Greening our centres

First a kind of vision for the year 2020 – like Rüdiger Noll for the CEC and for our centres suggested:

Challenged and pushed by more than 66 academies around Europe churches faced the global necessity of putting justice, peace and integrity of creation into action. Churches inspired by hope and faith, that the kingdom of God will come towards us, didn’t only publish memoranda, but became itself sustainable.

Our centres used their own richness of the place – like Margunn Sandal during the conference mentioned – their local and regional possibilities, their cultural heritage and the creativity and courage of their participants for being a challenge and a model for sustainable development. Our centres became much more attractive through their kind of accommodation – the elegance of simplicity – their hospitality and their open struggle developing alternative perspectives for the society and also for themselves. To save energy, to use resources efficiently and to produce more renewable energies as they needed ( it became a kind of additional income), the delicious regional and organic food or the green and social procurement became a brand name for the academies. Corporations knocked at the door of our centres, if they were interested in creating a market for social and environmental sound products, but through our powerful support of an independent civil society and the decentralisation of structures (against the power of the big companies) the centres got very often in trouble also with their official churches.

The centres – in the year 2007 they had a disproportionate number of old people - were attractive for all ages, different social groups, well known as a place of struggling and dialogue, but also attractive to experience and witness an sustainable management and lifestyle.

Together with other colleagues we – Daniel Schmid Holz and I - would like to design and start a project called greening the centres. The aim could be to give our centres a face in climate protection and sustainable development, as well

  • in conferences ( i.g. the future of energy production and consumption in several European countries, North- South Cooperation to stop climate change and combating poverty),
  • summer-camps,
  • practical workshops for staff members (kitchen or housekeeping staff, commercial mangers and so on) in the practise of sustainable management in our own houses,
  • as in our own management.

We know, that our possibilities regarding the situation in our centres are quite different, some have their own conference centre, some not.

Regarding climate change we have a different responsibility and several possibilities (and national different conditions) for acting – and it shouldn’t not to be a burden for the director and the staff. On a long run it should be a integrated part of ordinary work.

Steps could be:

  • A kind of inventory, very roughly: built over area, used square meters, annual energy consumption (heating, electricity, fuel), annual expenses for procurement (paper, food, cars, computers, renovation etc.)
  • Ecological management with a model and controlled objectives (there are no decreed objectives, you have to set up your own target. Interesting is your own progress and how you solve problems and deal with obstacles)
  • Practical steps in CO2 reduction in the field of heating, lighting, motorised mobility through saving, efficiency and renewable energies
  • Green procurement inclusive fair trade products, cooperation in purchasing of green electricity
  • Serving of regional, seasonal and organic food if possible(saves 50 % of CO2)
  • Exchange of different attitudes, experiences and best practise (perhaps publishing a best practice brochure or a sustainable cook –book, edited by our cooks)
  • Using volunteers to realize the inventory and communication tools – like you have seen here in the house( I call it “learning by passing by”)
  • Helping each other in fundraising, mutual giving advice
  • Work camps for staff members and friends of the academy movement during holidays to (re-) construct something ( plant trees, renovate buildings(insulation), constructing a rainwater tank etc. under advise of professionals)
  • Common action in the field of funding ( EU ) or getting certain products cheaper (like PV panels)
  • Financial support or common funding action to realize for instance the first “Oikosnet PV installation” (EAALCE towards sunny times) financing the travel costs for our annual Conference . Why not there where the best conditions are(sun and financial benefit).
  • Exchange of programs for practical workshops, like efficient driving
  • Pushing common political problems (the future of motorised mobility, Developing slowness (slow centre like the movement of slow city), climate protection putting in practise and other subjects, tourism and climate change) and the possibilities of solution.
  • etc.

All these activities, done by more and more centres in different ways could have an impact to our participants and the institutions where they come from, to the villages and cities and regions, where we live and work and as well to churches as societies.

Referring to Irja Askola, Max Keller and Jirj Silny: we need a “shot” of anti-capitalism , a culture of struggling and the willingness to step into practical transformation – ourselves, our centres, our societies.

I hope you got some own ideas in mind and became curious to join such a project.

If the board would agree, we could start next spring with a first meeting here in Bad Boll.

Jobst Kraus/ Bad Boll