Why did I do the course?
What did I want to achieve?
How will I use it now?
Will it help me with MY projects?
I registered to do the Ecovillage Design Education Online course because I felt that I had a marvelous opportunity to learn from the diverse GEN speakers from all around the globe. I figured that even if this was a toe in the water, it was a great way to collaborate in project-based learning and get a sense of which tools and resources would best help me with my own projects of passion: co-creating a collaborative living co-housing home using universal design at Narara Ecovillage, helping to develop and participate in the learning business at the village using GEN principles and helping to grow the GEN Australia network.
My strongest recollection in starting the course was John Croft, an elder from GEN, and co-founder of the Dragon Dreaming project tool, saying “what would it take for this to be the best course you have ever done”?
WOW! I thought, my dream: building an online community that can use tools and resources that can be used to strengthen the online network by creating events and sharing information that helps with regeneration projects.
I’d already participated in GENOA’s use of the tool for project planning with Hema Wu. So, I wanted to learn more!
I was thrilled at the diversity of participants and in the ensuing weeks and months that followed, the fabulous support team created lots of opportunities for the participants to be in breakout groups to discuss the concepts we were learning. I noted a common purpose – how can I contribute to regeneration and healing the planet? We are all in this together.
We were at choice to join our preferred project groups; I chose Networking and our group became Seeds and Spores and we used this metaphor as we grew and morphed and learned together.
These are my tribe, I thought. And I was right!
What I loved about exploring governance and agreements in the social dimension was that we created them together – here is our agreement.
Each week we had a different presenter and their ecovillage projects and experience were all so different and yet, they were all based on people’s participation and the connection to nature. Through this diversity, we were able to consider how their model might apply to our team project or to my own projects.
I noticed how effective Sociocracy was in allowing participatory leadership. Did we do it perfectly, heck no! Was there learning in that? YES! I am keen to immerse myself in it more!
Our group returned to the Dragon Dreaming process repeatedly and imperfectly – dreaming, planning, doing, and celebrating. I’ve learned that it’s clearly a process that requires time to understand, practice, and integrate. Using MIRO online as an alternative to using sticky post-it is probably more environmentally sustainable, however, it does take a wee bit of practice. And yes, being together shoulder to shoulder in a circle, not on a zoom screen would be better YET I’m grateful for the technology we were able to make use of.
All of our sessions were recorded and we have access to these and to the additional resources that the participants and facilitators provided. A treasure trove of collaborative knowledge.
I’m also looking forward to further integrating all my learnings by diving into the 2021 Online Summit which was included in our fee.
As we dived into the Ecology dimension and had sessions about permaculture design and green building technologies, water management, regeneration & food security, climate change, and emerGENcies, I felt enormously grateful that I am already a member of an ecovillage with a strong vision based on permaculture principles. I had only done my own Permaculture Design Certificate in Oct/Nov (at the time of the GENOA Online Gathering) and reviewing these concepts in the EDE helped to better integrate them.
I also felt grateful for the simple new measures I have been able to practice during COVID lockdowns – saving seed & regrowing the heads of spinach, beets, celery, beetroot, and parsnips. I have deepened my love of composting and have yet to set up my own Share Waste project.
As part of our group’s weekly Celebration and strong desire to integrate music and art, I introduced the group to an Australian permaculture group, Formidable Vegetable.
“Songs are some of our most powerful tools for learning, remembering, and sharing knowledge. Music can be so much more than entertainment”Charlie McGee
You can see Charlie’s TedX talk More than a Tune: Make Music with a Purpose, Change the World! Here:
Their songs are based on permaculture principles and I particularly love their song Our Street; which one do you prefer?
The Economy dimension was eye-opening with the first presentation by ecovillage founder Ross Jackson. How fascinating to hear Anna Kovasna, Head of Education present about the economies of different ecovillages, Taisa and Macaco speak of social currencies, community banks, and trade systems. It affirmed my orientation over many decades of work for the board and that we all have something of value to contribute. May East’s decades of work around intrapreneurship and working on the edge was also informative.
This dimension has particularly inspired me during the lockdown as Narara has planned an Ecovillage Residential Experience Weekend and I am certain that there are other ways that we can all promote ecovillage living joyously? I love how GEN-Europe hosted a series of Meet the Ecovillages and now has the Resilience and Regeneration series.
How else can we demonstrate the benefits of ecovillage lifestyle and support income for our ecovillages – using the principle of Respect Indigenous Wisdom and Welcome Positive Innovation?
I really enjoyed the different styles of teaching that Macaco and Taisa were able to incorporate in the presentations including bringing in nature – even if it was a pot plant indoors with us!
I loved seeing what new direction the pioneers of GEN Education have taken – Kosha Joubert now attending to collective trauma with Pocket Project, Daniel Christian-Wahl whose articles I’ve subscribed to in Medium, and Daniel Greenberg who’s now driving the importance of story-telling and Mugove.
I particularly loved Taisa’s presentation about Ecovillages and the SDGs and the activity we did to better understand such a complex idea. I am keen to see how GEN continues to work with Regeneration rather than Sustainability. The figures presented in the 2017 Impact Assessment are inspiring and I think it is our responsibility as Ambassadors to share this as much as possible.
“Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.”Earth Charter
It also really looks forward to implementing the new Impact Assessment Survey to present updated global data on the power of regenerative lifestyles.
So what now? I am still integrating ALL the information, reviewing frequently, and seeing how I can practically apply the information.
Our project group will assess how we might continue our project and how we can collaborate with others from the program. We are grateful to the support team (Abbie, Carolin) who set up a Slack channel for future communications.
I can’t wait to hear how it was for some of them who were able to go to Damanhur for part of the month-long EDE.
I followed up the EDE by attending a 4-week online workshop about co-housing at EarthSong in New Zealand which deepened my EDE learnings. I’m grateful for Robin Allison’s encouraging words:
I’d like to reiterate that ours was a very long and demanding journey because it was the first time the cohousing model was introduced and adapted to NZ conditions. It shouldn’t be so challenging for others. It’s for that reason that it feels important to tell the Earthsong story and share our learnings, systems, and agreements, to help other projects move faster.Robin Allison
I have organized a Dragon Dreaming session with the generous support of Hema Wu and Amena Bal. This collaboration has meant an opportunity to explore and expand our own online facilitation skills and for me, even more respect for their skills and their friendship.
I want to find out more about the Transition Game as I think this will help our Collaborative Living project at Narara Ecovillage.
I have got involved with helping to organize the Sociocracy workshop series at Narara in September. Project-based learning like this has increased my skill exponentially – new online systems, uploading the FB events, and finding ways to be creative!
I also am looking forward to a deeper dive into the upcoming Dragon Dreaming workshop that is being proposed by GENOA.
Can I design an ecovillage now?
Maybe not by myself!! However, having access to the GEN Map of Regeneration and having my own sets of cards with the SDGs attached, I’m finding ways of doing online presentations and having conversations about solutions to the climate crisis and the Regeneration that we can ALL participate in.
I remain in a state of both Outrage and Optimism, in the words of Christiana Figueres.
I will do the best I can with what I have learned.
How can you help us to build the GENOA network across Oceania and Australasia?
Please comment and Like the posts and mark Interested in the events, even if you cannot go as this helps your friends to see what events are coming up.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Would I recommend the online EDE?
Heck, yes! If not now, when? If not me, who?
Education and inspiration and action are essential right now.
About the Author
Tanya Mottl, GEN Australia, Australia.
Tanya is a GEN Australia Ambassador based in Sydney, Australia. She is also a member of the GEN Australia Management and Communications team since March 2020. An enthusiast for the GEN Regenerative Design process, Tanya has a diverse background and is driven by a passion for community, nature and the inherent human need for connection.
She is a skier, sailer, e-cyclist and a generalist and likes to play to her strengths – kindness and facilitating conversations around the current climate crisis. With a background in training, she is keen to see the SDGs and Ecovillage Design Cards utilised extensively during the Decade of Restoration. She is grateful for her upbringing in the Ku-ring-Gai Chase National Park on Pittwater in Sydney for the understanding of weather which helps her understanding of the Permaculture Design Certificate she’s currently doing. A novice eco-villager but a quick learner!