Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hope for a better world (Ebook - online)

Hope for a Better World
A fresh approach to the creation of a truly viable society in this time of war, religious strife, stifling bureaucracy, and urban decay.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Clean Energy Agents programme - a free 2-month online course

Apply now for the Clean Energy Agents programme, a free 2-month online course to start the clean energy revolution in your school or university!

Deadline for applications: May 22nd.

This is one of Climate Strike's contributions to ‪#‎breakfree2016‬


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Ecovillage: 1001 Ways to Heal the Planet (Ebook)

Ecovillage: 1001 Ways to Heal the Planet full pdf book download from Ursula Noamech

Kosha Joubert and Leila Dregger (editors)
"What a beautifully, lovingly constructed book! It conveys not only the variety and ideals of the ecovillage movement, but the heart of it as well. Kosha and Leila's book affirms the importance of ecovillages not just as an inconsequential alternative in the margins, but as an invitation to transform every place into an ecological collaboration between humans and the rest of nature."  - Charles Eisenstein

During the GEN 20+Summit in Findhorn Kosha Joubert and Leila Dregger presented the new GEN book about ecovillages worldwide, which they had written with the help of many longterm ecovillage members who contributed their very personal stories, thoughts, experiences, adventures, failures, learnings and successes. The book can now be ordered. Everybody interested in social and ecological change and building a global alternative should know this source of experience and wisdom.
This book introduces a selection of ecovillage projects from all over the world. The editors have aimed to give a taste of their richness and diversity with examples from Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa and North America. Most of the chapters are based on interviews with founders or long-standing members of ecovillage communities; while a few chapters are about regional or national networks of ecovillage transition. The book sets out both to honour successes, but also to learn from difficulties and failure.

As well as serving as an inspiration to its readers, the book is also intended as a learning resource. At the end of each chapter, the editors have given a few keywords, listing some of the best approaches used by each ecovillage, for example, in developing a water treatment facility,  building a straw bale house or supporting groups of people in their endeavours. You can find out more about these solutions in the GEN Solution Library - there are  links in the book.
“Ecovillages have long served a vital function as the laboratories of a resilient future, where solutions are tested, tweaked, adjusted. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but it’s in the “what if?” spirit that their genius lies. Kosha Joubert and Leila Dregger’s new book celebrates the remarkable diversity to be found in the eco-village movement, and their insights resonate far beyond the ecovillages themselves”. - Rob Hopkins, Founder of the Transition Network
“Your heart will soar as you revel in this treasure trove of evidence that a new and better future is not only possible but happening NOW all over the world where ordinary people have taken matters into their own hands, building vibrant, loving, sustainable communities... even national governments are beginning to take them seriously enough to support their growth... You will be filled with new inspiration and implementable ideas, so spread the book itself as far and wide as you can!”
- Elisabet Sahtouris, PhD, evolution biologist & futurist, author of Gaia’s Dance
Nowadays, ecovillages are widely accepted as living and learning centers, as lighthouses for social and ecological sustainability in their regions, as alternative to the destructive mainstream lifestyle that has brought the planet to the edge of extinction. However, 20 or 30 years ago, nobody knew the word ecovillage. Many intentional communities that existed were regarded as dropout groups, hippie oases and they were, here and there, just beginning to cooperate with other sectors of society such as politics, economy or media. It took some time before the world acknowledged the many solutions that the pioneer generation has been testing in their remote places. It also took a while before the communities, with their different approaches to an alternative lifestyle, started to regard themselves as a global movement - diverse, with different experiences, but with the same aim and principles.
It needed people in the projects who were ready to look at the bigger, the global, picture and not only their own philosophies, situations and challenges. The communities had to come together and start to form community amongst themselves: to share, to learn from each other, even correct each other and form a common platform.

The concept of ecovillages first arose in the late 1980s, with the intention of offering an alternative to a culture of consumerism and exploitation.  Combining a supportive and high-quality social and cultural environment with a low-impact way of life, they have become precious playgrounds in which groups of committed people can experiment to find solutions for some of the challenges we face globally.  Ecovillages are now part of a worldwide movement for social and environmental justice and have become regional and national beacons of inspiration for the social, cultural, ecological and economic revival of both rural and urban areas.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Climate Smart Agriculture

 This site is your gateway to implementing climate-smart agriculture. It will help you get started and guide you right through to implementation on the ground, connecting you with all the resources you need to dig deeper.


Friday, May 6, 2016

UN-REDD: Registration open for free REDD+ online course

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Disobedience is a new film about a new phase of the climate movement: courageous action that is being taken on the front lines of the climate crisis on every continent, led by regular people fed up with the power and pollution of the fossil fuel industry.

Disobedience is the story of the struggle to save the world.

Disobedience tells the David vs Goliath tales of front line leaders around the world risking life and limb in the fight for a liveable climate.

Interwoven with this riveting verité footage are the most renowned voices in the global conversation around social movements and climate justice for a series that is personal, passionate and powerful.
The stakes could not be higher, nor the missions more critical.


Thanks to Kjell Kühne for sharing this information!

Climate Strike Coordination Support
A million students for the climate. We will face humanity's greatest challenge. Together.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

5 Fundamental Shifts That Would Happen in A World Without Money

By Chemory Gunko

What would a world not driven by money look like? 

Money is a powerful driver in the modern world, and for the most part, we’ve elevated it to the point of necessity. However, we do not need money to live healthy, fulfilling lives on this planet. The current structure of society is reliant on the constant trade of money; to get rid of money would mean a complete restructuring of how we interact with society.

If we could shift into the mentality of inner connected communities that exist harmoniously around the world; then the need for money truly disappears.

1. Work Becomes Play

garden-handsWhen we’re all focusing on living off the earth, the idea of a ‘job’ ceases to exist. We don’t need people waking up to clean up waste, do accounting or govern cities. The people become the government and the work we do is in support of each other and the planet. 
Many of the jobs at this level would be supportive – water supply, growing food, maintaining, and literally building the structures of the new earth.
For many people nowadays, career choices are all about the social ranking of what they do and the potential for earning. Without these drivers, many people would choose only to do their menial chores for society and focus their time on family or other creative and learning pursuits.

2. People will do what they Love

Where people do choose to go into fixed vocations, you’ll find that it is because they love and are drawn to this work.o-HAPPY-facebook
Without the financial and social status drivers behind them, you’ll find healers drawn to healing and medicine, teachers drawn to teaching and the spiritual placed back into temples where they can uplift the community at large and contribute meaningfully.
In addition, we’ll more than likely see huge surges and advancements in these fields, because the people operating here no longer have limitations like ‘does the client want this’ or ‘can the client afford this’?
Take away the financial limitations of each person and you have a medical field that can pull out all the stops to save the lives of every person who needs help – not just those that can afford it.

3. More time for family

family-playing-tennisThe endless treadmill that most of us are running on daily leaves us very little time to enjoy the families we clothe and house.
When survival is taken off the table as an issue, you’ll find that you have more energy to spend with your family – more time to enjoy them in your life.
Likewise, your working time contribution will be much more limited than what it would be in a free economy, which will give you more time to spend on your family – instead of all the time you dedicate to trying to make ends meet at the moment.

4. The majority of your stress disappears

How much of your modern stress is made up of survival issues? How am I going to pay the bills, buy food, pay rent, pay my creditors?relax_your_mind1
Take away the survival issues and all you are left with is your health, relationships, spirituality and how much you will grow and express yourself creatively going forward.
How much easier would your life be if you never had to worry about money, food, medication or a roof over your head? How much happier would you and your family be?
How many of the other stressors in your life are driven by the money/survival issue as well? What other areas of your life would become easier?

5. Education becomes Real

Subjects schools could teach to improve educationWithout the mad scrabble for wealth and social standing – as well as securing your future – we wouldn’t place half as much emphasis on education. 

Education becomes a shared experience with everyone of all ages. Incredible learning can happen outside the classroom that only experience can teach.

When everyone becomes a teacher, then everyone is a student of each other. Learning doesn’t become impossible for them many who can’t afford to go to school. It is a birth right for all of us.


In defence of ecovillages: the communities that can teach the world to live sustainably

Associate Professor, Centre for Urban Research (GUSS, RMIT), RMIT University

What types of communities do the best job of living with a minimal impact on the planet? I asked myself this question when I read a recent article on The Conversation, which argued that even if everyone on Earth lived in an ecovillage we would still be using too many resources.
I am more optimistic — some ecovillages provide a much better blueprint than others.

As a 2013 study of 14 ecovillages by US political scientist Karen Litfin shows, ecovillages can be regarded as “pioneer species”. They show people how to improve their sustainability: the ecovillages Liftin studied used 10–50% fewer resources than their home-country averages and, being whole communities, were more influential than a single sustainable household.

Litfin’s assessment took in a wide range of factors – ecological, economic, even psychological – but one example of how ecovillages show the way forward is in power consumption.

Mainstream households tend to rely on national or regional supplies of gas or electricity, with no (or little) control over their sources. In places like Victoria, which has a very emissions-intensive power sector, this can make it difficult to make sustainable choices. However, ecovillage neighbours who have banded together to access renewable energy, say solar or wind power, can make off-grid environmental savings.

While there are financial (and other) barriers to setting up environmentally sound residential neighbourhoods, there are useful rules of thumb. In general, small is beautiful and sharing is efficient. One simply cannot fit as much “stuff” into a smaller house, and sharing accommodation often economises on consumption of goods and services.

Some ecovillages shame others in reducing their environmental footprint. Where ecovillages re-inhabit and renovate old buildings, they save on resources. A good example is the postcapitalist eco-industrial Calafou colony, northwest of Barcelona, which houses some 30 people in an old textile factory complex.

Members of another community that I have stayed at, Ganas in New York City, live in renovated residential buildings and operate several second-hand businesses at which residents work. Residents at Twin Oaks in Virginia, where I worked for three weeks, have a surprising level of collective sufficiency, with residents working on farming and making hammocks and tofu to sell, the proceeds of which are shared between the group.

Such experiments can be scaled up, settling residents in ex-commercial and ex-industrial premises — effectively shrinking cities by encouraging higher-density, more sustainable collective communities.
Crops and solar panels at Twin Oaks in Virginia. Author provided

The global village

This feeds into the idea of “planned economic contraction” or “degrowth”, which as Samuel Alexander argued on The Conversation is necessary in order to live sustainably. But I don’t share his pessimism about the ability of ecovillages to show us a way towards this sustainable life.

An analysis of Findhorn ecovillage in Scotland showed that an average resident travels by air twice as much as an average Scot, yet their total travel and overall ecological footprint was half the Scottish and UK averages.

Residents of Findhorn and of another UK ecovillage, Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZED), make significant savings in terms of car travel. It follows that just by avoiding air travel, these residents would have even more environmentally sound practices.

Managing without money?

Members of ecovillages such as Twin Oaks not only share “one purse”, but also complement their efforts at collective sufficiency with minimal use of money. (Avoiding money is part of the culture of squatters generally.) Members of Calafou put in money to the community on the basis of their individual capacity but share governance and benefits equally. Here social and environmental values dominate.

In contrast, money is the principle on which capitalism revolves. If we reduce consumption — and we will need to, to become sustainable — then production has to be reduced. But capitalist producers have no successful operating systems for shrinking. Most often, when consumption decreases it results in unemployment and austerity, rather than orderly degrowth.

Money pressures us to opt for more rather than less, or else risk poverty and powerlessness. Thus it applies a systemic pressure to expand. Growth is not simply a result of people’s greed – even not-for-profit cooperatives aim to create a monetary surplus. How would you run a business or your household using money income in a shrinking market? What would happen to prices and savings?
Many suggest a guaranteed minimum income, but the value of the currency will prove unstable in such conditions and, anyway, what really matters to us is what we can purchase with that income (meaning that prices matter).

Such questions lead us to the conclusion that strategies for degrowth must leap not only beyond capitalism but also beyond money. This is the strength of Litfin’s focus on ecology, community and consciousness, incorporating skills which we need to replace production for trade on the principle of money.

In the future, collectively sufficient ecovillages could operate environmentally efficiently on the basis of direct democracy and arrange production and exchange within the commons they lived off without the use of money. Instead, ecovillagers would make non-monetary exchanges, where necessary, on the basis of social and environmental values.

Thus we could reduce our footprint and stay within Earth’s capacity.


Sustainable, sharing communities explored in Karen Litfin’s book ‘Ecovillages’

The fields of Konohana Ecovillage all lie under the watchful eye of Mt. Fuji (Image courtesy of Karen Litfin).

After twenty years of teaching global environmental politics at a major research university, watching the state of the world go from bad to worse, I became increasingly curious: “Who is devising ways of living that could work for the long haul?” My research led me to ecovillages: communities the world over that are seeding micro-societies within the husk of the old. I traveled to 5 continents, living in 14 ecovillages and doing in-depth interviews with their members over the course of a year, and publishing the results in Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community. My sampling reflects their diversity: rural and urban; rich, poor and middle class; secular and spiritual. I was also curious to know what, if anything, unifies the astonishingly diverse Global Ecovillage Network.

I learned that “sustainability” varies with context. Ecovillagers in the Global North focus on reducing social alienation, consumption and waste, whereas those in the Global South focus on village-based employment, gender equality and food sovereignty. Los Angeles Ecovillage, for instance, is an island of frugality in the heart of Southern California’s consumer culture, whereas Colufifa, a Senegal-based village network, is primarily concerned with hunger prevention. Yet both are drawn to bicycles and permaculture, suggesting that ‘sustainability’ has some common ground in east Hollywood and west Africa.

Most important, I found evidence of an emerging common worldview in the global ecovillage movement, including these basic tenets:
  • The web of life is sacred, and humanity is an integral part of that web.
  • Global trends are approaching a crisis point.
  • Positive change will come primarily from the bottom up.
  • Community is an adventure in relational living—ecologically, socially, and psychologically.
As a consequence of these beliefs, ecovillagers are unusually sensitive to the consequences of their actions, both near and far, and unusually open to sharing. If I had to choose one word to express the essence of ecovillage culture, it would be sharing. Because ecovillages in the Global North share material resources, both their consumption and incomes are quite low compared to their home country averages. At Earthaven in North Carolina and Sieben Linden in Germany, for instance, members had annual incomes of less than $12,000. Despite being far below the poverty line, they described their lives as “rich” and “abundant.”

Material factors like self-built homes and home-grown food tell only part of the story. A more encompassing explanation is the prevalence of sharing—not only of property and vehicles, but of the intangibles that define community: ideas, skills, dreams, stories, and deep introspection. Ecovillagers consistently reported that human relationships are both the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of ecovillage life. “Being here is like being in a fire,” said one. “Your lack of trust, your anger, your family neuroses—everything that separates you from the world comes out here!” Ecovillages are, as much as anything, laboratories for personal and interpersonal transformation.
In many ways, my global journey was a paradoxical one. As an international relations scholar acutely aware of the global nature of our problems, why was I touring micro-communities in search of a viable future? Even including the 15,000 Sri Lankan member villages in Sarvodaya—by far the largest member of the Global Ecovillage Network—less than 0.05% of the world’s population lives in an ecovillage. Time is far too short to construct ecovillages for 7 billion people but not—as the book’s final chapter, “Scaling It Up,” suggests—too short to apply their lessons in our neighborhoods, cities and towns, countries, and even at the level of international policy. Given that some of Earth’s life-support systems may have passed the tipping point, success is far from guaranteed. What is guaranteed, however, is a sense of shared adventure and worthy purpose—qualities I found in abundance in ecovillages.
This post was written by Karen Litfin, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington. You can read the first chapter of her book Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community here.

News and Information

The forest provides firewood for the 40,000 Tamil villagers who live around Auroville, founded in 1968 in South India. Auroville is now home to Auroville is home to 2,000 people from 43 different countries and is one of the few places on Earth where biodiversity is actually increasing.
The forest provides firewood for the 40,000 Tamil villagers who live around Auroville, founded in 1968 in South India. Auroville is now home to 2,000 people from 43 different countries and is one of the few places on Earth where biodiversity is actually increasing.
Karen Litfin is a University of Washington associate professor of political science and author of the book “Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community.” She answered a few questions about the book, and her work, for UW Today.
Q: What is the main message of “Ecovillages”?
A: After teaching global environmental politics for two decades and watching planetary conditions deteriorate, I grew disenchanted with top-down solutions. I also grew tired of making my students anxious, depressed and guilt-ridden. If our ways of living are unraveling planetary life-support systems, then we must answer the question: How, then, shall we live?
My search for models led me on a one-year journey around the world to ecovillages, intentional communities aspiring to live sustainably. Living in 14 ecovillages on five continents taught me that not only is another world possible, it is already being born in small pockets the world over.
"Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community" was published in December 2013 by Polity.
“Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community” was published by Polity.
The point, however, is not that we all should live in ecovillages; rather, we need to learn from them and scale up their lessons to existing social structures, from the household to our neighborhoods to our cities, nations and even to the level of global governance.
Q: How did you choose which ecovillages to visit?
A: I took a year to map my journey and arrange the logistics. I selected for “success,” which I conceived as an amalgam of factors including longevity, size and reputation. Most communities I visited, for instance, had a 10-year history with at least 100 members.
Because I wanted to understand the movement’s global character, I also selected for diversity: rural, urban and suburban; global north/global south; rich, poor, and middle class; secular, religious and spiritual: high-tech and low-tech. Across this enormous diversity, I then looked for the common strands.
Q: You write amusingly that the term “ecovillage” may conjure images of “shabby rural outposts populated by long-haired iconoclasts,” but that you found them less easy to pigeonhole. How instead would you describe them, and what do they have in common?
A: I saw a few scruffy shacks but for the most part, I found tidy, smallish homes that reflected a kind of organic beauty. I also found unusually capable and articulate people committed to integrating the four dimensions of sustainability: ecology, economics, community and consciousness.
I learned that “sustainability” varies with context. Ecovillagers in the global north focus on reducing social alienation, consumption and waste, whereas the global south focuses on “sustainabilizing” traditional rural villages. Los Angeles Ecovillage, for instance, is an island of frugality in the heart of consumer culture, whereas Colufifa, a Senegal-based village network, works to prevent hunger.
Yet both are drawn to bicycles and permaculture, suggesting common ground between east Hollywood to west Africa.
Most important, I found ecovillages embrace these basic tenets:
  • The web of life is sacred and humanity is an integral part of that web.
  • Global trends are approaching a crisis point.
  • Positive change will come primarily from the bottom up.
If I had to encapsulate ecovillage culture in one word, it would be sharing. Because ecovillages share material resources, both their consumption and incomes can be far below their home country averages.
Material factors like self-built homes and home-grown food tell only part of the story. More important is the prevalence of sharing — not only of property and vehicles, but of the intangibles that define community: ideas, skills, challenges, and celebrations.
One year, 14 ecovillages:
Auroville — India
Colufifa — Senegal, the Gambia
Crystal Waters — Australia
Damanhur — Italy
Earthhaven — North Carolina, USA
EcoVillage at Ithaca — upstate New York
Findhorn — United Kingdom
Komohana — Japan
Los Angeles Ecovillage
Sarvodaya — Sri Lanka
Sieben Linden — Germany
Svanholm — Denmark
UfaFabrik — Germany
ZEGG, Center for Experimental Cultural DesignGermany
Q: How does the ecovillage movement, if we can call it that, differ from “back to nature” trends of previous decades?
A: Ecovillages are far more integrated into society and many of them are in cities. Rather than separating themselves, ecovillages tend to be educational centers; their members tend to be socially and politically engaged. The Global Ecovillage Network, for instance, works with the United Nations and the European Union.
Q: You note people saying, “That’s all fine for those lucky ecovillagers, but what about the rest of us?” How do you reply?
A: We should understand that being an ecovillager is more a consequence of inspiration and hard work than luck. And, because sustainability is the nonnegotiable precondition for inhabiting Earth over the long haul, “the rest of us” would be wise to learn from ecovillages.
Q: This has been a very personal journey for you. How has this work changed you?
A: First, the journey gave me a strong sense of grounded hope: I have seen and touched some seedlings for a viable future. Second, while ecovillages are not for everyone, some people yearn for the intimacy, focus and integrated solutions of ecovillage life. I learned that I am such a person.
Third, I wanted to write a book that would be both emotionally and intellectually engaging, which required learning a whole new way of writing — and therefore thinking.
Q: Based on what you’ve learned, what suggestions would you offer to people looking for sustainability in everyday life?
A: Beyond the green practices that most of us are familiar with —conservation, recycling, minimizing fossil fuel consumption, etc.— I would emphasize the social dimension of sustainability.
The stronger the sense of community, the more we are willing to share. Beyond our households and neighborhoods, we need to scale up the lessons to every level of governance.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Education for Life

A book that provides direction for constructive change in our schools. This book is the basis for the Education for Life (EFL) System, which trains teachers, parents and educators.

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