VILLAGE TO VILLAGE PROJECT Between “Better World Cameroon” and O.U.R. ECOVILLAGE!!
Below, Brandy Gallagher of OUR ECOVILLAGE, and Elke Cole of Better World Cameroon (and formerly O.U.R. Ecovillage) give updates about their respective Village projects and also introduce an exciting partnership forming between OUR Village and Better World Cameroon.
Brandy: After 10 years of Elke Cole and Brandy Gallagher having built OUR ECOVILLAGE’s onsite school “Topia,” many changes have come to be. A decade of internships, short and long courses, public tours, customized programs, 11 Universities/Colleges, and many, many public/private K–12 school programs, with over 10,000 folks connecting through OUR ECOVILLAGE already, we are becoming more international. Across the miles, Elke and Brandy have yet again struck up another possibility and brought these two amazing organizations together for a partnership. Being Intercultural, inter-generational and interfaith has O.U.R. team working towards always finding new ways to bring forward and educational framework for ecological living, natural building, and permaculture design.
As a 25 acre Regenerative Living Demonstration Site and Education Centre (founded in 1999) OUR ECOVILLAGE has created itself as the most built out Permaculture Education centre in Canada. Already facilitating multiple partnerships between government, academia, business/corporate, and the grassroots of the wider community, OUR ECOVILLAGE is very excited and hopeful of where this new partnership will take everyone. Fundraising will begin in 2014 which will work towards programming that is focused on social justice, ecological living and regenerative food/housing/living education which benefits multiple organizations in each country.
O.U.R. Ecovillage meets Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage, Cameroon By Elke Cole In May 2013 I received a linkedIn referral introducing Joshua Konkankoh and his organization Better World Cameroon. What struck me immediately when I received descriptions of the project was the “déjà vu” feeling of parallel experience from OUR a few years back. Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage, a project of Better World , is a new ecovillage in Bafut (about 20 km north of Bamenda). They have set the mission to set up a demonstration site, practicing permaculture, dealing with food security issues, and developing a learning center with accommodation options. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? All this leads the way for a larger vision of Bafut Eco Village 2020—a regional plan of sustainable development that is being developed in cooperation with Bafut council. The land is a beautiful sloped 5 acre piece: a low, wet, raphia palm thicket and rising from there active farmland. People are growing staple foods like cocoyam, sweet potatoes, maize, beans, hot peppers, and cassava. This is the tropics–even though Bafut is high and has a relatively cool climate. With irrigation you can grow all year and have 2 or 3 harvests, but this farm is rainfed , so it depends on the rainy season (March–October) for growing. GEN (Global Ecovillage Network) Europe and Africa have taken notice and are supporting the work here with some consultancy and (hopefully) funding. If you know me you will ask, what about building? Well, we have just begun construction of an “eco-hut” – a small cob building as a landmark first structure on the site. It will set the tone for future construction and as we build, local people are learning some new ideas that match their existing knowledge and skills. Most people here know how to make Adobe blocks, how to build with them, and many have built their own houses. We’re introducing some earthbag foundations (saving a lot of money that typically goes into gravel, sand and cement), and design ideas to make houses pleasant for the climate. The women are very interested in building a cook stove, which will be part of this course also. And finally we will build a community bread oven which those who have built it will be entitled to use as community.
Now the reason I am writing this article for the OUR Newsletter is a new Village-to-Village partnership. Brandy and I have often dreamt of some possibility for such connection and we are now working out what this may look like. If you–the greater OUR community–have ideas or input we would love to hear from you. You can check out Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage on the web or “like us” on facebook Better World Cameroon is inviting young people with interest in sustainable living and intercultural experience to come to Cameroon and participate in the international Summer workcamp. This event takes place at the ecovillage from August 1–21, 2014. Read more about the camp here. I’d be happy to hear from you by email. Like OUR Ecovillage this also feels like family and my global village is a little stronger again.