I came to university to study International Relations, hoping, along with many others, that this would provide me with an insight into how to make the world a better place. I had envisioned belonging to a global community in which the majority believed in the good intentions of others and hope prevailed. However, the worldview I was presented with after most lectures seemed to contradict this. The world discussed was often one of power struggles and wars, terrorism and violence, of dominant realist thinking stressing the competitive nature of humankind. Little room was made for the positive changes that are slowly transforming our societies. I had a similar experience during lectures on Sustainable Development and later in Politics of the Environment. The problems facing humanity as a result of climate change appeared too overwhelming, creating a task too great to approach. And yet on visiting an ecovillage in central Spain, I soon came to realise that this does not have to be the only reality.
In a small town near Madrid, I saw that people were striving for a regenerative future, engaging in permaculture techniques, alternative living and solar energy. It is here that I first heard about the work done by the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and learnt that this community formed part of a vast network of similar projects. To find that there was an organisation connecting these communities promoting alternative living and leading projects centred around sustainability was therefore an exciting prospect. I soon decided to do more research and was reminded that change, when wanted, is possible. After all, it is how we choose to see the world that influences our actions and understanding- we only have to be encouraged to believe in our transformative power. Inspired by GEN’s search for solutions on how to live communally, sustainably and peacefully therefore made applying for a volunteer position an easy decision to make.
Having spent time thinking about the need of bringing issues of sustainability into politics whilst also ensuring that greater focus is placed on local action, I wanted to come to GEN to see how this network empowers, educates and engages withcommunities that are beginning to establish new ways of living. Now that I am here, I am especially excited to become more acquainted with already existing communities, the Urban Eco-Neighbourhoods programme and the Greening Schools initiative. Knowing that the organisation symbolises the kind of world that I too want to be a part of has strengthened my hope that a different future is attainable. I therefore look forward to gaining insights into how this is fostered and to truly developing my knowledge of the organisation and its many endeavours.