Ecovillages with Kosha Joubert

by | July 15, 2020 | Permaculture Podcast | 0 comments

In Episode 6 of Sense-Making in a Changing World I warmly welcome you to join me in conversation with Kosha Joubert – her last interview as CEO of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) – an organisation she has been deeply involved with for over 15 years. She has lived in ecovillages for 25 years – currently Findhorn in Scotland, previously Sieben Linden in Germany, has visited communities in 40 countries & advocated for ecovillages in the UN.

Kosha is also the co-founder of Gaia Education, co-author of the Ecovillage Design Education curriculum, editor of Ecovillage: 1001 ways to heal the planet and is now transitioning into her new role with the Pocket Project “to contribute to the healing of collective & intergenerational trauma” with Thomas Hubl.

Through my conversation with Kosha, we see that ecovillage living is so diverse & can happen anywhere – where you are right now – urban or rural, in all countries & contexts, and that the underpinning principles value & respect the the regenerative practices of indigenous communities and traditional villages.

Find out more about the Global Ecovillage Network , the resources & programs. Perhaps there is a way you can get involved. Tune into the 2020 online  Ecovillage Summit attended by over 10,000 people (hosted by Kosha) & listen to Kosha’s TEDx Talk.


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I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which I live and work – the Gubbi Gubbi people. And I pay my respects to their elders past present and emerging.

Read the full transcript here:

Morag Gamble: Welcome to the sense-making in a Changing World podcast where we explore the kind of thinking we need to navigate a positive way forward.

Morag Gamble: I’m your host Morag Gamble, Permaculture Educator, and Global Ambassador, Filmmaker, Eco villager, Food Forester, Mother, Practivist and all around lover of thinking, communicating and acting regeneratively.

Morag Gamble: For a long time it’s been clear to me that to shift trajectory to a thriving one planet way of life we first need to shift our thinking , the way we perceive ourselves in relation to nature, self, and community is the core. So this is true now, more than ever, and even the way of change is changing, is changing. Unprecedented changes are happening all around us at a rapid pace. So how do we make sense of this? To know which way to turn, to know what action to focus on? So our efforts are worthwhile and nourishing and are working towards resilience regeneration and reconnection. What better way to make sense than to join together with others in open generative conversation.

Morag Gamble: In this podcast I’ll share conversations with my friends and colleagues, people who inspire and challenge me in their ways of thinking, connecting and acting. These wonderful people are thinkers, doers, activists, scholars, writers, leaders, farmers, educators, people whose work informs permaculture and spark the imagination of what a post covered climate, resilient, socially just future could look like. Their ideas and projects help us to make sense in this changing world to compost and digest the ideas and to nurture the fertile ground for new ideas, connections, and actions. Together, we’ll open up conversations in the world of permaculture design, regenerative thinking, community action, earth repair, eco-literacy, and much more. I can’t wait to share these conversations with you.

Morag Gamble: Over the last three decades of personally making sense of the multiple crises we face, I always return to the practical and positive world of permaculture. With its ethics of earth care, people care, and fair share, I’ve seen firsthand how adaptable and responsive it can be in all contexts from urban to rural, from refugee camps, to suburbs. It helps people make sense of what’s happening around them and to learn accessible design tools to shape the habitat positively and to contribute to cultural and ecological regeneration. This is why I’ve created the Permaculture Educators Program to help thousands of people to become permaculture teachers everywhere through an interactive online dual certificate of permaculture design and teaching. We sponsor global permayouth programs, women’s self-help groups in the global south, and teens in refugee camps.

Morag Gamble: So anyway, this podcast is sponsored by the Permaculture Education Institute and our Permaculture Educators program, if you’d like to find more about permaculture I’ve created a four-part permaculture video series to explain what permaculture is and also how you can make it your livelihood as well as your way of life. We’d love to invite you to join our wonderfully inspiring, friendly and supportive global learning community. So I welcome you to share each of these conversations and I’d also like to suggest you create a local conversation circle to explore the ideas shared in each show and discuss together how this makes sense in your local community and environment. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I meet and speak with you today, the Gubbi Gubbi people, and pay my respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Morag Gamble: Last week on Sense-making in a Changing World I spoke with Linda Woodrow a permaculture author who has just released a new book called 470. A permaculture novel actually in the genre cli-fi. This week on the show I’m so delighted to be able to share with you my conversation with a dear friend Kosha Joubert who has led the global ecovillage network for a number of years now. So this is a story of the Global Ecovillage Network. The different types of eco villages around the world and how eco villages and ecovillage living helps us to make sense of the world that we’re in today and also how you can get involved in eco villages,too. So Kosha grew up in South Africa under apartheid and has ever since been dedicated to building bridges. She’s lived in eco villages herself for over 25 years in many parts of the world and has visited ecovillage projects in almost 50 countries. The network of eco villages connects well over 6,000 different types of villages from traditional villages, indigenous villages, urban villages, rural villages… all different kinds of projects and communities that are working towards a more ecological way of being. Now, Kosha is not only the CEO of the global ecovillage network. She’s also been the co-founder of Gaia Education, the co-author of the Ecovillage Design Education Program, author of Collective Wisdom and Editor of Ecovillage Solutions. She hosted the Power of Community Summit last year which attracted well over 10,000 participants. I met her at a conference in Findhorn last year called the Climate Change and Consciousness Conference.

Morag Gamble: So, Kosha joined me on zoom just recently to talk about the Global Ecovillage Network Home last podcast as the CEO of this organization. I really hope that you enjoy this wonderful conversation with Kosha. It was an absolute delight to spend this time with her.

Morag Gamble: So thank you so much for joining me on the Sense-making in a Changing World podcast Kosha. It’s been an absolute delight to get to know you through the Global EcoVillage Network. You’ve been living in an ecovillage in Findhorn on the other side of the world well here I’m based at Crystal Waters at an ecovillage in Australia and your role as CEO of the Global EcoVillage Network has taken you to so many different places and given you such deep insight about the the world of eco villages, the role that they’ve been playing and the
way that they’re helping to transform communities. I would just love to take this opportunity to explore with you a bit about what are ecovillages and what your insights in the time you
know in the last decade or so that you’ve been involved in and how you see that they can help to continue to transform and inform the way that we need to go particularly now when we’re in these sort of cascading crises. What does the ecovillage concept really help to what does it offer into into our world now to help us make more sense and move forward in more resilient and regenerative way. So maybe let’s begin with that… just what is an ecovillage maybe we should start there.

Kosha Joubert: Yeah. Hi Morag! Very lovely to meet you here in this space and I’m delighted to be part of your series. Yeah so what is an ecovillage. Today we define it as a community rural or urban that is designed through participatory processes so not by an outside developer but really by the people who love the place in all four areas of regeneration..culture, economy, ecology, and social for whole system’s pathway to a regenerative future That’s the definition that we developed after.. Robert Gilman had a beautiful very complex definition of GEN when it was founded with which you can easily find online I don’t have it in my head right now but we actually found that very very few eco villages in the world would be eco villages according to that definition and we felt that actually ecovillage is more of a path than an outcome and there are some core ingredients into that path which are distilled in this definition that we use today.. and maybe just to say a few words about you know my journey with eco villages and many people might have heard this or know this about me because I’ve said it publicly and a few few times before but I was born in South Africa under apartheid and my first introduction to community in the truest sense of the world was actually when I went on a pilgrimage and that was also it was like a personal cascade of crisis you can say really understanding the the depth of injustice of the systems that I was a part of not just in South Africa
but also discovering that it was actually a global system then being deeply disappointed in science both my parents were professors at the University so very scientific and I just realized wow you know this extraction is not helping me make sense and yeah and I guess the third one was just a very deep personal thing about being lost feeling completely and utterly lost and feeling that the pathways that society was offering me were not making sense to me so the need to give up on a very deep level and I gave up on my life in a way because I gave up on all the all that I had been told about who I should be and what security would mean to me how I could stay safe in the world and I went on a pilgrimage through South Africa just after  Nelson Mandela was released and violence was at a high and I ran into a community where white and black people live together and that showed me how we can create the new we’re dreaming of within the old systems without fighting the existing systems and that’s been a driver for me. You know it wasn’t perfect but I realized also over time you know even though apartheid has changed in South Africa, the remnants the scars of apartheid the trauma of apartheid is ongoing and is shaping the realities of that country and what that community was doing even back then this was 1991 was actually living and healing and being with the scars so it seems like something small something very local, something that is not so visible on a societal surface but actually from deep within it heals those inner patterns of the brokenness of fragmentation that either make a strong society or weaken a society so for me yeah that’s
the inspiration that’s behind my journey and you know since then it’s been now yeah a 30-year journey of exploring community

Morag Gamble: So you’ve been living in Findhorn for quite some time at that or with other communities as well.

Kosha Joubert: I yeah many I actually I was in the so after 1991 I was a nomad as so many of our young generation are naturally. So I travelled around the world visiting communities and the Pyrenees and France then the Kibbutzim in Israel. I went to India and visit many of the Ashrams, visit Puno but also some of the communities that were growing there. All over the Europe again back to Africa and traveling with a rainbow movement at that time for a while and then as I wanted. I guess there was a second bug in my DNA my feminine DNA because I fell in love with a man in Germany and I became pregnant and that’s what happens not just to me but to others as well and that was the point where my nomadic life came to a radical halt and I ended up moving to a very small community in Germany in the forest 20-25 adults building community there where my children were both born in a circus wagon. Wild births with great midwives at the time and it was after the children were born that I realized you know I went to school for my kids I want to be more than just mother I want to be active in the world you know I had all this upsurging of passion for engagement in me and the small community was just too small for me so I moved to the ecovillage of Seidman and in Germany which was just starting out and became one of the pioneers of that community building it from 15 adults I think when I moved in to now it’s around 170 180 people and I was part of that community for 11 years and then I moved to Findhorn where I’ve lived now for 10 years. But I think beside this movement through the ecovillage what is in a way as interesting is my journey into the network of eco villages which started back in 2004 while still or you know 1995 when GEN was founded I was already living in this German community and I knew that GEN was founded and I  was pregnant with my son who was born in 1996 so I couldn’t go myself you know I was just in that moment of landing but I knew all about it I heard the stories about it from my friends who came back. I knew about GEN I went to two of the very earliest networking meetings in Europe in the late 90s with a baby on my hip you know that kind of thing and then in 2004 I was invited as an ecovilllage educator because I’ve been developing community courses to the founding meeting of Gaia education and I became one of the geese who wrote the regional curriculum for the Eco Village Design Education which was my first visit to Findhorn and where I fell in love with my now husband back in 2004 I went back to Germany it took another six years before I actually moved here and in 2008 the European gathering of GEN came to seem to the ecovillage I was staying in and that’s where I was elected as president because of my African background started growing the African part of the networks and now then became executive secretary after in Europe and president of GEN and then executive director or CEO of GEN so it’s been a beautiful journey I would say through widening circles of community.

Morag Gamble:  So in that room I I can see that you’ve traveled to so so many different villages in many many different parts of world from villages in Africa to established eco villages you as you’re talking about into urban eco villages. What are some of the the key well it’s I mean it’s hard to compare them really but what if for you as some of the the key insights or
inspirations that you feel that eco villages as a whole bring into the world is there it’s something something essential that you can access in that in in that in that world.

Kosha Joubert: Yes for sure I mean you know starting from the work that we did with Gaia education with those founding geese where we started crystallizing, distilling what is the core pattern of regeneration you could say that we can find hidden within the suppurative diverse realities on the surface of all of these eco villages, intentional communities, wonderful eco-projects around the world and I’ve traveled to actually I counted it the other day I think it’s been now 49 countries in the past 12 years just working with communities and eco villages and I feel so deeply grateful for what it has taught me and I guess one of the deepest insights that I’ve had is that this core pattern which I’ll say a bit more about in a moment is steeped in culture and when we set up Gaia  education we spoke about the four dimensions of sustainability and the what we now call culture was called worldview.As I traveled around and firstly I I noticed that in many places especially in the global South worldview was experienced as another concept an abstraction a Western concept but you know and terms like spirituality carry such different deep messages sometimes very painful actually in some cultures of the world, but the word culture itself is a word of empowerment for people of diversity where they can immediately connect to these are out roots this is who we are this is where I don’t need to change the color of my skin, I don’t need to change the shape of my hair, I didn’t need to change what I wear to be who I am in my culture and I want you to recognize Who I am in the depth of my being and the depth of where I come from and also this recognition that people
have these deep roots into sustainability and regeneration that go back through thousands of years into our ancestry the place where all of us can go back and become indigenous again
through our own ancestry you know and some of us have to go back far so that bringing out culture as both a defining aspect but also an aspect of rich wealth of diversity and you know that’s that’s a celebration and I would say at the heart of the impulse the eco-village impulse is an impulsive healing. People realizing that the culture you know and this was starting in there I think the impulse really came up after the Second World War but then with what some might call astrological movements, planets in the sky, Age of Aquarius, where something shifted and there was a new consciousness coming out of a real awareness of the destructiveness of the mainstream culture we had been creating on the western edge of humanity I would
call it and deep sense that this needs to be restored something needs to be restored it doesn’t mean that we need to throw out technology or improvements, innovation no not at all but it needs to be put at service of life. Human beings had become narcissistic you could say full of ourselves seeing ourselves at the head of creation and something about that had become so destructive and where the cascade of crises that you’re speaking about is the result of ongoing expression of those parts in ourselves and yeah maybe we can speak later about the fact that I believe that their route indeed is in a deep sense of self-destructiveness but each of us carries seeds that each of us carries in ourselves but as a whole this destructive culture and they was very clearly if you look at the beginnings of GEN but also even before that the intentional community movement communities like Findhorn are more than 50 years old  and there are many many of that generation that started. You know not long ago I visited for the first time it lies in the middle of the amazon in Brazil, beautiful ecovillage, which also has started 45 years ago with exactly the same vision.. the same understanding.. mainstream culture is becoming too destructive. We need to create islands of hope, islands of healing, where we come back to our roots where we heal relationships between everything that we are so it’s not really between humans and nature but it’s more understanding that we are immersed we are nature, we are the planet, we don’t live on the planet we live within the fullness of life on the planet and this intra being is what we need to awaken to so that we can bring our full humility and a full audacity to our dream of cultures that are conducive to life and that is what eco villages are. The hotspots for cultures that are conducive to life and we’ve developed this map of regeneration where we have the core ecovillage principles in each of the areas unite invite anybody to go into the GEN website and just check it out because it’s such a it’s such a cool pattern that we can use to work with to design to measure impact to refine and beautiful expression of this core pattern that lies at the heart of every ecovillage and every regenerative project.

Morag Gamble: So I’m wondering then this I’ve had experience with you exploring those that pattern through the trainer program and it was itwas a wonderful experience and I am doing as much as I can to share and ripple that out and also to share it to begin to share it in in places like Africa too but before I do that I also wanted to ask you about I know that you’ve spent a lot of time there this often I hear maybe some comments about you know the idea of eco villages being a very Western concept and but I don’t I get a sense that it’s far more than that and your experience of it is it’s far more than that and the way that the concept is translated or contextualized I mean you you’re being asked by whole governments to to explore the concept of eco villages so how have you seen the idea of ecovillages translate and how do you see that pattern fitting well in that completely different context.

Kosha Joubert: Yeah this has been a deep part of my journey and I guess you know it’s it’s my journey with GEN is the recognition of traditional villages as eco villages you know because of course if you look at where are the most exquisite eco villages in the world you know definitely indigenous communities are some of them right and there’s the deep knowledge the indigenous knowledge that goes with that the love for place but the love for place that is expressed through a to knowledge of place to knowledge of the healing healing qualities of all the plants around us the way and the behaviors of the animals the flows of the rivers and how we need to interact with these how we need to find our place within the hoop of life as Pat McCabe call it, to truly be guardians of life you know. This is basic respect in a way to recognize that that is the root of what we’re trying to recreate right and so that has always been a part of GEN for instance in Sri Lanka we have Surabadaya which is a big movement of 13,000 traditional villages which has always been a part of genuine those Buddhist inspired communities have been the first traditional eco villages recognized as traditional eco villages and from there it’s spread we’ve had communities for instance in Senegal calling themselves eco villages traditional villages since 2000,2001 so it’s been a long time but in since 2008 we started to really bring that concept out and build it more clearly visualize it more clearly
somehow the Western mindset and I guess all of our mindset a tendency to span the horizon a bit too narrow and as we build you know I remember us in Germany like I was hosting eco village design education courses and inviting people of participants from around the world and then we had wonderful people from ERISA in India from the forest there from the indigenous tribes and from Africa and from Latin America come and we would be super proud we are growing 80% of our own vegetables and this ecovillage and they would laugh at us and say you know how come you’re proud of that you know that is normal yeah and then we would say and look we’re building struggle houses with mutt and then they would just kind of stop laughing and look at us a bit more gravy and say wow you know just like even now your colleagues are in Africa teaching us that that is primitive and we should be using cement
instead you know what is this. Yes so very sobering to have these conversations across culture but also good to see that just because it’s a traditional village and an indigenous village which is maybe ecologically much more regenerative so sustainable than we are doesn’t mean that it’s completely regenerative because many of these communities are falling apart at a very very rapid scale with global economy coming in, global capitalism moving in eroding ownership of land,  health of forests and rivers, and youth being drawn into the cities to earn a
living so there is a destruction and an unsustainability of traditional villages the world over so we found that actually traditional villages wherever they are in the world benefit as much as
intentional communities or European eco villages from the map of regeneration to really look where are our strengths in terms of sustainability and regeneration and where are actually our weaknesses and that might be more in economy or in particular areas that we need to focus on to start thriving again as a community.

Morag Gamble: So what you’re just describing there reminds me a little bit about what Helena Norberg-Hodge talks about. I volunteered with her in Ladakh back in 1992 and again in 95 and and she was talking about the process of counter development so the whole process of exploring sustainable ways of building, sustainable food systems, sustainable energy, sustainable clothing system, our clothing and really looking at how that in those cultures there’s as you were saying there’s the drive towards modernization or to be to take the you know the concrete of a diesel energy whereas actually through the conversations of people saying well you know what’s happening in the West is that actually that’s causing destruction and you know there’s the the old people who are getting left in homes and you know there’s the pollution of the rivers and there’s the synthetic clothing and there’s the damaging a result of
processed food and we actually realized that you know we’re following this path but it’s not working and so these conversations were starting to happen opened up a a space where there could be a revaluing or a rethinking of what was progress what is progress what is development what does it mean and and maybe there’s other options that we could choose it’s not just this one-dimensional path that you follow and so it feels somehow that this conversation with the ecovillages is also that kind of counter development type of path and that perhaps through that network as well as using the tools and the patterns it’s simply through that strengthened network with people and all different part of the world who are experiencing similar things but from different angles they gives strength for that to continue and give strength for governments to take a stand for regeneration and and so it kind of makes me think too about the role of that the different types of leadership that something like GEN brings that it’s more of a mycelium network that connects the threads of this movement that’s and then every now and then there’s these little sparks of you know little fruiting bodies that pop up here and there that we see that then you know kind of explode the spores and help to ripple out new ways of thinking in those places but it’s the strength of this mycelium network that it feels like that’s kind of what’s happening with with GEN and as soon as you connect in with it this
is is this strength that you feel by being part of the people in every part of the world who are thinking and feeling and exploring this it’s like you’re saying you went to Brazil and there was a community that’s been there for ages and so somehow this the meta-network or them the the linking the relationships rather than the parts themselves it’s a very sort of systemic approach gives gives rise to a new understanding or a deeper understanding and I wanted to whether you’ve seen any of of the ecovillage concept being translated into places for displaced people or in refugee camps and whether you’ve experienced that as well seems to be a world that I’ve started being involved in a lot more particularly with the permayouth and then connecting up with youth in refugee camps and I just wonder whether you’d experienced anything or seen anything in a way that we can help to communicate that with with the young people in these villages as a permaculture seems to be really offering a lot of hope and I feel like this there’s something else as well that permaculture and ecovillages could
could bring to to offer some positive approach.

Kosha Joubert: Hmm yeah maybe before I come there that was really beautiful the whole you know the descriptions of the mycelium I think that’s very very apt description of how GEN works in the world. I just want to say a few more words to that for sure Helena was also a deep inspiration  and also a mentor of me and my work with the global ecology network
she’s being part of the founding circle of the network and at the same time I questioned whether the use of the word counter-development is so helpful because it’s there’s been a lot of feedback to GEN about this oh you know you’re just going back to the past you know there’s longing to go back to the past and I think there is a it’s I think there’s a natural feeling and
human beings that actually there is an evolutionary development in life and that the next generation pulls on the ancestry of the past that we take on the pain from the past we need to
integrate that but also we have our unique time that we live in and our unique contribution to give at this time and that this is different also it’s not just the same old same old same old you know maybe on some abstract level Darwinism we could say oh you know it’s always the same but on another level it’s not and my experience also working in traditional villages in the global South is that innovation is highly desired especially by the younger generation. They are hungry for it. So how do we say look we’re not doing this we’re not doing what capitalism is doing you know this is not our path we’re not here to destroy no we’re here to take the next step we’re humans in a way with the beauty of our intelligence the depth of our love we become more refined. We heal our nervous system so that we can catch the subtle information that life is sending back to us and find more innovative better solutions that bring back the newest technology and combine it with the depth of what we can learn from nature so you know that kind of approach I think is just what I see people really waking up to and I also understand that there is a deep criticism of the concept of development I’ve mainly heard it actually from our Asian networks you know where the and of course the degrowth movement you know this is not about growth it’s about refinement..

Morag Gamble: I really love how I just express that then and and it it’s it’s how I understand or how I understood that term to be and what is that term because that’s exactly what that’s exactly what it is and as a matter of fact it’s also really about how permaculture presents itself in traditional communities in indigenous communities. Definitely not about going backwards but it’s you know you’ve just expressed that beautifully but I think it’s that it’s that terminology that we often get stuck on or that movement in the way that we want to so I think it’s good to point to that you know I just was participating in a course that um as a there was a group of us who held their beyond development course so Jonathan Dawson was there and Jason Hickman myself and a number of other people were were leading that and so you know it’s called beyond developmental, counter developments are still using that term so I wonder whether there’s another term that you do use to explore what is a way of thinking about it’s not about because change always happens and as you’re saying innovation is something that we are constantly doing as we adapt and evolve and change and and notice what’s happening around us and find better way forwards and so what is that term what is that term that we use.

Kosha Joubert: I wonder whether we need a term.

Morag Gamble: Interesting.

Kosha Joubert:  You know personally I would say that one term like counter-development my experience is simply being that it creates a lot of misunderstandings. Now I agree that the term has all that it but their misunderstanding surrounded. Yeah I love the term innovation I love the thought that we need to be able to imagine the future because before we are able to move into it so imagination personally I like it’s also the creation of magic or the creation of miracles which I feel like we can’t do without that anymore. You know we want to make it despite everything that climate scientists are telling us we need magic, we need miracles right. We need to dig into those magic what we now call magic but what I would say are deeply human gifts of attunement to the bigger rhythms of the universe and really aligning with those we can call that magic at the power of our intention but the word innovation the word refinement I love also human intelligence collective wisdom you know so it’s yeah all right you know yes maybe I could just go on to your next question which was about the refugee camps.

In GEN we developed this program called emerGENcies where and as so often in GEN you’ve just spoken about the mycelium and this mycelium is so healthy and thriving so there’s a constant innovation coming sprouting of new solutions new heartfelt responses to the realities that grows out of the ecovillage movement worldwide so we’ve had
communities worldwide responding to disaster natural man-made disasters around the world where community stepped up or said well you know we don’t need to actually rebuild these communities with cement. We don’t need to build refugee camps where people sit around in tents you know we can build sustainable green architecture very intelligently built from the local building ingredients that are around.. intelligently designed through permaculture through ecovillage design. We can support people to start growing their food actually growing our own food I think is one of the first and best ways of starting to heal trauma because it reconnects us to the earth it connects our nervous systems to clients we swatch the growth in plants and that actually has a beautiful effect also on our nervous systems on our grounding and just rebalancing so all of these are the whole ecovillage design is starting to be implemented in refugee camps for instance in Bangladesh our teams are currently working in the refugee camps there and you know as you say this is I think an area that will be needed more and more in the future while at the same time also just to mention that many of the European ecovillagers have had a deep engagement with refugees streaming into Europe over the past decade offering programs official programs sometimes in close collaboration with municipality or just through engagement reaching out the local spaces building friendships supporting community building cultural celebrations etc so engaging in many different ways yeah and definitely ecovillage design is one of the ingredients I think that can transform refugee camps to places where people might actually arrive and start building home as long as people… are not able to come home again they cannot truly start to regenerate their lives in all aspects right so it’s a limbo and that has an effect in everyone.

Morag Gamble: I’s a very long limbo to the communities that I’m currently working with one woman has been for 12 years in a in a camp and we like you’re saying the ecovillage is hosting refugees we hosted some Bhutanese refugees who spent 18 years in refugee camp in Nepal before they came I finally came out to Australia and so these are not they’re not like there are some that are short term but the more that we look at these camps we can see how actually you know this children who are growing up there that’s the reality that they’ve they
have ever known and you know one of the things I’ve started responding to with some of the groups that we’re working with there is the saying that you know that they are dependent on aid for food and with this current crisis that half of their food aid was chopped because of the problems with distribution and so there’s there’s massive hunger and malnutrition  happening there right now and the World Food Programme has said something like 265 million people will be on the brink of starvation by the end of the year and so beginning with you
know things simple things as food gardens and connecting communities through those has seemed to be like a good first point to begin with anyway and things are rippling out so I’m so
excited to hear about the emerGENcies I have heard about that before but for some reason I hadn’t made the link with the work that I’m doing with that so that’s kind of something that I’m definitely going to be following up on which is fantastic in its and it’s really exciting when the thing is that the work that you’ve been doing with GEN has really reached out to so many different groups and so many different communities and cultures and people with different needs and I’m wondering if you could just briefly comment, too on how you see the ecovillage movement relating to urban suburban context because the other comment that I hear quite often mistreated because most people relate to eco villages as being you know the
crystal waters or the jaalin bars or they’re the more rural eco villages what’s been your sense of how we can apply this thinking to highly urbanized environment say for example Seoul or Hong Kong or even in London for example.

Kosha Joubert: I feel like it is already being applied, right.. I think you’ll agree. In terms of one of the core principles of GEN is the reconnecting to nature.. the learning from nature.. the being in nature.. being part of nature.. so that is a key you know and in a way it doesn’t matter whether you live in a flat or you live in the countryside but personally I believe that without a connection to nature we cannot be healthy and whether we find that through our connection to the little piece of sky that we can look at through a window or we take our courage you know and I think also with the food issue and food production issue and distribution issue that has become so evident through COVID you know worldwide and people afraid but also the wonderful experience of people like me who for the first time since 12 years
have not been able to travel and I am you know just the health that is returning to my body from not being in airplanes and I’m just realizing that wow you know this turnaround is not just for now this is going to stay with me I suddenly feel like okay you know I didn’t travel for 7 years when I was more radically ecological before everybody else stopped flying I Daniel Valle and I were speaking about this just the other day we had we both had like a seven-year phase of not flying
when most other people were still flying and then as other people stopped flying I actually started flying and I said you
know this is important to build that mycelium and I had good reasons you know it was immensely enriching in all
directions however in the past years I’ve just felt a greater discrepancy between my talk and my fly so there is a part of me that is just so delighted myself to have come back. I’ve now spent 99 days in Findhorn with my husband which is the longest I’ve ever spent here in one go and the longest I’ve spent with my husband in one go because we’re both traveling all the time we were both traveling all the time and the benefit that has brought you know is that after 15..17 years for the
first time I have grown my own food and the simple joy of transforming my living room into a greenhouse and the small
patch of garden into a vegetable patch and I learned from my wonderful colleague from Zambia who you have to
interview if you haven’t already founder of the greening school project there who taught me very early on you know no flower bed should be flowers it should all be vegetables you know vegetables flower as well you know plant your pumpkin plants you know I’ve just got a hole a hole beautiful my big flower bed is all peas and pumpkins and strawberries and it’s flowering right it’s beautiful but not just that it’s producing you had the joy of eating healthy food so this is you know yes that’s hard to do in the centre of London but you can grow some herbs on your windowsill even in London you know that little bit of watering that it takes you can grow as small you know there’s small tomato plant varieties that you can grow in your window so you can.. I’ve just been amazed I have one cucumber right now I have two cucumber plants they grow you know quite big but in a in a bit of a living room you could grow a cucumber plant I’ve had more than 20 cucumbers from one cucumber plant so you know what we can do in towns and then of course is the whole roof greening you know that all the roofs should be green roofs vertical gardening you know which we’ve learned  when it was very young how do we do gardening in bags is vertical rather than horizontal urban guerilla farming you know taking back the land planting vegetables around the trees in the street you know so there’s so many ways but also close relationships before I come to that just to say so ecovillage is about bringing the village back. You know even the word village just like the word rural if you really listen to it notice it has a put down energy to it which was inserted yeah we need to free the word again from that energy because village is about relationship village is like Ubuntu I am because you takes a village to raise a child should be isolated with their mother in a flat you know it’s terrible living circumstances yeah so building community where we are wherever we are and that’s the core mantra that GEN has been speaking about also with the online summit building community wherever you are. Start speaking to your neighbors find out who else is interested in the same stuff go speak to your mayor – your municipality find out who else is supportive.. build networks build alliances.. start changing your small neighborhood.. start changing the bigger
neighborhood and then build relationships between the urban centers and the rural communities to have your
kids go out for weekends get your vegetables from out there you know so build those alliances that allow organic
farmers outside the city to have a simple box system where they can sell you have fresh vegetables you know
this is this is our life and it’s ours to design and there is no reason why we should be living a life that is not true
to our inner most ethical alignment. This life is too precious to live it out of alignment with our own hearts it’s too
precious life is too precious so just go for it you know the ecovillage principles are as applicable to urban community.

Morag Gamble: I also see that the ecovillage concept is presented now as a direct response to the climate crisis as well so all of the major crises that we’re facing in the world the ecovillage it provides a direct and practical way that we can
address that and I do is there something that you can just speak briefly about how ecovillages and and climate change

Kosha Joubert: Yeah I mean I’ve said before the heart of ecovillage is a healing impulse between humans and the world to close the gap to understand again we are intervening finer places in the group of life so of course it’s a healing
response to any of the crisis you could say that are happening and you know that might sound arrogant but it’s also with
all humility the research that is running in communities right and communities are not perfect at all the opposite is true you know as soon as we say I’m dedicated to healing all the other stuff all the shadows stuff shows up for healing right so communities are not easy places this is not an easy process it’s not a comfortable journey we’re on. However it’s really easy to measure and show how eco villages respond in terms of the impact of eco villages in terms of both our sustainable development goals and the climate agreements how eco villages restore ecosystems, how eco villages sequestered carbon, how eco villages reduce waste, how they teach peace communication education for a
sustainable development all of these aspects you know how many more gender equality you know there’s no end to it
like new forms of social entrepreneurship new forums of currencies that have been often pioneered and some of the old eco villages and now are spreading everywhere so as you say I think it’s really important while we say you know
eco villages are hotspots for this we’re actually bringing out a bigger version of an equivalent impact assessment of our hundred ecovillages this year so we’ll be bringing the proof in to 26 we’ve been very present at the United Nations climate conferences over the past 10 years but we’re bringing out this report we brought a similar report but only of 30 ecovillages in 2017 which was amazing you know showcasing that 98 of all eco villages restore ecosystems.. 97% actually
sequester carbon.. we have the lowest measured ecological footprint in the Northern Hemisphere in eco villages so
all of these things are already showcased in a certain document.

Morag Gamble:  It’s so important to have that data isn’t it to be able to then take that to take the next step and I also saw that your new series of or your updated series of ecovillage cards blend with the SDGs the sustainable development goals yes can you just maybe mention that briefly and and let people know too how they can get a hold of the resources that GEN  has and and how they can get involved as well in in GEN

Kosha Joubert: Yeah so we’ve got resources that have really grown from the communities in our network deep learning and as I said before this map of regeneration with the ecovillage principles started growing back in 2004 and has continually evolved we brought it into card form four or five years ago which was a long process and then I’ve traveled with them to all these different countries and getting feedback no this doesn’t work for us this doesn’t work for us so we have a global set of cards that represent the ecovillage principles the next version and each of the principles
I mean I have a few here you know I could just so you know this is, for instance, one so you can see this is in the area of ecology and it’s increased biodiversity and restore ecosystem this is one or here’s one from social you know so this is one
of the principles in the social realm there you go nurture diversity and cohesion for thriving communities so this is what they look like you know and we’ve now just checked on how each of them which are the actual sustainable development goals to that link to each of them we’ve developed as self-assessment so with simple questions which are also printed on the back of the new cards so this has been in development and has right now being launched it’s available on GEN website and we’ve also developed through the years something which is completely new but has been developed
well it’s only coming out now for the first time I’m just actually in the process of delivering the first workshop on the journey of regeneration so with these cards as I said ecovillage is not an outcome it’s a process so the journey of regeneration is based in seed in the hero’s journey but completely transforms that to a journey of
regeneration which is community-based based on broken humanity, not heroes but you know the beauty of our brokenness and out of that create community togetherness alliances and to work together to unfold a new future so the
the journey of regeneration where we’ll also be bringing out the cards and the description and all of that people can
get on the GEN website very easily.

Morag Gamble: Fantastic! And so you you’ll be running another summit as well at some point is that on the cards or..

Kosha Joubert: That’s definitely on the cards you know as you know I’m actually stepping out of my role as CEO of GEN which is very exciting for me I said right at the beginning I described briefly my journey through widening circles and I think it’s an ongoing journey so I’ve now been I tend to do things in 7-year cycles and I’ve been building GEN the global part of the movement for the past seven years so I might not host the next GEN summit I’ve grown these summits..I don’t know maybe I will maybe I won’t I anticipate that it will become a participatory summit held by the whole network but let’s see you know I’d be also delighted to still play a role in it and the summit has been an amazing way of just as you say spoke about the mycelium to bring these patterns that we use out to more and more people we find the feedback especially now also after COVID or during COVID is stronger than ever before of people just longing to build community seeing the importance of community for resilience and yeah we’re more we’re becoming more and we’re able to respond to that in ways that is appropriate yeah I myself I’m moving on to work more directly on the issue of collective and transgenerational trauma in my next role.

Morag Gamble: I wish you all the best in that and thank you for everything that you’ve brought to the ecovillage movement and as a pioneer and a leader and a and a holder of space for so much to happen it’s just been amazing I’ve I’ve been involved in GEN you know from the beginning but you know I’ve in the middle like what you said had a
family and so your interaction it changes when you’re doing that and so it’s really wonderful to sort of come back in and reconnect with Jan and Rick and to feel the absolute change that you’ve brought into GEN  and how it’s touched lives and communities in a way that is so important and brings a sense of connection and value to you know so much about the regenerative culture that some that we need to shine a light on right now and invite people to participate in and I know that GEN has groups in different parts of the world there’s the global GEN then there’s regional GEN networks and there’s a country-based GEN networks and then even you know community regional bioregional things happening so I guess you can tap into all of that by looking at the global ecovillage network website which is you said that. I put all the links down below for that and is there anything else that we needed to let people know about the
resources any of the workshops or events or things like that there’s a educational program that are ongoing that they can tap into like..

Kosha Joubert: You know there is so much happening that it’s not possible really to even go into it but I think if people just go to that website you can just click your way through it and you’ll find your way to the regions there’s internet there’s a map of ecovillages where you can check what are the eco villages close to me but also definitely go to the regional websites you can link into your region you can go and visit an ecovillage close to you you can sign up as a volunteer you know if you would like to translate some of our materials to your language and thereby get to know it more deeply that’s a beautiful way and we just launched a new educational platform for online education it’s called so also very easy to find and people can go and see there the next upcoming courses so it’s exciting it’s a journey and in my experience once you start you never stop and I just want to say thank you Morag..thank you so much for holding this space for spreading messages of hope but also really practically with the permaculture work which is such a deeper root of all ecovillage design that you’re spreading through your networks and it’s wonderful how these networks also intersect to strengthen the mycenium of regenerative cultures so delight to be here with you thank you for doing what you do in the world.

Morag Gamble: Thank you Kosha. Take care in your new journey

Morag Gamble:  So thanks for tuning into the sense-making in a changing world podcast today, it’s been a real pleasure to have your company. I invite you to subscribe and receive notification of each new weekly episode with more wonderful, stories, ideas, inspiration, and common sense for living and working regeneratively and call positive permaculture, thinking, and design into action in this changing world. I’m including a transcript below and a link also to my four-part permaculture series, really looking at what is permaculture and how to make it your livelihood too. So join me again in the next episode where we talk with another fascinating guest. I look forward to seeing you there.


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