OUR Volunteer Spotlight: Claire
Hello! I’m Claire – originally from the UK and travelling to Canada for a couple of years. I was living in London working as a Volunteer Manager for environmental charities, protesting about climate change and moving towards sustainable choices when I realized I didn’t know what this really looked like at a practical level. I didn’t have the skills or the knowledge to grow food, build sustainably or reuse and repurpose materials efficiently. I’ve always been the type of person to learn through experience so I decided I would use my two years in Canada to change direction and focus on the development of practical skills that would help me to develop the skills and confidence to live more purposefully and harmoniously in the future.
Through a series of fortunate events and connections on my travels, I came to hear about O.U.R Ecovillage and was super excited to learn about all of the things going on here. Not only would the village expose me to food growing, food security and natural building methods but there seemed to be an emphasis on individual growth and healing – a personal interest which I had felt was deeply connected to the positive evolution of humanity, our relationship to the planet and to each other.
Some highlights in the past couple of months have included harvesting vegetables to be eaten by our CSA customers and for use in our kitchen – to be eaten fresh or canned for consumption throughout winter by the food security team. I have also helped to prepare the garden for winter by closing the garden beds, layering them with materials to ensure healthy soil in the new year when the time for planting arrives. Most excitingly for me, I have helped with the natural building team – learning how to work with cob, creating and using paint made from natural materials and helping to oil an earthen floor.
Volunteering has been an integral part of my life from a young age so I understand the powerful dynamic and energy exchange that it brings. Throughout my life, it has always provided a lot more than expected – a shift in perspective, a deeper understanding of myself and others and more profound connections. And there’s no change here! Not only am I learning so much through the practical tasks assigned each day on the Gardening and Natural Building teams but I’m picking up knowledge every day about issues such as water systems, considerations for sustainable energy supplies and about what it takes to live and work in community.
I have developed some amazing connections to my fellow villagers through working practically with them – getting to know them, their experience and learning to appreciate the amazing gifts each person brings to the village through their contribution and energy. Every week we have Heart Council which encourages each participant to speak from their heart. This space allows people to explore their feelings and emotions whilst being held in their authentic expression. I’ve come to recognize this as an important process to develop an emotional connection and promote healing within community. I have been so touched by the compassion that emerges at the village when someone needs a listening ear or warm hug. I am so grateful to have had this experience – to have worked alongside some truly amazing and inspiring people and to have gained confidence and skills that will be so useful for my future. I will carry the learnings close to my heart as I venture out of the village into the big wide world at the end of the month!