Knowledge is Empowerment

Global Community 2011

Global Campus Education is completed

Representatives from 13 different nations came with the goal of spending the six weeks together studying local and sustainable solutions for globally relevant matters such as food production, water accessibility, electricity generation - and community building. Participants included project leaders and peace workers from Colombia, Brazil, England, Germany, the USA, Mexico, India, Spain, Gaza, Israel, Kenya, Portugal and Egypt. The principles of the Global Campus are rooted in the perception that simple and effective solutions can be found on a local level and applied worldwide. From this emerged the vision for a global network of education centres that all focus on the same basic goals: promoting regional autonomy in food, water and energy supply, a harmonious relationship with nature and social sustainability. What is now being built in Tamera is its first base. At the end of these six weeks, the participants returned to places such as the peace community San José de Apartadó, in Colombia, or the Barefoot College, in India, carrying not only practical knowledge but also the empowering consciousness of being part of a global network of support and cooperation. Apart from enriching those initiatives with pioneering knowledge on solar technology, food production, water retention landscapes and social knowledge of community building and conflict resolution, the Global Campus also gave its participants an important space for exchanging experiences and thoughts – thus giving shape to an ever-larger, ever-stronger global community.
We are working on a full report now and will be available soon.

We thank the students, teachers, and all the supporters for a successful Global Campus 2011. The next Global Campus event is planned for spring 2012 in Colombia. We will post more information here soon. 

To read all reports by Talita Soares Click Here

T.H. Culhane opening up new doors towards self-suffiency

Thomas “T.H.” Culhane, urban planner, science educator and entertainer, was our biogas instructor during the last week of the Global Campus. This means that it was up to him to break the news to us, not at all gently: “We are 90% constituted of microorganisms, of parasites and bacteria. We are their buses, their apartments, we are their hotels and their airplanes. Bacteria are responsible for the running of virtually everything on this planet. And it is up to us whether we treat them well or not”.

 

Culhane is also responsible for the nongovernmental organisation Solar C.³I.T.I.E.S. – “Connecting Community Catalysts Integrating Technologies for Industrial Ecology Systems” – based in Essen, Germany, where he currently lives with his wife and son – which aims to do exactly this in the slums of Cairo, Egypt, where he works to bring people the perspective of simplicity in self-sufficiency, that survival and welfare are just a couple of gallons and pipes and a pile of biodegradable matter away.

 

 

Culhane’s journey started when, as a young Harvard University graduate on biological anthropology, he, to put it in his own words, “somehow convinced David Rockefeller to give him money to do whatever he wanted” – based on the following premise: “He asked me – if you find your paradise, will you stay there? I said no. He asked me why. I said that if I found paradise I would want to come back to share everything I’d learnt”. His next step was venturing into the rainforests of Borneo, where he might not have found paradise, but found in the difficulties experienced by the local tribes – as well as in all their ancestral knowledge – enough encouragement to move on to study the urban environment of Bagdad, Iraq. From this point on he started unfolding his perception on the close interrelationship between the designing of a functioning city and the dynamics of rainforest ecology, and thus of nature processes in general.

 

 

These ideas led him to a couple of years later pursue an education on urban planning at UCLA, where he combined concepts of agroforestry, sociobiology and urban design. He followed this up with his first summer in Cairo in 2001, when he started to work in cooperation with UCLA professor Randall Crane on installing rooftop solar water heaters on some of the poorest neighbourhoods of the region.

 

 

He has experienced firsthand a lot of the daily challenges faced by people in areas with little sanitary treatment, for he and his wife Sybille lived in a slum apartment themselves during their time in Egypt. This close contact with the area’s inhabitants and their day-to-day routine provided Culhane with a new outlook on our society’s relationship to waste: there he got to know the ‘Zabaleen’ people, or the “garbage people”, who for decades have made their living out of collecting and recycling the city’s waste by hand. Using biogas technology, the garbage they collect can provide the whole neighbourhood energy for up to two hours a day. According to Culhane, solar technology is well heard of in the region, but often thought as being too expensive for most people to afford. The Zabaleen people, for example, did already use solar energy in order to dry plastics they picked up to recycle. However, a pre-manufactured solar water heater would cost them way over their average annual income. Culhane showed them how they could build one using not more than their own two hands and recycled materials they had picked up on the streets.

 

 

Of course, in crisis areas energy self-sufficiency is also a crucial step to be taken towards liberation. T.H. cooperates simultaneously with the Zabaleen districts, which are mainly Coptic Christian, and with Darb Al-Ahmar, an Islamic quarter, and both neighbourhoods now work together in cooperation. It is one example of how differences can be overcome when people find a new perspective that guides them towards a common direction. In occupied areas such as the Palestinian territories, it represents a pivotal factor in empowering local tribes and communities.

 

 

Culhane also mentions the importance of biogas in empowering women, especially in rural villages. As they are in charge of most of the housework, they are the most affected by the limited resources they have accessible. In some regions of Africa they have the saying “Momma cries when she cooks”, because of all the black smoke and coal that gets into their eyes and lungs whenever they use the primitive wooden stoves that are available. Biogas represents a big shift in the whole routine of such households.

 

 

The reason why I am so enthusiastic about biogas is that it is one solution that is fundamental to practically all of the world’s problems. I can get all my energy and just focus on this one thing” Said Culhane laughing during an interview. And there is a lot of energy, indeed. T.H.’s ambitions go way beyond the solar water heaters that are now spread around the rooftops of several neighbourhoods in Cairo. They are only the paving of a road of lifelong dedication to finding alternatives to the problems created by social inequality and by centralised means of production.

Last week of the Global Campus

Last Update Global Campus Weblog 3 of September

The last week of the Global Campus education period was as intensive as the previous ones in relation to the amount of knowledge that was shared both through the practical work on the construction of the new water retention space, which is still moving at full speed, and through the biogas and solar technology course conducted by specialists Jürgen Kleinwächter and Thomas “T. H.” Culhane. With T.H. we built a micro biogas plant for the Solar Village Test field which is already in use.

 

T. H. Culhane is an urban planner and responsible for the nongovernmental organisation Solar C.³I.T.I.E.S. – “Connecting Community Catalysts Integrating Technologies for Industrial Ecology Systems” – which has taken him and his wife Sybille to some of the poorest neighbourhoods in Cairo, where he worked with the residents to install rooftop solar water heaters. His knowledge of biogas is recently acquired but already vast, and he was responsible for the coordination of the first phases of the ongoing construction of a biogas digester in Tamera’s Solar Village.

At the same time, we were fortunate enough to also be accompanied by Jürgen Kleinwächter throughout this week, who is a long-term cooperation partner of Tamera in the area of solar technology research, and one of the main visionaries behind the conception and implementation of the Solar Village. 

 

Such level of commitment, enthusiasm, and expertise from both our lecturers led to a very dynamic and very inspiring time – something like a week-long presentation of idea fireworks and practical manifestation. In a way, it was also a means of showing how the joint creative process can look like. One picturesque representation of this would be National Geographic’s “Explorers” game, which Culhane showed us, that consists of a deck of cards featuring several specialists, researchers and scientists from many different fields and backgrounds, which you are supposed to combine and think about “what could these two people develop together?” This spirit of cooperation and constant reinventing of the reality around us was a prevailing feature in the Global Campus.

 

Energy autonomy probably sounds like one of the trickiest points to be worked on when one talks about self-sufficiency, for that, unlike water or agriculture, which evoke things that have always been given to us for free by nature, electricity generation immediately brings to mind the picture of nuclear power plants, petrol stations and large hydroelectric dams. The idea that it is possible to get all the power one needs through simple engines that can be built and installed locally is not as gleefully welcomed by our brains as the picture of a farmer living off his land in a humble, isolated lifestyle up in the mountains. In most cases, electricity is inescapably associated with high tech structures. That is why the mere concept of small-scale solar technology and biogas requires a very fundamental shift in our perception right from the beginning – we need to ask ourselves: What does energy actually mean? Where does it come from? The answer would be everything and everywhere. Therefore our task is not to produce energy through massive burnings of fossil fuel, but to channel the energy that is given us every single hour of every day by a very generous and inexhaustible source – the sun.

 

In this week we learnt about many different ways of how to use the solar energy in a simple, decentralized and efficient way - either directly by catching the solar radition - or indirectly by using the energy stored in plants - like biogas. (More on the very practical technology you will find soon on the website.)

 

Meanwhile, the water and permaculture group has carried on their work in the building site of the new lake, which for some of the participants was one of the central points to bring them here this year. The knowledge of building water retention landscapes is now seen as a key point in the ecological work conducted by Tamera, for it is a potential solution for the issue of water stress and to so-called “natural” water catastrophes worldwide. Therefore, it becomes ever clearer that a part of the Global Campus education next year, in the community of San José de Apartadó, must be the structuring of a water landscape there. Walter from Colombia stated “I now have all the knowledge I need to start building a water retention landscape in San José”.

 

We have now closed this year’s practical study period, and the last three days were dedicated to silent study times in the mornings and getting together in smaller groups in order to share observations and all the questions that might have arose throughout the last weeks. It was certainly a lot to absorb. Everything that has been learned and discussed seems to have met very receptive places of commitment, passion and urgency inside every one of the participants. All the ideas conveyed within those six weeks have started a long journey in order to be manifested around the world – as rooftop solar water heaters in the Brazilian slums, as biogas reactors in the Barefoot College in India, as the eatable landscape of OTEPIC in Kenya. As the transformed perceptions of dozens of people who now return to their home countries as carriers of a vision – the vision of an entirely new way of living on this planet.

More about the Solar Dryer

Studying Agriculture and Nutrition

25th of August. Update of the Global Campus Blog by Talita Soares

This week in the Global Campus was devoted to the issue of agriculture and nutrition. Including Sepp Holzer’s seminar on permaculture and daily study groups on the issue, we have studied it from several different aspects – again, the perception that permaculture is much more than a mere technique, and above everything arises from a conscious desire to live in cooperation with nature, took us to realms far beyond the material implications of reaching food autonomy within a community. “Permaculture is a decision”, said Sepp in his reverberant voice as he jumped out of his chair to introduce himself on the first day of the seminar, “A decision to not fight against nature anymore”. 

 

Parallel to the seminar, the construction of the solar dryer (photo) was completed by the beginning of the week, and the solar technology group had morning workshops in which they learned how to build very simple and effective solar powered devices that could supply some of the more basic energy needs of their communities. In particular the group from Brazil, whose project is partly centred around the running of a music studio inside the favela of Sao Paulo, where they live, had intensive study times with solar specialists from Tamera in order to get the first grasp of a long-term plan to bring solar energy into the favela, starting with the self-sufficiency of the studio.

 

The afternoon routine was kept mostly as before, with the exception that part of the Holzer seminar’s lectures were held in the afternoon – those lectures included presentations of two participants of the Global Campus, Philip Munyasia, from Kenya, director of the permaculture education centre OTEPIC, and Cláudio Moura, also a part of Favela da Paz in Sao Paulo, who showed some of the solutions that are already being found by locals around where he lives, most of them out of an instinct of common sense and survival rather than direct concerns about sustainability, which also demonstrates how important the implementing of those techniques is, not only for environmental matters but also because they present easy, decentralized solutions for very urgent issues that could not be solved by any other means. It seems that, in areas that have been abandoned by the government, people very naturally start leaning towards the same kind of thinking permaculture is based on: cooperation with nature’s patterns rather than the artificial manipulation of it through using expensive chemicals and machinery, simplicity, self-sufficiency, and sharing of all natural resources.

 

An hour before the common meeting in the auditorium, with the rest of the Tamera community, we met in circles for sharing and making announcements, which were mostly very loose, spontaneous spaces in which we could do some breathing-in breathing-out before the next lecture. In such a varied group presented with such an array of learning opportunities, it is a challenge to hold a group unity, but I think we have been managing it to a great extent.

 

The Brazilian group Poesia Samba Soul left to Switzerland by the end of the week, where they are going to give a concert before returning to São Paulo. As we said goodbye to them, we also gave start to the last round of this six-week education time, which may raise questions on how the so-called global community that has been emerging ever more strongly will manage to keep itself as tight and relevant as it needs to be after the course is ended. Only time can tell, but the importance of what has happened here cannot be diminished. For one thing, it is undeniable that the support these communities can offer each other through exchanging knowledge, resources and specialists is extremely valuable. Other than that, through bringing those people from such diverse backgrounds together, a completely new picture of international solidarity has been very irreversibly imprinted into our minds, a picture that will inevitably provide us with new outlooks on every action we undertake once we are back home. “Every right step I take is a step for the whole world” – is something that we often say here. It is a perception that can only be fully understood through this day-to-day experience of shared aims and comradeship.

Project Barefoot College /Rajasthan / India

Update of the Global Campus Weblog by Talita Soares

Bata Bhurij comes from the Barefoot College which is, amongst the projects represented in this year’s Global Campus group, probably the one to evoke most clearly the concept of a “peace university”.

Established in Tilonia, India in 1972, by Bunker Roy, it has since then become a major reference in the region for sustainability and self-sufficiency, and more than an education centre, it is one of the most relevant initiatives in India towards rural development. Following a hands-on, learn-by-doing style of teaching, they have trained thousands of villagers and rural workers, men and women, irrespective of age, most of them with hardly any formal education, to become well-capacitated school teachers, doctors, solar engineers, amongst a number of other crucial functions that make it possible to maintain ever more autonomous villages.

Barefoot College’s delegate in the Global Campus is Bata Bhurji, a self-designated “barefoot filmmaker”. She grew up in the project, and since her father’s passing in 2004 she has taken on the task of making documentaries and handling part of the media production of the Barefoot College. “I am just honoured to have the chance to be a part of it. It is not easy to find an organisation with this level of commitment, transparency and honesty”, she says. “In India, about 30% of the non-governmental organisations are not open with their finances at all. That is one of the things that make the Barefoot College so special. I do believe that if people are transparent, everything always runs smoothly”.


Nowadays, the College is almost entirely maintained by families like Bata’s, residents of local villages who have, since the early 80s, moved on from their initial role of students – being taught by educated professionals “imported” from the big cities – to fully taking charge of the initiatives right from planning to completion, today forming more than 80% of the College’s organisation. This shows a clear move towards full self sufficiency of the villages, which is yet another relevant factor that sets the Barefoot College apart from the way too many missionary institutions who see education as a means to either religious or cultural colonisation. The College’s distinct approach values local skills and active participation of the locals over mindless, often intimidating preaching of knowledge from outside.


“Gandhi once said that there is a difference between Literacy and Education”, one can read on their website. While literacy is described as “what one acquires in school”, their view on education is rooted on the unique knowledge one gains from family, traditions, culture, and personal life experiences.  Therefore, there is no distinctive gap in status between teachers and students – everyone is seen as a valuable element of the educational environment.

In almost 40 years of history, the Barefoot College has completely shifted the reality in hundreds of rural villages, providing them with what is their basic right – free, unlimited access to demystified, simple technology that can supply all their daily needs, such as Scheffler mirrors for solar cooking, solar water heaters, rainwater harvesting, and trained local professionals that can provide them with appropriate health care. They have also implemented a successful education programme in the villages, that includes rural kindergardens (balwadis), and night schools created for the children that have to look after animals and assist their families in the daytime. Today, the Barefoot College education section runs 116 night schools in Rajasthan, that attend over 3,500 pupils.

They have trained countless barefoot professionals, not only in India but also in several countries in Africa, who besides being crucial additions to their villages are also thus provided with an additional source of income, which is incredibly valuable as most of them don’t have the technical qualifications for even the lowest paying government job. With this in mind, the College puts special focus on the education of middle-aged women – people who are important pillars in their villages and families, in particular widows and single mothers, who will, besides from being greatly benefited by the extra income, therefore apply their knowledge in their own community rather than migrating to the cities soon after training.

As to Bata’s participation in the Global Campus, she says “All the knowledge I’ve been gaining will definitely be useful when I go back home. I have been learning so much it is almost overwhelming”, she says laughing, “And I hope to learn a lot more”. Her main focus in the course is solar technology.

The Barefoot College is a shining example of what it is that we are trying to do here – an education that is based on exchanging, rather than imposing hermetic knowledge, is infinitely more empowering to local initiatives than the sheer importing of techniques, which makes them ever more dependable on so-called “specialists”. Self-sufficiency is not only a material issue, but also a cultural one – and, under this perception, it is one of the most fundamental steps to be taken towards a new reality.

Weblog Global Campus by Talita Soares

Update 15th of August

From the first time we met, on the sun-blessed porch of one of the houses in the Aldeia da Luz, it became clear that being a part of the Global Campus meant a lot more than what is usually conveyed by the word ‘education’ – not only did the loud, blissful groups of people scattered everywhere and the continuous dance of hand gestures between those who did not speak the same language hardly resemble a classroom, the first weeks of the course, including the 10 days of the Summer University, were clearly focused on encouraging the process of community building amongst the participants.

In the last three weeks, songs have been shared, experiences exchanged, stories told and birthdays celebrated. Through all this, a new kind of knowledge is being spread, alongside the practical curriculum of the course – the awareness of the global community, that all personal initiatives are tuned in to the same process of world transformation, is something to be constantly exercised and experienced, and it is our task to, over those six common weeks, help creating a suitable environment for this exercise. This means that, often, as important as bringing in specialists and organising lectures is organising spaces of free sharing, where trust and deep listening can unfold.

This is very well embodied by the 10 participants from the peace village San José de Apartadó, in Colombia. Living under the permanent threat of the paramilitaries in their home country, being opposed to by the government and the mainstream media, and ignored by the juridical forces, they welcome every opportunity to make their voices heard. On several occasions, their sober courage and resoluteness have created a strong impression on many minds and hearts of people from all different backgrounds. To listen to their stories gives a totally different dimension to the Global Campus – we realise that it is not only about the mere transmission of knowledge. Through coming together and sharing what we know, we strengthen a global alliance on a level that is so far completely unprecedented, giving places like San José a kind of protection that goes way beyond individual support. They are now part of a new planetary order, one of many strategic points on Earth that are giving shape to a new reality.

Last Friday, Sabine Lichtenfels held a discussion group on the importance of creating communal structures that support the building of new paradigms both in matters such as food production, as well as in the solving of personal conflicts, for instance in love relationships. She said that “the knowledge of life is the knowledge of community”, meaning that to reconnect to the communitarian nature of our ancestors is the only path to a peaceful and harmonious way of living. She has also been coordinating the process of introducing Forum work into the group, which has been gradual and meticulous. So far, we have undergone a couple of group dynamics, including theatre exercises and several sharing circles.

Then, on Monday, a new phase of the education started, with the dividing of the students into three work groups, focused on the areas of water landscape building, permaculture and solar energy. These three groups will spend most of their mornings together for the next three weeks, in order to dive deeper into the more practical work relating to those areas, such as the activities on the new lake’s building site, work in the vegetable gardens, or the construction of a solar dryer. In the afternoons, we all get together again – in our new “home”, as read on the sign in front of one of the rooms of the campus’ tenthall, where we have a freer space in which we can take our time to absorb all that has been learnt, inform each other on our current activities, and ask questions. It is also there where we have our so-called “morning tunings”, which can be a prayer or a simple quote – something that sets us all in a common frequency, that gives us a base on which we can build our days.

From this place, we then go together to the auditorium at five o’clock, where we have common study sessions with the rest of the Tamera community. This week, the elected study theme were the issues revolving around the secret of water – what does it mean to say that water is a living being? How to manage it appropriately? “Water has an aim”, Tamera’s water specialist Bernd Muller said on several occasions, meaning that if we give water the appropriate material conditions to flow freely and be absorbed by the soil gradually – that is if we create well designed water retention spaces – it will naturally manifest its healing powers. This perspective gives an entirely new aspect to the concept of resilience, and may provide the very basis for a completely new way of relating to nature.

Above everything, I can see ever more clearly the Global Campus becoming a major platform for the research and dissemination of pioneering thoughts, in a very near future. Even now, one can already see promising initiatives beginning to sparkle, such as the installation of extremely simple and truly groundbreaking solar technology in the Favela da Paz, in the slums of São Paulo. Again, this kind of knowledge is infinitely more valuable when it transcends the dimension of material commodities and is inserted in the context of a true, concrete, deliciously palpable global system change.

Support the Global Campus, welcome to our Study Fund.

Soccer match makes relationship between Tamera and Relíquias stronger

Global Campus Weblog, 8th of August

Last Sunday, Relíquias was the host of a real World Cup. Players from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and Kenya played together with the Portuguese on the match between the Relíquias team and Tamera’s “Global Campus” team. Outside the soccer field, spread around hills turned into bleachers, a just as diverse group transformed the place into a stadium, with the screaming of “Global Campus! Global Campus!” being intercalated with songs in Hebrew and cheers in Spanish.

This match was part of a series of events programmed for the month of August, in honour of Nossa Senhora de Relíquias, in which Tamera will play a big role. Before the end of the month, their choir will sing in the church of Relíquias, there will be a market, organised in cooperation with several people from Tamera, and a concert by Poesia Samba Soul, a Brazilian band formed by participants of the Global Campus. “We perceived urgency in bringing both communities, Tamera and Relíquias, together, especially due to the lack of cultural activities that were then available”, says Fátima Teixeira, one of Tamera’s representatives in the organisation of these events.

According to Relíquia’s president Idalio Gonçalves, the cultural mixture provided by those meetings had been mostly welcomed by the Portuguese people. “At first having foreigners amongst us may cause certain disquiet, but so far I have always observed very positive reactions”, he says, “We hope our relationship to Tamera becomes closer and closer”.

The director of Relíquias’ Sports Club, Sandro Rocha, said “The participation of the people of Relíquias in those events has been increasing greatly. I feel there is a lot to be learnt with this integration”.

The Global Campus is a six-week education period that is taking place in Tamera, with participants coming from crisis areas all over the world, dedicated to finding solutions to global problems. Amongst the little white houses and the typical Alentejo scenery of Relíquias, the presence of those visitors was not only an unusual picture, but also a beautiful one. For a few hours, Relíquias became a sort of stage for the current world situation, with representatives from several different cultures, nationalities and social movements.

The cultural diversity made the match itself, too, a very interesting sight. The communication difficulties created some out of the ordinary situations, such as translators having to be intimated to the soccer field to solve a quarrel between two players. The result was that both Global Campus teams ended up being defeated, and the final match was between the two teams from Relíquias. The visitors from Tamera, however, were little shaken by this. It became clear that soccer was about the last reason for them to be there: the most important thing was celebrating, celebrating all the unexpected connections that can be made possible by people with good intentions and open minds. At a closer look, one could see the echoes of a new world leaking into that sunny Sunday afternoon.

Participant of the Global Campus: Philip Munasya, Kenya

28-year-old Philip stands for the strive and the hope of the African people amongst the participants of the Global Campus. Born and raised in the dry fields of Kenya, he recognised in the principles of permaculture a way of overcoming the tribal wars that happen everywhere throughout his country. In 2007, this led him to initiate the Organic Technology Extension and Promotion of Initiative Centre (OTEPIC), an education institute where, through creating spaces for sharing knowledge and bringing together people from different backgrounds around a common goal, trust and cooperation among tribes can be developed.

 

Apart from regular courses on permaculture, OTEPIC helps promoting local charity programs, has several school outreach programs and an intensive focus on providing farming knowledge to women, who are often excluded from formal education structures, and young people. “I want my land to serve as a model for this region”, says Philip, “a huge forest of food, where everything is in balance with nature”.

Philip spent his childhood in a village in Northwest Kenya, where his mother kept a small vegetable garden. It was there where, at a very young age, he first got in contact with the ideas of Australian permaculturist Bill Mollison. “I liked his books because, in such a dry land, they made me dream”, he says, “I used to go to my mother’s garden and try to imagine what it could look like. It gave me motivation to know that, if I had the right knowledge, I could always rely on the land around me to get all the food I needed”.

 

After graduating university, in 2006, Philip spent a few months offering his support and knowledge to several local agriculturists, a time during which he met American farmer John Geavons, that gave him a six-month scholarship to study Sustainable Agriculture in the Manor House Agricultural College, in the US. It was there where he first met Barbara Kovats, from Tamera, a connection that helped him to expand his perspective towards the potential and the urgency for seeing the food and energy supply issues in the African continent in a new, innovative way. That was when the concept for OTEPIC first emerged.

 

Philip then spent several months working and volunteering in several projects across Kenya to gather experience to start his own initiative, at first with only two other helpers. Today, he works with a core team of 8 people, plus around 20 volunteers, depending on the time of the year. “It just naturally draws people, this utopian picture of a green oasis in the middle of the desert”, he says.

 

Moreover, the inventive solutions in technology and agriculture that are being implemented in his site are now more than ever particularly attractive for the African people, as it becomes ever clearer that organic farming and self-sufficiency offer them what is perhaps nowadays the most promising possibility of achieving economic stability and social welfare throughout the continent.OTEPIC is also quickly evolving into a meeting point for all kinds of people around the region – its library and recreation centre are open to everyone, and are, according to Philip, “ways of developing a common space for people from different tribes, a space where they can just be themselves and see each other”.“

 

Through teaching and learning permaculture, people who would otherwise turn into enemies have the chance to get to know each other, and develop friendship and trust between them”, he explains. As this perception unfolded, Philip realised the need to get a more comprehensive peace education, which brought him to Tamera for the first time in 2010.

 

About the importance of permaculture, he adds: “A lot of the tension and competition between tribes just melts away as soon as people regain their confidence on the land to provide them with everything they need. It is important to bring back this sense of abundance – a hungry man is an angry man. It is hard to talk about peace when people feel that their very survival is at stake”.

 

In four years, more than 2,000 people have received training in OTEPIC. The impacts of this can be seen all around – today, nearly all inhabitants of the region are provided with enough organic, local-grown food to fulfill all their nutritional needs. Through producing their own seeds, they have completely regained their autonomy and made hunger into a thing of the past. Furthermore, relationships between tribes have become more cordial and cooperative.According to Philip, though, this is only the beginning.

 

“One of our next steps is definitely to build a water retention landscape”, he envisions, “other than that, I want to expand our connections to teachers and specialists from around Africa and other continents. We have to start building houses for people that come from far away to stay for longer-term courses”.Philip hopes to learn more about renewable energy sources during his time in the Global Campus. So far, he has no electricity in his site.

Other than that, he says “it’s a gift to be able to learn from other people’s experiences, and share my experiences with them. Above everything, I am constantly thankful for having the opportunity to make change a reality in my community”.

 

Start of the Global Campus 2011

by Talita Soares

The 2011 Global Campus has started – on the 20th of July, representatives from 10 different nations came together for the first time, with the goal of spending the following six weeks studying local and sustainable solutions for worldly relevant matters such as food production, water accessibility, electricity generation - and community building. One of the participants is Talita Soares, 17, with the special task of writing journalistic reports about the education time. Here is her first piece.

 

Participants include project leaders and peace workers from Colombia, Brazil, Germany, the United States, Mexico, India, Gaza, Israel, Kenya, and Egypt. At the sight of such a colorful group, it would be easy to assume that the local issues they are dealing with are hardly related to each other. The principles of the Global Campus, however, go in the opposite direction – it was from the realisation that simple and effective solutions can be found on a local level and applied worldwide. From this the vision for a global network of education centres arose which all focus on the same basic goals: promoting regional autonomy in food, water and energy supply, a harmonious relationship with nature and social sustainability. What is now being built in Tamera is its first base. At the end of these six weeks, the participants will return to places such as the peace community San José de Apartadó, in Colombia, or the Barefoot College, in India, carrying not only practical knowledge but also the empowering consciousness of being part of a global network of support and cooperation.

San José is a self-declared “peace village” of local farmers, established under the constant threat of the paramilitary guerrillas. Their political struggle lies on the basic principles of non-violence and non-complicity in the drug and civil war affairs of the region. Even after having 186 of its community members killed, they remain strong in peaceful resistance, refusing to carry weapons or plant or consume any type of drugs in their property. Meanwhile, they strive to find new ways of living together and of implementing ecological ways to fulfill their daily needs.

In very similar situations, another community project is being developed in Mexico, in a region close to the border with the United States, dominated by military and guerrilla troops. With 5 resident members, it focuses on the education of children up to 12 years old, and has today over 80 pupils. According to one of the project leaders, Cheko, “our social work is based on two pillars: one of them is providing our kids with an education that makes them into thinking, critical beings, capable of transcending the absurd political situation we currently find ourselves in and seeing a different perspective for themselves. The other pillar is creating a space where they can express their feelings freely and work on their issues, through practices such as Forum, or different kinds of artistic expression. We very much believe in the liberating power of art”.

In São Paulo, Brazil, in one of the most violent slums in the country – and in the world – the “Favela da Paz” is being developed as a way to re-establish peace through music and other cultural activities. The project includes a music school and a studio, which in such a drug-dealing dominated environment stand as alternatives to young people that might otherwise turn to gang conflicts and the perpetrating of violence. Over the last 10 years, they have managed to turn one of the most dangerous areas of the city into a model neighborhood.

In Kenya, Philip Munyasia teaches permaculture to poor farmers, improving food security in the region and empowering local tribes and communities.

The Barefoot College in India aims to help making rural communities more self-sufficient and sustainable, providing, to very little educated people, training that qualifies them as competent school teachers, doctors, solar engineers, architect and artisans, among many other important functions.

The Global Campus, apart from enriching those initiatives with pioneering knowledge on solar technology, food production, water retention landscapes and social knowledge of community building and conflict resolution, also gives its participants an important space for exchanging experiences and thoughts – thus giving shape to an ever-larger, ever-stronger global community.

It is our responsibility not to lose hope”, said Vera Kleinhammes after a moving morning of presentations from the Global Campus participants during the Tamera Summer University. This is what these people embody: to the harsh realities they have to deal with on a daily basis, they respond with hope – and alternative, creative solutions for a completely new way of living on this Earth.

More about the Global Campus

Bata of 'The Barefoot College', Tilonia, India

2011

The Barefoot College and Tamera are long time cooperation partners, members of Tamera have visited the project in India and one of the leaders of the Barefoot College, Vasu, was present at the first conversation about the idea of the Global Campus during the Summer University in Tamera in 2006.
The Barefoot College provides basic services, education and solutions to rural communities in India with the objective of making them self sufficient and sustainable. The main issues are solar energy, water, education, health care, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment and wasteland development. The education in solar technology has extended around the world; women from villages around the world come to the Barefoot College for training.
Bata is of the second generation of the Barefoot College.  She grew up in the project, studied outside, and returned to continue the work of her father in the Media Agency.  Since 2006 she has served as a professional film maker, has made 24 short films, and has travelled to Africa and other international Barefoot College satellite stations, places where the women trained in solar technology return to implement their new skills.

 


What we need                          2750  Euros

Thank you for your support!

In 2011 the Global Campus Fund received over 57,000 euros for its 6 week education programme. The Global Campus team thanks the following people, and many more, for their generous financial support and looks forward to much success in 2012:

 

Rafaela Bachmann

Irma Fäthke

Jana Mohaupt

Intercultural Peace Foundation

Elke and Felix Maria Woschek

Community Project Switzerland

Sonja Chaida

Youth Group Tamera

Uta Schneeweiß

Hildegard Montz and Fredy Kradolfer

the Well Being Company

Birkhilde Nicolai

Silvia Belgardt

Mechthild Duhm

Britta Seitz

Sandra Schmid

Klaus Dettwyler

Martin Funk

Immo Fiebrig

Ammar Keylani

Amelie Weimar

Fátima Teixeira

Heidrun Rink

Ina Voigt

Maria Soares

Frieda Radford

 

and many many more!

 

With your commitment and your donation, you are investing in the development of a new peace culture.
May our actions and projects serve the cause of global peace work and may they inspire and open up a new outlook on life.

Order the book "Terra Nova" here