So, I launch into the first day: interested, a little nervous, definitely excited. The driveway to the study retreat feels special, tucked down a dead end road up in the hinterlands- the actual eco village site is still in negotiation with the local Council for approval.
What is an Eco-village? One of the main facilitators is a member of the Global Eco Village Network, which summarises over 40 years experience of community living worldwide, reflecting on what’s worked. In essence, it’s an alternative to the way so many of us currently live, that aims to be sustainable and regenerative.
We were Welcomed to Country by a young Indigenous woman, who performed a smoking ceremony for us by the rushing creek.
It was a wonderfully sacred way to start the proceedings. There are 21 of us, from a variety of backgrounds and places, between ages 25-70, and attending for a number of reasons. Some, like me, are curious, and investigating alternative options for living, especially as we age; others want a safe place to raise their children, and still others want to get “hands-on” dirty by building gardens, growing food, and applying Permaculture principles.
Then we moved into the circle of wooden chairs in the main room with cathedral ceiling, and began the introductions… during which, as always, some folk talked a bit too much…
But the facilitators jumped on that, thank goodness, so we proceeded to our first, genuine, full-bodied experience of community living and processing: agreeing to the group agreements…
We got there in the end though, and I promised that although I was going to blog my responses, I wouldn’t refer to anyone, nor any personal content other than my own reactions, nor take any photos with people in them. (May as well stop here huh?)
Did you know for a successful Eco Village, we need to balance the four dimensions of living:
Not paying attention to any one area will be detrimental, and we can easily see how out of balance the whole world is in these regards. Interestingly, unlike Europe, Australia has no history of small village living, having only been colonised 240 years ago, while the Indigenous populations were usually nomadic. But we are very good at the Ecology aspect apparently, having had solar power since the 1970s (thank you once again to all those hippies who launched the Aquarius Festival).
After the delicious vegan lunch, which as promised I’m not sharing with you, we studied the Archetypes, and how they can contribute to conflict- “Why isn’t this person thinking like I’m thinking?” Well basically because they have a completely different view and approach to the world. Tomorrow we’re studying Non-Violent Communication (NVC), which will be great, because there were a couple of people who were a bit annoying already, and no doubt a couple of people were thinking exactly that about me and everyone else as well hahaha!
Here’s something to think about though:
‘Conflict helps us to integrate more of who we are, and thus grow- it’s almost a spiritual practice.’
[We also did one group exercise which involved getting the whole ‘team’ through a large cobweb of wool strung between 2 columns, without touching the strands, carrying and supporting each other- the photo I took was terrible, AND they dropped me, so I’m just pretending the whole thing never happened.]
But bring on Day Two. Oh, and someone found this by the pool, and suggested it would be good for the blog, so here it is. Please don’t scream or freak out- it was only about 5 cms long.
In gratitude for the almost obscene privilege of exploring alternative living options at a catered retreat centre in the Land of Milk and Honey, G xO