EVT Week 4 – Design Projects

Week 4 was the final week of Ecovillage Training, and what a week. It began on Sunday with a sweat lodge, which was an amazing experience from start to finish. We started with making prayer bundles, collecting firewood (and planting trees to replace them), continued with taking stones to the fire, drumming, singing, sweating, and ended with sharing soup at the guest lodge.

The following morning, I went for a jog followed by meditation – leaving me in a very calm, steady place. Inside the sweat lodge was intensely hot, incredibly potent and very revealing, though I must admit the awareness I gained there, and outside lying on the cool grass, faded away quickly. Many participants, including me, felt a loss of ego during the process, emerging from the lodge disoriented and dizzy. Kara and others felt a very deep connection with the Earth and the other participants.

On Monday we used Open Space to form our groups for our design projects. If you have not heard of it, Open Space is a fantastic organisational tool that allows any participant with an idea to hold a space devoted to that idea, while the remaining participants circulate, talk, listen and contribute to the spaces they feel drawn to. It is very organic and flowing, and trusts that people will end up where they should be, and is designed around the understanding that, at conferences, people often get most from the coffee breaks!

Anyway, it was a chaotic process, but everyone ended up in a design project of interest to them. In order to gain a Permaculture Design Certificate, which is the most formal qualification of EVT, one must both learn Permaculture basics, then apply them in a design project, and finally present that project to the group. Kara and I filmed a short video about the Ethics and Attitudes of Permaculture as our project, starring our EVT group, a chicken hand puppet, and a very cute toy rabbit!

We began by designing, storyboarding and brainstorming on Monday afternoon; we filmed on Tuesday morning (being at our work departments on Tuesday afternoon!); we did two final pieces of filming and all the editing on Wednesday; and finally presented the film on Wednesday night! Talk about a crash course in video editing – I have never done it before. The film turned out well (though needing much polish before we release it to a wider audience), and we both got our PDCs.

Other groups designed permaculture gardens, whole ecovillages and settlements on areas of land they already owned or had an interest in; one group made a beautiful stone mosaic from local beach stones, and one group designed a new banking fund that would be much more holistic, geared towards investing in sustainable, transition (as in Transition Towns: see http://www.transitionculture.org/ for more info) projects – while still generating a return for the investors. All very positive stuff, and great to see people using their strengths to create amazing ideas.

While we were filming we went back out to our cob cookstove – I think it turned out really well! We ended our time at Findhorn with some Homecare (that is, cleaning up the spaces we had lived in for the past four weeks), some sharing, and some very silly games that worked so well because of the closeness of our group after all the time we’d shared together.

Thank you to Craig, Gabrielle, and Biz for their care and support of us during our time with you; thank you to the other EVTers for their openness, willingness to participate, and passion; and thank you to Findhorn for the space where all of the magic we experienced could take place. Now we can see how Peoplecare, Fairshare and Earthcare are all equally important in building community, and we are already putting these principles into action in our own lives!

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