TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 3

Judith from Spain tells us:


This Youth Exchange it has been a life changing experience. A precious gift that I will never forget. Surrounded by  wonderful human beings and a precious natural environment I had the great chance to connect deeply with our mother earth again. Waking up with beautiful sunrises, absorbing the energy of the sun by practising Yoga and Tai Chi. Feeling the wind blowing around, submerging all my body in purifying waterfalls. Touching the earth with my feet and hands while we were working in the garden, smelling the enchanting aroma of the flowers and making delicious drinks from them. Preparing and tasting delightful vegetarian food every day. Enjoying the songs, histories and the warm of the bonfires. Observing the moon each night, contemplating the shining stars…Admiring the magic of the universe.


I believe that spending time with a multicultural team it is very enriching, even more if it is with people that share your vision of life and has similar values. I have learned a lot from each of the participants, community and youth leaders. A lot of their histories and wisdom have inspired me. As well as all the workshops: Permaculture, Natural Medicine, Sociocracy….these topics have widen my mind and I know that they will be a key to open a lot of new doors that will allow me to improve personally and professionally.


Thank you to this amazing experience, I have more clear my way in the life. I would love to continue exploring the world of ecovillages, trying to find a place where I could live and grow in a sustainable way with the company of a beautiful community.

TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 2

Pascal from the Netherlands tells us:

These two weeks were once more an amazing journey. Together with a group of friends I travelled by train to a small Italian ecovillage called Tempo Di Vivere. There we followed a program to learn about Manitonquat’s ‘Circle Way’ and how life is in this village up in the mountains.

IMG_0017With so many wonderful young people from Italy, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands and Greece we formed a really close group. Lots of story’s, idea’s, fun, laughter and tears were shared. A community on its own was growing. We learned a lot, worked together with the people from the village and also shared with them our knowledge. There was some time to make nice walks and to visit the nearby waterfalls for a refreshing swim and of course we played a lot of games together.

During one of the days we also visited another ecovillage called Lumen to see how they live. The differences are huge and it’s every time interesting to see how much each ecovillage that I visit has its own way of life. It was a great youth exchange and I am really thankful for the chance to have been there. The friends I made will remain in my heart and probably some of us will meet again.DSC04298

Annamaria from Greece tells us:


In light of these times, The Circle Way reaffirms the essential practice of taking a seat on the rim and turning to one another to uphold racial, ethnic, gender, economic, and environmental justice. This project reminded me the importance of the circle. Everyone is equal, there is no hierarchy, just pure respect, love and empathetic listening. Respect is not something you win or acquire or make the others do, respect is a human right and it belongs to everyone!


Healthy food cooked in a communal kitchen, daily meditation, reminding our life purpose, amazing working groups in the garden, artistic, arts & crafts, music, sustainability, international night, natural medicine, hugs, kisses, love & respect.The circle way has given as so much, it is vital for a sustainable community, for life itself to exist.


TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 1


Lea from Germany tells us:

The creation is a circle” said Simona at the third day of our wonderful journey. At this morning she and Gabriella shared with us their way of living in “the circle way”. It’s a life in community, that is based on empathy, respect and deep connection on an emotional level. Listening to her words wasn’t like hearing something new… it was like remembering a wisdom that was already inside me, but that was covered by bad experience and unhealthy social structures.


It is the knowledge of unity, of the human strive to be in a circle. The need of deeply listening, watching, touching and understanding. The need of being heard, seen, touched, without being judged. The two weeks were an emotional rollercoster for me. Katia, another member of that wonderful community, taught us about emotional healing, as natural medicine. She made us cry, laugh and scream.


Yes to Sustainability

Yes to Sustainability is an international project that aims to bring together young people from different regions of Europe by organizing different Youth Exchanges in different european ecovillages funded by Erasmus+.

Participants can participate in one or more Youth Exchange and are  fully funded by the Erasmus+ Program.


Our vision is to encourage young people to have a fun experience in community life, where they can slow down, hear the silence, grow awareness, be in balance and giving them a place where they can start to trust themselves.

With this encouragement, young people can reconnect with nature, learn to accept others and learn about sustainable and low impact ways of living in ecovillages and rural settings. On this path of transformation, they can get all the support they need and in turn be able to support others and find ways to take care of the planet in their daily life.


We are a group of people interested in sustainability willing to share ecovillage lifestyle and low impact ways of living. We are working by young people, with young people and for young people. We come from different countries and from different backgrounds.

Youth Exchange in Valdepielagos – Madrid

The youth leaders team and the coordinator of the project are preparing all the details and the activities for the next youth exchange!


They are ready!

From the 2nd to the 16th of May, 25 young people from Netherlands, France, Italy, Turkey and Spain will achieve Valdepielagos ecohousing to enjoy together and discover how the theatre can be a tool to share values!

Through different activities, as fire juggling, world dances, vegan cooking, gardening, non violent communication and diverse group dynamics, the participants will share the community lifestyle and learn new knowledge and skills.

Stay tuned!!!


Evaluating Denmark Youth Exchange

Evaluation from RIVE

“From I to the We: Yes to Sustainability!”

(3rd-13th of May, Hallingelille, Denmark)

From the 3rd to the 13th of May, six young Italians left for eco-village Hallingelille in Denmark, with the purpose of “tasting” some bites of community life.

Since three years, RIVE’s International Team researches and creates inter-cultural and educational opportunities for young people and adults through the funding of the Erasmus + Program of the European Union. “From the I to the We” is the latest project that has come to life in Denmark, where thirty young people, aged between 18 and 30 and coming from Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Germany and Denmark, spent nine days immersed in the eco-village daily life and in the community dimension.


Different from many other formative proposals, this project stands out for the amount of themes touched during the experience and for the diversity of the activities: this is inevitable, since it has been chosen an eco-village as a training venue! By its very nature, life in an ecological community presents a large number of facets regarding the application of ecology to everyday life, both at a practical and intellectual level. It is a very rich, dynamic and varied environment. As Nicoletta Benfatti, Project Manager, Youth Leader and Reference Youth Exchange Director of the International RIVE Group, explains “We built furnitures out of pallets, we organized dumpster diving teams, we took care of the animals and of the green spaces, we prepared meals and kept the common spaces clean. Moreover, we had time for collective reflections and for sharing of knowledge. In these moments, strategies for group building, awareness-raising exercises and deep ecology tools have been used to help boys and girls to increase their self-consciousness. Filippo Ceschi, 27 years old from Padova and assistant Youth Leader, describes it as a dense experience: “I contributed to the management of the logistics an to the facilitation of different activities. I also participated to other tasks like feeding the horses, cleaning, weeding and building a compost toilet with raw earth bricks. Sometimes tiring but really valuable experience”. Paolo Pani, 28, originally from Bergamo, shares the participant’s point of view: “I found myself spending the whole day with the group, from preparing breakfast to playing music around the fire in the evening. I really liked also the time I collaborated with Hallingelille inhabitants. When I came home I felt a great pride to remember how each participant shared her/his energy with the the rest of the group and how many things I have learned on sustainability, facilitation, permaculture, sociocracy, wild herbs and much more! “.

An experience of life and work in the community, therefore, but also of personal and relational growth.


In the testimonies of participants strongly emerges how this experience led them to explore themselves: “I participated in this exchange because I was seeking for a shaking experience that could allow me to grow and also because I am deeply interested in eco-villages. I found what I was looking for. The cozy atmosphere allowed me to openly exchange speeches, emotions and dreams with other young European people. All together, and under the leadership of the youth leaders, we have created strong connections among us: a group characterized by authenticity, empathy, sharing and many laughter. I had a significant taste of what a community life could be. I have rediscovered the humanity that unites people of different nationalities, especially when we walked in silence in nature … or when, around a bright fire, we played and sang “(Stefano Provenzi, 19, Bergamo).

“The thing I liked most,” confidently says Filippo Ceschi, “was the contact with people. I will bring home so many beautiful relationships and connections. I think I’ve learned to open myself more and, as a result, I also opened up more to others and I built stronger relations. I experienced a role of responsibility where I learned a lot. ” “For me, the space given to individual and collective emotion was very important”, says Paolo Pani’, “since the very beginning I breathed a pleasantly familiar and safe atmosphere, where weaknesses could be shared and overcome together. Every difficulty was experienced could become a constructive lesson. I came home with many ideas to reflect on, with the awareness of having created a small network of people that I can count on during my life.


“I have undertaken this unprecedented journey, with my mind totally open and free,” says Maria Vittoria Tenci, 24 years from Verona. “I have come into contact with heterogeneous people and that has been an enrichment to me; we created a circle of friendship in which I have strongly felt the sense of belonging to my generation, seeking for a change and looking at the synergy between relationships, human activities and Mother Earth. This experience deeply increased my hope for the future because I feel great support for my ideas and full of new perspectives!”. “I bring with me great positive energy and hope for a better future” echoes Cecilia Netto, 24 years from Latina. “I am happy to discover how many wonderful souls exist in this part of the world (the West). Thanks to this project I could meet them and we could contaminate each other, dream and grow together and then return to our land and sow ideas and opportunities”. The enrichment received from this experience has also profoundly worked on the organizers who after months of coordinating and compiling modules could enjoy “a magical atmosphere of sharing, openness, support, and collaboration where everything took place in total harmony and serenity” says Nicoletta Benfatti. “Considering my 45 years old, I could be the mother of at least half of the participants. Despite this, I felt comfortable in the group and the age did not absolutely affect the beautiful relationship born with each one of them. I watched them with admiration, confidence and interest. We danced, played and laughed a lot. In those days I felt really free, I lived the present and accepted the group and myself”.

In conclusion, an extremely positive balance: an unforgettable experience and a wealth of knowledge with which to return home and positively contaminate the futures and the world.


Evaluating Lakabe Youth Exchange

RIVE evaluation about Lakabe Youth Exchange

“Yes to Sustainability – FROM I TO WE”

Youth Exchange

Spain – Lakabe Ecovillage in Navarra

From the 1st to the 8th of October, another “Yes to Sustainability – FROM I TO WE” Youth Exchange took place in Spain, at the Lakabe Ecovillage in Navarra. RIVE, as partner organisation, sent 7 young people aged 18 to 30, together with other youngsters from the Netherlands and Germany.

It was a brief but intense emotion experience, as described below by some of the boys who participated.

Leandro Parente, 23 anni Lecco

Expectations: From the first moment I had the prospective that it would have been a great and central experience in my existence and so it was. I feel that many doors have opened out from what I have lived there, it has been a turning point, which has reinforced hopes, sense of life and depth.

I feel a deep enrichment: to having found myself among so many young people, everyone with his/her inner beauty, empathy, openness and positivity was a great gift. The energy that was created by all of us was magical. Everything was really perfect, also because the topics varied a lot. I really enjoyed the space given to the different activities and circles in the research of the emotional, artistic, imaginative, physical and spiritual contact spheres.
Fun has never missed and working was also immense pleasure. It was very interesting to visit the other community of Arterra as well, where we directly met the people who work for the network of GEN Europe, thanks to which this wonderful connection and synergy exists.


Enrico Ghidoni, 25 years old Torino

The exchange in Lakabe was my first experience in one ecovillage and, perhaps for the amazement of the discovery of these realities, I thought, from the first moment, that I came to a magical and incredible place; even the welcome of the community has been really warm. The place is filled with very interesting young people with very different stories and experiences. The days were full
of activities that have touched every aspect of community life, from practical work in the morning, which have been particularly appreciated by those guys used to classical sedentary office work, to chatting with the inhabitants of the village, each of whom talked to us about one different aspect of Community life, and to leisure evenings, like the “sauna night” or the “jam session”.
I appreciated very much the attention that the Youth leader group has placed on the emotional and relational aspect of each participant; this has allowed us to spend ten days in perfect harmony by creating deep ties despite the short duration of the exchange.
I came home very satisfied and with lots of friendships scattered around Europe, enriched with new knowledge and desire to do, convinced more than ever that a more sustainable and community-based society is possible.
And I will always bring with me the enthusiasm and magical atmosphere of Lakabe!


Gaia de Palma, 22 years old Bari

The reality I have experienced in these nine days has involved me, excited and given me enthisiasm much beyond what I was expecting in departure.
From the very beginning, I found in this eco-village a place where I could deeply understand the concept of community and relate openly and positively with both the other people and nature.
This exchange allowed me not only to know and interact with the network of eco-villages outside of Italy, but also to meet and to confront with people of my age with whom share discussions, comparisons, expectations and dreams.
At the same time, I was able to practice sustainability and not anymore consider it a simple abstract concept, as I had done until now.
I am happy and satisfied with this experience and I wish everyone could have the opportunity to live a Youth Exchange, because it allows us young people to know that we are not alone in believing that another world is possible.

Paolo Pani, 25 years old Bergamo, (Youth Leader)

The youth exchange that was held at Lakabe was my second Youth Exchange and the first one I got the chance to experience as a Youth Leader. This role has enriched me very much. I have been able to understand and deepen the concept of leadership, planning and facilitating the dynamics of the group.
The leaders of the other groups arrived a few days earlier in order to work together and to elaborate in detail the program and the activities; from the very beginning the collaboration and the listening have characterized our encounters. We decided to differentiate the activities between moments of working with the community, moments of knowledge exchange and moments of group dynamics.
The group was very heterogeneous and this diversity was celebrated and honored; raising it as a group value we created wonderful synergies.


Chiara Montagner, 23 years old Venice

The experience at Lakabe was unique in its kind: a trip faced with no expectation, with mental opening and, above all, with open heart. It showed me a new perspective on life bringing me to a new knowledge of myself and of the others.
I have been rediscovering the authentic bond with other people: hugging young people who I did not know before but that had the same energy and vibration. Important ties were born, the kind of bonds that make you feel good.
I especially appreciated the beautiful variety among the cultures that exist in the world and it was nice to laugh and joke on it too: our Italian group has been recognized for its goodness of heart, great contagious laughter and the ability to know how to joke by involving others.

The possibility to rediscover manual skills has been very positive. Through a small laboratory, led by one of the inhabitants of the eco-village who dedicate his life to the craftsmanship by creating
guitars, we have been led to experiment and to rediscover what it means to create with your own hands working with the wood.
I also learned to turn a fire on with materials that are commonly found in nature and some break-dance steps, during one of the many workshops proposed by the boys themselves during the open space.

Alessandro Bartolomei 23 years old Frosinone

The positive memories about Lakabe are innumerable and all of us felt honored to have participated to this opportunity. I have known so many beautiful souls, who like me are crossing the path of life in a mission of salvation towards ourselves and the whole humanity.
One thing that surprised me was to understand the production of the artisan beer produced right there by the inhabitants of the eco-village and of course to enjoy it with pleasure and curiosity.
Now that I’m home I’m realizing it’s really hard to explain what we experienced to other people that did not lived all the emotions as we did. It is difficult to explain how this experience has moved something inside myself, leaving forever an indelible sign.

This exchange was the third made by the European group coordinator “Yes to Sustainability!” who is already preparing others projects for 2018.

If you are a young person between the ages of 17 and 30 and would like to join the upcoming youth exchanges at European ecovillages, fill in the form at this address
to show your interest in RIVE projects and to receive information via email on all the forthcoming active projects.

Evaluating Slovenian Youth Exchange

RIVE organization wrote this beautiful report from Slovenian Exchange dont miss it!

“From I to the We: Yes to Sustainability!”

(8th-16th of August, Svinijsko, Slovenia

In August, six young Italians started off to the Zavod Veles eco-village in Slovenia. Together with other young people from the Netherlands, Slovenia and Spain they experienced 8 days of community life with the main objective of learning more about ecological sustainability.

All together they explored the challenges and the opportunities that the community of Zavod Veles is putting into practice in order to live in a simple and sustainable way.

In the morning the young people, divided in teams, helped out the community with some practical activities while in the afternoon, led by the Youth Leaders, they went through workshops, open spaces, reflections and sharing activities.


Filippo Ceschi, 27 years old from Padova (Youth Leader)

A rich life experience of community work and of personal and relational growth.

The settlement is very interesting and located in a beautiful landscape: green hills and forests all around. The way the old houses have been restructured through natural building techniques and the whole permacultural design of the farm has inspired me and interested me. The group was great, varied and participative, and it has created a nice atmosphere of conviviality, support and sharing. I am very pleased and glad to have been able to lead the Italian group, it was great to know them and to experience this experience together. The activities were all fun, interesting and enriching. It was amazing how we managed to differentiate places and activities, indoor or outdoor, alone or in groups, big groups and small groups, mountain walks, solo-moments, etc. I’m grateful at RIVE for giving me the opportunity to participate and I want to continue to cooperate with this beautiful association.


Pietro Levi, 25 years old from Turin

I am very pleased with this experience that has surely exceeded my expectations. Within a few days, all of us have been able to feel part of a big family. I found the moments of sharing experiences, feelings and personal concerns very useful because they allowed us to open up and unite as a group in a very deep way.

I particularly appreciated both theoretical and practical knowledge about permaculture, natural building and how a community works.

The Slovenian hosts have been able to welcome us perfectly and to organize the whole event efficiently and effectively. Even when some little organizational contrasts happened, we discussed all together emphasizing how, on some occasions, decisions taken in community could take a lot of time and energy.

I have found all Youth Leaders well-prepared and careful, especially Filippo who, with his sympathy, has been able to support and mediate very well between us and the host.

Simone Gronda, 22 years old from Biella

An unforgettable adventure, of great importance to me.

I think that I have grown a lot and that I have learned many things on various topics. It was a pleasure to share these days with people from different countries but nevertheless connected with common interests on sustainability and degrowth.

Thanks to the group dynamics, to a good degree of seriousness from everyone and to the excellent preparation of the Youth Leaders, we managed to build great connection between all the participants within a few days. This allowed us to build a safe environment where every weakness or difficult moment could be shared without fear, accepted and solved.

Having Filippo as a youth leader, so young and with many volunteering experiences in communities, has been a source of security. Petra of Zavod Veles, with its calmness and strength, has been very hospitable. Jost, the Slovenian Youth Leader, managed to give the right weight and the right depth to all activities.

The practical work in the community was little but interesting. The open spaces were many, with so many proposals that we could not do everything.

I was really inspired by the open and fun atmosphere and by the many interesting people, all this within a landscaping context which I felt in love with.

In short, I have to say that my expectations have been more than surpassed, and certainly for the best.

Gaia Tarani, 26 years of Terni

It was a unique experience: I understood that the lessons I received were also far deeper than I expected, they had a great influence on the security of my convictions, in strengthening my own ideals of life and on personal growth. I have filled my life from what every person I met has left me and this will help to build my path. I am thankful to the people who shared with me this experience.

Now I feel powerful, I believe in myself, I am not disturbed by fears and I feel that I have new tools to communicate, to express and to be free. I will do everything to spread this to people close to me.

I know that taking care of myself, of others and of nature around us means to be on the right track!

Petra was wonderful, I’m grateful for all the time she has been able to dedicate to the participants. It made us feeling at home from the first minute, even when responsibilities and emotions were more present. She could not have chosen any better topic for the exchange: to let us understand the challenges and the opportunities of community life.

The Youth Leaders have passed us all their passion and motivation. I feel that I have learned a lot from their teachings because they were keen to show us the value and the sense of every activity and dynamic we took part.

Nicoletta of RIVE, who followed us behind the scenes, has always been present, giving us all the information needed, during and after the exchange.

Manuel Berto, 28 years old from Verona

It was not the first time for me in a Youth Exchange but I have not always seen such a “focus” on the main topic. It was not an experience appositely created for the participants. What we did at Zavod Veles was to live within the community, bringing our experiences, curiosity and desire to touch some concrete situations. The place, the people and their lifestyle were there to give us the opportunity to meet and know them.

Most of the participants shared some common ideas about global warming advancing, stressed lifestyles, healthy nutrition and so on. Everyone had a clear reason to be there in addition to the genuine desire to confront peers from other countries.

Personally, I wanted to see “if it is true”. If it is true that one can really create a more responsible and creative life model. I was satisfied. I acknowledged that sustainable communities are more widespread than I thought and that many of the smart solutions adopted by Veles are quietly transportable in urban contexts, such as green roofs, compost toilet and dry dish washing.

For me the experienced consisted on watching around and inside myself. I liked waking up with the sounds of nature and having meals with the food harvested from the garden the same morning.