10 ecovillages in 10 years in Norway
In the autumn 2012 Ross and I were invited to Norway to speak one day at a meeting: 10 ecovillages in 10 years, and Ross the next day about Occupy World Street, his new book about a new world order. I persuaded Ross to go some days early to see a bit of mountain and also some ecovillages. We stayed with Frederica Miller, Gaia Architect and permaculture designer.
Driving off the Oslo boat in the morning, we called Hurdal ecovillage and were received a few hours later in beautiful autumn sunshine one hour north of Oslo and not far from Gardermoen airport. They have all the land that belonged to the local church stretching from the sandy beach over meadows and fields passing the church into more rocky areas with a view over Lake Hurdal. We met with Kristin and a small group who invited us for coffee and a talk. The ecovillage has been 10 years underway with many people coming and going. The “fire souls” all these years have been Simen Torp (who went to Findhorn when he was 16), his wife Kristin and their now 3 children. During the last year they have developed a “breathing house” in wood with Gaia architect Rolf Jacobsen and entered into a cooperative venture with local entrepreneur Pål Lund-Roland who will build the first cluster of houses this spring as people buy them. A beautiful brochure tells the full background of how they intend the ecovillage to unfold, and shows the 6 versions of the house, varying from a big family home 153 m2 to small single person homes of 30 m2. The first cluster of 49 houses includes a common house and a business building. Two other clusters will be built later. Various activities are planned around the farm and they are looking for a farmer.
When we were there they expected to buy a local school with a very good site overlooking the lake with many square meters for businesses and education purposes. I called later and they did get it at a quite reasonable price.
Years of planning has now resulted in a very attractive design with a great many possibilities. And a way of organising the building process so they can have really solid houses very quickly. Now they need a dedicated group to unfold the many possibilities. In the summer of 2013 they will host the first Norwegian EDE. Simen Torp together with Pål Lund-Roland have the goal of repeating this same organizational and financial structure in helping 10 other projects materialize in 10 years.
At the meetings in Oslo, we met up with many old friends whom I worked with during the years of the Alternative Future project in the 1980s. The idea then was to create a vision of how to solve the global social and the ecological problems in cooperation with some countries in the South. I coordinated this project for 8 years- unofficially meaning without salary and on my own initiative. Erik Dammann was the initiator then –as he was of The Future in our Hands, widely translated book- and is still active. It was fun to see how they were all still active and how in spite of following different paths we all were at the same place now ready for ecovillages and transition towns in a big way. Some of them with collecting ideas from local sustainable development in the “Banks of Ideas”.
The last 20 years I have been working everywhere but in Norway and Sweden so it felt like a coming home. Like a circle being closed. Ecovillages have been testing and trying out new models and are now ready for adulthood in creating truly sustainable communities from the bottom up in a mainstream way while we formulate a new ecological economy which will allow this to happen on a big scale. One of my friends from the 1980s, Jacob Bomann-Larsen, who was instrumental in getting 100 million NKR from the Norwegian parliament for the project then, was now interested in working to promote Ross’ radical economic ideas. Strangely enough, both Norway and Denmark in the past year have established professorships in ecological economics.
By Hildur Jackson, Denmark