Eco-village gathering

In the golden warmth of September, a magical gathering took place in Almeria’s Sierra Alhamilla. Nestled in the arid hillsides, an oasis of possibilities is flourishing;  Cortijo los Baños -Al -Hamam. This eco-community, which offers permaculture courses, a lively farm school and workshop facilities, was this year’s host to the XIII Reunion of Iberian Ecovillages.
 
Four days of endless festivities and investigations, wove together the dreams of over 400 participants of all ages and nationalities. Between rows of sunflowers and beans sprung activities in a bio-diversity of colours- from wild African dance to inquiries into conflict resolution methods.
 
Ecovillages, or Intentional Communities, are formed by groups of people world- wide who have chosen to live together in order carry out their shared lifestyle or common purpose. The network of Ecovillages in Iberia, or RIE, meets annually to share their experiences and visions, and to present projects and exchange ideas. Representatives from other countries were also invited.
 
Participation was key, whether being covered in mud while building adobe-style, or discussing more holistic opportunities for educating children. Circles of hands, circles of songs, of dance, of prayer; at times the energy generated was truly electrifying, moving emotions and feet, engaging people in the mood of joy and collaboration- exactly what many people miss in today’s fragmented and isolating society.
 
Rising to greet the sun with simple meditation or a more invigorating yoga practice; wandering through productive gardens to find artistic bamboo shells providing protected space for both silent reflection and animated discussions; choices were plentiful and diverse. The vibrant presence of children reminded us to play, and wide open hearts and honest smiles were as abundant as the organic food fresh from the farm.
 
As the night crept in the threshing circle provided a fire-lit arena for music of all forms from rock to ethnic, as well as a stage for those wishing to share their talents, and a camping ground between olive trees made a star-studded bedroom.
 
The organization by the team at Los Baños and their volunteers was impressive and facilitated entirely the atmosphere of cooperation and service. The ‘real’ work of community living and developing cohesion may not have been so present in such an intensive four-day event in which the festive mood was at a natural high, but it gave tremendous insight into the possibilities of sharing opinions, solutions and celebrations- even the washing up was fun!
 
At the end, a general reluctance to leave this joyful existence and our Big Family, but participants carried away the seeds of change within them and the message that a more peaceful and creative life is possible. Gratitude to all those who contributed their presence at such an uplifting event!
 
Red Iberica de Ecoaldeas   www.ecoaldeas.org
Cortijo Los Baños-Al-Hamam   www.cortijo-al-hamam.com
Global Ecovillage Network   www.gen-europe.org

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