Thursday, 28 May 2015

How we created our Vision

Three years ago, in one of my earlier blogs, I wrote this post, Practical Solutions. In it, I describe how I think that the capitalist world isn't living up to my values and what is important to me. Or, stated another way, the everyone-for-themselves way that we currently live, does not resonate with me or inspire me to produce value. I proposed a solution of a self-governing ecovillage.

 Luckily, I found that I was far from alone in my thoughts. In September 2013, I studied a course in Permaculture, as one of my practical steps forward in life. I found that many of us desire a close connection with the land, and a desire to provide value in a healthful environment.

After the Permaculture Course, there was another event in November 2013 that taught me a lot: The Permaculture Festival. At the Festival, a member began gathering people's e-mail addresses in order to put together an Ecovillage in the Western Cape.

I joined the mailing list, and over time we got together for several meetings in Cape Town. Slowly we  formed a Core Team, those who decided to write our Vision Document.

We enlisted the help of a facilitator to bring together the opinions of our wider group, and took a trip to Blue Hippo farm outside of Greyton in July 2014 to workshop our final document, in which we decided which of the many words in the English language would best suit the goal of explaining what we want from an Ecovillage, and explaing what our values are.

Justin facilitates our Ecovillage Vision process

I type up the Vision Document, with Des and Dan in attendance

 Since then, we have continued to look for opportunities, and I feel that we are continually getting closer.  For me, what it would take to 'move on to the land' and begin would be a plan - something of a business plan that details which land,which ownership structure, how many people, which businesses will we run.

People first? Land first? I can't say I know exactly how to proceed  -but we're in this together.

And I'm pretty excited for possibilities.

We have a Facebook group for questions, answers, photos and documents.

Our Vision

The following is our Vision Document for the creation of an Ecovillage in the Western Cape

Ecovillage Vision

A group of people living as equals on a shared piece of land, working in harmony with nature providing for our own food, energy, health and educational needs.

The land will guide many of the decisions to be made for the community, particularly in regards to physical infrastructure and land use. Water, food and energy sufficiency will be a central focus, with buildings constructed naturally and sensitively.
We endeavour to create no waste.The community’s people are stewards of the earth, who care for and regenerate the land for now and future generations.

We will strive for economic independence and interdependance with like minded/hearted peoples. The community is open to people of diverse financial means as alternative economic systems are initiated, with transparency being central to the design.
A diverse range of individual and collective, ethical and meaningful livelihoods will be encouraged as individuals within the community gain self-sufficiency for both themselves and the community as a whole.
We will share our surplus.

Rotational and consensus-based leadership will be implemented.
Leadership styles encouraged would be those of service, which listen to and don’t command the community, propose and don’t impose, and convince rather than win.All task and management teams co-operate with full transparency and are self-organising, while accepting and using feedback from the greater community.We will implement efficient and fair conflict resolution.Our political systems will be designed to be flexible, adaptable, and easily scalable.

 We are a group of people who intend to co-create a living space with nature as an expression of freedom,an environment without exploitation or social injustice, without oppression or hierarchies, to create a peaceful society in which violence will vanish.
We are committed to the nurturing of wellbeing; spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically, of all beings in the habitat. A shared value system will guide the community. We promote inclusivity and harmony within ourselves as well as the broader community.

 We acknowledge individuality as well as communality as different aspects of human identity.
We acknowledge and appreciate the journey of each individual as the community evolves.
We have empathy for the balance between individual and community needs.
A diversity of individual knowledge, skills, resources and practices are required for resilience.
We seek a life of purpose and fulfilment, joy and freedom, love and harmony, as individuals, and collectively.

 We encourage deepening of relationships with people and the natural world.
We honour a diversity of worldviews and spirituality.
We recognise that a community will be strengthened by individuals with a personal spiritual practice that contributes to the collective good.
Integrity, respect, reflection, feedback, co-operation, honesty, clear communication and a commitment to resolve disputes will all be part of our individual and collective journey.

The emphasis of the wellness model encouraged by the ecovillage would be one of self-healing. Individuals becoming aware of their own health issues, taking responsibility for them and so become empowered to heal themselves: a mind-body-spirit approach The ecovillage would support a diverse range of natural treatment modalities, and the community will endeavour to grow and produce as much of its medicinal needs as possible.

The ecovillage in general would not adhere to any specific educational system. We view learning to be for all members of the community throughout their lives.  A space would be created by and for the children in the ecovillage to hold resources and act as a venue to facilitate educational activities. Leadership and guidance would be sought from those participating in these activities and the learners are encouraged to take ownership of their projects, with help from parents and members of the community who are encouraged to participate and share their knowledge and skills with the children as well as one another.  The overall aim would be to evolve resourceful, adaptive and entrepreneurial members of society who take charge of what they need to know and to make responsible decisions for themselves and others forward into the unknown.

This document has been put together by a group tasked with writing a collective vision for an Ecovillage.We acknowledge the efforts and input of many contributors to this project.
As it has been written by group process, it may not be exactly in accordance with any individual’s wishes, yet is intended to embody the power of flexibility and collaboration.