The Solidarity Economy Learning Partnership Grundtvig. Project goals : .Create a European toolbox of available and transferable solutions .Promote peer-group training at the European level. .Multiply and export lessons learned from practices, tools and methods to other geographical and economic contexts
‘Building sustainable community’ the ecovillage’s strapline, is a sentence and 3 separate words. The ecovillage is joined onto a local town, Cloughjordan, one with a train station,. Its design is for closely clustered houses, lots of planting, and for communal open space. www.thevillage.ie
Questions focused on collective purchase, costs of purchase, and the use of loan stock to generate income and increased value.
5 years ago members of the ecovillage established the farm, which is made up of 2/3 ecovillagers 1/3 local residents of the town and hinterland.
Ollie Moore described Cloughjordan CS. It started in 2008 and has 62 family memberships in total – around 90 people being fed from the farm. Milk, seasonal veg and occasional meat are provided, there are also grains but this is proving difficult. There are two farms: upper and lower. The veg is grown at the back of the ecovillage, while the animals and milk are two km away, on upper farm. The (evolving) structure was outlined. It consists of:
•upper and lower farm
•supported by board of trustees (financial, administration and legal)
•woofers and volunteers
•membership and distribution
•communication, membership payment, outreach to attract
The Cloughjordan Community Farm is a member owned and operated Community Supported Agriculture initiative based in Cloughjordan. It aims to develop a healthy food culture, provide livelihoods and a secure local food supply, as well as hosting training in resilient food systems.
Discussion revolved around mapping transition, understanding resilience and the community/ communities in Cloughjordan.Livelihoods or employment was especially discussed: can we rely on pensioned employment, or do we need to examine generating useful actives that help communities and still pay people?
Several local and regional initiatives who are involved in or who are relevant to the solidarity economy made presentations. These included FEASTA:The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, Housing Co-Op, Cultivate, Loughmore cafe, WeCreate and, t he Cloughjordan Wholefood Wholesale Buyers Group.
Some of the key themes that emerged included:
• The positives of FEASTA’S economic analysis, especially on growth.
• The usefulness of the round tables cafe format, and whether this should be translated into a speed dating format, of whether it is more fruitful as is.
• The importance of translation for understanding concepts, which may differ from region to region.
• The participation of locals (farm members and the wider community from the various similar activities areas)
• The model of a contented livelihood the baker represented
• Issues of relative levels of integration
• Do we need to prepare for de-growth, create livelihoods or employ people?
• Having your feet on the ground but your head in the stars
• The citizenship on display in Cloughjordan thus far
• Diversity of projects including the forward looking technological elements to life in the ecovillage such as WeCreate and the fablab
• How ideas initiated in Cloughjordan are being informally rolled out into other regions, a transition, diffusion model dynamic.
• The structures used by the farm and ecovillage emerged as important discussion points. Moving beyond leaders and pioneers, and into a more consensual participatory model was vital for the progress of overall project.
• Davie pointed to the importance of ecovillage resident John Joplin, who introduced the notion of Giayn democracy, cybernetics, and VSM, or Viable Systems Models to the community. This allows for a flat, consensual structure to be used, but one given shape by the use of primary activities and their supports.
• The ecovillage as more a transition initiative and and ecoquarter of an existing town, emerged as a discussion point. This is more transformative, mainstreaming and relevant for other regions in Europe: elements, from the food to the fablab to energy, can be taken from it and used elsewhere.