Ecovillage Conference Tokyo 2010: Relocalization in Action!
By Penelope Reyes
On May 28-30 I was honored to be one of the keynote speakers at the fourth International Ecovillage Conference in Tokyo. The conference theme was “Relocalization for a Sustainable Earth.”
(As you may know, "Relocalization" is a term used recently by groups responding to Peak Oil and climate change, including the Transition Town movement and "Relocaliation Movement," for creating local, bioregional sources of food, energy, and economic livelihood.)
Sponsored by the nonprofit BeGood Café, conference participants from all over Japan and other Asian countries heard keynote speakers and participated in practical breakout workshop sessions — 40 different sustainability topics in all. BeGood Café founder and Board Chairman Kiyoshi Shikita and his dedicated team pulled off another huge success!
Arcosanti in Arizona, described how visionary architect Paolo Solari is creating an experimental urban setting in order to combine the best features of high-density visionary architecture and ecological design. Most buildings are passive solar, and built with tilt-up concrete panels cast in a bed of silt acquired from the surrounding area. The silt gives the concrete a unique texture and color and helps it blend in with the high desert landscape. Although Solari does not consider Arcosanti an ecovillage but an educational center, Arcosanti nevertheless provides a model of how we can organize and design human settlements using fewer resources. The experiment was established to present “a lean alternative that incorporates elegant frugality,” Mr. Tamura said.
Auroville, the well-known spiritual community and ecovillage in Pondicherry, India. Founded in 1968 as “an experiment in human unity” and often called, “The City the Earth Needs,” Auroville is intended to one day become a city of 50,000. Currently it is the world’s largest ecovillage with 1800 residents from India and all over the world. Professor Mohanty, who joined Auroville in 1994, has participated in many aspects of Auroville’s development, including issues of environmental justice and participatory rural development, and in organizing university-level seminars on sustainability. Her presentation focused on Auroville’s view of the three fundamental dimensions of life: Soil, Soul, and Society. “Soil represents nature, the Earth,” Professor Mohanty said. “Soul represents the individual and the constant aspiration for perfection and to be of service to Earth and society. Society is the living and learning community that embraces all the nations of the world, all the cultures, and all of humanity.”
David Holmgren of Australia gave his keynote presentation by Skype conference call, in order to keep his commitment to maintain a low ecological footprint and not use air travel. His keynote address was called “Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change,” which is also the title of his new book. His dialogue with conference participants, moderated by Professor Itonaga, was on the importance of the ecovillage movement and its future, from the perspective of a long-term permaculture practitioner.
Together, Michiyo Furuhashi and I gave a presentation about GENOA (Global Ecovillage Network for Oceania & Asia)i. Michiyo, the GENOA representative from Japan, is a member of Konohana Family Farm, a spiritual community and ecovillage near Mt. Fuji, and I'm the director of GENOA and live in the Philippines. Michiyo and I discussed the many different kinds of community-based sustainability initiatives in Asia: start-up ecovillages, transition towns, eco-retrofit communities, eco-homestead or eco-resorts, traditional village communities, and sustainability education centers.
Gaia Education, and its month-long EDE (Ecovillage Design Education) program. Bindu Mohanty, who teaches in the EDE program at Auroville, led a sample training in her breakout workshop. Other workshops touched on E-Art and Community Art. An initial meeting of the Japanese Ecovillage Network was also held as a breakout session.
All in all, it was a wonderful conference!
GENOA (Global Ecovillage Network Oceania/Asia), and a trainer in the month-long EDE (Ecovillage Design Education) course, a project of Gaia Education, a program of GEN. She is founder/director of the Happy Earth environmental education nonprofit, and active in the Transition Town movement in the Philippines. Penelope lives at Tuwa - The Laughing Fish, a eco-resort Bed & Breakfast in Cabiao, Philippines.
From August 28 through September 25 Penelope will host and co-teach an EDE course at The Laughing Fish. For more information, see the Happy Earth website.
- Eco-Heroes in Japan — May 08
- Japanese "Eco-Heroes" Do It Again — May '09
- Japanese Ecovillage Conference, 2009 — Nov-Dec '09
- Ecovillage Conferences & Courses: Asia — May '10