GREEN PHOENIX 2014: From Vision to Responsibility
“The human experiment is much too beautiful to fail,” said Dr. Sundar Robert Dreyfus in his opening speech at the 5th GREEN PHOENIX Congress in Schweibenalp, Brienz. The Congress series, which he initiated 5 years ago, is looking into solutions in the areas of ecology, economy, spirituality, and living together. From 8 - 12 October 2014, experts once more met with representatives from communities and living experiments as well as initiatives from the Global South in order to build real models for change.
The three tension areas of globalization/regionalisation, economy/ecology, and education/freedom comprised the contents of the presentation for the three mornings. The afternoons and evenings were devoted to the processing and integration of what had been heard. To this end, the participants met in conversation circles and working groups as well as in “constellation work” with therapist Madeleine Rhyner and her team. This caused the emotional substrate of the participants to become both visible and palpable: from the tension area between the generations, through to the individual and the community as well as the road from the vision to responsibility.
Every morning, the participants of the parallel Youth Journalism Workshop gave the introductory presentation. Leonie Schütt and Jonah Esselborn, both 20 years old, told stories of separation, of losing one’s home and urbanisation in a globalised world. They also spoke about the opportunities of global exchange, education and connection offered by the worldwide networking of their generation and challenged the experts to find solutions for a balancing power that would address globalisation.
The Power of the Regions
One of the experts was Kosha Anja Joubert. Since the age of seven, she has been engaged as President of the GEN international network towards raising the impact of ecovillages. In the meantime, there are hundreds of examples, such as ecovillages and communities that inspire, re-vitalise and change whole regions. “There are places where people come together to build community and thus transform dying environments into attractive places for youth and families. Local economic cycles are regenerated, and new employment is created. Whether in Germany or Italy, Thailand or Senegal, ecovillages belong to a worldwide regionalisation movement that also offers many perspectives to the mainstream.”
Representing the “City of the Future Auroville” in India, Joss Brooks showed how technologies and knowledge from ecovillages can be regenerative. Other project representatives came from Portugal, Kenya, Togo, Brasil and Palestine. The participants were especially touched by the report of Palestinian peace activist Aida Shibli with regards to the developments in her home area since the aggressions in Gaza. Mourning, courage and an immovable desire for peace and freedom imprinted her commitment with which she has been teaching ecological techniques to young people on a farm in Western Jordan in between the wall and a chemical factory. And so, even under the conditions of occupation, examples, networks and hopeful information for sustainability and autonomy are emerging in the contested region.
The Absurdity of the Interest System and Ecological Perspectives
On the second day, Christoph Pfluger, the Chief Editor of Zeitpunkt Magazine and expert on alternatives to the money system, made its injustice and absurdity clear through examples. “Contrary to the Swiss Constitution, and in conflict with what most people believe, 90% of the money is created by banks who then earn more money on the interest. The interest system is beneficial only to 10% of the people. One third of all prices, and therefore one third of our work time goes toward paying interest.” As an alternative, he mentioned the Sovereign Money Initiative. “Switzerland is the only country in the world whose people may decide on the money system and we need to make use of this.” As the fastest and most effective measure to change the money system, he suggests: “Give your money away as a gift!”
Albin Kälin and Jamie Brown provided approaches such as Cradle to Cradle and Biomimicry for ecologically designing industry and economy. “We must learn from nature,” said Jamie Brown. “The natural cycles have been functioning for a much longer time than anyything else that humans have created, and its value is imaginable to all cultural groups.” She even takes bankers into nature and, with the use of simple metaphors, explains the perspectives of a systemic change to them.
Perspectives for the Next Generations
What does learning mean, and what are holistic educational approaches? This was the question on the third day of the Congress. Bas Bruggeman, participant in the Journalism Workshops said, “I have learned more in six months of being in a Buddhist monastery than in six years of studying Philosophy.” Pausing, going in the silence, finding one’s own vision, sharing it in the community and taking responsibility… these were a few of the basic principles of spiritual and community learning and teaching as presented by the Buddhist Lama Irene, the peace ambassador Sabine Lichtenfels from Tamera (Portugal) and Macaco Tamerice of the large Damanhur community (Italy). A schooling system in which all children are presented with the same challenges, in which they must learn the same things at the same speed, independent of their personal affinities and interests is not serving the development of the child but rather preparation for the professional world which is based upon competition and struggle. Many alternative educational paths were presented one of which was a music school in aSao Paolo favela.
During the afternoons, representatives of ecovillages and intentional communities met and exchanged information about the development of their projects, leadership structures, cooperation, responsibility and vision. “That is exactly what we need,” said Gerhard Paul, representative of the Heilhaus Kassel community. “A deep exchange in which we may build the platform of trust and, out of that, take our responsibility for the world together.”
For this reason, they made the decision, after the five-year cycle, not to organise another Congress next year and instead to have an internal meeting for the continuation and deepening of this exchange.
Sundar Dreyfus: “We have many plans… the development of a trade and exchange network between communities and worldwide projects, global cooperation and partnerships among projects of the Global South and North as well as the implementation of our experiences and techniques for the effective and sustainable support in catastrophe areas.”
And beyond the exchange and deepening that takes place next year, there would be a larger GREEN PHOENIX Congress again in 2016. In this time of rural depopulation and massive lack of employment among youth, especially in Southern Europe, the focus will be on perspectives of ecovillages and communities for the next generations.
GREEN PHOENIX is a conference platform for knowledge and exchange among communities, networks, projects and individuals working on models for systemic change to a culture of peace based on the four aspects: economy, ecology, social / living together and consciousness.
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GREEN PHOENIX Congress 2013 - Thank you to all for a wonderful experience together!