Southern Spring / Northern Autumn 2012
Gaia Education Design for Sustainability:
Taking Online Learning to New Heights
Following its 2011/12 edition, the Gaia Education Design
for Sustainability (GEDS) course has become an important
reference in the field of sustainability. Offered by Gaia
Education in partnership with the Open University of
Catalonia (UOC), the course is based on the four key
dimensions of sustainability proposed by Gaia Education –
the social, ecological, economic and worldview dimensions
– as an integral and holistic approach to sustainable design.
The 2011/12 course reached 46 English students from
across the five continents, 12 of whom completed selective
dimensions and 34 the full course. 16 students completed
the two semesters of the new Spanish postgraduate course,
a first step towards the future Masters which Gaia Education
and UOC will be offering.
Entering its 5th year, the response to the course has been very
positive and despite the online nature of the course, students
experienced the emergence of an extraordinary community
of learning. For months they share information, concepts and
their experiences across continents, cultures and countries,
contributing to a depth of participation and knowledge-share
which carries the warmth of what each person knows and
brings from their communities to the world.
Ulises in front of the new UOC building
“The GEDS course has helped me explore a wide range of sustainable development
issues, both theoretically and practically. Through this course, I have learned a
lot about team work, time management, creativity and art. The activities for
students are very well designed and helped me reflect on my daily sustainability
practice and create new plans for a better strategy. It sharpened my way of
thinking from various different lenses as well as providing a lot of creative ideas
to work on afterwards”.
Any Sulistyowati, Indonesia
A pitfall of most online and distance learning courses is that students become
isolated. GEDS overcomes this through the main activity performed by
students through the year: a collaborative design of a real project. The group
work encourages the use of different techniques and skills for collaborative
work learnt during the social dimension of the course. As a result, and besides
learning to design and the satisfaction that their designs hold a strong
potential of being implemented, students acquire a new competence with
higher added value: the ability to carry out collaborative work with people
from varying cultures and backgrounds.
Although most of the design projects presented in the last year were intended
to create intentional communities or ecovillages, the number of projects with
bioregional or entrepreneurial scope increased with respect to previous years.
As with the intentional community and ecovillage projects, bioregional and
entrepreneurial projects also follow the 4 dimensions of sustainability in guiding
their designs, ensuring an integrated & holistic approach to sustainability.
Bioregional projects involve the (re)design of a neighbourhood, village or
town and are mostly brought by people belonging to ‘transition’ initiatives.
Project examples include Romont Together, presented by Maria Meiland
and intended to be applied to the little town of Romont in Switzerland, and
Sant Boi Transició, presented by Vanessa Sancho, to be applied to Sant Boi, a
neighbourhood of Barcelona (Spain).
On the other hand, the entrepreneurial or organizational projects involved the
creation of a sort of social enterprise aimed to offer different types of goods
or services. These included eco-centres, such as The Demonstration Center
for Sustainability, a case study brought by Nina Puntar from Slovenia, and
eco-farms, an example of which is EsBiosferA, a project presented by Gemma
Velasco (Spain) and based on self-sufficiency, agroecology and the production
of local and organic food to empower the surrounding community.
“It will change the way I teach Permaculture from now on. This course
has given me a new focus and a new angle to perceive what is an old
topic for me. I would recommend this course to anyone who seriously
wants to learn in-depth what it means to live sustainably. The teachers
were great, all of them! Thank you!!!”
Barb Hazenvald, Canada
The GEDS course is aimed at all kinds of people interested in the management
or design of sustainable projects, communities and organizations. It is
particularly suitable for people who work and need a flexible schedule to
follow their studies. It is highly recommended for those who want to enter the
booming market of green jobs in both the public and private sectors. If this is
your case, come and learn how to design with experts from the best research
and development centres for carbon-constrained life-styles!
Registration for GEDS 2012/2013 closes 1 October – for more
info and to register, visit www.gaiaeducation.net or email Ulises at
El curso de Gaia Education Diseño para la Sostenibilidad se consolida
Desde su última edición 2011/12 el curso de Gaia Education
experiencias vitales que desbordan continentes, culturas
Diseño para la Sostenibilidad, GEDS, se ha convertido en un
y países, dando pie a una participación profunda y a la
referente importante en el campo de la sostenibilidad. Ofrecido
generación de un conocimiento compartido que lleva el calor
por Gaia Education en colaboración con la Universitat Oberta de
de lo que cada persona conoce y aporta a su comunidad y
Cataluña (UOC), el curso se basa en las cuatro dimensiones de
la sostenibilidad propuestas por Gaia Education - la dimensión
social, ecológica, económica y visión del mundo – como parte
“El curso GEDS me ha ayudado a explorar una amplia
de un enfoque integral y holístico del diseño sostenible.
gama de temas sobre desarrollo sostenible, tanto
46 estudiantes de los cinco continentes siguieron el curso
en inglés, 34 de los cuales hicieron el curso completo. 16
estudiantes completaron los dos semestres del nuevo curso de
postgrado en español, un primer paso hacia el próximo Master
que Gaia Education y la UOC ofrecerán pronto.
Ya en su quinto año, la respuesta de los estudiantes ha sido
muy positiva, y a pesar de tratarse de un curso en línea,
los estudiantes han podido experimentar con fuerza la
extraordinaria comunidad de aprendizaje que se ha creado.
Durante meses, han compartido información, conceptos y
teórica como prácticamente. Gracias a este curso, he
aprendido mucho sobre el trabajo en equipo, gestión
del tiempo, creatividad y arte. Las actividades para los
alumnos están muy bien diseñadas y me han ayudado a
reflexionar sobre mi práctica diaria en relación con la
sostenibilidad y a crear nuevos planes para mejorar mi
estrategia. El curso me ha ayudado igualmente a afinar
mi forma de pensar utilizando diferentes tipos de lentes,
y me ha proporcionado un montón de ideas creativas
para trabajar después“.
Any Sulistyowati, Indonesia
Un fallo de muchos cursos en línea y a distancia es que los
bienes o servicios. Estos incluyen eco-centros, como el Centro
estudiantes se sienten un tanto aislados. El curso GEDS
de Demostración para la Sostenibilidad, un estudio de caso
supera esta dificultad gracias a la actividad principal que los
presentado por Nina Puntar de Eslovenia, y eco-granjas,
estudiantes tienen que realizar a lo largo del año: el diseño
como EsBiosferA, un proyecto presentado por Gemma Velasco
colaborativo de un proyecto real.
(España) basado en la autosuficiencia, la agroecología y la
La principal actividad realizada por los estudiantes durante
todo el año es el diseño de un proyecto real. La actividad se
lleva a cabo en pequeños grupos de trabajo de 3-4 personas
que seleccionan un proyecto a partir de sus propias propuestas.
El trabajo en grupo fomenta el uso de diferentes técnicas y
habilidades para el trabajo colaborativo aprendidas en la
dimensión social del curso. Como una consecuencia extra,
además de aprender a diseñar y de la satisfacción de que sus
diseños se vean realmente implementados, los estudiantes
adquieren una nueva competencia con un gran valor añadido:
la capacidad de llevar a cabo un trabajo de colaboración con
producción de alimentos locales y orgánicos para fortalecer a
la comunidad circundante.
“Mi forma de enseñar Permacultura va cambiar
a partir de ahora. Este curso me ha dado un
nuevo enfoque y una nueva perspectiva sobre lo
que es un viejo tema para mí. Yo recomendaría
este curso a cualquier persona que pretenda de
verdad aprender a fondo lo que significa vivir de
manera sostenible. Los profesores son geniales,
todos ellos. ¡Gracias!”
Barb Hazenvald, Canadá
Profesora de Permacultura
personas de diferentes culturas y capacidades.
Aunque la mayoría de los proyectos de diseño presentados
en el último año tenían como objetivo crear comunidades
El curso GEDS está dirigido a todo tipo de personas interesadas
intencionales o ecoaldeas, cada vez se presentan más proyectos
en la gestión o el diseño de proyectos sostenibles, comunidades
con un alcance biorregional o de emprendimiento. Al igual que
y organizaciones. Está especialmente indicado para personas
con los proyectos comunitarios intencionales y de ecoaldeas,
que trabajan y necesitan un horario flexible para seguir sus
los proyectos bioregionales y empresariales también siguen
estudios. Es muy recomendable para aquellos que quieren
las 4 dimensiones de la sostenibilidad en la orientación de sus
entrar en el floreciente mercado de empleos verdes, tanto
diseños, lo que garantiza un enfoque integrado y holístico de
en el sector público como privado. Si éste es tu caso, ven y
aprende a diseñar con expertos de los mejores centros de
investigación y desarrollo de formas de vida de bajo impacto
Los proyectos biorregionales implican el (re) diseño de un
en emisiones de carbono!
barrio, pueblo o ciudad y son en su mayoría presentados por
personas que pertenecen a “iniciativas de transición”. Ejemplos
de este tipo de proyectos serían Romont Together, presentado
por Maria Meiland para ser aplicado en la pequeña ciudad de
Romont, en Suiza, y Sant Boi Transició, presentado por Vanessa
Sancho, para Sant Boi, un barrio de Barcelona (España).
Por otro lado, los proyectos empresariales u organizacionales
consisten mayoritariamente en la creación de algún tipo
La inscripción para GEDS 2012/2013 Cierra
el 1 de octubre - para más información y para
registrarse, visite www.gaiaeducation.net o email
Ulises [email protected]!
de empresa social orientada a ofrecer diferentes clases de
Gaia Education: Thank-you Jonathan, Welcome Michael!
The Gaia Education Board
Jonathan Dawson, after 4 years serving
on the Gaia Education Board, has recently
stepped down. He is continuing to hold
the baton for sustainability as co-head
of economics at Schumacher College and
hands-on fathering of two young children.
The Gaia Education Board
The Board wishes Jonathan all the best in
his new direction and would like to thank
him for his years of diligent service.
As a former President of GEN, Jonathan is extremely knowledgeable and wellconnected with the ecovillage movement around the world. During his term
with Gaia Education, the organisation has grown steadily and his personal
connections with many leading ecovillage actors have greatly supported this.
Jonathan & Portira in Action
Jonathan is an inspiring EDE teacher whose fun yet thorough approach
has opened many hearts and minds to the horrors of the dominant global
economic systems and possibilities of more sustainable alternatives.
The Board would like to welcome Michael Shaw who brings decades of
experience to Gaia Education. He is a founding member of The Ecovillage
Institute at Findhorn, a resident Trustee of the Findhorn Foundation and has
taught on all Findhorn EDE programmes and several others around the world.
An engineer by trade with particular expertise in natural wastewater systems,
he is vastly experienced in groundbreaking ecological design.
Michael in Action (Findhorn)
News from the Certification Team
Daniel Greenberg (Chair, Certification Team)
Gaia Education’s Certification Team continues to
hum along with 10 team members now reviewing
applications three times a year. As Gaia Education
enters her 8th year of operation and with the number
of applications for certified programmes increasing, the
organisation is entering a new era.
To date Gaia Trust has enabled Gaia Education to award
host organisations Start-up Grants to the amount of
€ 125,000. During this period, 137 programmes have
been freely certified across 31 countries spanning the
globe. Regional networks have grown in strength,
actively exchanging skills and supporting new &
emerging programmes. After 7 years of generous support
from Gaia Trust, the time has come for Gaia Education to
become financially independent and support this trend
of regional exchange to grow and glow.
In line with this, as from 1st September 2012, Start-up Grants will be replaced
by a Regional Mentoring Fund and new courses will be requested to pay a
fee of £200 for certification and £100 for re-certification. We trust that course
leaders will appreciate the need for these changes in order for Gaia Education
to become a more sustainable organization in years to come and regional
networks to grow in local resilience.
Daniel Greenberg at recent GEESE meeting
with Max Lindegger and Gjohn
The Certification Team is also excited to welcome Marcos Beascoa as our new
Certification Manager. Marcos completed the Findhorn EDE in 2006, was part of
2011 Son- Rul-lan EDE Team and currently lives in Morocco. Marcos is now the
primary liaison between course leaders and the Certification Team, supporting
the consistency and continuity of our communications.
We’re looking forward to reviewing more applications and seeing the Gaia
Education curriculum spread even further and impact even more sustainability
leaders in 2013!
Excerpts of a Diary: EDE Bangladesh
Bangladesh recently completed the 2nd part of the country’s first EDE.
Read the report and journal of their daily practises and activities at:
Saturday June 9, 2012
Participants arrived in the afternoon. In the evening we had an opening
ceremony. And just as we had begun the training at the other venue in March
we all walked with candle lights and singing a song through the dark garden
of the BBFC centre.
We ended the walk in a hall inside placing the lights in the centre of our group
circle. Then everyone, both participants and facilitators had some minutes
each to say hallo, a few words about how they had been since last time we
were together and express their feelings for the upcoming 9 days. In the end
we did a very nice ritual with incense and prayer before going to sleep.
Sunday June 17,2012
Morning session 2: Village walk & visit
This time we walked in another area of the village. We saw many of the now
popular houses made of cement and tin but was most interested to see some
of the oldest mud houses that people said was around 50 years old.
We finished the walk being invited into the family house of the leader and
served jackfruit with popped rice.
EDE Philippines: An Intimate Affair
From June 1-28, 2012, Tuwa The
Laughing Fish successfully hosted
an EDE with just 5 participants.
This uniquely intimate gathering
included two Filipinos (male and
female), one Japanese male, one
South African female and one
female from Colombia, with an age
range between 23 and 60 years old.
Despite the small size, the course was
financially sustainable and organizers
even managed to award a bursary to
one participant and a discounted rate
This EDE focused on social, environmental and spiritual engagement with
powerful awareness of the global conditions through three theme words: Life
Force, Energy and Relationships. This was a constant theme, woven into all
the dimensions. The facilitator core group was close knit, caring and mindfully
integrative of this EDE theme.
The course fostered deep learning, closeness, a safe atmosphere to be open
and deep transformation. It gave an opportunity for people to go deeply
within and created less opportunity for people to feel isolated or to isolate
The group lived a ritual every single day. Agnihotra (a salutation to the sun)
was practiced every sunrise and sunset, providing a very grounding activity for
the whole group. Agnihotra is a branch of Vedic spirituality and is an ancient
science of healing. This practice created a positive vibration and atmosphere
for the duration of the whole course – indeed, every day started and ended
in a beautiful way.
Participants considered the visible and invisible components of Ecovillage
Design. Permaculture principles were visible on the host site with several
examples of every single principle - from the gardens to the structure of the
kitchen. Many hands-on practical activities were done as a group. Some very
exciting and feasible design projects emerged based on a good framing of the
design criteria. The design process was extended into the worldview week to
incorporate designing-in the sacred.
Tuwa The Laughing Fish draws inspiration from the adage “we walk our talk”.
By providing an authentic setting with off-grid living and the daily practice of
sustainability values, the host site has inspired in the participants a realistic
view based on ambitions that are grounded and doable. In one month, the
Philippine EDE students were filled with enthusiasm to add positive change to
the world, and in numerous levels of society.
Climate Change Adaptation
The Philippine Government Department of Environment and
Natural Resources has given recognition to Tuwa The Laughing
Fish as one of the top Climate Change Adaptation Best Practices
in the country, besting 100 initiatives that were submitted. A
book publication is going to be released next month and Tuwa’s
photo landed on the book cover as one of the highlights.
Rocket Stove Assembly
Rocket Stove in Action
EDE Mexico: Growing new Wings
Mexico has been running EDE courses
for the last 7 years. Overall, since
2005 Organi-K, Huehuecoyotl and the
Ecovillage Network of the Americas
(now CASA) have held 5 Ecovillage
Design courses, influencing more
than 120 participants.
The most recent EDE was held this
July and included over 30 participants.
Most of the students were young
people engaged in sustainability
projects on their regions. There were
also architects, garden designers
and other urban professionals
including participants from the Ecobarrios project of Mexico City who attended the course through scholarships.
Students were transformed and skilled during this intense two-week session.
At the end of the closing ceremony the students improvised a spiral dance
and showed much appreciation to their peers and temporal EDE community.
We are now ready for the next steps. Starting next year we will have two
courses every year and are planning on having EDE courses in other regions of
Mexico. Also, we have been involved in taking a short version of the EDE to
urban settings as part of the Ecobarrios
project in Mexico City. More than 300
people have attended these courses in
the past 2 years.
We are very grateful with Gaia Education,
the Global Ecovillage Network, CASA and
all those who work in connection with
Sieben Linden Completes its 5th EDE
This year’s EDE course was the fifth to
be hosted in the Ecovillage of Sieben
Linden. 33 participants from 23
countries (Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania,
Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia,
Palestine, Colombia, Brasil, and all
over Europe) attended.
The international focus of this particular
EDE has always been strong and
creates an atmosphere of intercultural
celebration at the core of all learning
and exchange. A thoroughly new and
fascinating aspect was the powerful presence of the Arab world following the
Ecovillage Conference which took place in Sekem, Egypt, in November last year.
After years of preparation, the EDE in Sieben Linden now receives supportive
recognition from the German Foreign Ministry, the German foundation Heidehof
Stiftung and the Anne Lindh Foundation. All the same, it still takes huge effort
to arrange, year after year! The course has grown from an annual event into an
on-going project, framed as a collaboration between Gaia Education and GEN
(Global Ecovillage Network). At its core lie issues of North-South reconciliation
(working with the shadow of colonialism) and the spreading of strategies for
climate change adaptation and stabilisation of communities.
Scaling up ‘Ecovillage Design’ to apply not only to individual earth-based
projects, but to the transition of whole village networks, is what makes
this approach attractive to policy-makers. The Senegalese government
program of transitioning 14,000 traditional villages to ecovillages presents
powerful inspiration, as does the Baltic Sea Ecovillage Project (funded by
the EU with around 1,5 Mio to develop a toolkit for the development of
ecovillages in rural areas of Europe). The EDE course can be used as a tool
of empowerment and networking to kick-start civil society engagement
for effective change processes.
Building a compost heater
In the Ecovillage of Sieben Linden, we have the benefit
of a radically ecological community which has lowered
its carbon emissions to around a third of the German
average. The willingness to change our lifestyles in the
North forms a solid basis for collaboration with projects
from the global South. Off course, the backgrounds and
cultural frameworks of participants differ vastly, which
brings a wealth of diversity, but also the potential for
friction and divergent learning needs. Many of our
participants are experienced trainers themselves –
as a holding team we continue to grow our capacity
to facilitate the emergence of experience and insight
from the group instead of sticking to preconceived plans
and imparting information. Process and content form
a dance. Learning goals are foreseeable, yet the final
outcome is vivid and unpredictable.
The design process of individual and group projects begins from the
intentions that are alive in the group, picks up speed with introductions
to both Dragon Dreaming and Permaculture Design, continues with
integration of knowledge of the four dimensions and ends with concrete
business plans and empowered fundraising.
In our cross-cultural search for solutions we tap into a field of collective
wisdom that goes beyond anything we knew we were looking for.
Thank you to all the GEESE family for continuing to expand and explore
Gaia Education Design for
Educación a distancia para
The distance learning courses Gaia
El curso de educación a distancia
de Gaia Education Diseño para la
Sostenibilidad, GEDS, está basado en
las cuatro dimensiones fundamentales
del Programa de Diseño de Ecoaldeas
de Gaia Education: las dimensiones
social, económica, ecológica y de visión
Education Design for Sustainability
(GEDS) are based on the four core
dimensions of Gaia Education’s Ecovillage Design Curriculum: the social,
worldview, ecological and economic
dimensions of sustainability.
Basado en la experiencia y conocimientos desarrollados en una red formada
por algunas de las ecoaldeas y lugares
de transición más exitosos del planeta,
el curso GEDS se ofrece en colaboración
con el Campus por la Paz de la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.
expertise developed in a network
of some of the most successful
ecovillages and transition settings
across the Earth, GEDS is offered
by Gaia Education in collaboration
with the Campus for Peace of the
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.
Si eres estudiante o educador, si te interesa el desarrollo comunitario a nivel
urbano, rural o regional, si eres entusiasta de la permacultura o un emprendedor con interés social y ecológico, el curso GEDS puede ser de gran
ayuda para ti. Ofrecido en inglés como
diploma certificado por Gaia Education
y en español como curso oficial de posgrado de la UOC, el curso en línea GEDS
se puede hacer desde cualquier lugar
del mundo y con suficiente flexibilidad
para adaptarse a tu estilo de vida.
Whether you’re a student or educator, involved in urban, rural or
regional community development,
a permaculture enthusiast or a socially and environmentally interested business leader, GEDS is of
relevance to you. Offered as both a
diploma and a postgraduate course,
this online course can be completed
from anywhere in the world, with
the flexibility to suit your lifestyle.
16 Oct 2012 – 30 Sep 2013
17 October 2012 – 12 Jul 2013
March – October 2013
Invitation to join Hildur Jackson’s 70th Birthday Meditation
Hildur Jackson will be turning 70 on 7 October 2012 and invites the Gaian
community from across the globe to join in celebrating this anniversary with
mediation on Sunday, October 7, from 10am-11am (GMT)
Hildur was born in Denmark in 1942 and has spent
most of her life in the suburbs of Copenhagen. She
has been married to Ross Jackson since 1967, has 3
sons and 7 grandchildren. Hildur is a long time grass
roots activist (natural birth, women’s movement,
local community movements, technology and
society, organic farming). Her passion to solve
women’s dilemma between full time work and
being isolated and dependent as housewives
inspired her to co-found one of the first Danish cohousings in 1972, where
she lived for six years. In 1987 she and her husband Ross initiated Gaia Trust
with the purpose of healing Gaia. Gaia Trust has been a primary funder of the
Global Ecovillage Movement and Gaia Education.
Hildur, the GEESE wish you a wonderful 70th birthday and thank-you for years
of service and sharing with the global community!
GEDS Case Study: CantaGaia
The CantaGaia case study is an agro-ecology project located in Seville,
Spain. Their vision is to create a community-based, low-energy economy,
intensive in the use of knowledge and labour. CantaGaia aims to adapt to the
current scenario of energy decline and climate change, sustaining their local
community and upholding social justice and ecological sustainability.
CantaGaia is a design project from the GEDS 2010/11 programme. Members
of the project study group are Helena García (coordinator), Eva Saldaña and
Read more about CantaGaia and download the complete case study here:
Upcoming EDEs Around the World
A Call for Healing
Brazil’s EDE Ecobairro Salvador, EDE Belo Horizonte and Gaia Brasilia are
currently underway, as is Kibbutz Lotan’s Green Apprenticeship Programme
while Denmark’s first EDE, hosted at Hallingelille Ecovillage, has just completed.
I’ve just been diagnosed with
mesothelioma, an asbestosrelated pleural cancer, and
given 6–12 months to live.
While I’m perfectly alright
with dying (I’ve done it many times
before and probably will do it many
times more), the timing is a bit
silly. It’s like your favourite TV show
suddenly getting canceled midseason, just when there finally was
some character development... ;-)
For the full list of current and upcoming programmes around the world, visit
Gaia Education Design for Sustainability
GEDS English: 16 October 2012 – 30 September 2013
Posgrado Español: 17 October 2012 – 12 July 2013
3 – 30 October 2012
13 October – 9 November 2012
Ecobairro Salvador, Instituto Roerich
July – December 2012
As orthodox doctors admit they have
no cure for me, I will seek alternative
routes of treatment. In the meantime,
please send me some gentle waves of
Love and Healing if you can! :-)
Thanks & all the best,
Michael (your GaiaEducation designer)
26 Jul 2012 – 17 Mar 2013
Belo Horizonte EDE
18 Aug – 16 Dec 2012
The Park, Findhorn
Forres IV36 3TZ
phone: +44 1309 692011
Company Limited by Guarantee
Registered in Scotland No 353967
Scottish Charity No SC040839