There's A Meeting for That

Sustainability, Innovation and More at The European Ecovillage Conference

At this year's European Ecovillage Conference, attendees explored workshops on redesigning social systems, made DIY tech tools, and learned more about getting involved in the ecovillage community.

ILLUSTRATION BY CARMEN SEGOVIA

Self-expression, spirituality, and personal development are all central themes in Ängsbacka, an outdoor festival center and ecovillage located in the lush green landscape of Molkom, Sweden, where the Global Ecovillage Network of Europe (GEN Europe) presented the 21st edition of the European Ecovillage Conference. The five-day alcohol- and drug-free gathering was a retreat for some attendees, but a way of life for Molkom’s ecovillagers.

SUSTAINABILITY PLUS An ecovillage is an intentionally formed community that strives to minimize its impact through residents’ shared goal of giving back more to their environment than they consume. Attendees at the kid-friendly European Ecovillage Conference came from all across Europe, and experienced the lifestyle of ecovillagers, whose hand-made items, as well as books and materials on sustainability, were offered at a daily pop-up market during the festival.

HANDS ON Other programs included the Ecovillage Sustainable Technology Exposition, a demonstration lab with ecovillagers’ innovations, such as water purifiers, wind-powered bicycles, and compost heating systems. Presenters came from a number of ecovillages throughout Europe, and represented a range of interests, from gardeners to inventors. One presenter demonstrated “The Whike,” a first-of-its-kind wind-powered bicycle that allows riders to pedal and “land-sail.” The expo also offered opportunities for attendees to make DIY tools of their own.

FLOW AND RESTORE Of course, the Ecovillage Conference wasn’t all tech and commerce. This year’s theme was “Conscious Happiness: Living the Future Today — Solidarity, Resilience & Hope.” Nightly ceremonies and built-in relaxation time — including morning yoga, post-dinner dancing, late-night film screenings, and even a sauna — helped participants unwind before diving back into sessions and workshops on redesigning social systems, decision making in communities, and more. Whether they were first-timers dipping a toe in sustainable communities, or longstanding ecovillagers, attendees shared an interest in conscious living, from the heart to the planet.

Jasmine Zhu