YTS meeting and training in Serbia

Finally, after months of online meetings, a colourful bunch of young people and youth workers from ecovillages and sustainable projects in Italy, Germany, Serbia, Netherlands, Spain and Slovenia, all members of the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership “Yes To Sustainability”, met between the 7th and the 15th of June at the beautiful retreat and seminar center Jandala, on the hills overseeing the River Danube in Northern Serbia.

The first three days, a reduced group of people worked in a Transnational Project Meeting to draft a sustainable structure to support young people who want to organise a sustainable youth exchange, connect & strengthen the network of ‘Yes To Sustainability’ and create strategies to involve more young people as leaders and mentors in our networks. The sessions were always led by different people to give everybody the chance to experiment and improve their facilitation skills, and it was a great moment to connect personally and strengthen our friendships.

At the end of the meeting, more people joined for the peer learning training for “Good Practice in Youth Exchanges”: former organisers, youth leaders and participants of previous youth exchanges came together to share their experiences and evaluate outcomes, collect best practices and brainstorm content for a brochure about how to create sustainable youth exchanges that will be created by the project.

After days of intense activities and exchanges, the final sharing circle harvested insights and “aha” moments that the group will bring back home. Maybe you remember this magical atmosphere that is created in the group when people start to share from their hearts. Tears, laughter, feelings, emotions, gratitude… being transparent about that creates so much trust and love amongst each other. “Thank you for all the connections, inspirations and teamwork we experienced in the last days. I feel very touched and thankful”, says Steffi from GEN Germany, “This training helped us to feel very more connected to the YTS tribe and network that we are all part of!”.

We would like to point out and celebrate with you our host organisation for this training, the Serbian partner Zeleno Doba (Green Age). After a Yes To Sustainability training in Sieben Linden in Germany in 2017 the first YTS baby was born in 2018: the organization Zeleno Doba. They see themselves as an incubator of Yes To Sustainability in Balkan countries. They do a real pioneer work and we want to give thanks for their love and all the hard work that they put into this project. This was the first training that they were hosting in Serbia and it was a big growing step for them and for the whole YTS network. Thank you beautiful souls!

TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 12

Alice from Italy tells us:


It was a little over a year since I first came to Tempo di Vivere and since I participated in my first Youth Exchange at Findhorn in March 2018.
At that time something really big happened, of which only now can I really give an account.
We are now all in a circle, the last of these 13 days, the biggest of all. We are participants of the exchange and then there are the members of the community with the volunteers who have been of great help in all these days. The talking stick comes into my hand, it’s my turn. I wouldn’t want it inside me, not yet, it’s too early to find the words to share what I feel. And in fact it takes me a while … I breathe deeply, close my eyes and stand a few seconds in silence and as soon as I open them the words begin to flow, and even the tears begin to come out without me being able to prevent it. They are tears of joy in the end, tears of thanks, tears of trust and appreciation for all that has been possible for a year and of which I see the results right here, right now, sitting in this circle made of wonderful people with which we have built a space of extreme personal growth, sharing and fun in such a short time.

It was the first time I participated in a Youth Exchange as a Youth Leader, an even more beautiful and deep opportunity because I was in a team with friendly people on the same path as me. Together with Nicoletta (project coordinator), Adriana, Gilly, Rouben and Chris (respectively the referents of the Spanish, Dutch, German and Greek groups) and the enormous creativity and support of all the participants, as well as the members of the community, we succeeded to create and care for a beautiful space for sharing, training and growth, moving from more formal and educational moments to others left to spontaneity and art, free to express themselves in every form!
The themes were those of sustainability, agriculture and natural medicine, Non-Violent Communication and decision-making methods such as sociocracy, parental school and permaculture.

Every Youth Exchange has something special, but this has followed the spirit of the Circle, the Union, the Shared and the Collective Building, as when all the pieces find their place by magic. Each of us brought something great and the Tempo di Vivere community welcomed us with so much generosity and availability that we could never have felt in a safer space.
As Manitonquat says, “together there is nothing we cannot do”.


TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 11

Alejandra from Spain tells us:


The authenticity of a clear look, of a sincere embrace, of a kiss of nature. The immensity of feeling yourself so small above a blanket of stars. The life that breathes you, that caresses you, that wants nothing else but that you live with all your cells. The freedom to be yourself, without masks, costumes or judgments.
Each of you gave me so much.
Time no longer matters. It is really now our only Tempo di Vivere.
May this dance continue until the soul takes us to another dream.


Alberto from Italy tells us:


We are approaching Bettola to reach the ecovillage where the project is to be held. The road starts to climb the hills of Piacenza that slowly turn into mountains; a fallow deer crosses the road, we stop to admire it and scatter in the vegetation surrounded by the scent of elderflower in bloom before resuming the journey. Reached Time to Live the community welcomes us with open arms completing the “green” embrace that had accompanied us to this point, making everything truer, more alive. This was my arrival at the “Empower yourself with the circle way” project, from the beginning I felt I was an integral part of the group. The Circle Way and community life have created an inclusive context that has given expressive freedom through personal attitudes, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and the contribution made by individuals. The environment was enriched by each member. I perceived the desire to share passions and knowledge, at the end of it, the group growth has resulted in an enrichment. Many activities were focused on understanding how to listen and express ourselves freely. A strong synergy was created in the group. The last few nights, watching around the fire, dancing typical dances or organizing the final event, I felt this magical energy feeling in a friendly place where I could be myself. I miss the group, the community, the place but I smile at the memory of the beautiful experience.


TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 10

Bram from the Netherlands tells us:DSC04740

Wow. What a ride it has been these last 12 days. I’ve created art, theatre, food and a lot of dirrty dishes. Planted seeds, weeded grass and helped prepare a pizza party. Given card readings, sang songs, gave massages. Went on an expedition to another ecovillage and on adventure into nature to find a beautiful waterfall. I’ve participated in circle dances (un, due tre), gratitude circles, an ohm chanting circle and reflective circles. Played many games of ninja & hide and seek and a lot of fun energising activities. Had so many inspiring, deep, funny and reflective talks. About politics, sociocracy(inter & intra) psychology, economy, permaculture, sustainability and so many other topics. I’ve experienced a deeply healing contact improvisation evening, a very warm and loving cuddle puddle, so so so many hugs and group hugs and a very relieving anger release exercise.


Everyday my good and new was to wake up with so many beautiful souls around me. It was an intense 12 days, to say the least. Triggers here, triggers there, but it was worth every second of it. Now after a trip of allmost 30hrs I am allmost back in Tilburg. Feeling inspired, grateful and sad for missing all the people, but knowing that the future looks so very bright, if this is what communal living can be!! Thank you all for those that have touched my soul and infused my spirit…

Yannis from Greece tells us:


These two weeks in Tempo di Vivere, will be an unforgettable experience for me, for the rest of my life, cause I learned a lot. I realise that through the circle way and the rest of the beautiful communication methods they are using in the ecovillage, it made it possible for 25 people we entered, to come close to each other and reconnect with our inner world. It was like a deep dive in the waters of the soul. It was interesting and important to learn about the homeschooling and the option of the sociocracy to take our common decisions. I find it incredible that people have the opportunity to participate in this kind of youth exchange that is also free of any money charge. I feel thankful and appreciate all the participants. I think it is something that needs to be continued.

TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 9

Adriana from Spain tells us:


In this alienated world of grey emotions and subordination, sitting in a circle and sharing from the heart is a revolutionary act. No one is on top neither below, we all look to each other as companions of this journey, of this life. During our Youth Exchange in Tempo di Vivere, a community somewhere in the mountains between Milan, Bologna and Genoa we explore a lot of topics concerning the current ecovillage world, from practical skills in the gardens using Permaculture principles, cooking for the community, making natural cosmetics, carpentry (with the magic of building useful things) to social tools such Circle Way, Non Violent Communication, Sociocracy, Deep Listening among others. We played a lot, of course! We danced, sang and did many silly things.


We created a temporary community with its own culture, a new family emerged. Now we all carry a small flame inside of us that could be the spark for new projects towards a more sustainable and resilient future. Special gratitude to Tempo di Vivere, amazing people, who dare to follow their hearts, to Yes To Sustainability network for believing and support these programs and to all the participants who make me feel again the power of friendship. There isn’t nothing that together we can´t do, or at least try!


Simone from Italy tells us:


When I arrived in Tempo di Vivere I had a few expectations and most of them were connected to my desire to know more about permaculture and sustainable agriculture. Nonetheless, I was surprised and amazed by the idea of community that the ecovillage managed to share with us, showing an alternative way of life based on respect, personal growth, deep sharing and so much happiness. In a very few days I was able to create a powerful connection with other 24 European young people despite language and cultural differences. To me, the most beautiful result of this youth exchange was the possibility to meet a lot of different people and realizing we are all peers and we all have the same interests and dreams. It taught me that it’s possible to create an international network of sustainability, a community that shares ideas and experiences and grow together. It was a real life-changing experience!

TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 8

Coen from the Netherlands tells us:


My youth exchange to Italy was a great success. I enjoyed myself very much and got to know a lot of new and lovely people there. The community that lives there is also very friendly. The program was quite diverse and very fun to participate in. There was also enough time to rest between the different sessions. The program was mainly focused on the social aspects of sustainability with the circleway as the subject. This was very well put into practice by the friendly Italian community of Tempo di Vivere and the youth leaders. The program was also about permaculture, which is of course very interesting.


We were also allowed to help with various tasks such as; working in the field, with wood, cleaning and cooking in the kitchen. I also enjoyed the cultural dinner, the tiramisu was very tasty. I am very happy to have played hide and seek, I think back with pleasure. The farewell and community party was also a lot of fun, so many people from the area came to see what exactly is happening at tempo di vivere. I will certainly miss the people I met there, luckily I can keep in touch via email. I hope to see many people again that I met in Tempo di Vivere. I also wanted to thank you very much for helping me to participate in this exchange.

Eva from Germany tells us:


Being part of the youth exchange in Tempo di Vivere is a personal milestone for me. 13 days of new experiences, immense personal growth and a lot of sharing gave me motivation to continue my way towards a more aware and sustainable life. Especially, to learn and practice the circle way was eye opening for me. Personally, to learn about sociocracy as organizing and decision-making method was important and I decided it is something I want to continue engaging in. Summarized, in every aspect it is worth it to take part in this kind of youth exchange.

TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 7

Marta from Italy tells us:


I wake up, take my backpack on my shoulder and go! I arrive in Tempo di Vivere ecovillage and I actually don’t know what I’m going to live in the next days. Probably agriculture, some skills about community life, homemade production…a lot of interesting things! Ready? Yea, maybe! But something strange is happening. The hosting community and our facilitator are asking to make a circle. And then the magic starts! Yes! The power of human beings sitting in a circle sharing feelings, needs, emotions, ideas….honestly, watching at each others’ eyes, in a word: “naked”. How much beauty, how much strength there are in our fragilities!


And what about love? Yes, love. How much are we scared about this word? And how much magic and power there are in it instead! So, if I you ask me to share with you what I’m bringing with me at home from this YE I say love. Love for all the beautiful people I’ve met, for me and for my courage, for the place which has hosted us. And of course…lots of laughs, tears, food memories, new ideas and new knowledge too ;). Thank you all, thanks Mother Earth


Mónica from Spain tells us:


I could have never imagined how much I would learn at Tempo di Vivere. This youth exchange has taught me a different way of living which I was not familiar with. We learned about agriculture, carpentry, cooking, expressing emotions, recognizing feelings, socializing, being open, dancing and many other fun activities. From the first moment we were conscious that TDV was a sphere of respect and responsibility, the community showed us that we could be ourselves and not have the usual fear of being judged by others and specially by ourselves.

We created our little parallel space where we could do what we most liked. I have learned many different skills specially those related to the emotions and how to be able to interpret them and let other people help me with them or just listen to them. This kind of learning is not taught at school or university, and it is very important for our society, young, adult or old, it is never too late. I could never thank enough the community for their openness and kindness.

TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 6

Aggelos from Greece tells us:


Where do i begin from ? How is it possible to describe something taking part inside me, in a place of utopia ? I will try my best but be sure that this is just the surface of things, what we can perceive/understand through language is limited. It is the feelings, moments, energies, laughter, touch, beauty the blinking of eyes and the gaze, the rain, the clouds, the fog and moisture of the morning disappearing after the sun, followed by the shining moon and the stars above the fire that burns, burns inside all of us.

This youth exchange took place on the beautiful mountains surrounded by water in Tempo di Vivere near Bettola in Italy. It was part of a collaboration between the eco-community that lives there and the RIVE organization with the aim of getting young people familiar with sustainable living and community practices. So we gathered from Germany, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands and Greece to take part in this amazing project, to learn and transfer the acquired knowledge to the rest of the world.

The main feature of the exchange was the Circle Way, a kind of method that is employed and applied to help build a small community based on people needs, mutual help, common goals, fair share, respect and care for everyone else. That is achieved with a lot of work in the circle formed from the people of the community, a place where everything can be discussed and decisions are made on a consensus,on everybody’s agreement.

Every day we learned to share our feelings and emotions, to share ideas and thoughts about anything without the usual fear of judgement. We played games to wake us up in the morning and that also brought us closer. We spent almost all of the day together playing, eating, leaning, sleeping. All of these activities led us to become an ephymeral community, co – created by all of the participants with the help of the already existed community and the youth leaders.


It was very inspiring experiencing another way of living far away from the crowded cities, the pollution and the noise. Where  everyone cared for one another and we all communicated deeper. Self development and self esteem strengthening was also a result of the the way we lived together, cooperating in everything not expecting something in return other than a smile, the happy eyes of the person a touch or a hug.

Feeling safe, loved, cared for and being part of something collectively brings out a hidden purpose in my life, something that I very often forget because of the fast pace of the city life. It reminds me that we are not alone, that everyone’s work is valued and we are all respected and we respect everyone else.

Being able to stay under the stars without light pollution, creating theater, music around a bonfire and all sorts of funny, peculiar and weird stories and games is why i want to keep searching for the people who are also interested in that kind of life. Families are created this way, bonds are made stronger than those of actual families and slowly we become part of  everything around us, part of everything that we care for.


Thank you everyone for making this possible.

TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 5

Chris from Greece tells us:


The Youth Exchange at Tempo di Vivere (TDV) was a very wonderful experience and one that I will remember for many years to come. I was the Youth Leader for the Greek team, so I was very fortunate to meet the other Youth Leaders, Nicoletta and the TDV community at the APV. Arriving for the YE at TDV I was greeted with such kindness and warmth, which represented the overall attitude of the community during the whole project: warm, friendly, kind and incredibly hospitable. 

The topics of the project were very thoughtfully select and compromise a well-rounded approach to all the necessary facets of living sustainably, as well as to bring inter-European and global peace. We covered social topics such as non-violent communication, sociocracy, homeschooling and how to empower ourselves with The Circle Way. These were supported by explorations of practical topics like Permaculture, natural agriculture, natural medicine, production of sustainable hygiene products.


True to the Youth Exchange format, we had facilitated sessions which allowed us to share our knowledge and co-create a structure for our understanding and future direction. We covered opportunities for employment in the sustainable economy, as well as the true facets of sustainability and the role that eco-villages can play in transitioning to global sustainability.

The dynamics between the group were very good, and we truly held appropriate space for one another to express ourselves and create strong bond, as well as being formal enough to learn through active participation. We also organised and co-created a number of evenings of entertainment, as well as a fantastic outreach event/party for the local community. Here we demonstrated to others the power of the Youth Exchange Erasmus+ programme, as well as the importance of Yes to Sustainability in this critical time of global change. It was also a highly fun event, with lots of cross-cultural conversation, performances, joy, games, dancing and excellent food!


Overall I feel the whole Youth Exchange was so well created and supported, with excellent facilities and we were so well hosted by the community at TDV. I returned home with the most amazing feelings towards this place and the hope that more young people will have the opportunity to experience such a beautiful place and a fantastic Youth Exchange like I did.

TEMPO DI VIVERE Youth Exchange, Part 4

Gilly from the Netherlands tells us:


The Circle Way youth exchange at Tempo di Vivere was a wonderful experience and had a great impact on me. Together with participants from different cultures we explored the topic of living sustainable, as well as with our material surroundings as in our relationships. We self organised different activities and build a small community together in a short period of time by practicing with the Circle Way dialogue method. For me getting to know and working together with like minded people from all over Europe nourished my hopes that we can build a more sustainable future together, keep on doing what we are doing and follow our dreams and passions to share them with the world. What a blessing to meet each other in an experience like this.

Tim from Germany tells us:

I had a very special, intense and beautiful time at the youth exchange in Tempo di Vivere. Already after the first dinner together I felt really welcomed and present within the group and community. Everyone was so kind, loving and supportive to one another which made it very easy to feel connected. The circle way and its daily sharing really befitted me as it felt like a huge liberation when I shared my troubles and felt listend by and accepted.


There were also so so many other forms of knowledge that was shared throughout the days, from permaculture, over plan based cooking, to sociocracy, natural medicine and biodegradable household products we learned something new everyday. If I had to name one thing that made this time so special for me it would be definitely the participants and the team of TDV that formed such a beautiful sense of community and trust. Oh and of course the MAGNIFICENT place the community is located in, I still can’t get over the view into the valley. Love and light, Tim