HistoryThe Sieben Linden project started in 1989 when several people bought a project centre called Groß Chüden, 25 km north of Sieben Linden, with the idea of building a self-sufficient and ecological village.
In 1997, the group bought the actual site of Sieben Linden and part of the people living in Groß Chüden moved to Sieben Linden few months later. The existing old farm has first been renovated following ecological methods and converted to the community building, then becoming the main place of community life and seminar centre.
Since 1999, several infrastructure has been established: a parking, paths, electricity and telephone lines, wells, plant drainage system, pond, amphitheatre, planting of windbreaks...
The ecovillage site has grown to around 100 hectares, including:
- 6 hectares of building land on which the community has built 11 residential buildings shared by different families, several community centres and other buildings for the community (meditation house, wood workshop, stables,...). Dozens of trailers are also installed, where community members live.
- 64 hectares forests
- 8 hectares gardens/pasture
- 20 hectares arable fields, which are currently rented to a local farmer, which cultivates them ecologically
The community has now 150 inhabitants and aims at reaching 300 inhabitants: there is no rush for them to reach that population, the most important is to enable a progressive and organic growth of the community.
The ecovillage is situated in the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt: this state, which was part of East Germany, has experienced a continuous reduction of its population since German reunification. Sieben Linden, which conversely attracts more and more people, arouses the local government's interest.
From the very beginning of the project in 1997, a design of the ecovillage was established. With the help of an urbanist and a permaculture designer, the site has been observed for 1 year and key elements of the area have been identified: the fauna and flora has been analysed, the sun and wind resources have been assessed, the soil has been studied... Based on these observations and on permaculture approach and ecological principles, a local master plan has been created and divided the whole area into different several small areas with different purposes.
Currently, the community development is not based anymore on a master plan but the location of new buildings is analysed following several criteria, which guarantees the good integration of buildings in the existing environment.
Protection of cycles of waterUntil 2013, the community was supplying its water directly from 2 wells that have been dug in the ecovillage at a depth of 45m, but in 2014 the ecovillage was connected to the municipal water supply, without having the possibility to refuse this decision. All domestic water is then provided from the municipality while the irrigation of gardens, which represents half of the total water consumption is still done with water pumped from the wells.
The household use of drinking water is around 60 litres per person and per day, about half of the mean consumption of drinking water in Germany. In order to reduce their water consumption, several measures have been implemented in Sieben Linden.
First, all toilets in the community are composting toilets, in which urine and faeces are separated. In addition to the limitation of water consumption, the pollution of wastewaters is strongly reduced thanks to the use of composting toilets, which enables to limit the area covered by the wastewater treatment plant. Moreover, it enables to reduce the size of the ducts used in the sewage system.
After being separated from urine, faceas are composted in separated facilities, before being used for tree planting. Urine is evacuated with the wastewaters to the water treatment plant which contains 2 main basins. The wastewater first flows into a decomposition tank containing straw: the solid matter and straw mix and rot anaerobically. The wastewater cleaned from the solid matter is then transferred with a pump to a reed bed where bacteria digest all dissolved substances. The purified water flows into the control tank where it can be pumped to water the gardens. All surplus is evacuated in the woodlands.
Use of energy from renewable sourcesWhen speaking about energy production, it is mainly for electricity and heat production.
Many different solutions enable to reduce the heat needs in Sieben Linden:
- as the living area is limited to 33m² per inhabitant, there is limited area to be heated
- houses are well-insulated, which enables to keep the warmth during the cold winters. Several houses are also equipped with heat recovery ventilation systems, which enable to recover the residual heat from the exhaust air to pre-heat the fresh air introduced in the houses
- in each house, living rooms are facing-south, with large windows, which enables the sun to reach and warm the rooms
- for production of hot water, solar panels have been installed on every house: around 2m² per inhabitants are now installed in the ecovillage
During the winter months, when the sun is not sufficient anymore to warm the houses and produce hot water, firewood collected from the Sieben Liden's forest is used (around 2,7 m³ pine wood per person and per year): the wood is burnt in boilers, in combination with solar panels and hot water tanks.
It is important to note that the heating needs are very different in the ecovillage and depends on the type of housing and its insulation: trailers are very poorly insulated and need important of quantities of firewood. Conversely, all houses are much better insulated and need less firewood for their heating: for example, the house called Sonnenhaus Libelle, built in 2011, reduced the firewood consumption to 0,6m³ per person and per year by using a very efficient insulation, triple glazing windows and more solar panels (with 6m² per inhabitant).
In term of electricity production, the ecovillage is equipped with PV-panels covering a 392m² area (around 3m² per inhabitant): in total, 65% of the total electricity consumption of the ecovillage is produced with PV-panels. The electricity produced on site is, when needed, directly consumed by the ecovillagers. When the production is higher than the instantaneous consumption, the electricity in surplus is injected in the grid. On the contrary, when the production is not sufficient to cover all the ecovillage consumption (on cloudy days, during nights or in the winter for example), the electricity is imported from the national grid.
In total, the electricity consumption is around 400 kWh per person and per year in Sieben Linden, 4 times less than the German average: this can be explained as very few electrical devices are used in the ecovillage, and especially no electric heater, electric boiler or electric cooker are used. All washing machines are equipped with a hot water inlet, which reduces the electricity use. Cooking is also made with gas.
Several projects to reduce the energy consumption or increase the local electricity production are being studied: a wind turbine may be installed to supply electricity and would be complementary with PV-panels. Electricity storage could also be considered.
Food production from organic agricultureThe community vision in terms of food production is to develop a conscious consuming: the idea is thus to increase awareness of the impact of purchasing decisions on the environment and society in general. It is partly based on self-sufficiency on various products.
Several agricultural activities are held in Sieben Linden in that sense, with cultivation of around 2,5 hectares of gardens to provide the community with vegetables, fruits and aromatics.
A community garden has been created for local production: around 1 hectare (the area will be extended in the next months) are cultivated to provide vegetables for the community and guests. 4 employees and several volunteers work all year in the garden, they are regularly helped by other community members and volunteers when needed.
3 greenhouses (with an area of around 350m²) enable the production of vegetables which need hot temperatures during the summer: tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, peppers and eggplants and the production of seedlings.
In total, around 50 different plants are cultivated every year in the community garden, using ecological methods and trying to reduce the use of tractors.
For the last 20 years, an independent gardener named Uga cultivates a 1-hectare garden rented to the community: the majority of fruits and aromatics consumed by the community come from Uga's garden. Other vegetables such as corn, zucchini, leeks are cultivated in this garden.
Uga has also created a tree nursery and produces many different fruit trees sold in all the region.
Several other community members rent a parcel and cultivate their own vegetables, to develop community self-sufficiency. In total, around 75% of the community needs in vegetables, fruits and aromatics are covered locally in the ecovillage.
Construction of sustainable buildingsAll community members currently live in 11 residential buildings and around 45 trailers which have been renovated and converted into well-insulated living places.
From the first years of the ecovillage, green building has always been a priority for the community: the first 2 buildings, which were already built when the land was bought, have been renovated and extended using natural and sustainable materials.
Many of the housing buildings have been built using straw-bale construction building whose main materials are bales of straw, wood and clay. This building method is particularly interesting to limit the ecological impact of the houses: bales of straw have been harvested from local fields, wood and clay were provided locally.
As straw-building was not recognized as “common technology” in Germany, the community members have had to carry out an important pioneering work so as to legitimize and improve understanding of straw-bale constructions.
Thus, the "Villa Strohbunt", built from 2001 to 2004, was the first straw-bale construction in Germany to get a building permit: it has been integrally built by hand, from local and recycled materials.
In 2004, the 3-floors straw-bale house «Strohpolis» was the highest residential straw-bale house in Europe and enabled the official validation that straw-bale could be used as a building technique in Germany.
The house presented in the next picture was built in 2008, by using timber-frame construction and straw bale insulation. This is the first attempt at building a house using prefabricated straw bale walls prepared in a close indoor workshop: the panels were then mounted with a crane, which made the building site less dependent on the weather.
Sustainable building is of course not reduced to straw-bale technique: thus, a common rule in Sieben Linden is that the living area should be limited to 33m² per inhabitant. Moreover, several building materials are excluded in Sieben Linden's buildings as they are not ecological: mineral wool, PVC, polyurethane foam...
Protection of biodiversity and regeneration ecosystemsSieben Linden's community is particularly aware of the global biodiversity loss and is deeply committed in its protection.
Locally, it starts with a limitation of land artificialisation: the buildings are constructed on limited areas, so that they can fulfil their objectives without compromising the surrounding natural environment. For example, for every residential building, the building area per inhabitants is limited in order to reduce the building size: the residential area should then not exceed 33 m² per inhabitant.
Sharing some services between inhabitants is also a particularly good way to reduce the building areas. For example, common laundries are used in Sieben Linden: by sharing the same washing machines, you can then reduce the construction costs of the buildings (as you do not need to include one laundry in every apartment), buy more expensive and effective washing machines and increase the use of the devices.
Sieben Linden is also particularly aware of the impact of land management on the biodiversity, whether it is in building, agricultural or forest areas.
In the building area, many different gardens and open areas have been created, which helps to develop an important biodiversity, especially for birds.
A large pond has also been created in the ecovillage: although its first objective is to be used as a fire protection pond in case of fire, it is also very useful for the inhabitants to have a bath and is also an habitat for many different species of insects and amphibians.
The 20 hectares arable fields are currently not used by the community, they are rented to a local farmer which cultivates them ecologically. An agroforestry project has been started on these fields, which consists in the planting of hedges of trees and shrubs among crops.
The forest management is also an important activity for the community as 64 hectares of forest are under Sieben Linden's responsibility. Natural and sustainable forestry techniques are used to provide the village with sufficient firewood for heat production during winter: workhorses are preferred to tractors to reduce soil compacting. A few trees are also selected to be used as construction materials in the community buildings, which enables a long-term removal of CO2. Fallen trees are often left so that they can naturally degrade, providing the right environment for specific fauna and flora.
The forest was previously mainly planted and constituted with endless lines of pines. The community coordinates the use of the existing trees and the replanting of new trees, for next generations. The replanted forest is a mix of deciduous trees, to enable a better biodiversity in the forest, which bring very nice contrasts in the forest.
Promotion of public transportation systemsSieben Linden's community intends to limit its ecological footprint in terms of transportation, which is the largest share in the global footprint of the community.
The first mean to fulfil this objective is to propose as many services and activities as possible in the community: a majority of the goods needed in the community are proposed locally, in the shop for example, and many activities are organised on site and proposed to the ecovillagers.
When travels cannot be avoided, transportation with buses and trains are encouraged: all guests are incited to use public transportation when travelling to and from Sieben Linden.
A car club has also been created and 10 cars are shared between community members. Electric bikes can also be borrowed.
Ecological footprintAnalyses of the ecovillage's ecological footprint have been performed in order to measure the human impact of the ecovillage on the environment. In practice, ecological footprint expresses the area needed to support people's life over a one-year time span. This footprint can be expressed in a normalized measure of land area called global hectares (gha) or in number of Earths needed to sustain the world population at that level of consumption.
For example, in Germany, the ecological footprint in 2016 (last data available at the moment) was 4.84 gha per capita. It corresponds to 2.97 Earths: thus, if all humanity were living the German way, we would need 2.97 planets to sustain what humanity demands from nature. Globally, humanity's ecological footprint in 2016 was 1.7 planet Earths, which illustrates that humanity runs an ecological deficit (humanity uses more resources and generates more waste than the ecosystem can handle).
Two different studies have been done to assess the ecovillage's ecological footprint: the most recent one has been performed by the University of Turin in 2014. It shows that the overall ecological footprint of Sieben Linden is 56% of the German average.
Several conclusions can be made based on this study:
- although the ecovillage's ecological footprint is much better than the national footprint, it is still not sufficient to enable a sustainable life
- there is still important room for improvement in several areas, and particularly in transports: indeed, an optimisation and limitation of private cars’ use and an extension of carpooling practices will enable further reductions.
- the ecological footprint of Sieben Linden is dominated by the impact of services, which represent 43% of total footprint. These "public" services are provided to all citizens and Sieben Linden inhabitants cannot directly influence these services by their lifestyle choices: an important work, at national level, should be performed in order to reduce the impact of public services village.
Support of personal growthSieben Linden ecovillagers define their community as a place based on personal growth where a fair and respectable communication with oneself and the others is necessary. No limiting guidelines are defined in the community: it gives the opportunity for all members to evolve and build themselves freely.
Several cultural and spiritual methods are put into practice in the community so that ecovillagers can connect to themselves and nature: a meditation building has for example been built in the ecovillage.
Respect of cultural traditionsThe Sieben Linden community has implemented several cultural traditions throughout the year: it enables to create close connections between all ecovillagers.
Several seasonal parties are celebrated in the community:
- the harvest festival (Erntedankfest in German) gathers the community every year in October around a meal taken in the community garden, to mark the end of the harvest period.
- Easter is an important celebration in Sieben Linden: an egg hunt is first organized for all children and a meal with the whole community is then shared.
The summer camp is also a key moment in Sieben Linden: for one week, 300 guests are welcomed in the community and participate to many different workshops and group activities like dancing and mantra singing.
The community also celebrates initiation for new-borns where all the community gathers and welcomes the new community member, the community members singing all together in circle around the family. It creates very strong community affiliations between all members.
When admitting new members, a party is organized for them, during which they have the opportunity to introduce themselves and share what they want with the community.
On a daily basis, several rituals are also put in place: as the community takes meals collectively every day, a quick blessing is pronounced before meals to thank the people and elements who have enabled the preparation of meals.
Weekly events have also now become a tradition: every Wednesday, for example, the sauna is turned on and the community members community are now used to spend a collective moment of relaxation.
Involvement to protect communities and natureThe community pays a close attention to protection of all human beings and nature.
Cattle farming is, for example, the topic which raises the most dissents in the community. Some members are vegan and refuse to kill or exploit any animal. On the other hand, several ecovillagers consider that eating animals places human beings in natural circles.
It has then been decided that only animals which can enjoy good living conditions until the end of their natural life can be hosted in the community.
This decision does not prevent members to eat meat if they want to: in this case they can provide their meat through ethical distribution networks, so that they can know the origin of their meat.
Celebration of life and diversity through artThe ecovillage is situated in a rural area where few cultural events are offered. The community aims at creating an inspiring place where many different artistic offers are proposed to ecovillagers and the surrounding inhabitants. Many art activities are performed in the community: dancing, music, theatre, cinema, painting...
On many occasions, the community sing all together. During seasonal fests, birthday parties or even spontaneously, a few community members often start singing, then joined by many others.
Reconnection with natureThe ecovillage is surrounded by big forests where it is always possible to walk and spend time to reconnect with nature.
This is the perfect environment for the Sieben Linden's kids who have now their forest kindergarten: this kindergarten does not only serve the community children but attracts children from the surroundings. The kindergarten only consists of a trailer: the children then spend the majority of their time to explore the forest with their teachers.
Guarantee of equitable ownership of land and resourcesAn important objective for the Sieben Linden inhabitants was to create a fair and common economy: the land and main ecovillage infrastructures are collectively owned through a cooperative, called Ökodorf eG (nicknamed SiGe). Every long-term member of the community is asked to subscribe to 11 shares of the cooperative, which represents 11.275€: each inhabitant is then co-owner of the ecovillage land. For the members with no possibility to pay this sum, solidarity solutions are also set-up.
The SiGe daily ensures many different community tasks in the ecovillage: for its operating costs, every member monthly pays 120 euros.
All residential buildings are also equitably owned by the inhabitants: a housing cooperative called Sieben Linden eG (nicknamed WoGe) have then provided the legal and financial framework for the construction of most of the housing projects. Thus, every resident has to bring to WoGe a financial share (12.000€) and working hours in order to build the house (all inhabitants have to participate to the construction of their buildings). The remaining sum of money needed to build the house is covered with additional deposits made by some of the residents or with credits established by WoGe. After being installed in their houses, the residents pay a monthly rent which depends on their initial financial and work participation.
A few residential buildings have been built by using their own legal entity and are not bound to WoGe.
Community solidarity is a key element in Sieben Linden. That's the reason why these 2 cooperatives give the possibility to invest in solidarity shares for members who want to bring an additional financial contribution to the project: these participations are then used to cover the shares of members who cannot bring their initial participation.
Promotion of social entrepreneurshipThe community regularly supports some of the ecovillagers to create start-ups or independent occupations: several services can be offered (such as advice or working places) and, when necessary, loans can be proposed.
Thus, several community members have created their independent work (as yoga teacher, dance teacher or craftsperson for example) and different companies have been developed in the ecovillage, for example:
- the company Eurotopia edits and published every 4 years a directory of many of the European communities.
- the company Raw Living sends many raw aromatic herbs cultivated in the community to their German customers.
Wealth creation through sharing and collaboration
Creating a local collaborative economyOne of the pillars of Sieben Linden's economy is to create closed loops with the money circulation in the community so as to strengthen the internal economy.
Although every member is responsible for self-financing his own life, many different job opportunities are available within the community:
- the SiGe cooperative needs employees to maintain forests and to farm the market-garden (see paragraph about "Guarantee of equitable ownership of land and resources" for more information)
- the WoGe cooperative employs people for its administrative tasks (see paragraph about "Guarantee of equitable ownership of land and resources" for more information)
- the organisation Freundeskreis Ökodorf eV is the charity which gathers all the Sieben Linden's supporting members around its values. It organises many seminars related to sustainable development, ecovillage's life and personal development. Several ecovillagers work for this organisation to prepare the seminars proposed in the ecovillage.
- the company Naturwaren eV operates the grocery and organises the food provision: its aims are to provide the ecovillage with organic and, when available, local, fair and free from GMO products.
- the kindergarten «Freie Schule Altmark eV» needs teaching staff
Several members have already created their independent activity, which enables them to work from the ecovillage (craftpersons, consultants...).
Thus, only 10 adults from the 100 adult members of the community currently have an occupation located outside from the community: by creating as many jobs as possible directly in the ecovillage, the community creates a strong internal collaboration network which makes the money circulating several times in the community.
However, in order to support its internal economy, the community needs an external financing, which is mainly supported by the organisation of seminars, through the company Freundeskreis Ökodorf eV: the last health crisis provoked by Coronavirus deprived the community of the cash brought by the organisation of such events during the lock-out. Increasing the resilience of the community by diversifying the incomes sources is then important.
Community serviceA regular volunteer collaboration is asked to all the community: all members have to weekly do several hours of community services. Many different tasks can be performed as organising breakfasts, cleaning areas, preparing food... These activities are well organised in the community and are of great importance in the ecovillage life.
Collective food sharingOne of the particularities of Sieben Linden is the creation of a dedicated kitty aimed at providing all essential products to the community in solidarity. The principle is simple: every member participates to the kitty in equal parts (7 euros per day and per person), that gives the right to take all the food and other essential products (such as cleaning products) that one can need. This food is available in a common storeroom and everybody can take any product with no restriction.
The provision of the available products is made with strict requirements by a dedicated team: most of the vegetables come directly from the ecovillage market garden and are ecological. All other products are also ecological and, when possible, provided locally.
Only essential products are available in the storeroom: some of the products considered as "comfort" products (like chocolate) are not available in the storeroom but can be bought in the grocer's shop located in the ecovillage.
This kitty creates a really strong feeling of community life, as everybody participates to the purchase of all the essential products regardless of the cost and the quantities taken by each community member.
It also enables to reduce the waste incurred by the provision of products. Indeed, all products are available unpackaged: everybody can take the exact quantities of products needed, which reduces the leftovers. Moreover, it limits the quantity of package as everybody can come with its own reusable packages.
All meals can be equally taken at home or in the community canteen (in that case, an extra should be paid to compensate the meal preparation): when some more privacy is needed, the residents can then prepare their own food and take their meal at home. They can also directly come to the canteen and take their meals with the community.
The food for children is financially supported by all the community members. Similarly, all the costs for using the common infrastructures are not paid by the children's parents but are divided between all the residents.
Support of local economiesThe community, through its consumption, intends to support surrounding firms: that is the case with the bread bought by the community. All the bread consumed in the ecovillage comes from a close bakery. This bakery is the only one providing bread produced from ecological ingredients in the region: it was then important for the community to support this bakery instead of producing its own bread.
Responsible production, consumption and tradeA shop has been installed on site in order to provide the groceries for all residents and guests. The shop is a public organic shop which also sells Sieben Linden-made products. All residents of the community can become members of the shop: they pay a fixed membership fee and then get a general discount for their purchase.
For all community members, the shop is used to provide themselves with the products they cannot find in the common storeroom, where they normally take their food.
Respect of diversity and development of a community visionSieben Linden defines itself as a social and ecological community aiming at developing cooperation between nature and human beings. A document presenting the objectives and strategies of the ecovillage has been written by the community: it can be found here in German or here translated .
The guidances presented in this document do not constraint the future of the community and are meant to evolve: thus, the community is involved in an open process where new social and ecological experiments are received positively.
This absence of constraints is sometimes perceived as a lack of unity in the community: the ecovillage members are proud of these differences and present themselves as "unity in diversity".
Inclusion processBefore having the possibility to move in the community, new members are asked to follow an inclusion process: this process is the opportunity to confirm that there is mutual interest and sympathy between new members and the community. It is also a way for the community to ensure that new members have performed the introspection necessary to be sure that they really want and can live collectively.
After a first visit (through the summer camp or a workshop for example), the candidate have to follow several workshops which present the community and its functioning (more particularly the decision-making process).
After these workshops, a 1 year trial period can be proposed to the candidate: the candidate will be officially introduced to the community and 2 tutors will be named to support the candidate during all the trial period, to find a place to live for the new member and define an activity enabling the candidate to provide for his needs.
After the trial period, the community will vote to decide if the candidate can be accepted in the community.
Guarantee of participatory leadership and shared governanceWith the growing number of community inhabitants, the decision making through a systematic and general approval of all members was too time-consuming and was abandoned in 2008. A new process, based on the creation of several competent circles, was then implemented: the circles are responsible for taking the decisions they are in charge of and the community put its trust in the circles' members to realize their activities.
Seven different circles are currently in function and elected every year: the housing cooperative WoGe, the land cooperative SiGe, social affairs, building management, the Freundeskreis Ökodorf eV, the food provision and the new comers council. All decisions in the different circles are taken by consensus.
Four-choice consensus methodThe most important decisions (for example, discussions about the number of new members that can be welcome in the community or the approval of important expenses) are still taken during the monthly general assemblies, where all community members are invited.
A four-choice consensus method is now used in all general assemblies. This method has been developed by the community as many people were remaining silent despite not being in agreement with a decision: these members indeed chose not to express their opinion as they did not want to slow or even block the decision making-process. This new method seems to be a useful tool so that people can express their doubts on a proposal, without blocking it.
Thus, all Sieben Linden's members have four options to give their opinion about a proposal:
- Yes: I'm fully supporting the proposal
- Blank: I'm not fully positive, but I move aside
- No: I don't support the proposal, but don't want to block it
- Veto: I don't support the proposal and want to block it
For a proposal to be passed, 2/3 of all the expressed votes should be "Yes" and no one block the decision with a veto. When no veto is expressed but less than 2/3 of all the expressed votes are "Yes", the proposal is momentarily put-aside and will be brought again, with eventually some changes.
In case of veto, the proposal is put on hold for 2 weeks: the person who blocks the proposal should then organize group meetings with other community members in order to find at least one other person supporting the veto. If no additional blocking person is found, the proposal is passed after the 2-weeks delay.
If at least another person agrees to block the decision, the proposal is considered as blocked and the 2 persons have the responsibility to propose an alternative to the initial proposal during the next general assembly: they will have to organize meetings with others to draft a new proposal.
Use of communication skills, conflict facilitationRelationships between members are the core of all the community project and, in that sense, they require to be handled with specific attention: facilitating communication between the community members has then been identified as one of the main means to reinforce the community.
While all topics related to the community's day-to-day life are handled by the working groups, the general assemblies and the circles, in-depth topics are discussed during community intensive dedicated times: 3 times a year, the community gathers for several days and shares about important changes or issues in the community. The objectives of these gatherings is to define the ideas which really gathers all the community members, beyond their differences, and make them feel as a coherent community.
These dedicated times are of great importance for the community: a dedicated budget is available for this purpose and external well-known consultants are often invited in the community to guide the community.
Several communication methods are used by the community, in its daily life and in the intensive gatherings.
One method which was initially commonly used was the Forum, a specific communication tool which is presented below: this tool is less used by the community which prefers several other methods:
- Mindfulness exercises
- Fishbowl: it consists of 2 different concentric circles, the inner circle (called fishbowl circle) has around 5 seats and the outer one has enough space for everyone (listeners circle). Only the persons in the inner circle can discuss the proposed topic but everybody has the right to go to the inside circle if a seat is free: the group sitting in the inside circle should try to always keep one seat free for new people, and everyone within the fishbowl circle must leave the inner circle at some point in order to give space for others. This method gives the opportunity for all participants to express their opinion on the discussed topic.
- Active listening
Forum methodThe Forum is a communication tool for groups which has been developed by the German ecovillage Zegg.
During a Forum session, which lasts 90 minutes in its standard form, the group sits in a circle and the center space is used as a stage where everybody can bring any thought or feeling to others: one by one, the successive presenters enter the middle of the circle and starts sharing with the group. Two facilitators normally guide the session and help the presenter to deepen the sharings and in this way intensify the group's experience.
When a presenter has finished, he returns to his seat within the circle and the other participants can, one by one, enter the middle of the circle and give their feedback about what has been said by the presenter. This step is called "mirror" as all the perceptions are only brought individually by the participants and are not collectively discussed by the group.
It gives the presenter the opportunity to learn what others feel about his ideas and enables the group to give some insight on a specific topic. For others, it is also a way to broaden a specific topic brought by a community member. It creates an empathic and trustful environment which enables the participants to bring authentic sharings.
There are several opportunities to discover the community:
- a Sunday coffee is organized every month (in general the first Sunday of the month): you will have the opportunity to get a guided visit of the ecovillage and will take a coffee with some inhabitants to ask your questions. The dates of the Sunday coffees can be found here (in German)
- the ecovillage organizes many different workshops: participating to one of them is a good way to visit the community while learning a specific topic. For more, information click here . The workshops are mainly in German.
- the community organizes every year a Summer Camp: for one week, you will have the possibility to assist many different workshops and other activities. Note that the Summer Camp is normally addressed to German speakers. More information can be found here
- Sieben Linden hosts, every year, several volunteers: the community offers volunteering for two or three young Europeans for an 8-month period through the European Solidarity Corps program (more information on the European Solidarity Corps website ). Other volunteering are offered through the German volunteering program FÖJ (more information to be found on this page )