Iceland Community Building course

By Candela Vargas

Martin and I were invited to Iceland to teach a course about Community Building. It had been possible thanks to the Erasmus + funding and to an agreement with Mörður Gunnarsson Ottesen, commonly known as Moli. He is on the board of The Icelandic Permaculture Association and he is involved in many interesting projects. One example “The project House is in its last steps of construction. Our course is the first activity in that amazing space.

The course consisted of 6 days of activities divided into 3 blocks (Organization, Environment and Cooperation). People were welcome to join for the whole course or individual blocks. It was a beautiful and enriching experience for the 11 participants who were part of it and also for us as teachers, or as we would rather call us, facilitators, for the common knowledge to arise.DSC00733

The participants were very much engaged from the beginning. Asking, wondering and helping each other in all sorts of ways. Many of them knew each other beforehand from the different Icelandic networks as the Icelandic Permaculture Association. Others were new to the group as we were. But we all came together as a big family right away.

During the first 2 days we discussed the basics of sociocracy and rehearsed different processes like the consent process and the election process. We tried to find proposals for real situations that involved us directly as well as making up examples of other situations that were more realistic.

In the environmental module the basics of permaculture were the topic. We looked at ethics, environmental values and how we apply them in our lives. We had a deep look at urban gardening DSC00803by visiting one of the only two urban gardens in Reykjavik. Later I presented what we are doing in Denmark with Byhaven 2200, LAND and the Green network. Several participants were deeply inspired and felt a huge encouragement to keep on working in the urban gardens in Reykjavik and in The Icelandic Permaculture Association. To get going right away we built a compost bin together for The Project House. Soon there will be a garden created to use the rich soil that is being formed in the bin.

On the 4th day we played the ”Follow the principles” treasure hunt. We went for a beautiful tour in a natural area close by the DSC00853Project House. There we observed nature, understood the patterns it works with and played many other games that encouraged us to see the world with permaculture eyes.

DSC00909On the 5th day of the course we worked with Non Violent Communication (NVC), or as we rather call it regenerative communication. We were very lucky to have the presence of Eva, a member of the Icelandic NVC association which is     exploring this communication technique on a deep level. We all had the chance to practice with examples from our own life.

The last day we talked about the current economic system and its problems. Tóti told us about how he took the Icelandic banks to court for scamming the Icelandic population. We found many different alternative and complementary economies that are currently in use or have been used successfully in the past. Then we explored in depth the gift economy ideas and we did a gift circle together as we do in Copenhagen. Some deals have already been fulfilled, many more to come and I am sure that with time all our dreams will become true.

DSC00967The closing ceremony was fun and emotional at the same time. A banana replaced an honouring sword for handing out the course certificates. Afterwards we meet together for a big celebration dinner at Laura’s place. Such strong connections arose between us that several participants helped us to travel around visiting Iceland. Moli helped us all the time with whatever we needed and together we visited an incredible hot springs site and we went to a cacao ceremony in a forest. Cecil showed us around the farm at The University of Agriculture. Tóti took us to a beautiful cosy hot spring, Sif got us a 50% discount to go whale watching and Stenna drove us around the whole Golden Circle. We are extremely grateful to all of them for taking such good care of us!

As you can imagine for Martin and me it has been a great experience. Not just for the amazing places we have seen and DSC01026the inspiring people we have met. But as well for the fact of working together arranging such a course. We have transmitted all this knowledge before, but this is the first time that we teach it together in a week long course. Therefore it has been a huge learning process for us. We are more aware of our personal skills and how to synchronize them and how to present the information to make it fun as well as understood. We are happy to see so much receptivity and it encourages us to keep on learning and teaching how to create the world we want to live in.