Blending nature and architecture into one’s daily living, opens a new vista of possibility for both creativity and group dynamics. To welcome birdsong outside our window every morning, to look upon lush fragrant flower gardens, shrubs and trees. Whilst the hum of singing and children’s hushed yet focussed activities - garnishes collaboration and goodwill - as we are again re-envision what it is like to be human and learn as to how people can live together in co-creative harmony.
As we realise the speed and noise of city life is impacting our world, with megacities overwhelming us with their raw and yawning sprawling footprint - the Global Ecovillage Network is springing up like quintessential life force nodal points - all around the curvature of our home planet - taking us into the next evolutionary spiral of an awakening earth, nested in a regenerating biosphere.
A renewal of human endeavour
This is an inspired idea, to embrace a renewal of our being and unfold our spiritual quest to realise our potential as an individual tightly coupled within the human family - shaping a new tomorrow for our children’s, children’s, children. Recognising that within the new emerging paradigm limitation has no boundaries.
In this interview, Kosha tells us:
That the Global Ecovillage Network was set up in 1995 and it came about by ‘reading the feedback’ of human beings and sensing that people globally were wanting to come together to live in communities, some of them intentional and for all manner of reasons - and that the underlying principle was that all participators realised that our present day civilisation was undoing the very fabric of both nature and the way we were living.
Also, that we need to reconnect again with each other in a duty of care and by being mindful, take over as guardians of life, by connecting to the power of community. That by their duty of care and inner wisdom realised that they had to not only sustain life but more so - regenerate life for all biota - within the majesty of our life supporting biosphere.
So the Global EcoVillage Network is at heart an ever expanding cooperative endeavour - to support and assist the many more communities that are coming together by all manner of means as of this very moment.
Kosha says they continue to reach out to areas that we know very little about - for example, North African countries and linking and networking with people of great integrity. From this they are able to share their experience, knowledge and solutions to assist new communities to grow and prosper.
Group dynamics is often driven by some one who is an experienced ‘link’ person, able to act as the focaliser and may have strengths in Permaculture or Co housing - or Transition Towns - so have a deep knowingness as to how communities can cohesively ‘come into being.’
She talks about inner change that happens when we work for the betterment and the greater good. This may be by one’s connection to nature or even indigenous cultures - that are often the seed of such a project.
Yet, know we can not do these projects alone, because they are all people oriented and so with the focus on being part of the solutions - in a group situation - this is when novelty and creative energies converge- synergistically - and profound creative works evolve.
Based on all 4 areas of regeneration - around ecology, economy, social and culture.
GEN is also involved in supporting - co-op gardens - Green cafes, green schools - business wanting to become more holistically green - and conscious.
Stepping up - from - eco communities. Up to 20 adults and more adults are called an ecovillage from there to - eco neighbourhoods - eco cities - eco regions and eco nations and eco civilisations. Being all encompassing - Ecos - the Greek word Oikos to do with taking care of the home - the ecos-sphere - coming home to Our planet.
It's a whole movement that is transforming human presence on our planet - from the individual up to societal change.
Kosha mentions the what is unrealised and un-utilised is "Good Intentions” - and their wish is to have this play out in as being a part of the solution.- and to show a pathway there - ‘they’ in her words - love to go there.
And she is dealing with politicians from the UN to the EU and Corporates etc - they all have grandchildren - and this is the common denominator
Indigenous communities are mentioned as being very important. As with the increasingly rapid changes brought about by technical and industrial man it has thrown so many traditions out of balance. Especially, as to what is happening with globalised land management, like industrial agriculture, cropping, harvesting, transport and marketing, that so many countries are having major challenges in adapting to this fast moving world. Particularly as to housing and educating the rural population to be participators in the future of their regions and countries.
Kosha also says that we are meant to sing ourselves back into life - that at heart need to find ourselves in a secure and peaceful situation that we are able to just sing ourselves into happiness. There are community gardens in Auckland where people come to garden yet, sing as well.
De-colonialisation - how do we heal this? Especially land issues that have not been acknowledged with indigenous peoples all around the globe who have been unfairly discriminated against. They feel very good about GEN and what it offers. To be able to learn the skills to reconcile many of the injustices that have happened over time.
Especially regarding the marae becoming the centre of eco village learning.
Subjects covered: organic food growing, permaculture - renewable energy, and the fact that in the early 1970’s the then Labour Government offered up opportunities to return to the land under the name of Ohu’s - where grants could be obtained for small communities to make the rural sector more productive.
Currently GEN reaches out to over 6,000 communities worldwide, having a presence in 114 countries around our planet. So they are very well placed to be able to offer substantial advice and information for any prospective groups of people wanting to commit to building a community, that and ways about getting funding for infrastructure etc.
GEN is focussing on social entrepreneurship so as to make communities resilient and viable and there are many innovative ways to cooperate and collaborate. Time banks, Green dollars, savings pools and all manner of ways to make diversify into the marketplace. They have so many resources to share as to how to sustainably build up a successful, localised, economic model.
There were many other questions that did not get asked, especially the term Ubuntu, which comes from South Africa where Kosha was born.
“Ubuntu” is an African expression of ancient wisdom, which is echoed by all ancient civilizations. It simply means “unity within community” where everyone contributes their natural talents or skills for the greater benefit of all.
In order to create such harmonious communities, we, the people, must lead to a new ‘consciousness’ - without the need for any violence, opposition or conflict – by simply creating a new alternative – a new system – a new way of doing things – because the old way simply does not work for us anymore.
To be able to create a new system in which competition turns into collaboration. To birth a new society in which we all benefit from our collective efforts and individual talents.
This interview with Kosha gives an excellent entry level understanding and overview of how to approach the challenges of forming an intentional (or any other) community - that allows for more creativity and freedom to chart one’s own course in a localised ecological setting. One where you can tap into the resources of a huge network of like minded yet diverse conscious people. This being a forerunner to a new planetary paradigm.
Hordur Torfason suffered as a young man fighting personal discrimination, having been bullied and chased from Iceland for being gay. He then gave what he had learned from it to the whole of Iceland, in the wake of the global financial crisis. He stood strong for human rights, and found himself leading Iceland in the ‘Cutlery Revolution’.
He came to New Zealand this year to speak about how ‘the leader he was looking for was inside himself’.
Hordur Torfason was waiting for a leader to stand up against discrimination of gays in Iceland in his twenties. Suddenly one day he realised that no one was coming to do it. He says, “If you can’t find a leader then be one yourself – don’t wait for someone else” “The leader I was looking for was inside myself”!
He was the first man in his country to step out and say, “I am gay and there is nothing wrong with that”. Overnight, he was out of work. He lost everything. Constantly threatened, he had to flee to Denmark.
He decided to return to Iceland and fight. He worked to turn the bad into something good. Slowly, he built a gay rights organisation and a gay theatre company.
Now accepted, “Hörður Torfason is a noted Icelandic songwriter and activist. He has written plays and poetry, played numerous roles on stage and in several films, directed about 50 stage productions and designed and built stage sets for most of them.” Wikipedia.
THE ICELAND REVOLUTION
In 2008, when Hordur was age 63 the global financial crisis hit. By October 2008, Iceland's debt had rocketed to more than seven times its GDP. All three of Iceland's major commercial banks defaulted on their debts. The value of the national currency fell sharply. A severe economic depression set in. Unemployment tripled. Many people lost all their savings. The nation was in crisis. All around him, Torfason saw desperation, confusion and anger. "It was obvious no-one was going to help them," he says.
The bank crash occurred on Monday October 6th (2008) and the following Saturday Hordur started to ask questions of friends, and on Facebook. He told his friends that he would be at parliament every day at midday and he asked his friends to join him. Gradually the crowd grew until thousands came.
He had two questions for parliament:
“Do you know what happened and how can you explain it?”
and “Have you any idea what to do about it?”
People were very angry, some having lost their houses and their cars, but he said to the crowd, “We don’t use violence – do you agree?” and the crowd agreed. He led the idea but cleverly got buy-in from the crowd.
In the interview Hordur explains how two Iceland banks had been ‘bought’ by private interests for no money, showing the corrupt relationship between the politicians and business.
THE WRITING OF ICELAND’S CONSTITUTION
After the government of Iceland was made to resign and the new government, a coalition of Greens and Social Democrats was in power, the people requested that there be a new constitution. A committee of 25 people were voted to write it. However once finished, it was ignored. Hordur speaks of the importance of having a constitution and how it should be reviewed or renewed every 20 years as things are always changing.
As the new constitution has not been ratified, a group called the Constitution Society has been formed and there is pressure for the government to bow to the people’s demands. However Hordur says this is difficult because the country is not really run by politicians, but by a group of “ten white middle aged white men behind parliament running everything.”
THE YELLOW VEST MOVEMENT:
Yellow Vest Movements have contacted Hordur from both France and Canada. However there did not seem to be one leader for him to talk to and so thus far he has avoided responding. He feels that when organisations have violence and not brains in action, he is not willing to support them. “You can’t have a lot of leaders,” he says, but you must connect with the people and ask what is their pain. If there is no pain then ask why they are protesting. He also advises to ignore rudeness, It is just the inability to express themselves.
Hordur explains the reason French protestors chose yellow vests is because everyone had them in their cars, in case of breakdowns – so it was easy to use them and make themselves distinctive. In Iceland they took pots and pans to their protests to bang and make a noise, with the intent of disturbing the politicians in parliament. It is good to have an identifying theme when protesting.
Recently Hordur had a book published about his life and protests. It is called, “Bylting”, which means both Breakthrough and Revolution in Icelandic. Here’s hoping it is translated into English soon.
He has another book in the pipeline and while not as young as he used to be, retirement does not look like a likely option for quite some time.
He lives in Reykjavik with his partner Massimo Santanicchia who is an urbanist, planner, and assistant professor at the Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavik.
“Agent of Change” – a write up of Hordur’s 2019 visit to New Zealand.
Here is Lisa’s 2013 Greenplanetfm interview with Hordur
Here is Lisa’s 2016 Greenplanetfm interview with Hordur