Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Developments at O.U.R. Ecovillage

For the past 8 weeks, I've been volunteering 4 days/week at O.U.R. (One United Resource) Ecovillage in Shawnigan Lake BC. O.U.R. is a community dedicated to theoretical education and practical demonstration of how human beings can live in healthy relationships with each other, the earth, creation and The Creator. O.U.R. has been developing for the past 10 years under the talented leadership of Brandy Gallagher and a growing group of community residents and volunteers. I've written about O.U.R. in earlier entries. Kailee volunteered and lived at O.U.R. from February till September in 2009. She completed an internship in sustainable food production, a certificate course in Permaculture design, recently added a Permaculture Teacher's Training program and Jan attended a workshop in natural building techniques.

Each day that I visit O.U.R., it seems that something is new and different. Last year, Kailee and the other members of the garden team made a major extension to the food production area and the natural building school almost completed the exterior of a new house. So progress is nothing new and in spite of this, the pace of change seems to be quickening. The educational portion of O.U.R. closes down in October and usually the community slows down for the winter. However, this year a government-sponsored Job Creation Program employed 8 people full-time on a permaculture-based landscaping project. This team of dedicated individuals have almost doubled the size of the garden, completed a path through the conservation area, developed grey water and rain water management systems, created a new pond, built new terraces with stone and tire retaining walls and added a labyrinth to the sanctuary garden. Every day is a new surprize!

As all of this incredible change is highly visible. However, I've discovered that there is another level of change that requires just as much work and yet, it is totally invisible. Most of my work is in this category. It includes things like setting up computer-based project management systems, assisting in new ways to raise funds for community operations, helping to define a business plan that enables community members to become financially independent and working towards a coop-based model of community ownership. While this level of change is not apparent to visitors at O.U.R., it does have some level of objective existence . Even if it is only on a computer screen or printed out of a piece of paper.

Beyond this, there is an even deeper level of change that occurs every day at O.U.R. This level of change also requires difficult and often painful work, and yet it leaves no visible tracks in the outside world. These deeper and invisible changes happen in the hearts and minds of everyone who lives in the community, works on its projects or visits the ecovillage. For some people, it is an exposure to an entirely different way of life. For others, it is a long and arduous journey for long-time friends who improve their communication and challenge their understandings as the ecovillage moves towards greater levels of maturity.

This process of improving relationships between individuals and the community, creation and The Creator is the real work of O.U.R. Ecovillage.

1 comment:

map_pm said...

Hi Keith

Liked the blog entry and good to see that things are going well for you and our ecovillage.
When we are able to return we won't recognise the place!
Fiona and I are def heading off again this year. Perhaps more woofing in Europe or teaching English in the Far East!

Love to the family

Mike + Fiona