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Residents of the eco-community

ECOLOGY / Is it possible to have an earth free of war, a society free of violence, a love free of lies and a life free of anxiety? As someone has said: «It starts with water.» Here we look at three communities.


In the traditional political space, political battles are waged by different interest groups for the genesis of different policies. But as a community it is possible – at least partially – to establish itself outside the traditional political space. Historically, groups of people have banded together to establish a new order or simply to be able to practice a different way of life.

The path through society's institutions is often long for people with political visions. And you can hardly avoid contamination of body and soul.

For people, on the other hand, for whom "another world is possible", people think and act on the basis of a different premise. Here, it is not just about carrying out a correction of the existing, but about working on a true paradigm shift. As a necessity and as an example to follow.

Today the world is moving at an ever-increasing pace towards a crisis of civilization or worse. Such a development is accompanied by cognitive work, grief work and the development of a practice, which should gradually make it possible to establish "a new normal" – if a deep depression is to be avoided. If the choice is not simply to «dance on the Titanic». To a life as a pioneer, where the new concepts with a new governance structure must be developed with an offgrid platform and where leading a life outside the hamster wheel for every day will be like winning new land.

Natural regulation of the climate

In the common message Save the Planet: Protect the Future / No Excuses for Inaction, which was distributed on COP27-conference in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, states:

Ratio based on land stewardship/administration, natural rights og human rights.
«Planet Earth faces existential threats from human impact on earth, the sea and the air – on its ecological systems and its many forms of life, but there are effective policy initiatives that can save the planet and protect the future». This is what members of the World Future Council and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (also known as «The Alternative Noble Peace Prize») say.

The message calls for "quick action to change from a dead end, with unsustainable, draining relationships with the environment and with each other, to relationships based on land stewardship/management, natural rights, human rights, including the rights of future generations and common security."

A promising proposal for scaling up sustainablee agricultural practices, put forward by Right Livelihood laureate Helmy Abouleish, is to establish the «Economy of Love-carbon credits» from verified organic farming projects. "Through this fair compensation, organic farmers can sell their goods at conventional market prices, giving everyone the opportunity to buy healthy and organic food, with the aim of improving farmers' livelihoods and mitigating climate change," said Helmy Abouleish, CEO of SEKEM sustainable agriculture and manufacturing company in Egypt – and also a member of the World Future Council.

Let's look at three examples of sustainable environments in this essay:


Tamera, an eco-community in southern Portugal, has chosen to call itself a planetary community, a future healing biotope and a peace research and education center as the identity of the place. Here, we work towards developing people with personal integrity.

An insight into what socialization in a capitalist consumer society from the last part of the 21st century has done to people.

The transformation of the site's parched landscape has since its establishment Tamera in 1978, on the outer level, was a unifying activity. The area was supplied with a water developmentproject. This made it possible to initiate a self-sufficiency project with vegetables, so that today Tamera is part of a regional food project to make the area self-sufficient. With this, the residents can become part of a movement for a global system change via the establishment of biotopes.

After participating in the activities in Tamera for some time, an understanding and insight into what socialization in a capitalist consumer society from the latter part of the 21st century has inflicted on humans. Tamera talks about a collective trauma that we have all suffered to a greater or lesser extent and are still marked by. Through an understanding of and an insight into the contexts, Tamera works on a healing which is accompanied by the development of a new trust and thus also a foundation for being able to build and develop Communities. In this context, conflict management becomes an important tool to support the development of the community.

Conflicts can be seen as a resource for the development of creativity. This applies in all aspects of life, and in Tamera, as part of the personal development work, we also work with the eros forces. By living with others, you also get the opportunity to get to know yourself better.

Being "self-sufficient" includes a number of tasks and workshops around the land and the nature of the landscape. Education has been established for the adults and also for the children. The school must be a sanctuary where children can be curious about the outside world – and where the adults can contribute as birth assistants. In her company, Tamera has a comprehensive service with training. In addition, the eco-community is a long-standing member of Global Ecovillage Network, Learning to live together with others from a planetary responsibility is today a necessity – otherwise the ecological solutions will be irrelevant.


A life free from anxiety

As a healing biotope, «landscape design» and «water management with nature» are attractive courses in Tamera. Also "organic composting" – knowledge that will be reflected in the interior.

In a solar kitchen, it is tested how food can be prepared outdoors without the use of electricity – with solar panels that can increase the sun's influence for greater efficiency.

But with the dry soil, there will be quite banal and simple work going on for a long time in loosening the soil – but it just gives the opportunity to meditate at the same time during the work!

The horse's calm opens up the possibility of healing therapy.

Homeless, neglected dogs are guaranteed a better life at Tamera and the horse's calm opens up the possibility of healing therapy.

A spokesman for Tamera, Dieter Duhm, describes in the book Terra Nova a vision for a new culture, as a land free of war, a society free of violence, a love free of lies and a life free of anxiety.

Peace has to do with a new way of life, which makes it possible to better deal with anxiety – and this again has to do with being able to live together with all kinds of creatures.

With life on Tamera, the residents of the eco-community seek to create icons for a future without war. To – together with nature – develop an inner peace that can be converted.

SEKEM – a sustainable multicultural community

Ibrahim Abouleish (1937-2017) was head of research in Austria when in 1976 – with a vision – he decided to move with his family to a barren sandy plain in the desert near Belbes, sixty kilometers north-east of Cairo. First, water wells had to be dug and trees planted. The vision was that the water, trees, plants and flowers would attract insects, animals and people. That the place would provide healthy food for the residents of the area – and also work, medical care and education. The place got its name SHECHEM (born of the sun).

The SEKEM initiative is based on a vision of a sustainable multicultural community and, in a wider sense, to create a fair, inclusive and regenerative earth civilization. As a living, learning organization that conducts all economic activities in accordance with ecological and ethnic principles.

In SEKEM, the intention is to develop a balance between ecological, economic, social and cultural development (four dimensions).

Biodynamic farming methods

Today, SEKEM has 1200 employees. Four processors are located on the farm's grounds near Belbes: Lotus (buying and selling herbs), ISIS Organic (tea, juice and food), ATOS Pharma (herbal medicine) and NatureTex (organic cotton children's clothes and dolls). Ten percent of the profit that the companies jointly realize goes to the SEKEM Development Foundation. This fund finances new developments in education, healthcare, art, sustainability and social projects, also outside SEKEM's geographical area. For example, health education and a waste collection service have been set up in the 13 villages in the region, where around 30.000 people live. For small entrepreneurs, there is an opportunity to apply for a loan through the so-called microcredit programme, including receiving guidance in creating a business plan. From all over Egypt, 140 farms deliver biodynamice products for SEKEM, such as vegetables, grains, herbs, cotton and animal feed. They are supervised by agricultural engineers who have been trained by SEKEM in applying biodynamic farming methods.

650 children go to school in the SEKEM area: with nursery, primary, secondary or vocational education. There is also a group for the disabled and a daycare center. A special group are the "chamomile children", so-called underprivileged children who even have to work, something that is common in Egypt. At SEKEM, they earn a day's wages with half a day's light work (they get their name from picking chamomile flowers!). The second half of the day they go to school for free.

Teaching music, drama, visual arts and movement arts.

In an interview, Ibrahim Abouleish stated: «To dream is to think with your heart». And he dreamed of transferring that art – the realization of dreams – to others. Therefore – and for personal development in general – there is a lot of attention to creativity. Not only in the schools there are many creative hours for both students and teachers, but all 1200 SEKEM employees receive training in music, drama, visual arts, movement arts and skills important for work during working hours.

A dream was to realize comparable 'development oases' in three other places in the Egyptian desert. Back in March 2008, SEKEM employees and friends celebrated the start by planting together træer in a watered gorge on a windswept plain in Sinai. With an annual rainfall of 25 mm (for us it is 800 mm), Egypt is completely dependent on irrigation.

An employee stated on that occasion: «It starts with water. We install drip irrigation all around and plant fast-growing eucalyptus and casuarina trees. They break the many sandstorms. And it's a relief when, after a few years, you can finally stand in the shadows».

Rojava – cooperative


Rojava was declared an autonomous region in November 2013. Today, Rojava forms part of the stateless Kurdistan and is physically located in the northeast Syria with perhaps 4-5 million inhabitants. The Autonomous Administration forms the umbrella over all the municipalities, while it is the cooperatives that, as independent units, constitute the self-governing area's basic units. Although the cooperatives are economic entities with the sale of products in mind, they are more than that. They constitute a kind of social identity around a community. The economy comes second.

The cooperatives work in close cooperation with the municipalities, but are not dependent on them. Some cooperatives are included in the municipalities' various committees. The cooperatives coordinate the overall activity of all the cooperatives, but the Autonomous administration Rojava, which however suffers from limited resources, can provide support directly to cooperativethe ones. International aid organizations in the area, on the other hand, do not want to cooperate with them – but instead approach the families directly.

A political and public education program with a focus on ecology, direct democracy and feminism.

Cooperatives have been established, in which only womanr included. But otherwise, the women work in parallel organizations at all levels to support their own liberation for the good of the community.

But as inspiration from primarily the activist Abdullah Ocalan and his reading of, among others, the anarchist Murray Bookchin In Rojava, a political and public education program has been developed with a focus on ecology, direct democracy and feminism. These are globally oriented platforms, not least in light of the area's long-standing dominance of conflicts with former colonial powers and their attempts to maintain power and influence in the area.

Apart from the family, as mentioned, the cooperatives form the basic unit in the self-governing area. Their focus varies from general agriculture, over supermarkets, clothing and water tapping to pillows. Extensive coordination takes place between the co-operations. Cleaning and feeding chickens/hens and cattle take turns between the families.

Another characteristic icon for the area is the self-governing area's focus on women's liberation. In all structures, pure women's organizations participate to monitor and ensure that no form of oppression of women takes place and that patriarchy is thus a thing of the past. The women also coordinate their parallel activities in Rojava.

Having participated in the war against ISIS, it is alarming and a disgrace that the international community does not react when the Turkish government attacks civilians and infrastructure in the self-governing Rojava.

In the middle of a witch's cauldron further with attacks from ISIS and with hostile countries around it, it is natural to ask why the interest in defending an international legal order in Ukraine should not also include Rojava.

In addition, the border with Turkey and Iran is closed and the Turks control the water supply, which is needed when electricity is to be made. Now diesel generators must ensure power instead.

The hostility of the outside world is countered by Rojava's insistence on continuing to try to live a dignified life. As a particularly vulnerable community and bearer of an offensive political program, self-governing Rojava deserves not only attention, but also international support and solidarity.

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

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