities and through a different culture.
I enjoyed the heart to heart sharing circles: a lot of connections and affection was expressed within the NextGEN group. I felt that I am often too busy making sure this problem or that problem is solved, forsaking the inner me. The circle and space created in the NextGEN camp to feel and see the world differently was a gift l would love to share with my own people.
In the end NextGEN was nominated by the participants for the 2013 ecovillage Excellency Award provided by Gaia Education. It was a real heart and mind affectionate expression, how many participants, in spite of their own work and presentations, believed in the youth network and gave their voice to NextGEN.
The ability to eat, drink, dance and laugh together, and the gift of getting to know each other, was precious to me, something about being with other cultures and other languages.
My favorite moment was the tour around the Alps, visiting the waterfall, understanding the place and seeing how different it was from my home; with lots of water, lush and green.
I realized that GEN is a valuable support network and an intellectual body of knowledge, because l had a chance to learn, hear and see what people are doing around the world. Throughout the conference there was high energy involvement and enthusiasm, including all the presenters and participants. The whole conference was built upon an atmosphere of high quality, high value and high participation. With the great and diverse number – and high caliber – of participants, combined with a truly engaging agenda, extra ordinary presenters, and the enthusiasm shown in my presentation, I would say there was nothing to improve on but to continue building on the high spirit of affection.
I experienced the bringing together of people in sustainable living projects and the showcasing of different work around the world. The six days were buzzing with lively discussions and debates during interactive sessions on various topics; fundraising, Dragon Dreaming, building sustainable communities, project management, documentation, Solutions Library, and many wider discussions on how innovations have been fostered within the network and what could be considered in the future.
I would like to acknowledge GEN for sponsoring the conference elements and activities which were critical to the story I share with the world today. Thank you for the invitation and the opportunity to be part of the conference with extraordinary and vibrant presenters generous to share knowledge, experiences, energy and positive approaches to sustainable living that will change our world and affect the future generations.
GEN is indeed a valuable support network and intellectual body of knowledge. I had a chance to see the world and what people are doing for the world. The overall organization and flawless execution of sessions was a great voice into the future. I enjoyed the international voices and cannot think of another conference richer in all my experiences. I am a combination of knowledge, friendship and workmanship.
I am fortunate to say, “l was there”. I saw my project getting an injection of funding. I was assisted to develop a blog site for the work I do, a dream we had brought to the conference. I had an opportunity to learn how to write and make videos of my work. I was part of the team that brainstormed the NextGEN vision, mission and values, and am thankful to my African fellows for allowing me this chance.
Deep from my heart, thanks again for the marvelous conference.