Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)
When I speak with Kosha, she is preparing for her journey to Africa as chair of GENInternational, to be involved with the River of Life project, and meet the GEN Africa network and its key people, mostly powerful activists. Ethan, a GEN office worker who previously worked mostly to build the youth network, NextGEN, says that GEN Africa, recently independent from GEN Europe, held the first Global Ecovillage Summit in Dakar, Senegal, last December. GEN flyers state: “GEN is an umbrella organisation that serves as an alliance between rural and urban intentional communities and networks of traditional villages.”
Does GEN support the world’s local cultures exchanging their deeply rooted, still available traditional knowledge and practices before they get lost? “Yes, The Solution Library project is designed to share best practise. Diversity is part of resilience. It is about honouring cultural heritage, while integrating innovative new ideas with the old knowledge that people hold.”
GEN functions as a connector between ecovillages. But since GEN’s inception in 1995, the global consciousness has expanded, and now GEN is growing beyond networking between ecovillages. Kosha says that in Senegal, and elsewhere, GEN stepped in to facilitate cross-sector dialogue with governments, civil society and the academic and corporate world. “In many parts of society people and business are looking for solutions. Communities are places where people can naturally find and implement solutions because of their deep connectedness. They are the strongest guardians of nature. This calls GEN to pass on what we have learned as a movement and be present as a dialogue partner. There are very few organisations so grounded in all continents.”
How does GEN connect with the Findhorn Foundation Community’s ecovillage? “Findhorn is a centre in a worldwide network of Light. GEN is a natural expression of this mission. Findhorn is very nourishing. We’re still building the friendships within the community, an emerging win-win, for example, the SIRCle project held by the Findhorn Foundation and GEN together.”
Kosha, what inspired you to do this work? “I was born in South Africa and felt the pain of Apartheid. I believe in humanity. As human beings we are meant to come together and learn to see each other. We need community to create this kind of depth, where our actions are an expression of love and can lead to healing. Believing we need to destroy to survive on this planet is a sad self-image of humans. We are co-creators with God; we can regenerate life within and around us.”
SOME FACTS for GEN:
Legal status: International organisation, recognised as a Scottish Charity
Chair/president of board of trustees GEN International: Kosha Joubert. Other trustees: two members from each continent (GEN Europe/Africa/North America/ South America/Asia & Oceania and NextGEN)
Findhorn co-workers ‘as tip of the iceberg of the international organisation’: Ethan Hirsch-Tauber (GEN+20 coordinator and office manager), Katie Kukolj (financial manager), Tobias Ellingsen (webmaster, post master, and office support), Nalini Pais (project manager), Pavitra Muller (intern)
Contact: Email: Tel: +44 (0) 1309-692194. Address: The Park, Findhorn, IV36 3TZ.
Vision, mission and goals: see website gen.ecovillage.org; or http://findhorn.cc/members/member-organisations/
Year started: Officially launched in 1995 with John Talbott and Diana Gilman at Findhorn during the conference Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities, following Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities report in 1991. GEN International moved to Findhorn in 2013.
Previous main activities: Building regional networks and creating an international network structure.
Current and near future activities: GEN+20, 20th anniversary conference, in Findhorn, July 2015. Continuing support for the regional networks, building bridges to other sectors, egg, government, academia, NGOs, and corporate world. Education projects: SIRCle- a European education project for adults. Sustainable Communities Incubator (creating resilience and making a living), Solution Library (building an international curriculum of knowledge) and Youth-led Innovation for Resilience.
Income: from Gaia Trust, funded projects, and Friends of GEN campaign.