Youth on Earth: Yes we (c)are

The seventh youth exchange of the international project “Yes to sustainability” took place this time under the name “Youth on Earth: Yes we (c)are” in ZEGG.

30 young people from France, Slovenia, Spain and Germany met from 25 August to 3 September at the ZEGG Ecovillage in Bad Belzig.The aim of the project is to enable young people in Europe to learn about alternative and sustainable lifestyles and to establish contacts with like-minded people. Therefore, these meetings are organized in different eco-villages in Europe. They are funded by the European Union’s Erasmus Plus Programme. 

The ZEGG meeting focused on social sustainability. On this occasion, one of the focal points was “Contact”.

How can I be in touch with myself, my needs and my feelings?

How do I put them in contact with others and learn to shape my living environment together with others (contact with the world)?

In the morning, the young people gathered to start the day together: dancing, singing, with a “weather report” or with short warm-up massages. The mornings were spent with the Community. The group helped with permaculture, gardening, landscaping, cooking and grounds maintenance.

In the afternoons, themes and issues of social sustainability were discussed: examples were deep ecology exercises, the ZEGG Forum, work with feelings, non-violent communication or experiences with nature. One day was organized by the participants themselves. The afternoons were spent with contact improvisation, music sessions, sauna or simply in the village pub.  In the end, there were many other ideas for networking across Europe. As a summary of this meeting, many felt inspired to live a more sustainable life and praised the fullness that such a community life can offer.

From Colibrì Organization

The Ecovillage of ZEGG (Zentrum für experimentelle Gesellschaftsgestaltung or Experimental Social Design Centre) is located 80 km southwest of Berlin. Founded in 1991 on a 15-hectare site, it is home to an intentional community of about 110 people. Since its creation, the community has been exploring innovative approaches related to deep ecology, and developing original tools for self-expression and confidence building among them, the FORUM.ZEGG’s eco-village develops and experiments with socially and ecologically sustainable lifestyles. For its inhabitants, this means personal development work, the establishment of a supportive and cooperative living environment, as well as participation in collective decisions. It also means that the site is equipped with phyto-purification, a CO2-neutral heating system, a large organic garden that allows the community and the reception kitchen to be 50% self-sufficient in fruits and vegetables all year round, buildings built in straw clay, a meditation room, a children’s house, artists’ workshops, seminar rooms? 

ZEGG and young people

This “youth exchange” was the seventh organized by the international project Yes to Sustainability. Thirty young people between the ages of 18 and 30 from France, Slovenia, Spain and Germany participated.

The aim of the international Yes to Sustainability project is to promote alternative and ecological lifestyles among young people by giving them the opportunity to experience life in European eco-villages. These meetings are funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. They allow young people to go out at any price to network on a European scale.

This exchange at ZEGG provided an opportunity for in-depth reflection on the issue of social sustainability. How can I be connected to my needs and feelings? How can I connect with my environment? And finally, how can I make my life more coherent by listening to what I feel? To answer these questions, the days proposed several activities:

  • a collective awakening, with songs, dances, sharing the indoor climate or short warm-up massages;
  • community work time (in the garden, in landscaping and permaculture, in the kitchen or in the maintenance of the land);
  • afternoons dedicated to the issue of social sustainability: deep ecology exercises*, the discovery of the ZEGG Forum, the expression of feelings, non-violent communication or exercises in the forest;
  • moments of sharing to anchor reflections, learning and questioning.

An original facilitation tool: the Forum

ZEGG’s raison d’être is to create a new common culture, in line with fundamental human needs: to be connected, to experience one’s own emotions, to feel safe, to feel safe, to love… Among the tools developed within ZEGG to establish this culture of life is the “Forum”. This tool strengthens the cohesion of the group by offering spaces for emotional transparency that create trust between people and contribute significantly to conflict prevention.

The forum invites participants to sit in a circle. Within a framework of trust and security, individuals can then explore personal issues and receive feedback from other participants. To this end, everyone can stand in the centre of the circle and be accompanied in his or her speech by the facilitator.

“When I enter the circle, I show the part of myself with which I identify (called the public area). As I move through the process, accompanied by facilitation, I reveal my hidden area, that part of myself that I am the only one aware of and usually dare not show. When I receive feedback mirrors, I realize my blind zone, which I don’t know about my personality but which is perceived by others. This process has the consequence of revealing the unknown personal and collective zone, expanding the limits of the personality and culture of the group, increasing the capacity to be with internal and external diversity”.

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