I followed John’s catchy idea about ecosystem restoring camps from the very beginning. The idea is spot on and the timing is so right. I am convinced that now is the time to make really everybody see that monoculture induced the fires in Portugal, and that all the wars and refugees from Africa and the Middle East basically stem from an agelong abused earth.
So, therefore I joined immediately and after a month or two, when it still grew and stayed, I told the starting group that I could help with the website and –if necessary- the legal stuff. I am in no way legally educated but I am able to follow the way of thinking. I work in online communication, but more and more only for projects that touch my heart and really want to make this planet, our home, a healthier place for all life.
In all these projects I want to bring my expertise: how to translate and communicate pioneer messages to new groups, the so called early majority. And I want to experiment and learn more about the new earning models for the new economy. The old will certainly collapse, but then, what do we want to happen then? Answering this question is very important and I already know there will be many small answers. Not one big one.
These ecosystem restoration camps are actually one of those possible answers. Normal people, like you and me, pay a membership fee of 10 euro per month/120 euro per year and these small amounts together mean a lot. Not only in money, but also in meaning. If so many people come together, that must mean something.
If so many members think this is important and so many volunteers want to help to heal this planet, and actually want to volunteer part of their time, that means something. We are not just talking, we are actually doing it! The bulldozers for the groundwork will arrive in two weeks time and we all paid for them, together. And when this grows, we will create real jobs here, and we will be able to start new camps on other places because then also bigger funds will catch on etc etc.
And then back to the title: how to become a group? The idea is catchy and inspiring and that brought us all together. And in the beginning we just started doing. Some on the camps, some on the ecosystem design, some on the legal stuff and some on the website. We occasionally Skyped or Zoomed and got to know each other along the way. Slowly this became more structured and we created a foundation, a membership website and a supervisory board and now John started an advisory board. In Spain, on our first camp site, we formed an Association, so both on the legal as on the organization side we slowly become a reality.
And on the way people came in the group, left the group, colored the group, discolored the group, made friends or allergies and that all without meeting each other once in real life! I am working with people for almost a year now without ever having seen or touched them. I Skype or Zoom with them, mail a lot, use tools like Slack, Discord, Loomio, Trello to get things done and chat and together we have created and live, actually, a virtual reality. I feel like I have gained friends, I feel like I have gotten to know them in a real sense of the word, but also am very aware there is some part of them that I have not met yet.
And of that I suddenly became very aware when I was in a conflict. Emotions are always the most difficult thing, but in the virtual world you miss the nonverbal, the body language. The emotions are there, and are being felt, but you need to find a way to express them in words, in a more or less brainy way. So, one needs to be very careful in formulating them, and there are many cultural differences to think of.
Nobody had a recipe for that before we started, but now, just taking a step back, I actually experienced an extraordinarily feat where people, without knowing each other first, coming from literally all over the world, working together in virtual space have managed to bring an inspiring idea literally to the ground and have also formed a group of people working together and were able to deal with conflicts and irritations and other normal classroom stuff, but then on a virtual scale.
I actually see something to be very proud of and grateful for.