Monday, 22 February 2016

Healthy Future for Children - Nature Kids design an ecovillage

Children designed and made an ecovillage at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village this Saturday. They immersed themselves in design thinking and creating a collaborative model from recycled and natural materials. The creative vibe was just absolutely amazing. 

This was the first Ethos Foundation Nature Kids programs for 2016.  I have many more planned. The kids and I had a ball and so many parents joined in. It was a great family morning at Crystal Waters - bringing so much activity to the village green - fantastic.

Over 30 children participated with their parents and siblings.
After an initial design brief and discussion the children set off to design and build.  In self-selected teams and individually, the children designed and built a vibrant ecovillage around a central community space. In the centre, they included a community centre, a bakery, a cafe, a shop, a medical clinic, a farm, and around the edges were several homes. They considered orientation, materials use, energy production, rainwater harvesting, access and much more. 

Exploring the design brief and sharing suggestions of what features might an ecovillage include.
Raiding the resource piles for building materials.
All ages worked collaboratively.
The children made their structures from cardboard boxes, bamboo, hemp string, pegs, clips, old sheets, fabric offcuts, and decorated with paint and found items from the garden.  The structures went up quickly, then the exciting part came - crafting the details, creating ecovillage stories together, and visiting each other's places in the ecovillage.

There was rich and detailed thought processes embedded in the designs of these ecovillage elements.
Many focussed on getting their structures stable first before adding the detail.
This household complex was complete with garden, energy and water systems.
This little ecovillage house was tucked away in the bushes, away from the central zone.
A 'tiny house'.
This big collaborative structure became the 'ecocentre' community meeting space complete with mailboxes. 
Setting up the internal village systems.
There was a big rain the night before this event, and so many ants had come out of the ground. There were quite a few bites unfortunately, but this led to the design and construction of a bite clinic complete with aloe vera sticks inside.

New services evolved as the morning progressed - responding the the needs that emerged. For example, the anti-bite clinic became a necessity, with aloe vera treatments available.
A patient in the clinic - reportedly feeling much better after she'd been there!

The workshop enabled the children an opportunity to explore permaculture and systems thinking in action, and the notion of simple ecovillage living - they considered too what features might be included in such a village.

Bakery complete with a variety of sourdough breads on offer.
The wind-powered cafe - connected to one of the community energy systems.

Careful what you order....!!!
The children were very resourceful, finding ways to use a stack of boxes, bamboo, string and pegs and collecting materials from around their environment to add detail and form. I was so impressed at how focussed they were and how cooperatively they worked together to create a cohesive village environment.  I was so impressed too by the rich fabric of stories woven about the spaces the created.

The children showed intense focus and concentration for a couple of hours while they made their village elements.
Sharing the stories.

Ecological design, creating sustainable living environments and considering what it means to have a sustainable lifestyle are such important skills for this young generation to be cultivating. My goal with designing and offering Nature Kids, Young Ethos Scholars and Earth School programs is to create opportunities for children of all ages to delve deeply into thinking about the future in positive ways, experiencing ecological thinking and action, and finding ways to apply that knowledge and experience.

I think it is critically important for children to hear about and experience more ecological and nature-connected forms of human development and to share this with other children - to explore ideas together, to teach each other, and to explore what a regenerative, positive and joyful future may look like.



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