+Read More - Gaia Education
Northern Summer /Southern Winter 2010
Message from Giovanni Ciarlo, President of GEN
Dear members of the Board of Gaia Trust,
I would like to respectfully share a few words with you regarding
the influence the Gaia Education EDE has had on my life. I am one of the
original members of the group that founded the GEESE back in 2004,
and current president of the Global Ecovillage Network, which you have
also generously supported for many years. The EDE curriculum that came
out of that group has given me a go-to place and a formidable source
of inspiration for teaching about sustainable communities and socially
responsible businesses, like no other curriculum that I am aware of,
anywhere. It provides a road map, concrete case studies, and abundant
resources for all important information, activities, networks and key
understanding of sustainability. I have used this information in my
professional life extensively since 2004 to teach, train and consult with
people all over the planet regarding sustainable communities and social
responsible business practices.
My particular focus has been on the Social aspect of the curriculum,
but I’ve had the opportunity to apply all the dimensions in courses I have
taught since 2004. In 2006 I taught, together with Max Linddeger of
Australia, a full EDE course in a rural center in Mexico that addresses
subsistence farmers and community organizers from all over Mexico.
In 2007 I ran a two week EDE pilot course with a roster of ecovillage,
renewable energy, and Permaculture instructors in my Ecovillage of
Huehuecoyotl, also in rural Mexico, attended by architects, urban youth,
mine workers, and community leaders from all over Mexico. In 2007 I was
invited to present Ecovillage education and the Latin American network at
the Japan Ecovillage conference in Tokyo.
Also in 2006 I enrolled in a Masters program at Goddard College in
Vermont, USA to bring a solid academic background to my courses and to
enrich the EDE curriculum I am using. In 2009 I headed another EDE pilot
course, this time in Norway with a group of young ecovillage enthusiasts at
the emerging ecovillage of Koffee Haugen. That same year I also served as
faculty for the newly installed Virtual EDE and taught the social dimension
of the curriculum at the Universidad Ouberta de Catalunia in Spain. And this
year, 2010, I have taken a part-time faculty position at Goddard College in
Vermont, USA for a new program with a focus on ecovillage design and socially
responsible business practices.
The EDE curriculum has informed and inspired my work throughout
these activities and continues to do so as I plan to continue to offer courses,
facilitate workshops and be engaged with communities and the GEESE to
continue to develop and bring the EDE to new areas of urban design.
The EDE has given me an anchor and a vision that is complete and
holistic. I am infinitely grateful to Gaia Trust, and to Hildur and Ross Jackson
for making this possibility real and available, to me a the hundreds of others
who have enrolled in our courses. And I am especially thankful to May East for
being a tireless visionary leader in developing, and promoting the work of the
GEESE. She has served us as mother Goose like no one could possibly imagine.
Her dedication, hard work, cooperative spirit and generosity are a wonderful
model for how we can be Change Agents for a sustainable world. Thanks to
her and Gaia Education we have gotten a little closer to attaining that vision,
and the world and thousands of people who have joined this process are
much better for it.
Deep Winter Ecological Design Week at
Keuruun Ecovillage in Finland
A transdisciplinary team facililtated by Esa Aaltonen and Jaana Kuusela,
including architect Outi Palttala, permaculture designer Salla Kuuluvainen,
Transition Town movement specialist Jupiter Cormier, gardeners Tuulikki
Sulavaara and Kirsi Laulainen, local food specialist Silja Jääskeläinen and
water lecturer Olli-Pekka Haavisto offered a most inspiring Deep Winter
Ecological Design week at Keuruun Ecovillage in Finland.
Participants coming predominantly from urban areas after going through
the Ecological Design content realised the future cannot be solved only
through ecological lens, having community building one of the main
foundations for resilient living.
Facilitators of Keuruun combined technical sessions with hands-on
workshops such as making non-toxic paints, planting seeds, cooking.
Many participatory tools such as World Cafe, circle dancing, and leadership
challenge games and sharing circles were used, generating a real interest
from participants in deepening their knowledge of community building.
It was high Winter in Finland, and Keuruu ecovillage offered a ‘cool’
venue to host this multifaceted Ecological Design week with 52.5 hours,
interspaced with sauna sessions.
For more information on future Keuruun Gaia Education programmes visit
A Rainy Monday Evening –
The Launch of Gaia Education in Salvador
It was a rainy Monday evening and the organisers did not expect
great attendance in the official launch of the programme. Rain in this
Northeast region of Brazil symbolises winter and when this happens no
one leaves home.
Half an hour before the start the auditorium of the Institute of Architects
of Bahia was filled up with an expectant audience. Salvador has recently
been hit by a series natural and urban planning disasters and a mixed
audience came eager to know how Gaia Education Design for Sustainability
programme could give them the tools necessary to re-design their rapid
changing living conditions.
Gaia Education Design for Sustainability programme in Salvador is hosted
by Ecobairro, an initiative migrated from Sao Paulo on rejuvenation of
neighbourhoods, and Institute Roerich, with many years of dedication of
promotion of a Culture of Peace.
In the audience the presence of urbanists, local government officers,
educators, architects, therapists, students, social workers and a delegation
from Pataxó indigenous people, all came to hear how do we navigate the
4 dimensions of sustainability in practice.
With a wide coverage in the media, including the main local papers and
radio, organisers left uplifted and surprised by the interest and a full list
of potential students. The programme starts in July 2010.
For more information visit www.gaiabrasil.net
A Journey to Discover
By Hugo Oliveira
I came across the Ecovillage concept in my journey of discovery and found that
there are ways of living that could embrace nature and humans as a whole. My
will to learn more about it took me to three different continents and exposed
me to diverse realities to get in touch with a wide spectrum of possibilities.
The first time I heard about the Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) was in
Athens during the 2006 European Social Forum. Many people were talking
about problems concerning our present living conditions but not many were
practicing the solutions. I went into a Global Ecovillage Network lecture by
Jonathan Dawson, and this gave me hope. He showed different communities
that were trying to live in a more respectful manner with the ecosystem
around them and between themselves. That was the sparkle I was waiting for,
to ignite the learning fire that would follow…
I chose to attend EDEs in different ecovillages in order to go deeper in a short
time into the spirit of each community. By being immersed for a month in
the daily routine of the place, as well as spending time with the trainers
(usually community members) I could hear the successes and struggles in the
achievement of such living experiences.
The first EDE I attended was in Tamera Healing Biotope I - Portugal, an
international training and experimental site for the development of peace
research villages and healing biotopes worldwide.
The second one was in Auroville - India, an universal town where men and
women of all countries try to live in peace and progressive harmony above
all creeds, all politics and all nationalities, with the purpose of realizing
The third was at the Wongsanit Ashram – Thailand, an intentional community
that seeks to develop and promote an alternative lifestyle that is grounded in
Dharma, cultural diversity, environmental sustainability, engagement in social
action and spiritual practices.
The last one (during 4 months) was in Crystal Waters Permaculture Village–
Australia, a socially and environmentally responsible, economically viable
rural subdivision. One of the first villages in the world designed using the
principles of Permaculture.
The main reason for me to search for different EDE experiences was that
in one month, just a small fraction of what is available to be able to
design an ecovillage is shared. I wanted to hear more experiences and
see more examples.
I feel a lot of us came out of EDE trainings with this question in mind…
I don’t know yet how to answer this question and for sure is different for each
of us. But in my case, I simply joined other likeminded friends and started
putting into practice all we had learned in our trainings. Motivated to learn
more from traditional communities and contribute to the preservation of their
sustainable practices we created a project called “Raio de Sol”, an Ecocentre
focused on Education for Sustainability is now being established in Baucau,
Timor Leste. To support this project we’ve set up our own organization,
“naTerra – Education for Sustainable Development Association”, a non-profit
that embraces projects on Education for Sustainability, which is an educational
vision that aims to balance both the human and economical well-being, with
cultural traditions and respect for the planet’s natural resources (www.naterra.
org). We are now active members of GENOA - NextGEN, making the bridge
between Macau, Timor Leste and other Asian Ecovillage Young Activists. And
the learning continues…
Gaia Education Film – a Successful Launch in Japan
The world premiere showing of the Gaia Education
Film took place on May 30, 2010, during the 4th
International Ecovillage Conference in Tokyo, Japan.
The screening was made possible through the help
of Japan EDE organizer, Yoji Kamata and the EDE
Japan organizers group. It was presented by Gaia Education representative,
Penelope Reyes, together with Yoji Kamata to a full house audience during the
session entitled, “Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) as Grassroots Playground”.
The EDE Japan Organizers who helped
make the film launching a success!
Because of the high interest in the film, there are proposals to translate its
script to Japanese and include subtitles.
Penelope Reyes and Yoji Kamata
GEESE on NING
Gaia Education has been looking at how to connect the wider family of GEESE
into a conversational process. Marcelo Todescan, one of the leading lights of
EDE Sao Paulo, had the brilliant idea to start a GEESE NING with all GEESE who
joined EDEs in the 22 countries being invited to participate. Lots of activity is
going on in English, Spanish, Portuguese, forthcoming programmes have been
uploaded, smaller EDE groups are gathering, exchanging news, uploading
pictures, campaigning. Prior to the Gaia Trust Board annual meeting May
posted a question what was the influence of your EDE in your life and we
had received the most inspiring testimonials… so difficult to chose one from
many, so we will be uploading many in our website… – see the next page for
two testimonials from Estonia and Tenerife.
Visit Gaia Education on Facebook & Twitter
To join our Facebook group, just search there for “Gaia Education” or go to
You can follow us on Twitter by going to http://twitter.com/gaiaeducation
Saludos, encantado de compartir
con [email protected] nuestra experiencia
con el EDE!
Hello to All from Estonia!
I participated in 2006, EDE for trainers
in Findhorn. Wow, almost 4 years ago.
So for me the EDE training gave the
impulse to search more in this field,
gave me confidence to speak up and
after course I have been practicing
mainly on ecological module :)
So what have I done so far to create
a better World in few words. I have
built several strawbale houses (biggest is over 100 m2), rocket stove,
also some smaller structures with
natural materials. I have been giving lectures on EDE topics in
Universities (2 years, 4 towns, 3 universities, in 3 languages
:), also abroad (in Baltics). I have lead several workshops on
building with local materials, straw and clay. I invited foreign
specialists (USA, Denmark, Australia) to run a workshops and
seminars here in Estonia about different uses of natural building materials (two projects were supported by EU funds).
This year I have composed a curriculum of “Sustainable
Building and Restoration”, that is for teachers skill conversion
in vocational schools in Estonia. Curriculum is approved by
Estonian Ministry of Education and Research and first trainings
will start in autumn 2010.
Desde muy pequeño con 12 o
13 años, alla por los años 70 en
Paysandú Uruguay donde naci,
descubrí mi vocación por los
temas comunitarios, a partir de
alli vivir en comunidad siempre
ha sido un ojetiivo en mi vida,
despues de muchos intentos en
diversos lugares de América del sur
y en España, despues de muchos
conflictos irresolubles y cuando ya
perdíamos la esperanza de poder
lograrlo por lo dificil que era,
aparecio en nuestra vida la posibilidad del curso EDE lo cual
fue todo un descubrimiento de como se deverían hacer las
cosas para el gran logro de crear comunidad.
Gracias a ello estamos trabajando renacidos en la idea con la
cabeza mucho mas clara y poco a poco se van cristalizando
cosas en el “Proyecto Cultivando” en Tenerife. Para nosotros
en definitiva el curso ha sido de gran valor para volver a
ilusionarnos y saber el camino claro por donde ir, por eso lo
Efrem Scarmatto Ibarburu
Today me and my lovely wife are creating a training centre
for healthy lifestyle and self development. We are working
on two fields - Horse Therapy (Equine Assisted Learning)
and sustainable living condition (permaculture). All
buildings in this area (18 hectares) are from straw and clay
or from reused materials. We have currently 10 horses and
4 children and some smaller domestic animals like dogs,
sheep, cats, hens.
I can add to my today’s work with gratitude a “logo” Inspired by GAIA Education. Thank you all for your work and
deep bow to founders of this curriculum!
With lots of Love, Sven Aluste
Why and How to Organise an EDE
Setting up an Ecovillage Design Education Training in our home country or
bio-region is a political action in line with the principles and action guidelines
of the Earth Charter:
“Provide all, especially children and youth, with
educational opportunities that empower them to
contribute actively to sustainable development.”
(Principle of Earth Charter)
Wherever you long to set up an EDE, you might like to consider the following:
Build your team slowly and with dedication: The EDE is a wide
ranging course and the team of trainers should reflect this holistic
approach. No one person can hold all the necessary pieces of
expertise and wisdom. A healthy and harmonious team will lay
the basis for a healthy group process and a healthy learning
community - both during the EDE and later on.
Clarify the intention of your particular EDE: What is special about
your locality, what special gifts will your EDE bring to the world?
Enquire into your audience: Contact your target groups early
on. Feed them information about Gaia education, about GEN, the
Transition Town Movement and any other networks that may be
of help and interest. Build curiosity. Build community. Build trust.
People need a strong commitment to attend a 4-week long course.
They need to trust you and what you stand for.
Design your course: With these three aspects in place, you can now
start to design your EDE. The curriculum allows for quite a bit of
flexibility. Play around with the dimensions and the 20 modules.
Allow this to become a process of co-creation. Make sure not to forget
the wisdom and experience your audience will be bringing to their
course. Make space for their wealth to be shared and acknowledged.
File your certification application with Gaia Education well
ahead of time: This is easier said than done! But seriously, it helps
to begin planning up to a year before you anticipate your course to
actually run. Give yourself and everyone else time to think and feel
things though well.
Raise necessary funds: In many areas we will need to raise additional
funds to that which the participants bring. Trust that some people
would love nothing better but to spend their money on a cause as
beautiful as yours. There are those who have funds but not the time
and space to do this kind of work. Invite them to join your cause.
Draw in participants who sign up: The most important magnetism
for your course comes from mouth-to-mouth propagation. Yes, you
can print flyers, but don’t expect flyers to bring in your participants.
Be ready for a long haul: The realisation of a project such as this
needs determination and perseverance. There will be times when
doubts and overwhelm creep in. Take a deep breath and know that
life only offers you the challenges you are ready for.
Celebrate the actual course: Make sure you are well prepared as
far as content and logistics are concerned and then … relax! Enjoy!
This is the best part. Have an extra person on the course to take care
of all the small, unanticipated flaws and surprises, and to help with
logistics so that you can relish your participants and savour their
Recuperation and reflection: Don’t forget about putting time aside
for reflection, reporting, financial accounting and the general cleanup that follows every good celebration. And make sure to schedule
a few days of deep relaxation after the course. You have held a long
wave of energy and deserve some rest. Some of us like to forget that
personal sustainability is an integral part of a culture of resilience!
Now, are you ready for the next
round? The next EDE is bound to grow
beyond the last one in unpredictable
ways. There’s a whole flock of Geese
here at Gaia Education ready to honk
support. Wishing you all the best on
your transformational journey of joy
and collective growth.
Kosha Joubert is a member of the
founding GEESE of Gaia Education. She
has run several international EDEs in
the Ecovillage of Sieben Linden and is
currently collaborating to set up EDEs
in Orissa and South Africa.
Wongsanit Ashram EDE – a Flowing River Enriching Life
The Ecovillage Design Education and Training of Trainers 2010 programme
at Wongsanit Ashram, Thailand, brought together 31 intrepid learners
from 16 nations, who, with their love and hope, built a community of
many cultures, songs, stories, languages, flavors, beliefs and dreams. For
four weeks, between January 18 and February 14, 2010 (plus a further 3
additional weeks to 7 March, for Design Studio and Training of TrainersTOT), these participants delved into their selves and into the selves of their
community members – examining cultural and intellectual assumptions,
learning new knowledge and skills, fostering group wisdom, realizing their
natural relationships, and sharing their emotions, aspirations, values, needs
and concerns with each other in their coalescing community.
The trans-disciplinary exploration of these structured dimensions of the EDE
curriculum was driven by an interactive and immersive process of co-creative
learning that relied on the facilitated participation of every member of the
community. Like a flowing river that takes life with the invocations of the
earth, wind and sun, emanating in trickles from her pristine abode, gradually
gaining strength from sister streams, garnering nutrients from her banks,
nourishing life within her womb and alongside her, and sometimes redefining
her shores along her meandering course, this learning too was a constantly
enlivening, engaging and emerging process attuned to the energy of the EDE
group, developing by members’ learning needs and enriching the group’s
evolving wisdom. It was also keenly attentive of the participants’ cultural
sensitivities and language limitations– given that most of the participants
came from non-native English speaking backgrounds and sometimes had
difficulty in comprehending abstruse concepts.
The first, second and fourth weeks of the EDE program were held at Wongsanit
Ashram. Wongsanit Ashram offers an expansive, serene and congenial
environment conducive to reflection, sharing and community living, and to
practicing non-violence when attacked by merciless mosquitoes. The food
served, the instructional materials given, the availability of reference materials
for further cogitation, and the learning and interacting spaces at Wongsanit
Ashram were all excellent – good medicine for the soul and for the body.
The learning of the third week– the ecological week– was attained at the
Energy Ashram in a picturesque part of Central Thailand, at the foot of semihumid tropical forested (evergreen) hills adjoining the Khao Yai National Park;
a perfect location to study about ecologically sustainable living.
The fifth week– design week– took place on-site in the rural village of
Kok Klang, in northeastern Thailand. Here, the group divided into two,
following the programme design, allowing the participants to choose
between designing an intentional community (a proposed eco-university),
and working with an existing community to initiate change towards more
sustainable community living.
And the final two weeks of the overall programme - the Training of Trainers
– took place in a quiet seaside village in the south of Thailand, providing an
atmosphere conducive for reflection and deepening the learning over the past
five weeks through new skills in facilitation, to encourage a wider discussion
and dialogue on what sustainable living really means.
As participants expressed at the end of their EDE journey, the programme
had offered them a unique, inspiring, space for creative learning and
compassionate expression. Through its integrated multidimensional and
trans-disciplinary curricular structure and its participative, immersive, didactic
style, the EDE program had instigated the participants to explore intellectually,
emotionally and spiritually, encouraging them to make challenging inward
and outward journeys, leading to deeper, more meaningful, interconnections,
and to express themselves in the spirit of compassionate and consciously
evolving community living.
Hildur Jackson, GEESE are Honking around You
Recently our dear Hildur has gone through an unexpected
operation and the whole GEESE community held her in our
healing hearts and minds.
Marti Muller initiated a meditation circle with GEESE from
the four corners joining. She is now gracefully recuperating
in the Jackson’s new farm, with long summer days, local
food, and much care from her blood and ecovillage families.
We send you all our love, dear Hildur!
Summer has arrived in the North and Winter in the
South and with the new season two new programmes
have been certified. We are proud to welcome to our
community of Gaia Education host sites:
EDEs & GEDS for 2010
This year is generating an abundance
of EDEs across the world.
Tamera EDE in Portugal has just
finished its 5th year with over 70
participants. Currently running is
Porto Alegre Brazil EDE and online
GEDS with Spanish and English
classes. Coming soon Sieben Linden
in Germany; Happy Earth, Philippines;
Terra Una & Jardim Botanico in Rio de
Janeiro (with 100 applications for 70
places!); Ecobairro Salvador Brazil;
International Holistic University in
Brasilia and Findhorn in Scotland.
Spread the word Gaia in the four
corners of the world and check for
updates at www.gaiaeducation.net
Kasteel Nieuwenhoven in Belgium
an Ecovillage/Co-housing community on a 20 ha. Estate
in process of retrofitting a Castle and farm buildings and
converting the farmland and woodlands to sustainable
use. KN will offer the first EDE in Belgium from 5 September to 3 October 2010. www.kasteelnieuwenhoven.be
Thread Traditional Villages of Orissa in India
Thread a grass-roots organisation connected with 3901
traditional people’s villages intends to offer the first
indigenous EDE in India to villagers in Orissa region. We
anticipate an enriching learning exchange. Programme
will be offered in February 2011.
The Park, Findhorn
Forres IV36 3TZ
phone: +44 1309 692011
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