Marilyn Hamilton (as Founder of Integral City Meshworks) was honoured to form a trio with panelists, Peter Harper (an expert on climate change and its causes) and Albert Bates (an expert and elder of the Ecovillage Movement and intense sustainability practices like biochar) at the GEN Day 2 focus on Ecology. Capturing our core thoughts, the graphic facilitator highlighted the responses we gave to the moderators and the audience who fielded questions throughout the panel.

Mirrored on the graphic were also 2 others who had been invited to the panel but could not attend. We all regretted their absence and invoked their spirit and commitment to a whole, living Earth worldview:

The impact of Charles Eisenstein from the Findhorn Climate Change and Consciousness Conference 2019 (attended by Marilyn Hamilton) took centre stage early on. Eisenstein’s emphasis and provocation at CCC2019 was framed as “If you knew she (meaning Gaia/Earth) could feel you would stop”. Hamilton had been deeply impacted by this image as it captured the belief that Earth was a living system – underlining that proposition of the Gaia Hypothesis originating with James Lovelock.

If Gaia is an evolutionary living system, then humans – and their cities, towns, villages and eco-villages are also alive. Hamilton framed the urban human habitats as Human Hives – sharing her learnings from the honeybees that we needed to include the 4 Voices of the city/eco-village if we are to bring the whole system to the table. Citizens, Civil Society/Third Sector, Civic Managers and Business/Innovators all have critical roles to play in responding to our planetary environmental challenges. And when we gather, we should always ask, “Who else should be here?”

Ecovillages need to be careful not to fall into consensus trance – but to use the example of the bees to practise diversity generation – we need to both DARE to ask questions and DARE to be a hero who can bring others on side. If you want to make a change – you must recognize yourself as a Visionary and take responsibility to “just do it”; i.e. be and do the change you want to see in the world.

Harper reminded us that we have our roots deeply in the Earth and Earth is suffering deep physical injuries caused by human action. To treat these physical injuries, we need to declare an environmental/climate emergency and respond with the legislative and big corporate systems with physical treatments that can operate quickly and broadly. Harper pointed out that when someone incurs an injury of broken bones and bodily harm (say falling off a bike) the emergency response first needs to treat the physical injury so that follow-up emotional, spiritual and cultural responses will have a live person to embrace with non-allopathic treatments.

Bates made a strong case that in fact we know how to build businesses that can actually heal the planet – he gave examples from many sectors including food production, energy generation and energy diagnosis. Bates also told the stories of how early (and even current) eco-villages who have survived, have required that residents become skilled (or re-skilled) at crafts – so people can contribute their personal trades, skills and manifesting capacities to actually “build stuff” (and not just theorize or design it).

Ultimately, the three panelists agreed that Eco-villages bring Hope because they provide living examples of people practising what they believe in and being accessible to other forms of human habitation and governance. The communities in eco-villages are real lighthouses in this (VUCA) time of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. The richness of our panel discussion was carried on in many conversations after the panel concluded (and translated into Open Space topics – even including cities!).

This short blog series explores our experience at and contributions to the GEN Europe 2019 Conference: