These are the stories which change the world and show us what is possible...
We have a magician in our ecovilage. His name is Théo. With his long tale of dreadlocks, humble and kind heart, and magic hands Théo is a unique producer of chocolate of a special kind. Shipped by friends on an original sailing boat "Tres Hombres" from across the ocean, the cacao beans come straight from a small farm of a local ecosystem restoration project in Dominican Republic. They come with the wind of salty sea, without fossil fuels and international cargo companies. Théo picks the beans in Amsterdam and brings them home – to our ecovillage Suderbyn on the island of Gotland. Here Théo recently moved his little chocolate factory, where he makes the chocolate by hand from bean to bar without any preservatives, all vegan and organic as it only can be. He wraps the precious bars in paper made of cacao-shells. The chocolate is then sent to small organic shops and personally to people who subscribe online (the link below). Every time we look at a bar of Théo's chocolate, be it one with cacao nibs or hazelnut, or raw dark chocolate, I think of the wind in Tres Hombres sales, of a long way which a real fair chocolate needs to make, and all the goodness this small bar contains.
Chocolate is not only a delicious treat, oh no. Cacao beans are medicinal in its nature. Commercial companies which turned chocolate into a sugar-rich candy based on child slavery and oil industry, committed not only an economic and environmental crime, but a cultural crime.
The real chocolate, like one which Théo makes, is a special product, as something from across the ocean is to be. A bar of this handcrafted chocolate is not comparable to a box of commercial chocolate when it comes to the content of goodness. Fair-trade, organic, slavery-free, vegan, healthy goodness brought to our continent by Fairtransport and processed by Theó's loving hands.
You can subscribe on Théo's website KakaoArbo.net to receive this incredible handcrafted, truly fair-trade chocolate and be a part of that change. For now easy delivery is offered to all Scandinavia. You can also read more about the values and philosophy behind, the sourcing and bean-to-bar process. (See the link in the first comment to the post.)
These stories change the world, and they shall be told. Join by subscribing for the chocolate but also do spread the word, share, tell, and let people choose.
The first wild greens are poking through! These last weeks, ramson, ground elder, nettles and many others have been busy covering the land with her spring jacket.
Walking around and picking these fresh and healthy goodies is a great source of seasonal joy for Suderbynians. A bit before our own garden starts to give its first real harvests, Nature's supermarket opened its doors and provided for us. (When you have to work to get your own food growing, it is easy to appreciate something tasty that grows on its own and that you just need to pick!)
But it's not only that we appreciate the amazing healthiness, the colors and flavors of the wild greens in our soups, spreads and teas.. They are also a reminder of our need to connect with the wild, to be in it, to be it.
Picking wild plants forces you to know and understand them, their landscape, their ecosystem (mistakes can be deadly!) and eventually reintegrate ourselves in the Natural world. Foraging is an amazing platform to reconnect with the nature in ourselves and realize how much we need to become natural beings again.
When you think about it, it is actually a pretty clever design trick from Mother Nature to include a bait in the landscape. To encourage humans to wander in the woods and in the plains, just to get them to wonder in awe at the perfection of such a creation.
Thanks JingwenYao Art for capturing this beautiful moment! ❤️
In Suderbyn, we only use compost toilets. Three weeks ago, our middle latrine compost box finished its decomposition process of roughly 12 months. During this period, various microorganisms and bugs actively ate, pooped, reproduced and died, turning human feaeces, leaves, sawdust and toilet paper into a well balanced rich compost!
The pile heated up to 55-60 degrees, at which dangerous bacteria such as Ecoli and Salmonella get killed.
After taking out the compost from its box, we will spread it on the fields where "heavy feeders" (plants that need a loooot of nutrients) will grow.
Even though we are 99% sure that all the nasty bacteria that we don't want in our food died, we are still careful: the plants that will grow in this compost, like corn and pumpkins, will produce their edible part away from the soil and since these bacteria cannot travel through the plant body, the only way to get contaminated by a potential survivor would be to eat something that got splashed with compost still containing harmful bacteria and that didn't get washed properly. Very unlikely, especially if one considers that such bacteria are in a hostile environment as soon as they get out of our bellies and that if they don't die in the compost, the other beings in our lively soil will surely take care of them mercilessly.
By now, you should probably be convinced that compost toilets are an hygienic, simple and efficient way to process humanure on site and turn it into a resource.
Sounds a tiny bit better than mixing poo with 10 liters of drinking water (especially on an island like Gotland suffering from water scarcity in the summer), disinfecting with chemicals and releasing it into rivers, knowing that many heavy metals and hormones will poison the wildlife...and maintain a costly sewage system for this.
But composting humanure is much more than this. It's our connection to the land, the way we close the loop and remind ourselves that we are animals.
It's a sacred cycle that allows us to make atoms travel from plants to humans to microorganisms and back to plants in a never-ending magical loop.
From this unique perspective, humans of Suderbyn acquire a new function: processing units turning plants into food for bacteria! It might sound a bit reductionist but it is actually a way to reintegrate ourselves in the complex web of life, as one humble step in a perfect system.
And from this humble soil we sprout as happy stewards of the land.
nspiration and connection! In these unprecedented times communities appear as an alternative – stronger than ever and more connected than before. While growing our local resilience, we in Suderbyn and thousands other communities also strengthen our large systemic actions. Though ECOLISE (European umbrella-organisation for community-led initiatives) could not meet physically for the General Assembly, it gathered for a great online assembly with over 50 delegates from national and regional networks of Transition, Ecovillages and Permacutlure movements, urban and rural community-led initiatives, research activists and policy changers. Folk from Suderbyn is typically there as besides being an ecovillage we are also an active hub for international and regional networks! 3-4 April 2020 will be remembered by as the celebration of our resilience and adaptation, strong connection and mutual support.
“Perhaps we cannot raise the winds. But each of us can put up the sail, so that when the wind comes we can catch it” — the quote of E.F. Schumacher was shared by the keynote speaker Daniel Christian Wahl and echoed in the group. These weeks we feel how the experience of community-led initiatives can serve the times of COVID-19 and the following crisis: how our tools and solutions for food and energy sovereignty, strong local communities and international solidarity, ecosystem restoration and climate change adaptation can also serve fundamental needs and happiness of the society.
When the world and its old socio-economic paradigm are facing an upcoming crisis, we see how resilience, practical solutions and social support cultivated by communities offer a strong alternative. When "business as usual" does not provide illusionary safety anymore, we turn towards our families and neighbours, friends and like-minded companions, towards land and local resources, towards homes and gardens, and ask What we can do differently.
ECOLISE represents a strong trust in communities and local actions, as well as the multi-local connection between networks all over Europe. We have so much to offer! Let the time of the crisis be the time of mainstreaming the solutions already developed and practiced by the communities!
Warm greetings and deep inspiration from #EcoliseGA2020! #ecolise
Ecovillages National Organization (ERO) took the opportunity and celebrated its 33 years of service for a more sustainable Sweden!
ERO is currently a participant in the EU project "Community Learning Incubator Partnership for Sustainability" (CLIPS II) which will strengthen ERO's ability to support those who want to start ecovillages in Sweden. We started the day with a mini-training about supporting and developing ecovillages / communities in CLIPS way with Nara Petrovic from Sunny Hill Ecovillage, Slovenia and Alisa Dendro from Suderbyn Ecovillage & NGO Relearn on Gotland.
After a healthy lunch and fresh air, we listened to Anders Nyquist, one of the real ecobypioneers in Sweden and experiencsd with Rumpans ecoby (founded in 1967) and Linda Nordfors, one of the promoters of Sweden's latest ecoby project, Ekoby Tallberget in Gnesta. She shared her view of a different kind of entrepreneurship in the "passionate economy".
We also held our annual meeting, with updates of ERO's work with CLIPS and what it can mean for Swedish ecovillages.
EPALE is a European, multilingual, open membership community of adult learning professionals, including adult educators and trainers, guidance and support staff, researchers and academics, and policymakers.
EPALE is funded by the Erasmus+ programme. It is part of the European Union’s strategy to promote more and better learning opportunities for all adults. Suderbyn was recently featured in the Swedish EPALE website, that we share with you here:
Suderbyns ekoby är en gemenskap av människor från olika länder och kulturer, belägen på Gotland. De beskriver sig själva som en grupp som tillsammans bygger platsen de bor på - inte bara fysiskt utan också socialt. Målet är att leva på ett sätt som skapar en välmående livsmiljö och samtidigt minimera miljöavtrycket. Ekobyn strävar efter att leva nära naturen och uppnå en mer hållbar livsstil. De strävar också efter självförsörjning inom livsmedelsproduktion och förnybar energi genom att prioritera ekologiska och lokala material. De experimenterar på olika områden med innovation och traditionell kunskap med ett försök att skapa en modell för ett hälsosamt och lyckligt liv. De arbetar för att uppnå detta med olika utbildningsprojekt både på lokal och internationell nivå.
Suderbyn består av tre olika delar: stiftelsen, kooperativet och NGO RELEARN. Stiftelsen äger fastigheten och byggnaderna, kooperativet fokuserar på invånarnas basbehov och välbefinnande medan RELEARN arbetar med utbildningsprojekt, utbildning och internationella nätverk.
De som bor på Suderbyn arbetar också där och skapar på så sätt sitt hem tillsammans. De odlar en del av sin mat i den egna trädgården, som är designad enligt permakultur-principerna. Med permakultur menas ett långsiktigt hållbart förhållningssätt mellan människa och natur och att denna kultur ska genomsyra vardagen inom alla områden. Permakultur myntades av Bill Mollison och David Holmgren i Australien 1978. Under årens lopp har permakultur börjat användas i många länder och inom olika samhällssektorer. Målet för permakultur är ett hållbart samhälle, vilket skapar meningsfullt arbete, bättre miljö, hälsa, solidaritet och säkerhet.
Suderbyn utvecklar också olika miljöfrämjande projekt. Exempelvis tillhandahåller de bil- och cykelpooler och utvecklar sin egen energiproduktion. På så sätt kombinerar de enkelt landsbygdsliv med ekologiska innovationer och experimentella idéer.
Majoriteten av Suderbyns olika projekt genomförs tillsammans med andra organisationer, framförallt andra ekobyar i olika regionala och internationella nätverk. Projekten har finansierats med hjälp av internationella volontärprogram som Europeiska solidaritetskåren (ESC), franska statens Service Civique och Service Civil International (SCI), liksom utbildningsprojekt med fokus på hållbarhet och miljö inom Erasmus+ och Nordplus vuxen. Stort fokus inom ekobyn ligger på icke-formellt lärande där volontärer och de boende på ekobyn tillsammans lär och utvecklar ekobyns verksamhet och aktiviteter genom praktiskt deltagande.
Läs mer om Erasmus+ strategiska partnerskap, vuxenutbildning:
Läs mer om Erasmus+ mobilitet vuxenutbildning:
Läs mer om Nordplus vuxen: https://www.nordplusonline.org/Who-can-apply/Nordplus-Adult (på engelska)
Här på EPALE tror vi starkt att vuxenutbildning kan gynna och stödja främjandet av färdigheter som möjliggör aktivt medborgarskap och människors engagemang. Vuxenutbildning spelar faktiskt en avgörande roll i kampen mot växande ojämlikheter. Besök EPALE regelbundet, det kommer alltid att finnas något nytt att upptäcka när det gäller Miljömedvetenhet och hållbarhet!
To offer an escape from the confinement and share our vision, we organized the Webinar series Our Renewable Future 🤗. Special thanks to Antoine Arquié, Symon Gob, Abdul Otman, Jingwen Yao Art and every community member for this intense and connected week.
We hope you enjoyed attending our webinars, it was with great pleasure to host our panelists and connect with each and every one of you.
This initiative is now finished, let us know if you have suggestions for new initiatives 👏. Because we want to do more. And we will do more 🐾
All videos are available on our Youtube and our Facebook Page
These times of confinement leaves us with quite some time to reflect on what really matters. As we Suderbynians exchange with friends and family stuck in apartments in the city, we realize that we are not equal when it comes to this situation. Living in community and living with the land, a situation easily perceived as a burden and a sacrifice through mainstream lenses, appears now as a privilege and a luxury - but a very basic and necessary one.
Our daily lives barely changed, even though many of our planned interactions with the outer world, such as translocal projects, meetings, events etc. got canceled, postponed or disturbed, thus creating a lot of uncertainty for our future.
Yet, we still have the sea, a few kilometers away, the forest and our own garden, allowing us to be with Nature, to be Nature. This is a precious source of psychological, social and practical resilience of which many are deprived on a daily basis, even without lockdown. And we have each other: being surrounded by 20ish people with whom you can meet, play, work, talk, cook, live and love brings a lot of necessary magic and power in the everyday life.
These are not just ''nice things''. These two core aspects of ecovillage life, natural life and community life, can now shine in their truth, as many people start to wonder, sitting on their castle of toilet paper: ''Maybe this hippie stuff is not that dumb after all...''
Being in Nature and access to community - whatever forms they take - are more than universal human rights. They are the basic requirements for the proper functioning of our physical, emotional and societal bodies. It's the very stuff we were brought to live for: meaningful lives with and for each other, celebrating the nurturing life force of trees, elements, animals and lands that hold us alive.
By doing so, just living this simple, magical, imperfect way, we can naturally respect the boundaries of our Mothership, without forcing and sacrificing anything.
Maybe, instead of talking about climate change as an external event that we need to fight against, we could start to respect ourselves as a species and think about serving our true deep basic needs?
#SuderbynEcovillage #Permaculture #AllYouNeedIsLife
As the international borders are closing under the virus hustle, we are rejoicing on one hand over our life in an intercultural community rich with experiences and learnings, and on another hand over recent memories of a beautiful event with people from different counties (before moving between the countries became a luxury.)
In the end of February some of us #SuderbynEcovillage, together with other ecovillages, was a part of bringing together 30 change-makers from ecovillagers of 12 countries – from Armenia to Spain, from Denmark to Kosovo, from Romania to Estonia – for the training on how to apply for and run ESC volunteering programs in ecovllages. Yet it was more than that!...
Apparently a part of the participants had expected the training's content to circle around the application forms and EU strategy. But there was more to do! The training became a warm space to meet, exchange, learn and relearn, create projects and find new friends. Working with this inspiring group was a good bridge between conventional administrative work (funding, applications, report) and building models of a new world – supporting dedicated communities willing to change the society and welcoming young volunteers to come and learn and create together. We from #SuderbynEcovillage were happy to join some of our experience with volunteering program "Green Skills" which we run since 10 years, and to learn from others.
We all met in Ängsbacka course centre, which welcomed us warmly (what a different vibe of the family here when you come in winter!) and mixed walks in its rich forest with learning sessions and work. A dozen of projects ave been developed: some were born, some worked on accreditations ("quality labels") to host/sent volunteers, some gained new parts of design of volunteering programs, some were reshaped. Good work, good connections, good co-creation and sealing together working challenges during the days and celebrations in the evenings. Grateful and looking forward to see what grows from the seeds planted.
#ecovillages #erasmusplus #ESC #europeansolidaritycorps
First bed preparations of the season!
We remove the mulch layer, say hi to the worms, decompact with the broadfork, even the beds and for some crops, we spread our homemade compost.
We strive to dig and disturb the soil as little as reasonably possible, because it is an essential ecosystem that functions best when it doesn't get destroyed by tillage, which kills soil organisms and damages the natural structure allowing water and nutrients to move around. It's also less work, which is nice.
Our way of growing food, or rather to facilitate the growing of food, is to tend and care for the land before taking from her, and to give back afterwards. With this simple mindset, we create a beneficial relationship with the land.
For example, when we are spreading our compost, we are not just giving nutrients and improving soil structure. This compost is a co-creation of natural forces and human will, it is embodied life energy from us and from the biomass that it came from. So when we spread it on a bed, we also give ourselves, our energy and our intentions to the Earth.
With this mentality, a garden is much more than a place to grow food, it is also a place to grow human beings. Through regenerative gardening, one can truly feel that Earth is alive, whole and sacred, which is a necessary step to behave in a way that supports life, not just a cool Instagram quote.
It's like going to church, except that it's open everyday, you get free delicious food, outdoor exercise and get to save the world at the same time.
What's happening in the ecovillage? What projects are we running at the moment? Here you can follow our work and find out about exciting news and events!