I was honoured to be invited to Skala ecovillage in Greece. Anna and Nikiforos are 3 years into their fourth attempt to build a community on their property near Thessaloniki on which currently abide 7 adults plus 3 volunteers and some children. I'm still not sure what they thought I would bring, but their main concern is to take the project from merely living together to building a future together.
Nikiforos is a highly skilled engineer running a family business 50km away putting all his income into Skala. Most of the others are paying a fixed rent for basic accommodation but not investing in the project. Skala is producing some soap and jam which yields an insignificant income. So there's not much of an economy for me to get my teeth into. Nonetheless, Stewart
and I did a double act on Sunday afternoon which looked like this:
- Our offers and wants (30 mins)
- One sheet of paper each. Make a big list. Think for each other. We can do more than we think!
- Relations with the village (15 mins)
Take previous list and ask: What can we offer the local people and the world? What do we need?
- trading floor game (90 mins)
WHILE Stewart put all the offers and wants into his SAM software and produce a printed directory
- Look at new offers and wants directory.
Write some cheques for imaginary transactions, enter them in SAM and browse.
Which is as much as we could do before bedtime despite my having several other discussion points lined up. On Monday morning, Stewart moved on, but I had Anna wanted me to lead the Skala's inhabitants into territory I had never been in. For the next two afternoons I led discussion/workshops as follows, in many points making it up as I went along.
- How does money flow through Skala & members
Map collective and individual economic inputs and outputs
- Core business ideas.
ASK everyone what kind of work creates flow, is effortless for them
Discuss - where are the harmonics in the group
Enquire: what is the economic situation now - how could it be developed?
- Land Ownership & commitment
- ASK everyone to plot on 4 axes: how much of them is in skala: heart, relationships, capital, income.
- Enquire: What do other ecovillages do about ownership, commitment, participation in governance, and helping to shape the vision.
- ASK everyone what would encourage them them to move towards the 'full' commitment which Anna and Nikiforos think is necessary
- Discuss: Is it possible and helpful to make full commitment (on those 4 axes) but for review after a time period, such as 5 years?
- ASK everyone what they would like to discuss next.
Despite my being desperately unqualified everyone seemed agreed that it had been a valuable process. Certainly bringing certain thoughts and feelings to the surface is critical for building a future together, but for me it is interesting that Anna and Nikiforos felt unable to do this within the usual ecovillage Process.
Time will tell whether our time together will yield fruit, whether the inhabitants will remember these conversations a year from now, and whether I should be spending less time programming and more time with humans.