Think of a community of 120 to 400 people according to seasons, that live in a small village lost in the middle of german woods. 30 houses and properties surrounded by fields and trees full of birds. Listen, you are there. Welcome to Zegg, an experimental center for cultural conception.
Here, more than a hundred of residents live by their ideas, in an environmentally-friendly manner, only 80 kilometres from Berlin. Everything begun more than 40 years ago when a group of young people wanting an alternative way of life decided to gather in the Black Forest and then came to settle in a former military base. They were searching for a more quiet setting, oustide capitalist society of “more and more” , individualism and consumption. With the purpose of asserting cooperation rather than competition, being rather than having, fullfil human natural needs by simple and sustainable means.
A happy life, sociocratic and multigenerational
Nowadays, entire families live there. Most part of the community is german but 10 other nationalities are represented. Everybody speaks English which make communication easier. For 30 years now, in addition to live in an environmentally-friendly setting of love and peace, their aim is to organize personal growth classes, festivals and seminars in the village. They also organize these events outside the village to show the public alternative ways of life, their view on mankind and processes to live together happily without frustration or bitterness.
It works : each year, Zegg have more than 20 000 bookings for its seminars. The age of inhabitants goes from a few months to 88 years old. The average age is 45. Here, every form of spirituality is welcomed but most of the residents are not religious : “God is within us all”. It is collective intelligence that takes decisions, without centralized power, in a self-organized approach based on trust, respect and freedom for everyone. There is no particular rules.
In support of the success of common goals, various circles gather together forming a sociocracy in which they decide for the direction the community should take : overall vision, agriculture, cooking, maintenance, building, social relationships… the latter are based on transparency in order to create trust and respect among individuals. Zegg spearhead the “Forum”, a method for sharing feelings which is now used in many ecovillages.
The community works also on Non-violent communication (NVC) which is “the language and interactions that strengthen our ability to give with goodwill and to inspire the desire for others to do the same”. It is a “conscious communication which main characteristics are empathy, genuineness and responsibility”. It can be non verbal like gestures, behaviour towards others, emotions…
An almost neutral impact on environment
Like all ecovillages, Zegg aims at a zero carbon emissions impact on the environment. All food is organic, 50% of it is produced locally. Similar to (AMAP) associations for the preservation of peasant agriculture, the production is redistributed. Here, this functioning is called CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Solar panels and a wood shred boiler offer 100% of renewable energy. 80% of this energy is produced locally. The remaining 20% are furnished by the German Greenpeace Energy network that offers “clean” green and sustainable energy.
All waste is sorted, like most of places in Germany, one of the most performing countries in the world in the waste recycling field. Two different bins for clear glass and coloured glass, a small bin for plastic and also two different bins for compost with on one side raw food and on the other side cooked food. Here, water cycle is also meant to be recycled at most. Shower and toilet water is purified and then sent to a pond with cleansing plants that purify water again before sending it in groundwaters.
An independent and efficient economic model
Zegg is nowadays the owner of its lands. More than 3 millions euros have been invested until today to build the site. A limited liability company (GmbH in German) was created to monetize the seminars organized internally and externally. They don’t have a local currency, euros that are earned are redistributed within the community for renovations, food and also salary allocated to residents. Due to their status as member, they don’t pay other taxes. In exchange of their 20 hours work in average in the different groups of the community, residents are remunerated to pay their rent and various personal expenses.
The community is confident for the future. Zegg is now perfectly integrated in its region. Visitors are increasingly numerous. New properties will be constructed shortly to host guests. Visitors are often demanding and the community adapt so it can offer them the desired comfort : single and double bedrooms go along with communal bedrooms where 15 people can sleep. Dishes are vegetarian with vegan or even gluten free options.
When Janus, a young resident, is asked if he is happy he answers “much more here than in conventional society where the pursuit of happiness is lost for the benefit of useless issues imposed by society itself”.
Images of Zegg
For more information : visit their website.
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