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The ground connection – a different and better life

OFF THE GRID / New conversion projects are led by social entrepreneurs: the off-grid principle is to be disconnected from the modern society's electricity, water and sewer system.


End a life where economic growth – in all its guises – is at the center. End your career life and the circus that comes with it. Now we start on a fresh start, with all that entails. With coronavirus as an educational parenthesis for contemplation. With a new vulnerability and an uncertainty that constantly challenges the conscience and something ethical-moral. With the climate crisis and the threat to biodiversity as a backdrop. "What do we have to lose?" asks Steen Møller and the participants in a new conversion project.

Share Society Fertile soil with more than 100 co-operatives in the process of establishing a democratic community that must be waste-free, debt-free and grant-free. Just outside Ebeltoft (Djursland, Denmark), close to the coast, the cooperative has acquired a 10.000 square meter factory building with associated land. Here, the idea is to establish a sustainable industrial, fishery and agricultural production. In addition, a sustainable construction to accommodate the "Academy of Life" with education for young people and rental of workshops, office communities and production rooms. All based on the off-grid principle, that is to be disconnected from the modern society's electricity, water and sewer system.

A vision of a different and better world and a different and better life

"Academy of Life"

The project brings together young people in an all-encompassing life-affirming vision. Participants are fully aware that society has already crippled them, on their way to becoming disabled. They come from research environments, education, community assistance, are local pioneers or involved in restructuring projects. They want change and also to learn. But first and foremost, they want to learn something new that contains a vision of a different and better world and a different and better life.

At Grobund's "Academy of Life" the young people are led around in a rotation where they alternate between different projects within agriculture, fisheries, production and culture. Each participates with its own workforce and ideas in transition projects led by social entrepreneurs. Here, the participants live in an experiential landscape that leads them back to the growth of nature with an emphasis on life in the sea and in the earth, and with a growing and unfolding insight into how a production can unfold sustainably from idea to reality. This is where the earth connection is established.

It should be possible to choose how much you want to work.

In such a learning by doing process, the curiosity of young people is activated. It happens interdisciplinarily, and it happens so that the social impetus is activated to enter into a cooperation in order to establish social organisms on the way to new communities.

In this experiential universe, it is inevitable that participants associate with their own previous individual socialization. In doing so, the participants are confronted with a kind of "structural failure of care" which is a painful phase that young people are left in, but must go through as they move further into the learning and conversion process in the "Academy of Life".

Not only the individual development crises must be dealt with. When enthusiastic creative people with ideas to realize "another world" begin to work together, conflicts in budding communities are not avoided. Therefore, social conflict management is part of the program.

"The young people are looking for examples that show a different path and to another world," says Møller. "As with Grundtvig it starts with enlightenment before an enlightenment can take place. And in this optimism and with the toughness of the young, learning takes place in a unity of hand-thought feeling. ”

The power of example

If you can't live debt free and save up, then you can't run a business. It is a main thesis behind the project, which marks a shift in a culture for future business.

Møller is an experienced pioneer and inspiration for Fertile soil. In his backpack he has the experience of Friland, a social village also located on Djursland. Emphasis is placed on «the power of example» as the best inspiration. To help inspire the development of a vision for organizing a future society, Møller recommends the content of the book Future Organization (Frederic Laloux.

Since World War II – first with the effort to get back on its feet – the development has gone into overuse, and has ended in abuse. With a college, production, agriculture, fisheries and culture – and with the possibility of settlement – Grobund must, in the best entrepreneurial way, inspire success, show new ways and create many Grobunde for conversion.

Science, crafts and art must work together as one culture as in the golden age of society – and create images of the diverse society that is sought here as a substitute for today's society with images of fear. With unfolding creative power in the waste-free environment, where waste becomes a resource that is part of a self-generating life cycle.

The activity of the many fiery souls in Grobund means that many new initiatives will see the light of day. Organically, the idea is that the settlement should not simply develop off-grid housing. In the long term, it will be developed into an off-grid village, where sewage, electricity and water will be established in its own "life-support system". As a more overall overall inspiration for a transition. Negotiations are made with the authorities on a local plan and on land purchase.

Free development

In the Grobund cooperative society it must be possible to choose how much you want to work. There must be freedom of "life" rather than coercion for economic growth and participation in the circus that today's dominant political culture entails. The individual's creative power must be something precious and not drummed under foot in a simple struggle for survival.

Already Marx formulated the vision of the future on how people in the future community can go hunting in the morning, fishing in the afternoon and writing poems in the evening if it suits them. AlienationHowever, the dehumanization of man must be overcome before man can realize himself. And the full development of the individual can only be realized as part of a community where "every single free development is the condition of everyone's free development".

"As with Grundtvig, it starts with enlightenment before an information can be made."

The desire for waste-free production in a self-generating system where you collect waste products yourself has proven to be cheaper than being connected to the sewer system. This is done with a septic tank under the greenhouse. Here the transition from waste to production takes place.

Solar cells and stove

Solar cells and solar panels provide electricity and hot water – in summer. In winter, it will be necessary to use the stove so far and become the most important source of energy. And it also becomes waste-free, because the flue gases are used to enrich the soil.

Behind Grobund stands a fund that as owner can rent out premises and land. Increase in value is avoided, so that in the future it will be possible for economically disadvantaged people to participate. For settlement and agriculture applies proportion Associationone's idea base. The right of disposal can be delegated. In a unifying association, everyone, both direct participants and sympathizers, can help to support the widely branched systems. With life at the center. As inspiration – for conversion projects before and after a possible extensive collapse. With coronathe threat, this is now more current than ever.


Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Juhl-Nielsen resides in Copenhagen.

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