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Global Ecovillage Educators for a Sustainable Earth Information Newsletter_Spring


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Global Ecovillage Educators for a Sustainable Earth Information Newsletter. Information about the Ecovillage Design Education Program in Buenos Aires and the indigenous youth program in India. …

Global Ecovillage Educators for a Sustainable Earth Information Newsletter. Information about the Ecovillage Design Education Program in Buenos Aires and the indigenous youth program in India. Building Capacity & Empowering Communities in Southern Bangladesh. Case Study Urban Agriculture & Sustainability Centre

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  • 1. Geeseinformation Northern Spring/Southern Autumn 2014 Message from Giovanni Ciarlo, Gaia Education Chair of Management Giovanni Ciarlo All of us at Gaia Education want to thank you for supporting our common vision over the past 8+ years. We are also encouraged by the many people outside the GEESE who care as much as we do about the health and sustainability of our planet and our communities. As you have read in previous posts, Gaia Education is in a very exciting time of growth and transformation. To that effect the board approved a change of management and we have begun to integrate a team of collaborators that will take the organization forward. You have already heard from our “Mother Goose,” May East, who is taking on the more challenging role of Chief International Officer. Her focus will be on outreach, UN relations, and resource mobilization for project-based learning with our partners and international development agencies. Our recent newsletter details some of the achievements we have already made in those areas, and there is more to come. This is also a good time to hear from you. And we hope that we will continue to benefit from the generous giving of your time, ideas, and strategic support for our mission. Gaia Education works diligently to ensure the creation and viability of sustainable communities and organizations everywhere by leveraging change in education and whole system thinking, so that we may prepare young people, and people of all ages, for the shift towards the sustainable future we all envision. People like you make it possible. Your wisdom and generosity is a beacon of light as we create new opportunities for the many teachers, organizations, and communities that we serve. There is ample opportunity for you to get more involved if you feel excited by what Gaia Education is doing. At the moment we need people to help us translate the V5 EDE Curriculum to other languages. A Danish version already exists, and V4 has been translated into several languages. Please help us update our resources. Gaia Education offers a small stipend to cover some of your time on this important project.
  • 2. Geese information 2014/1 The wonderful synergy of the GEESE will continue to guide us this coming year. Our goals are to:  Continue the important work of educating for integral sustainability – developing, in young and old new, the knowledge, habits of mind, and the skills needed to successfully live well in our communities and effect positive change, over time, in harmony with nature.  Move forward with the development of our free and fee-based online learning programs and guides, so that anyone, anywhere, and in many different languages, can gain access to our tools and resources, empowering them to participate in the shift towards sustainable communities.  Measure our success through data collection and analysis so that we, and you, can improve delivery of our programs and become experts in the field of Education for Sustainability, joining the global movement for economic, social, cultural, and environmental systems regeneration. We look forward to working together to design communities with a rich and meaningful quality of life for all. Peace and blessings, Gio Introducing Julia Ramos – Gaia Education Communications & Marketing Coordinator Julia Ramos I have just been honored with a new professional challenge - that is to be the marketing and communications coordinator for Gaia Education. I have done an Ecovillage training program at Findhorn in 2011 and an EDE at Sieben Linden in 2012, as well as a Permaculture design course in Montsant (Spain). I am an official Dragon Dreamer facilitator and work as a consultant to co-create projects that apply holistic sustainability ( I have 8 years’ experience in business management, holding a Master in Communication, Public Relations and Protocol (Spain) and Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management (Switzerland). My mission is to commit myself to the creation of a new society for the 21st century. A society that is modern and technologically advanced, as well as socially engaging and egalitarian, happy and balanced, but above all, environmentally friendly. I aspire to help and collaborate with thousands of people to give birth, rediscover and rebuild their businesses creating economically prosperous, resilient, environmentally and socially connected companies and projects that ensure the welfare of the planet and its future generations. The Gaia Education Management Team Giovanni Ciarlo Marcos Beascoa May East Julia Ramos Ulises Escorihuela Domingues Diogo Alvim
  • 3. Geese information 2014/1 EDE Beunos Aires 2013, Argentina EDE Argentina Group: Taisa Mattos, Gabriela Salvaneschi, Juan Sabaté The first EDE in Buenos Aires took place at San Isidro, from July to October 2013. The country was under a serious economic crises which demanded a great effort from the organizing team in terms of building a strong network of partnerships and a solidarity economic system to make it possible (affordable). It was also a necessary determination by the participants to be part of this. During four months, before the beginning of the course, the EDE team promoted many workshops, presenting briefly the four dimensions of the curriculum, giving people a taster and helping them to decide to join in. The final group was diverse. With 29 participants, in which 20 were women and 9 men, with ages ranging from 21 to 63 years old, from different backgrounds. It was clearly a South American program, with participants coming not only from different parts of Argentina but also from Colombia and Uruguay, and the educators from Brazil, Argentina and Chile. There was also a Brazilian in the organizing Team. The process was very intense, inspiring and empowering the participants to redesign their lives. Some of them made great personal changes in their lifestyles, others left old jobs. In the middle of the process, as a real conflict emerged, they had the opportunity to bring into practice their new social skills, becoming even stronger as a group. It was a really powerful experience! The Program was run by Espacio Eco and included 200 hours of activities in the 4 dimensions of 38 hours each, 40 hours of immersive internship and also 8 hours in open special events. Each module was given through six days of activities: Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and again Saturday and Sunday - Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 7pm and Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7pm to 10:30pm. Check out the fabulous video from EDE Buenos Aires, 2013. Visit Gaia Education’s YouTube channel:
  • 4. Geese information 2014/1 The faculty included 25 educators from national and international origins. Among these, 11 were women and 14 men. Besides the many possibilities to do the course internship, the group decided to go together to Nakkal Center, a rural community in Cañuelas County, about 80 km from Buenos Aires, which has the proposal of developing a sustainable way of living in cooperation with nature. They use Permaculture principals, have low impact constructions, renewable energy technologies, organic farming, and waste recycle, among others. Espacio Eco is already organizing the 2014 EDE in Buenos Aires which will happen from August to November. For more information, please visit or
  • 5. Geese information 2014/1 EDE for Indigenous Youth: Orissa, India, 2013 Siddarthvillage Youth EDE Team The EDE course started on 12th Sept 2013 at Kakirigumma Siddharthvillage campus with 24 participants representing 13 tribal women’s organisations in Orissa. It should be noted that Siddharthvillage vows to initiate ecovillages all over Orissa involving indigenous communities and it is aimed at working through 54 tribal women’s organisations in Orissa who are all members of GEN- India, actively working for the last three years. A number of print and electronic news media reports highlighted these. The course started with the introduction and ice break session but intensively reflected on the question WHO AM I? The focus of the session is on how each one of us create our own reality and how we can take responsibility for what we create. The course was adapted according to the culture and understanding of indigenous people and so heavy inputs were on hands-on experiences. At the same time, equal importance was given on the worldview dimension. For example, going even deeper into understanding what the understanding-attitude of respect and values are... all taken through role play and stories which helped the participants experience the deeper meaning of what we speak. The need to understand and analyse the present society, the simulation game with the tool of marbles which divide the group rich, middle, poor and also expresses their normal behaviour when they are in their own seat.... This powerful simulation game, used by THREAD Siddharthvillage for last 20 years and used by many postgraduate colleges, now became a tool for indigenous groups as it evolved from them. The principles of permaculture thought were taught in the class room but heavily relied on hands-on experiences. The group developed models for an exhibition on the last day of the EDE course which attracted the print and electronic news media and was televised in India. The dimensions of economy focused mainly on initiating co- operatives and barter system and the economic leaky-bucket session became very popular to understand the leaks in the villages.
  • 6. Geese information 2014/1 Setting goals is another important session, used to plan for each individual EDE course member and their action for their future activities in the villages. The session was highly therapeutic for the participants and they all planned for their own future plan after the course. Each one submitted six months short term goals to the trainers and promised to keep in touch with the trainers every month end. The hands-on experience every afternoon was enjoyed by all the participants. Learning permaculture principles and also integrating the EDE course’s four dimensions were the main feature of this course. Sessions were facilitated by John and Karmi, who are the members of GENOA and who work for spreading ecovillages in India and in particular among indigenous communities, and Pradyut, the ex-staff of THREAD who was trained by the Auroville EDE course, Nirmal the EDE trainer. All of the trainers except one worked completely voluntarily and many more EDE course alumina like, Doita and Karuna, supported the course heavily with their inputs during hands-on experiences. The last day exhibition was the climax of the programme wherein over two hundred people, including local school children, visited the models created by the EDE course members. The print media and electronic media highlighted this event and helped make the EDE course known to public. NextGEN Youth Ecovillage Summit 2014 NextGEN is a youth-run organization committed to connecting young people with the ecovillage movement and empowering them to build a more beautiful world for the next generation. This April, NextGEN will be hosting the Youth Ecovillage Summit at Sirius Community, a decades-old ecovillage in Massachusetts, USA. Visit for more information and to register!
  • 7. Geese information 2014/1 2014 Applied Ecovillage Living: The Findhorn Foundation, Scotland Jacqueline Buckingham The participants in the 2014 Applied Ecovillage Living (AEL), held at the world-renowned Findhorn Ecovillage in the northeast of Scotland, were inspired and full of praise for the month-long programme as they prepared to head home. “There’s a depth and a breadth to this course that you won’t find many places. It’s an immersion into this beautiful, successful ecovillage - but never presenting that Findhorn has all the answers - showing us real transparency. So many inspiring people to learn from!” Zoe Sawane 25-year-old Scot The first three weeks of the four-week programme are structured around the three Permaculture ethics: People Care, Fair Shares and Earth Care, with the various threads explored during the training drawing heavily on the human, physical and spiritual resources of the Findhorn Foundation. As a participant and a community member, I was personally inspired to see these ethics moving beyond the theoretical, being woven into the programme through interaction and engagement with the day-to-day life and work of the Findhorn Foundation. It helped myself and the other participants see this ecovillage as a model for a living demonstration of Permaculture principles. “This is a lifetime fantastic experience! A good mixture of spirituality, practicality, knowledge and skills.” Laszlo Szalay 55-year-old Hungarian Field trips to partner organisations included local solar panel manufacturer, AES Solar, the local Transition Towns initiative and Trees for Life, dedicated to restoring the Caledonian forest. The final week brought all of this learning together as the 11 participants, from the UK, USA, Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, Brazil and Slovenia, turned their attention to their Design Projects. It was inspiring to see that the project teams weren’t just dealing with theory, but with fundamental challenges that will need to be faced in a number of new and existing eco projects awaiting their return around the world.
  • 8. Geese information 2014/1 AEL focaliser Craig Gibsone, whose inspiration and example helped to birth this programme 16 years ago, said “The programme more than fulfilled on its intention of introducing the participants to a full featured ecovillage that embraces the best practices of Permaculture. Holding this programme within the container of the Findhorn Ecovillage helps convey the complexity and power of community, and once again confirms my faith in our ability as humans to rise to the challenge of living in harmony with all life.” Fellow focaliser Gabrielle Hamm insisted: “The AEL continues to be transformational for young and old. Each year it enjoys some minor tweaks and just gets better and better, including cutting-edge content by professionals in the field, with Permaculture as the red thread throughout the syllabus.” The AEL programme is presented annually during February and March and is certified by Gaia Education and the British Permaculture Association. For more information and to register for 2015, visit
  • 9. Geese information 2014/1 Gaia Education & THREAD Awarded Scottish Government Grant to Break the Cycle of Food Insecurity May East, Gaia Education Chief International Officer Gaia Education is one of 11 international development organisations across Scotland awarded grants by the Scottish Government International Development Small Grants Programme. The project was developed by Gaia Education and THREAD and will take place over 2 ½ years. The announcement was made in the Scottish Parliament by Minister for International Development and External Affairs, Humza Yousaf, on 21st March 2014.

 The grant from the Scottish Government will be used to empower and build capacity of tribal communities of Four Gram Panchayats of Laxmipur Block of Koraput District to increase food security, strengthen social cohesion, and enhance climate resilience. “The awards announced today are so important. They will allow this vital work to continue in Malawi, Bangladesh, India and Tanzania, taking Scottish skills and expertise to these countries and delivering life-changing improvements for communities there”
 Humza Yousaf Minister for International Development & External Affairs This project will introduce the Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) programme, developed by Gaia Education & drawing on expertise developed in a network of some of the most successful ecovillages and transition settings across the world. 55 community leaders, local government officials and students will undertake the EDE training over 2.5 years. Grass-root participants and middle level government staff will acquire a series of skills designed to tackle the issues facing indigenous communities of Orissa. A further 75 community members will undertake Transition Training, providing them with ideas on how to respond to climate change and resource scarcity. Inspired by one of the 21st century's most imaginative social movements, these 150 students will then work with 750 families in the four Gram Panchayats of Laxmipur.
  • 10. Geese information 2014/1 In addition, these 750 families from the four Gram Panchayats will also benefit from the introduction of 2 vegetable gardens and the initiation of a Grow Your Own Food programme which will teach the communities how to grow their own sustainable supplies of nutritious food. “NIDOS welcomes the announcement of the eleven grants under the new Scottish Government international development Small Grants programme. We are excited to see this first step in supporting the unique and important contribution that small organisations can make to tackling poverty and inequality.” Gillian Wilson Chief Executive, NIDOS “We are delighted with the prospect of strengthening our work with THREAD over the next 2 ½ years. Utilising ecovillage design techniques the project aims to break the cycle of food insecurity strengthen social linkages and improve the status of women. Through permaculture and sustainable farming practices the project intends to improve the health of the soil, grow sustainable crops in 2 demonstration sites, thus enhancing villagers livelihoods, health and well-being.” May East Chief International Officer, Gaia Education
  • 11. Geese information 2014/1 Case Study: Building Capacity & Empowering Communities in Southern Bangladesh Sutarkhali Union of Dacope Upazila The Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development (BASD), Gaia Education and CIFAL Scotland have been implementing a project to improve sustainable food security and livelihoods in the vulnerable communities of Khulna and Bagerhat, Southern Bangladesh, through capacity building programmes and effective climate change adaptation strategies. The 3-year Building Capacity and Empowering Communities (BCEC) Project was approved for funding by the Scottish Government in May 2013. Communities of the Sutarkhali region of Khulna District have experienced two major cyclones in recent years, Sidr in 2007 and Aila in 2009. The people of Sutarkali have gone through terrible suffering as a result of the cyclones and are still bearing the painful memories of the devastation. Shampa Mondal, her elder sister Shimanti, brother, and parents described their terrible experiences to BASD staff on the day Aila struck the community and the following 21 months when the family was forced to live on the roadside: “It was noon when we saw the water rushing and coming towards our village. People around us were shouting, crying and trying their best to save their belongings. Within an hour the water covered our clay houses, roads and everything. Many cows, goats, chickens and pond fishes were washed away. Tidal water hit our houses and took them away like dry leaves. People were only able to save their lives and nothing else. There was not a single house that remained undamaged. After the cyclone we had to take shelter on the roadside near our village and we lived there for 21 months in a small camp.” After returning home Shampa and Shimanti were very disheartened by the desperate situation. Soon after the cyclone, BASD opened an office in Sutarkhali, and Shimanti became a member. Later she became the secretary of the organisation.
  • 12. Geese information 2014/1 She has now attended two trainings in Permaculture Design and Climate Change Adaptation from the BCEC Project and has been encouraging her family and community to grow gardens and to make their houses resilient to climate change. The community inspired, by Shimanti, has been busily developing their own gardens and properties. It is now hard to believe that Aila destroyed the area 4 years ago. The land has been well developed with different varieties of trees, fruits, vegetables and by various other sustainable practices. Shampa praises the work of the community for making the area green and friendly. Her family no longer needs to go to market for anything except salt and oil. Recently they also sold vegetables and fruits to the local market, increasing the family’s income as well as nutrition. Shampa is very pleased and grateful to BASD and the BCEC Project without which the communities of Sutarkhali would be in a much more vulnerable situation. Alumni Case Study Gaia Education Design for Sustainability (GEDS), 2013 Urban Agriculture & Sustainability Centre Location: Your sustainability project! Students: Jordon Gross, Jacquie Medina, Germaine Staley, Frauke Godat Project Type: Resource & tool for community designers The Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Centre is unique in its presentation: "The layout is designed the way it is because the pages are actually poster size (A0) so that they can later be printed into posters for potential sustainability centres. We wanted to do this so that we could use this material as display pieces! Download this and other alumni Case Studies from
  • 13. Geese information 2014/1 News from Hildur Jackson Hildur Jackson Dear Friends and family, As Llewellyn Vaughan Lee states in his ”Spiritual Ecology, the Cry of the Earth” (which a friend just gave me) and as we also state in ”The Song of the Earth”, we need to once again treat matter, the soil, animals, plants and humans as sacred and spiritual in order to solve problems. It is therefore a big joy for me that we are now meditating together all around Mother Earth as part of our movement Sunday at 3.00 Danish time. Thanks to all of you. The sun is shining and spring is here in spite of the date. Yesterday, Ross and I went to the museum of modern art, Louisianna, to see Hilma of Klint, a Swedish painter who painted from a spiritual imperative and sealed her works until 20 years after her death. Ross pushed me around in a wheelchair, which we borrowed from the municipality. Great to be out among people and sit at the ocean. When it got too bumpy (the paths in the outside garden made up of cobble stones) I got up and pushed the chair. For the first time we used a special parking permit for handicapped, which makes it possible to get around more. I can walk a little, even if I have a rift in the skeleton and 3 broken ribs. The university hospital is treating me with chemo, herceptine and other stuff to stop the cancer and I get a monthly injections to strengthen my bones. They say they have good results with this treatment. After one more month they will do a CT scan and see if it has stopped the cancer. Instead of chemo I may be treated with antihormones, but they judged this would be faster and more effective. Besides this I am consulting an alternative doctor who is also an ayurvedica doctor, Ole Købke. He supports the choice of chemo. He also advices intravenous vitamin C, which functions as a mild chemo without any side effects. And many other valuable things. I have not been able to meditate for a while, but many people offer healings and massages and such. I am very grateful for the incredible support friends and family provide. And for the many visits I receive. It helps so much in keeping my spirits up. In all this Ross has proved a true hero. He is taking such good care of me that I am constantly very touched. So if you do not get a fast answer from him on mail, you know the reason. And to have Rie and the two girls in the house is a daily gift. As are my 3 sons, my brothers and friends close and far away. Thanks to all of you out there for being part of my life and for what you are all doing. All my love Hildur
  • 14. Geese information 2014/1 In Memory of Margrit Kennedy, 21 November 1939 – 28 December 2013 Frederica Miller I first met Margrit when she gave a lecturer to a seminar at the Oslo School of Architecture called: Women, Ecology and Architecture in the early 80s. She gave a brilliant lecture, 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. She was also one of the first people I met to tell me about permaculture. 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, introducing 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. She understood that one of the main obstacles to establishing ecological projects was the money system. She wrote a book called: Interest and Inflation Free Money, that has been translated to many languages and 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. 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. Right up to the end Margrit was curious. Curious of what lifes end entails. She was certain that lifes 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. Continue reading Frederica Miller’s memoir of Margrit Kennedy on
  • 15. Geese information 2014/1 Gaia Education Programmes around the World Upcoming programmes taking place include: UOC -Online Programme English: Oct 2013 - Sep 2014 Spanish: Oct 2013 - Sep 2014 Portuguese: Oct 2013-May 2014 USA, School of Integrated Living 18 Jan - 19 Apr 2014 Nicaragua, InanItah 9 Mar – 4 Apr 2014 Brazil, Brasilia - Ecohabitare Mar - Nov 2014 Brazil, Gaia Rio De Janeiro 20 Feb - 10 Aug 2014 Brazil, Terra Una 1 Mar - 14 Sep 2014 Brazil, Gaia Youth, Rio de Janeiro 15 Mar - 8 Jun 2014 Brazil, EDE Paraná 25 Apr - 30 Aug 2014 Mexico, Hue Hue Ecovillage 13 Apr - 27 Apr 2014 Germany, Sieben Linden 28 Apr - 25 May 2014 Spain, EDE Almería 23 May - 18 Aug 2014 The Park, Findhorn Forres, IV36 3TZ Morayshire, Scotland United Kingdom Phone: +44 131 225 3407 NGO Associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations. Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in Scotland No 353967 Scottish Charity No SC040839