I have gained some attention in Russia after writing to the governor of Archangelsk about an opportunity to support sound rural development with the help of a Global Villages Network. This network is supposed to be a network of experts and innovators all around the world that cares about the future of Villages.
I need to make some clarification before going on with this matter. It is very interesting that there was a generally receptive attitude to the existence of such a network, the message that it would be very welcome to engage in rural rejuvenation in Russia – at least to some bright people of influence and expertise. The normative idea of a civil society initiative around the globe that is not a Trojan horse of hidden political agenda, but on the contrary really spurs a cooperative effort, is imaginable and welcome. Yet I have to say, my networking effort, as well as many others, is still more in the phase of infancy than maturity. And the effort was more or less on my personal side. Other people welcomed it, but it seems to carry the same degree of commitment and engagement like your friends list of facebook. I had to learn it the hard way that this effort is still not really taken serious enough.
We wish this network to exist, we wish resources to be pooled, but we are far away from the ability to intervene anywhere and out of our own, independent strength.
There is absolutely no doubt that we have a strong idea to offer: Villages, Market Towns, rural micro-regions around the world use modern tools of communication to inform each other about the good and successful practises, about the achievements, inventions and proven traditional ways to reclaim rural areas as natural habitat for the still growing mankind of the post-industrial era. This possibility alone will lead to an entirely new form of human settlement, because it will enable people to do much more locally.
What we want is not romanticism of Anastasia – inspired farm-style homesteading, although the tremendous success of these books should tell the leadership - not only in Russia - at least about the direction of what people really want and desire for their future. We call our vision Global Villages
to make a difference: what we see as solutions in the long run is the miniaturized version of lean, green cities with a high level of local division of labour, embedded in global information exchange, using sophisticated technology – to create a better connection and cooperation with local nature, bringing it to blossom and bloom, creating abundance.
We think all the building blocks are there for a new, sustainable lifestyle that increasingly complements and mitigates the unbearable conditions of urban life – increasingly threatened by ecological and economic crisis. But yet politics is going into the opposite direction, fostering concentration, centralisation and large scale operation. Its an ongoing obsession inflicted on actors that pays back less and less. Astronomical costs that only can be sustained by systemic fraud and debt accumulation. Not the necessary successes to pay back the debts. Eventually a situation that endagers world peace.
There are almost heroic initiatives on the way to make a difference; that also show that the aggregated effect of small local efforts by far outweighs the potential of concentrated operations. Even military science is relearning. We learn from nature and evolution that there is optimum size and proportion for things, but they can aggregate to enormous dimensions – swarms, forests, meadows. Distributed intelligence makes each single plant autonomous, yet they can influence climate and weather in a planetary scale.
Global Villages follow that plant paradigm and combine it with the infinite wealth of human ingenuity and inventiveness. The historical necessity for centralisation is over, but we are slow to comprehend that this clustering of mankind on less than 2 percent of the planet’s surface and the continuous withdrawal of more and more people from the remaining 98 percent , something we downplay by calling it "urbanisation", which produces double scarcity:
- Scarcity in the cities where people literally compete for the air to breathe and the space to live, and
- Scarcity in the countryside where the ongoing exodus of people creates a cascade and vicious circle of underdevelopment.
We desperately need to find a credible solution to bring them back and we stick our minds together to find it.
This is the intellectual background for the network and I think it is very powerful. Still, only in the last few years have I found people that truly recognize this is the way to walk together.
These people are spreading all over the globe, on five continents and remote islands, their number increasing day by day. They recognize the ultimate purpose of our existence is human health and stewardship of the planet, support for the web of life that supports us. These are people that went far beyond ecological thinking; they know that human design efforts and technology are a part of evolution; that we need to be daring and creative in our role as keepers of the wealth of this earth.
- These are architects that create new city designs to dwell and float within an abundant biosphere, nourish it, harvest it.
- These are biologists that understood how valuable highly developed cultures in history have been for landscape and biological diversity – following the path of the great Russian biologist Nikolai Ivanovic Vavilov.
- These are politicians that really acknowledge the increasing ability and competence of informed people to run their local common affairs, developing governance and self determination and being desperately in need of a partner state.
- These are journalists collecting stories and spreading them,
- these are filmmakers, teachers and other educators, that recognize the amazing potential of synchronous interchange between remote locations,
- these are researchers, engineers, both in the social and technical field, that are challenged by the potential power of small communities,
- these are ordinary people from villages that have shown examples of what they can do with the help of new technologies, and finally these are historians and philosophers who see the big picture.
But this network today is still maily than a network of information exchange, of beginning perception and recognition. We need to be called for common action and we need to find partners that are aware and supportive of our potential in order to unfold it.