The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) is a network of intentional communities and projects that are exploring alternative ways of living on a community scale. Recently, in July 2015, GEN celebrated its 20th year in a Global Ecovillage Network +20 Summit conference in Findhorn, Scotland. Simultaneously Gaia Education, an outcome of GEN, celebrated its 10th anniversary at the same event, together with the many ecovillage representatives that gathered for the event. More at: http://gen.ecovillage.org
A young Aurovillian, Kavitha Urvasie Selvaraj, visited Findhorn and took part in the GEN+20 Summit. Here is her experience.
I am Kavitha Urvasie Selvaraj, a 24 year old Aurovilian, Indian & Dutch by nationality. I come from one of the larger intentional communities in the world, based on Integral Yoga, with about 2500 residents, known as Auroville, in South India. My Indian grandparents come from the neighbouring Tamil village, and my Dutch & German grandparents came by ship from Europe in the early years. My parents both grew up in this ecovillage, digging swales to retain water and planting thousands of trees and helping start the first schools, building the first organizations and infrastructure. I am a third generation eco-villager. I studied in Auroville, but also studied at University in the Netherlands on the topic ‘Sustainable Development,’ only to realize that I had to go back home, for I felt most solutions came from Community Based Sustainable Development…. So I flew back to Auroville.
I worked at our community’s Town Hall for some time, in the Town Development office, and in the Entry Service for new aspiring members. I then found myself working with Pitchandikulam Forest projects, a dynamic place in Auroville that connects deeply to the people of the bio-region, India, and works hard to ‘restore an ecological balance to the surrounding watershed’.
While in University I discovered the GEN network and Gaia Education and was inspired to write my thesis suggesting to build ‘Skills and Service Centers’ in neighbouring ecovillages. I thought these centres should help act as training and resource centers to share ecovillage solutions with its bio-region. When I came back to Auroville, I discovered that Pitchandikulam was already working with its local government in Tamil Nadu to build a Sustainable Livelihood Institute, one of a kind ecovillage-government joint collaboration. I was thrilled that this was already happening and joined the team to discover how this institute would develop.
As a third generation Aurovilian, I experienced and discovered more and more that young Aurovilians (and youth from the region) face our own generational challenges – we have a shortage of housing, financial difficulties to join this intentional community, and difficulties finding employment for various reasons. Also, we have developed over the last 40+ years education up to a High School level, but need to develop ‘Higher Education’ for our community. Therefore, recently I set up the YouthLink initiative, with a team of other youth from the area, to help integrate the next generation into our community’s functioning. Youth Link is proposing to build its own campus in our community to address topics of Housing, Employment and to explore what ‘Integral Higher Education’ might mean for our community.
With this background, when I heard that GEN + 20 Summit and Gaia Education 10th Anniversary would be celebrated in Findhorn in July 2015, I felt it was the time to attend, and I had a life changing, heart opening experience. The conference set a safe space for deep sharing, involving wise elders, young leaders and green innovators from the world… I look up to these individuals who form this beautiful network as the true Freedom Fighters for the world… their work, often humble and under covered by the media, is what I believe will cause the biggest shifts that our global society is looking for. I am deeply honored to have been a part of the conference, with the privilege of presenting Auroville from the youth-perspective, and I look forward to connecting Auroville back to the Global Ecovillage Network (and particularly to the Oceania/Asia and youth NextGEN networks).
From the Auroville side, we are exploring the ideas of Aurovilians participating in the proposed GENOA Bali Convergence in 2016, particularly encouraging youth from the Auroville area to join. We also hope to develop a conference and festival, to invite GEN and NextGEN members to Auroville in 2018, when Auroville turns 50 years old!
Youth Link: firstname.lastname@example.org
GEN Link to Auroville is through Pitchandikulam Outreach Desk – email@example.com
More on Pitchandikulam, in Auroville: http://www.pitchandikulamforest.org