Article of Ignacio
Through the ESC (European Solidarity Corps) programme I was able to experiment life in an ecovillage for the first time in my life. I have spent the last 5 months living in Almeria, located in the South of Spain. More specifically Sorbas Gipsum Karst natural park.
The organization I worked and lived in as an ESC volunteer is located by the very same origin of the unique river that flows through the natural park and at the same time the main source of superficial water to be seen around in many miles around.
Surrounded by intensive agriculture which depletes the aquifer of the Natural Park and a landscape sometimes disfigured by intensive mining (the largest Gypsum quarry in Europe) is Sunseed Desert Technology a non-formal education project for the transition to sustainable life, where volunteers and visitors get to experience firsthand how a life more centered around sustainable values is not only possible but perhaps the best way out of the chaos which the current state of global society might appear to be in.
Sunseed operates as a transient community with a nonhierarchical flat structure governed by Sociocracy, which means no boss to take the decisions for everyone and in that way everyone encouraged to take responsibility for the functioning and development of the organization and community as a whole.
As a volunteer I was mainly focused in the Eco Construction/Maintenance department where we tried to demonstrate how to keep the facilities functional while embodying through our work the ideas of degrowth and sustainability, with lots of upcycling and use of locally sourced materials like canes that grow by the river bed to create for example all the different structures needed in the Gardens.
Besides that the project has more than 30 years of experience in ecosystem restoration and aims to combat, but mainly from a research standpoint, desertification which is an increasingly worrying phenomenon worldwide but prone to affect 30% of the territory of Spain. That meant lots of tree planting in the Drylands which extend themselves for miles and miles on end all around our location.
Moreover, the project aimed to demonstrate a functioning Permaculture garden with organic produce so that gave us lots of work to do as well and meant for me an introduction to growing my own food, something that surprised me and challenged me in many ways but opened my mind to the fascinating world of Soil.
The community living aspect of Sunseed itself involved us to be present not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually and I think was one of the main sources of inspiration in general, since living in community meant such a different experience from the rather individualistic lifestyle I had back in Denmark. I believe this experience has changed my outlook in a definite way to encompass a broader perspective that the one I had before and therefore I would recommend Sunseed or in any case any other ESC voluntary programme to anyone who is considering that they might need a little change at once.