Northern Winter/Southern Summer 2010
As the New Year dawns…
...may it bring for all Gaia Education associates – students, teachers,
organisers and partner institutions – promises of… new dreams to
fulfil, new goals to reach and new joys to unfold… with plenty of
opportunities to re-design our human presence in the world!
May East, Gaia Education Board
Future Directions of Gaia Education
Jane Rasbash, Gaia Education Board of Directors
Gaia Education has made great headway in sustainable education in the last
few years. Certified Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) courses, which weave
together the social, economical, ecological and worldview aspects of designing
sustainable settlements have now been run in 22 countries with over 2,000
graduating GEESE. Enquiries are streaming in from around the globe and EDE
courses are being run in countries as diverse as China, Brazil, Japan, Israel, Germany and Estonia. In addition to this, an expanded version of the EDE, the Gaia
Education Design for Sustainability (GEDS), has now been running successfully
online for 2 years. Testimony to the relevance and applicability of the course,
alumni of both the EDE and GEDS programmes are initiating many other sustainability projects. Gaia Education, primarily through the EDE course, is gaining a
global reputation as a leader in the field of sustainability education.
(continues next page)
An evaluation of operations was recently held and what follows below are
the identified future directions. As Gaia Education grows and the EDE expands,
new initiatives are evolving. These include:
y New revisions of the EDE curriculum, piloted in Brazil, including a greater
emphasis on urban planning
y Traditional/indigenous village EDEs addressing African and Asian contexts
y An expanded, hands-on design course for EDE graduates
y Expansion of the GEDS online course to a post-graduate degree and beyond
y The development of practical skills and tools to compliment the EDE
y The availability of further online products for children, individual self-study,
“test your knowledge”, etc.
To further facilitate these exciting new areas and accommodate the continued
expansion of Gaia Education, responsibility will be decentralised to allow more
input from key people in the network. While much of the success of Gaia Education is down to the unique skills and leadership of Programme Director May
East, as with any burgeoning endeavour, there is room for shared responsibility
and administration. Thematic areas will be expanded, notably product development and certification.
In line with this, the new role of Product Development Coordinator has been
created. The Gaia Education board is delighted to announce that as from
January 2011, long term GEESE and contributor to the original EDE curriculum,
Giovanni Ciarlo, will step into this role. Gio will work with other GEESE championing the above as well as other areas relating to the expansion of Gaia
Education and the EDE curriculum.
NING, the online forum open to all GEESE, EDE teachers and collaborators,
as well as members having a common interest in the Gaia Education programmes, will continue to serve as the main communication platform for
Gaia Education. The space is open for debate, discussion and sharing amongst
GEESE and other stakeholders.
Gaia Education is very encouraged by the accomplishments of the EDE in such
a short period of time. It is clear that adaptable, sustainability education is
relevant to all in these days of climate change, and the EDE adapts well to a
variety of settings around the globe.
Sieben Linden EDE, Germany: 9 August – 8 September 2010
Kosha Anja Joubert
This year’s EDE course was the third
to be hosted in the Ecovillage of Sieben Linden (7Linden). 29 participants
from 21 countries (Ghana, Tanzania,
South Africa, Sierra Leone, Malawi,
India, Brazil, Korea, Peru, Mexico and
all over Europe) attended.
The course lasted a full 30 days, offering time for community building and personal change processes.
Central themes included: embracing
diversity, peace communication, global consciousness, North-South reconciliation, co-empowerment, inspirational leadership and participatory
pedagogy. With such an international group we additionally enquired into the
theme of embracing traditional and indigenous villages as ecovillages, the
need to preserve and support their low footprint lifestyles and the use of the
EDE as a tool of inspiration and empowerment in these settings. Participants
from Africa especially were invited to further this cause.
7Linden’s radically ecological setting, combined with organic meals and the
close-knit community that was built, invoked respect and inspiration from the
participants. A fair amount of time was allotted to their personal presentations of which the richness of wisdom and experience they shared was astounding. The sharing that goes on between participants is absolutely central
to the aims and effects of this course!
A short permaculture course and an introduction to Dragon Dreaming were included. While the latter was highly appreciated, the former could have drawn
on the expertise of the 6 permaculture trainers on the course rather than
bringing in outsiders.
This year’s design projects were aimed at spreading knowledge about simple,
appropriate technologies, useful in a wide range of settings. These included
how to work with biochar and Terra Preta, build solar cookers and dryers,
clay ovens, water catchment systems and strawbale
Finally, the registration of the 7Linden EDE as an official
course with the European agency for life-long learning
continues to be extremely helpful in providing participants from the EU with scholarships, and along with
external funding, enables us to fund the participation
of people from the South. This year’s course was officially visited by representatives from the German and
Belgium national agencies who were especially supportive and impressed by the sense of community that
was alive in such a diverse group.
The 7Linden community appreciated the opportunity to
share with this diverse group of appreciative individuals!
Core faculty team
y Anja Kosha Jouber – main focaliser
y Robin Alfred & Martin Stengel – over course facilitation
Key resource people
y John Croft - Dragon Dreaming
y Jascha Rohr – permaculture
y Chistian Felber – economic dimension
What went well?
y Building a close-knit community in a very diverse,
y Integrating Dragon Dreaming with founder John Croft
y Improving the quality of the economic modules
y Balancing the 4 dimensions
y Balancing process and content
y The ecovillage setting of 7Linden: connection to the
broader community, living example & design projects
y Faculty teamwork
y Involving an assistant to support the smooth running
of the course
y Health care
y Effects on participants and their engagement
What could have gone better?
y The introduction to permaculture - with 6 experienced permaculture trainers on the course, we lacked
the flexibility to draw on their expertise, a learning
for next time to perhaps be a little more radical
y Lack of internet connection. Broadband access will be
available from 2011
y The invitation process for participants from Southern
countries: fate did not seem to be on our side and in
the end 4 could not make it. This placed a challenge
on keeping all our spirits up!
Rio de Janeiro EDE, Brazil: 29 July – 28 November 2010
November 28th saw the closure of the second Rio de Janeiro EDE. Run
from August 2010, the Terra UNA Association held the course in partnership with the Botanic Gardens and the National School of Tropical Botany.
An awesome 62 participants from around Brazil and four foreign countries
(Germany, Argentina, Portugal and Chile) attended!
Rio is the host city of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games,
representing a new challenge for the city – how to overcome old social
and environmental challenges in a rather short time period. For those of
us interested in a transition towards a greener and more secure city, these
events have in fact made our work more complex: mainstream solutions
have unfortunately been insubstantial and unsustainable.
EDE RJ has therefore exercised new possibilities of bridging and engaging with the complexity of the moment, searching for new answers in
an attempt to deepen the values that move and connect us all as human
beings. In this sense the EDE was a contribution towards the re-design of
By being present as a community, the Terra UNA ecovillage showed that
engaging with these political issues has the potential to strengthen the
spiritual presence in political life, and visa-versa. A sense of belonging was
created among the participants through this collaborative process.
RJ EDE again included a balance of theory, activities and internships. Classes were held in the evenings on Thursdays and Fridays and daily Saturdays
The class was divided into 6 groups around differing case studies for which
each group will be delivering a report. The 6 case studies included:
y A cooperative (COOPERCENTRO) of recyclable material collectors operating
in central Rio
y A small favella where one of the local leaders was a participant
y NGO Verdejar which since 1996 has been working to protect a small fragment of forest placed in the middle of a high conflict and crowded suburban zone.
y An in depth study of municipal school children
y A Waldorf school
y A farm involved in a reforestation project in the Mata Atlantica ecosystem,
used as a reintroduction zone to captured animals confiscated by the local
This year we were able to offer five different internships. The goal, unlike in 2009, was to provide an immersive experience. All internships were
therefore offered in rural areas on projects that would allow an experience
y Terra UNA Association: www.terrauna.org.br
y Uniluz: www.nazareuniluz.org.br
y El Nagual: www.artnagual.com.br
y Intuitive Technology Bioaquitetura (TIBA): www.tibarose.com
y Vila Yamaguishi: www.yamaguishi.com.br
The internships are currently taking place and will be held until 15 January
2011. Students will again be submitting reports.
The 62 students left the course with an awareness of the magnitude of the
work to be done in Rio’s rapid transition and the possibility of each one of us
contributing. We at Terra UNA are looking forward to receiving the reports and
hearing how these new possibilities unfold.
Letter from Giovanni Ciarlo
Product Development Coordinator
I have been involved in the ecovillage movement since the early 80s when a
group of my closest friends and collaborators joined forces to create an ecovillage. Founded on the intersection of art and ecology in central Mexico, Ecoaldea
Huehuecoyotl is now known worldwide for its achievements as a new model of
a small rural ecovillage.
Thirty years later I am honoured with the opportunity to take on a new role
in the ecovillage movement: that of Product Development Coordinator for Gaia
Education. This new role takes me full circle: In 1996 I helped create the Ecovillage Network of the Americas (ENA). This culminated in joining the GEN board
in 2003 and becoming board president in 2009. In between, I was part of the
founding group of GEESE and ran the EDE in Mexico and Norway. Last year I joined
the Gaia Education Design for Sustainability (GEDS) faculty at the Open University
of Catalonia (UOC) and now, in 2010, I join the product development team.
The exciting role of the product development team is to take the EDE forward to
new and wider incursions. The team provides guidance and curriculum material
for designing sustainable villages, organisations and lifestyles for the emerging,
The best part of this role for me is that I will be working closely with the GEESE,
Gaia Ed’s board and Gaia Ed’s fabulous director, May East, who has been leading
the GEESE on our flight to the four directions over the past six years.
It is with great excitement and humility that I take on this new role. Coming into
the sustainability debate with original and substantial offerings, offerings that
are applicable to human settlements everywhere, is one of today’s challenges.
Yet the EDE is doing just that - it has now been offered in 22 countries, on
every continent and in settings ranging from grass roots centres to institutions
of higher education. The effect the course has had has been phenomenal and
the welcome it has received is nothing less than inspiring, transforming lives
and communities everywhere.
The product development team aims to continue in this direction. People around
the world are ready to make the transformation towards social justice, environmental conservation, security and well being, reconnecting with each other
and the higher self. This transformation starts with the transformation of society
to a new worldview, encompassing the highest ideals and technology of our
times. Gaia Education continues to lead the way, offering cutting edge learning
opportunities and experiences that accelerate the achievement of these goals.
My role as Product Development Coordinator begins with two initial mandates.
1. Complete the upgrade of the existing EDE curriculum to reflect the urban
issues of sustainable design. I will be following up on the wonderful work
done by Chris Mare, Potira Preiss and others after the Brazil symposium.
The upgrade will draw from the piloted urban EDE in Brazil plus the experiences and successes of many independent urban projects
2. The development of the EDE for traditional and indigenous villages. This will
be done in partnership with regional stakeholders and the newly emerging GEN Africa network. For this, I will be inviting people working with such
villages to contribute new thinking and research that can achieve the dual
goals of both learning from their wisdom and harmonious practises, and
in turn, offering appropriate solutions to their contemporary challenges.
The goal is to present these additions to the EDE curriculum at the next GEESE
meeting in Copenhagen, June of 2011. Focus from there will shift to developing and coordinating a hands-on, design for sustainability course for EDE
graduates, equipping a cadre of sustainability designers and consultants to
assist in the creation of new ecovillages everywhere. Further ahead is the
production of new educational materials aimed at reaching populations living
in slums, refugee and youth camps and disaster recovery areas.
From my vantage point, as faculty on both the Sustainable Businesses and Communities Master programme at Goddard College and the GEDS programme, I
see first-hand the rising demand for training and development of academic
programs in sustainability. My students are both challenged and inspired by the
vision put forward by the EDE and Gaia Education.
As president of GEN I see the opportunity for GEN to serve as a hub for research,
networking, and leadership in the growing sustainability revolution. Despite the
usual challenges of a volunteer organisation, I am confident that we will succeed in providing continuous inspiration and state of the art solutions to current
While the challenges are many, the energy and commitment to meet them
is strong and growing. GEN and Gaia Education are a source of inspiration and
hope to all those who believe that a better world is possible.
Put the Earth in Your Hands…
Lotan’s Unique Opportunities to Learn Practical Ecology
Since 2006 the Centre for Creative Ecology, Kibbutz Lotan, has been running
the successful Green Apprenticeship Training Programme based on the Gaia
Education Ecovillage Design Curriculum.
With the talented in-house faculty of
Mike Kaplin – Permaculture design, sustainable building, green technologies
Mark Naveh – Worldview, social and economic dimensions
Dr. Michael Livni – Worldview dimension
Leah Zigmond – Organic gardening
Alex Cicelsky – Sustainable building, ecological design, soil science
Daniel Burstyn – Jewish Studies
and various guest lecturers from the Lotan community, this is a predominantly hands-on programme offering practical ecological and permaculture
skills while balancing the 4 dimensions of sustainability.
According to Mark Naveh the main aims of the Green Apprentice programme are:
y Providing the cognitive rationale, experiential practice and the technical
skills necessary for a movement towards a sustainable culture based on
beliefs, values and principles
y Investigating core beliefs and values of a sustainable culture as seen
through Lotan’s specific cultural lens of experience.
In the last cycle of certifications Living Routes and Lotan certified the joint
Peace, Justice and the Environment programme. Students, mostly from the US,
lodge in the Eco-Campus neighbourhood and learn earth building techniques,
gardening, goat husbandry, cheese and yoghurt making. These practical skills
are set against a backdrop of deepening their studies in peace & social justice,
eco-psychology, religions in Israel and their response to modernity.
A typical day sees the students starting with a daily morning celebration followed by classes and sessions where they join the kibbutz work branches.
Weekly pot-luck dinners and presentations, organised by the students themselves, are part of community-building process, enhancing their social skills.
Community Design Studios are held in groups of 3-4 students which remain
constant throughout the course. Weekly Kabbalat Shabbat prayers are optional
and in September they are invited to join the many Jewish holidays, starting
with the New Year Rosh Hashanah and proceeding to Yom Kippur, the Sukkot
holiday which finishes with Simchat Torah.
Visits to other communities in the region throughout the course highlight different community models of socio-economic organization and the Be’er Sheva
trip focuses on two of Israel’s most marginalized populations – the Bedouin
living in unrecognized villages and new immigrants of Ethiopian origin.
I had a memorable visit to Lotan in November, witnessing the students preparing for a trip to Jerusalem where they were going to visit the old city and
tour with the Rabbis for Human Rights the separation fence, the occupied territories and Western Jerusalem. I joined a pot-luck pizza night, evening Shabbat prayers, was offered a Watsu session, presented Gaia Edu activities to the
community and taught a session on models of change and Transition Towns.
Mark took me on tour to visit other kibbutz nestled in the heart of the Arava
Valley and flanked by the Mountains of Edom and the Negev Plateau, a region blessed with breathtaking landscapes. This was a unique opportunity to
strengthen the partnership between Gaia Education and Lotan, a place “where
desert and spirit come together”.
Gaian Economics – Living Well within Planetary Limits
The second of the 4Keys to Sustainable Communities, Gaian Economics – Living Well within
Planetary Limits, has been released!
With a foreword from Mark Richmond, Director of the Division for the Coordination of UN
Priorities in Education, UNESCO the long awaited Economic Key is now available to download
from Gaia Education website. Also in book
form printed on 100% recycled paper from
Co-editor Jonathan Dawson says: “This is a
timely book that provides an outline map for explorers in the territory marked
‘the New Economics’. The transition is already under way from economics as
the grey and dismal science to an exciting and creative exploration of how
we can live well within our means, weaving ourselves back into the web of
life. This collection of readings represents the most imaginative and inspiring
thinking on the subject from some of the leading pioneers in the field”.
The book is co-edited by Ross Jackson, Helena Norberg-Hodge and Jonathan
Dawson and published by Permanent Publications.
The Power of Collective Wisdom
Kosha Joubert’s book The Power of Collective Wisdom,
recently published in Germany, takes you on a journey of
enquiry into some questions, offering glimpses of possible
answers and introducing a range of practices and methods
to help steer us towards a collectively wise future:
y How come humans seem to be do ing better at collective stupidity than at collective wisdom and how can
we change this?
y Surely we all want to leave this planet a better place
for our children and their children to live in?
y How can we weave our best intentions and love for this world into a tapestry of collectively wise decisions and actions?
The Power of Collective Wisdom can be enjoyed now in German, or soon in English.
Special Season’s Greetings
I finished chemo
a month ago and
on Dec 17th I am
finished with radiation (25 times
in all, 5 times
every week) and can begin to plan
life ahead. It has been tough but I am
grateful that I managed.
I look forward to the GEESE meeting here in June. I wish all the GEESE
around the planet a wonderful transition time.
Here December 13th is the shortest
afternoon. In two weeks it will be the
shortest morning. For that reason the
Old Norse celebrated Joule for two
weeks. Joule meaning wheel. The
21st is of course the shortest as such.
One of my granddaughters, Silke,
was the bride in the Santa Lucia procession where girls dressed in white
gowns walk in procession in schools
and old age homes with candles in
their hands while they sing about the
holy light – Santa Lucia. For me this
turning and return of the sun has a
special meaning this year.
I am so grateful for the contact
among us all and the work you are
all doing out there.
Ecovillage Design Education: Certifications
What’s new on NING?
It is with pleasure that Gaia Education announces the below new certifications and
Two new Forum discussions on the NING
platform have been created (geesegaiaeducation.ning.com):
y Son Rul-lan, Mallorca, Spain
y Federal University of Rio Grande
do Sul (UFRGS), Caminho do Meio
Institute, Porto Alegre, Brazil
y Brasilandia, Sao Paulo, Brazil – The first hands-on EDE to
be taught in one of the largest
slums in Sao Paulo, boasting a
population of 350,000 people
y Federal University of Parana
– School of Architecture and
Urbanism (UFPR), Curitiba, Brazil
y Living Routes and Kibbutz Lotan,
Israel – Peace, Justice and the
Environment semester programme
incorporating the EDE
y Wongsanit Ashram, Thailand
y University of Environment and
Culture of Peace (UMAPAZ), Brazil
y Living Routes at Findhorn, Scotland
y Living Routes
Deep gratitude to the great Certification team and Daniel for his orchestration and
y As per its title, the Influence of the
EDE programme in your life discussion encourages all EDE graduates
and facilitators to share their stories
y The Share your ecovillage design
case study! discussion is encouraging EDE & GEDS grads alike to share
the case studies of their ecovillage
designs as a means to building up a
timeless repository of information, accessible by all.
Please encourage your EDE graduates to
share their stories and case studies, lubricating the flow of inspiration, knowledge and wisdom among us all!
wishing much inspiration to the 9 programmes in preparation!
Current and Upcoming EDEs around the Globe
UMAPAZ EDE in Sao Paulo, Brazil, lifted off on 2 December 2010 with a record 120
participants! It will be running until 18 December 2010.
EDE Japan is still underway, running until 2 April 2011, while the GEDS online programme, which commenced 11 October 2010, continues until the end of the current
academic year. Upcoming EDEs include:
Kibbutz Lotan, Israel
y 27 December 2010
– 6 February 2011
College of Ecology, Orissa, India
y 29 January – 27 February 2011
Wongsanit Ashram, Thailand
y 17 January – 13 February 2011
Ecovillage Design Education
y 2 April – 20 April 2011
y 14 – 20 February 2011 Design Studio
y 21 February – 6 March 2011
Training of Trainers
Kasteel Niewenhoven, Belgium
y 6 June – 2 July 2011
The Park, Findhorn
Forres IV36 3TZ
Morayshire, Scotland, UK
phone: +44 1309 692011
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