Building the New Normal

by Global Ecovillage Network

“Until living from a place of love within becomes the New Normal, our global problems that are symptoms of that love’s absence, will remain.”

During this past year, we have heard the term “the New Normal” buzzing around in many countries around the world. It has generally been associated with social distancing, work from home, heightened hygiene, as well as empty roads, skyrocketing online shopping, and closed borders.

What was once normal radically changed overnight.

In the same manner, us changemakers and “weavers of alternatives” have always believed that we can change what is normal. Many people would think that we’re crazy to believe in such a thing. But not anymore. It has been demonstrated, once and for all, that normal is simply that which is upheld by people’s day-to-day collective behaviour patterns, and that these can change!

The changes during the pandemic were, in most cases, enforced by governments — which can feel rather disempowering — but it did prove the point that people can change.

When we build our own house it feels as though they become part of our body.

In that context, the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) embarked on a campaign last year called “Building the New Normal” where they aim to show the world that we collectively have the power to build what is normal—rather than merely following norms or rules—and that ecovillages around the world have been doing exactly that for decades now! This campaign is a statement, a challenge, and an invitation to take action or join hands.

At the heart of it, ecovillages are simply, yet profoundly, spaces where people are learning to live together from a place of connectedness: Love. This manifests in respect and appreciation of others and their diversity: Community. It also results in the dedicated care and stewardship of nature and all other forms of life: Regeneration.

The Global Ecovillage Network consists of about 10,000 such communities and ecovillages on every continent, each very different but united in their intention to consciously design their own regenerative pathways through local participatory processes in the 4 Areas of Regeneration: social, culture, ecology, and economy.

In this manner, they are building a more authentic, connected, and regenerating way of life each day. They want these values to be their normal, and rather than wait for the world to catch up, ecovillagers go ahead and build it themselves. They know in their hearts that it is not only possible, it is also destined to be.

One of those ecovillagers is Camila Olarte who lives in AldeaFeliz Ecovillage located in Colombia. Below is a short story on how she is building the kind of normal she wants to live in (translated from Spanish).

My name is Camila, . I live with my two children Miguel and Gabriel in Aldeafeliz Ecovillage in Colombia. One of the things I love about our community is the dedication to construct our homes in a way that protects nature. It teaches us how to tap into the power and creativity of the community as a whole, while building together. In this way we don’t only build a home, we also work on ourselves, and we regenerate our planet.

It really feels so powerful!

We started building my home six years ago. It was quite a 'creative party’. More than 70 people from around the world participated in the construction of my home, and we ran courses on sustainable construction for them.

There is a beautiful word in one of our Colombian indigenous languages: Minga. It expresses how the community unites for a shared purpose of building a space as a ‘being in gestation’. I can’t express how profoundly true this feels to me, referring to my home as a living being—the gestation of which challenged us and, consequently, endowed us with forces we didn’t know we had within us.

“Building a house in this way fills our hands with love, and from our hands it passes to our tools as they become our extended arms and an extension of our creative power. Our being wants to speak through our creative construction, and it does. When we build our own house it feels as though they become part of our body.

In a sense it is a work of deep ecology: We will build a home outside, cemented in our home within. Each detail is a metaphor of our human relationships. How are we joining the beams? Are they like our relationships? Did we join them weakly? Did we use good materials? With much carelessness or, perhaps, anger? Did we leave them forgotten in the rain and now they have fungus? Are they healthy because we care for them? Are they strong because we put joy in them? How are the foundations?

In truth, the house, the wood, the bamboo and the stones will ask you all kinds of questions. And I realised that communication, heart-to-heart connections, and collective creativity are materials just as structural as wood and stone!

And most importantly, I know that we all have the power innate in us to develop the skills to build and sustain our own lives. That is what I want to celebrate today: The way I live and build the normal I want to live in, and my children to grow up in!”

To thrive in this endeavour and create a truly global impact, we must stand together as one global community. Join us in building a New Normal through ecovillages and communities all around the planet, including online communities. Together, we have the power to co-create what is normal.