One of the early Transition Town initiatives was launched in Ensenada, Baja California, by an American expat, Robert Frey. Frey went to Queretaro, Mexico, in 2010 to a permaculture class taught by Raul Velez, founder of a nonprofit environmental education project called Ruta Ahimsa. Frey invited Velez to Ensenada to do some permaculture trainings, and shared his excitement about the new initiative he’d launched. Velez accepted the invitation – more to see Baja California than to learn about Transition.
“Actually I was skeptical,” Velez recalls. “I thought, OK, I live in a country that has been colonialized by European culture, and then the American way of life – another concept from another part of the world and we need to apply it now and change.’ But I was ignorant.”
Three weeks after Velez’ visit to Ensenada, Frey was found murdered in his own home.
Once there lived a permaculturist, far from the city on an old Irish farm. Together with his wife and four children they had nearly finished creating the house of their dreams, a house of cob in a grassy ecovillage with an organic farm. By day he taught permaculture in a nearby college; by night he broke bread with his family and neighbors.
Then one day it all went up in flames – a conflagration that turned their dream upside down, but led them to begin a movement that has swept the world.
That man was Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Towns movement. It began as a collection of seemingly small and disparate initiatives, but now they’re scattered across the globe: a community-based solar power grid in a Japanese village; a mural project in Michoacán; a barter fair in Queretaro; a community bakery in a Brazilian favela; and a time bank in New Zealand, to mention a representative handful – and they are all local expressions of a movement that has taken root all over the world, employing a wide range of creative techniques to confront some of the most overwhelming challenges of our times. Continue reading →
FINDHORN, Scotland — It was a meeting of the minds that won’t soon be forgotten in permaculture and ecovillage circles. The Global Ecovillage Network 20th Anniversary Summit (GEN + 20) brought approximately 400 participants from 70 countries co-create a temporary weeklong global community, illustrating through its example the pillars of sustainability: to live together, work together, and celebrate our achievements.
“Celebrating Our Diversity,” held during the second week in July, took place in the legendary Scottish ecovillage of Findhorn with the aim of consolidating a successful network that bridges all continents, sharing lessons, experiences, challenges and achievements of the past 20 years, and co-creating strategic plans for a common future.
The vision, according to Kosha Joubert, President of GEN International since 2008, is to help “maintain a space for global solidarity, to provide support in confronting natural disasters, to help to green the schools and to carry out work towards sustainability that reaches all sectors of society. The Global Ecovillage Network serves to support us in times of need.” Undoubtedly this feeling of community— or common-unity—was one of the pillars of the Summit. Continue reading →
Editor’s note: We are very happy to share with you the second short film, Natural Building, in Lauren and Phil’s new series Living with the Land for Permaculture Magazine.
Natural buildings are an ancient tradition with a modern appeal. Creating healthy, beautiful homes from natural materials such as earth, straw and timber, building naturally is the ultimate expression of ecological design. Building isn’t ‘done’ to us – it can be done by us. The skills and techniques used in natural building are hands-on and accessible, enabling us all to design our own healthy living spaces bringing people and the elements together.
The UK has a rich tradition of natural building and natural architecture that is seeing a renewed interest. Building naturally is one such response to Living With The Land.