for ISKCON News on Oct. 26, 2012
Sunset over the bell tower on Krishna-valley's main square (Somogyvamos, Hungary)
An ISKCON devotee, Radha Krishna Das, has been elected to the highest managerial body of the Global Eco-Village Network (GEN) Europe.
GEN describes itself as a constantly expanding group of intentional communities and eco-villages, that bridges all cultures and aims to create a global pool of wisdom for sustainable living.
GEN Europe serves Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, and consists of fifty full member communities and over one hundred supporting members.
In becoming a part of their managerial body, Radha Krishna Das—who is also a member of the board of directors at ISKCON Hungary’s Krishna Valley eco-village—joins four other council members.
There’s president Macaco Tamerice, from the Damanhur community in Italy; Thomas Heuser, from ZEGG in Germany; Alfonso Flaquer, from La Base, the first straw bale dwelling community in Spain; and Jana-Momo Mohaupt, from Tamera in Portugal.
Radha Krishna was asked to run for election in the council when GEN Europe held its annual conference at Krishna Valley in July of this year.
The GEN Europe Council - Radha Krishna Das is in the back left corner
150 people from 35 countries attended the 12-day conference, making it the largest international meeting of non-ISKCON members ever held at Krishna Valley.
All were members of eco-villages and sustainable communities around Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
And all were very impressed with the 660-acre sustainable Krishna Valley farm, where 150 resident devotees produce almost all of their own food—including grain, honey, sixty different varieties of vegetables, and more than 600 fruit and nut trees—without the use of any pesticides, chemicals, or artificial fertilizers.
“After they saw the farm, we spoke for some time, and they asked me to run for election in their new council,” says Radha Krishna Das. “GEN Europe is an association of eco-villages who are trying to change the direction of the world, and to show good examples of how to live in harmony with nature. So of course I was delighted to.”
This means that Krishna Valley is also now a member of GEN. According to Radha Krishna, this is a very positive development for the ISKCON farm.
GEN Conference at Krishna Valley
“Not only can we share our experience with them, but we can learn a lot from them too,” he says. “There are eco communities that are part of GEN that have been running for thirty to forty years now, and have a wealth of technical and social development experience we can benefit from.”
For example, Radha Krishna explains, a Portuguese eco-village advised Krishna Valley on how to develop their water management system so that they could retain rainwater on their land during the dry summer months.
“For the past two years, we didn’t have rain for 3 or 4 months,” he says. “It was a catastrophe. The cows could not graze, and we had to put hay on the pasture just so they could eat something. But now, with the help of our friends from Portugal, we can keep the grass green and the cows can graze nicely.”
Radha Krishna believes that becoming a member of GEN could help the progress of not only Krishna Valley, but all of ISKCON’s eco-villages and farm projects.
“All of these eco-villages have had their own problems, which in many cases are very very similar to the ones that we’ve had—the social issues, the economic issues,” he says. “So we could learn a lot from each other’s failures and successes.”
Radha Krishna Das explains Krishna Valley's cow protection program to GEN Conference-goers
Many ISKCON rural communities would be eligible to become members of GEN—the only two requirements are being a group of at least 10 to 15 people who live together and work towards sustainable living; and paying an affordable annual membership fee.
Member communities become a part of an organization that is funded by the European Union, the European Voluntary Service, and the German Foreign Ministry. They can avail of special training and education programs recognized by UNESCO, attend GEN’s annual conference for a reduced fee, and vote at GEN’s general assembly.
Of course, ISKCON would also get the chance to network with people all over the world striving for the same goal of living off the land; people who are highly experienced in all the elements of sustainable living such as landscaping, water management, and energy efficiency, as well as getting grants and funding.
“GEN wants to share its information with as many people as possible, and truly hopes to change the direction the modern world is going in,” says Radha Krishna.
“In the future, we even hope to change governmental regulations and laws to become more favorable towards the development of eco-villages and intentional communities.”