Accompanied by the cherry blossoms of Japanese Spring at As One Community in Suzuka, GEN-Japan held GEN-Japan Gaia Youth – a mini Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) designed especially for youth. The intensive camp was held from March 25th – 29th 2023.
There were 11 participants coming from different countries including China, Vietnam, and Mexico that joined the program. The participants that joined have a diverse background including university students, yoga instructors, corporate workers, musicians, and activists – all of whom are eager to learn how to create regenerative communities and train themselves to become an agent of societal transformation with a can-do attitude.
In the program, the participants went through the four dimensions and one approach in the Map of Regeneration – following the flow of the EDE curriculum. They started with the social dimension – learning to move from a sense of separation and conflict to a sense of unity and understanding. The social dimension is at the core of GEN-Japan’s programs as they find that the quality of the society is very tightly linked with the quality of people’s relationships with each other and that daily communication is key to. In this dimension, participants learn how to have a heart-to-heart dialogue, how to build relationships that are at ease and with minimal expectations, and how can people communicate authentically with each other. Being at As One Community, participants are also able to see the practices that they learned being applied on a daily basis in the community.
I could learn how to make a good relationship. [It is very] interesting how people could change from [within, being able to soothe and communicate with each other.] [I have hope for] the future.Gaia Youth Participant
In the Economic Dimension, participants we’re very interested and excited to learn about the economic system of As One Community. They have a running vegetable production and food processing (producing and delivering rice boxes, locally referred to as bento). With more ecological and community-based farming practices, they help the city’s economy and support the local food system which builds trust from local companies and citizens. These community businesses were able to generate income to support the community living. One particular aspect of the community economy that made participants both excited and confused is the new economic experiment of not involving money as a medium of exchange and people were able to freely take anything that are offered in the Joy Corner.
[Sharing] economy [with] more than 100 people is possible. Workspaces [becomes] like playground for adults.Gaia Youth Participant
Moving to the Ecological Dimension, participants learned how to preserve the natural ecosystem by observing the watershed system of the Satoyama Forest which is determined as an important system by the city to the seashore. And through the community living practices such as minimizing food waste and food loss, they are also able to minimize the environmental impact to as much as half of a Japanese household average.
And finally the worldview or cultural dimension, Masahi Ono – a long-time communitarian and educator, shared his 40 years of experience building communities. He highlights the importance of building mental strength and shares tips on growing as social change makers.
The whole program was designed to facilitate participants to learn about their true selves and realize their inherent ability to co-create a new society. Starting from building a capacity for authentic communication, keeping and maintaining a secure space for people to be present authentically and able to connect with each other easily to collaborate together.
As the program facilitates participants on their learning journey towards becoming a changemaker, it also created space for the training of new facilitators. There were 4 alumni of EDE & Gaia Youth that joined to be supporting facilitators – learning how to hold space and facilitate learning journeys. In the future, they will become full facilitators that can participate fully in the creation of more programs like Gaia Youth.
We’d like to thank all participants, facilitators, and everyone that came to support to make this camp possible. May the seeds that have been planted in this program blossom into beautiful flowers that further inspire change in the creation of a more beautiful world.
Written by: GEN-Japan,
Edited by: Luvian Iskandar