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Wongsanit EDE Report

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Wongsanit EDE Report

Introduction

The EDE at Wongsanit begins with its famous canal crossing, a rite of passage all participants must navigate. With a step of faith onto what seems, initially, a very unstable raft, they pull themselves across, by an assortment of ropes and pulleys, to the welcoming trees, water lily ponds, traditional wooden accommodations and the gracefully roofed adobe class room of Wongsanit Ashram.

From 17 January, twenty participants made that crossing, two for the 4 week EDE, a few for the 5 weeks that includes the Design Studio, but most for the full 7 week journey of the Thailand EDE ? The EDE, Design Studio (DS) and two weeks of Training of Trainers (TOT).

The Thai EDE is unique in that throughout the programme it addresses the eco-village conundrum both from the perspective of designing intentional western style ecovillages and building on the wisdom of traditional / indigenous communities. The design studio that incorporates both principles of permaculture and a PAR approach epitomises this by demonstrating methodologies that respect the local knowledge of the people, the land and innovative technology.

Throughout the training approach was participatory and experiential making a lively and engaged learning community. The final TOT weeks shares the skills, attitudes and concepts that support this style of training and  challenged participants to  participants to practice.

The diversity of countries and cultures represented was beautiful, a networking of minds, hearts and hands that under other circumstances might never have happened. With different views on life, coming together to realise that the differences are mostly skin deep, and once you scrape away that skin of social conditioning, basic human needs and the heart are all the same... Cambodia, Scotland, India, England, Indonesia, China, Canada, Thailand, South Africa, Bangladesh and later, Nepal. Indigenous friends from Orissa, India, and the Karen people, northern Thailand.

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Bangladesh, Cambodia and India were present as part of a South-South exchange programme

Facilitation Team

The 2011 facilitation team included Project Co-ordinator Narumon Paiboonsittikun (Mon), Pracha Hutanuwatr, Sunisa Jamwiset (Om), Jane Rasbash, Ratawit Ouaprachanon (Mo) and Paola Vidulich.

Mon, Mo and Paola held the energy of the group over the full four weeks of the EDE. Mo joined the participants as a student in the Design Studio, after which he left, while Mon and Paola remained with the group until the end of the TOT. With 3 people in this core group, each had support and time to take breaks, ensuring good energy levels and peaceful co-ordination.

Jane held weekly supervision meetings with the entire team, ensuring a smooth flow of communication and holding a supportive container for all.

Resource People

The below resource people deepened the learning and added new energy, variety and diversity to the overall process:

May East                                          - Transition Towns & Models of Change

Tanida Dithsayabud                           - Compassionate and non-violent communication

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Tom Radzienda                                  - Personal and planetary healing

Witoon Permpongsacharoen               - Macro & micro level impact of energy planning in the Mekong Region

Jo (Thana Uthaipattrakoon)                  - Design Studio

Max Lindegger                                  - Design Studio, permaculture principles

Sulak Sivaraksa                                - Socially engaged spirituality

Narong Hutanuwatr                             - Local economies

Nuntiya Hutanuwatr                            - Local economies

Process

Meditation & Chi Kung

The mornings began with group meditation led by a facilitator, helping to ground the participants in the practice of mindfulness and spiritual awareness. Some found a full hour too much sitting so the choice of 30 minutes sitting followed by a more active Chi Gung or Thai Chi was agreed on. As the weeks progressed, this engaged spiritual practice became second nature to many participants, to stay with them long after the course had finished.

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Design Groups & Presentations

With a view to Design Studio, a section of the EDE unique to Thailand?s program, groups where formed early on in the EDE course, selected so as to create a good cross section of gender and nationality, a choosing game was played. These groups then became a little family where ideas flowed and the challenges of conflict and facilitation where learnt and resolved.

Through Participatory Action Research the participants learnt the importance of drawing on indigenous wisdom of the community they were designing for. Understanding the land, where the springs are and the maybe unnoticed assets of the land. This information is of great importance when doing a comprehensive plan, as people who live year in year out on the land have a deeper understanding and connection to the place than those who come in for a limited time.   When the time came to present, many of the participants felt they had learnt a great deal and formed stronger bonds with each other. Some people where more creative while others where better organisers, while others learnt of skills they never knew they had. The combination of all these skills created divers and comprehensive designs that were well received by the community at Bo Nok.

Daily Recap

Each day a ?Home Group? presented the previous days recap, not only did this keep everyone up to speed on the process of the learning, it also showed facilitators how much had been absorbed. The creativity of participants was encouraged to flow, with an open style; whether you tell it like a story, or draw it like a ?mind map? that is up to you, so long as the relevant information is understood.

Deepening Transformation

Another important part of the EDE learning process is how to deepen the learning, this process offered a space for everyone to share their own knowledge or opinion on the subject, through this open forum type discussion new insights where learnt and understanding deepened.

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Wongsanit EDE Report

Social Week

A time of breaking down barriers, sharing values and building trust. A time of creating community and airing the skills and tools needed to

support its continued, peaceful evolution. Shared experiences included group challenges and games, celebrations and ritual, meals and mediation.

Starting with expectations of what the EDE had to offer, the goals of Gaia Education in the expansion of world consciousness and the weaving together of different intentional and traditional communities, to share and learn from each other.

Through games the participants formed small supporting ?home groups? that would not only take care of outer environment and recap the days learning, but also offer emotional support on a more intimate level.

Om inspired the Participants with the story of Bor Nok?s activist community and Pracha helped to expand the understanding of how a community can really be sustainable and resilient in this fast changing world. The importance of the heart of a community resonating in the heart of its

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members, be it Intentional or traditional, through their common goals, relationships and decision making process.

Participants learnt about art, ritual and celebration by making their own personal prayer flags and mandalas. These were raised in a group ceremony, after which the participants took ownership of lowering and raising the flags on departure and arrival at each new venue. The creative outlet helped to balance and centre a sometimes emotional process.

In a departure from the norm, May brought Transition Towns to the Thailand EDE, touching more on urban settings. This wisdom taught that the greatest challenge will be bringing about changes in these settings, where natural resources are scarce and people easily alienated. Everyone has value, bringing unique skills and knowledge to the Transition, which participants must all make in both their inner and outer worlds.

Some participants found it a relief to hear May talk about being ?nurses to the old system and midwives to the new?. As nice as it may sound to go live in beautiful eco-villages and ignore the manifold crisis going on, only together as a worldwide community, embracing the diversity of all that is present, can the required healing happen.

Tanida guided the participants through the learning of Compassionate and Non-violent Communication, giving them greater skills and valuable tools for community living. These came in handy in the weeks to come where living in such close proximity and taking on strong and diverse truths helped build the community.

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Wongsanit EDE Report

WorldView Week

After the warm bonding and coming together of the Social Week, the participants? minds where now pulled and stretched with new ways of thinking and being.

Pracha and Paola spoke about the massive shift from the old scientific paradigm to the lessons and learning?s of  the new scientific paradigm. From living with Nature as traditional communities still do, to the religious and patriarchal dominance which brought on a steady decline of reverence for Nature.  From Cartesian worldviews to the splitting of atoms, humans have been pulling Nature apart, believing that the answers lay in those pieces, but as New Science has proved, the whole is much more than the sum of its parts, and that the whole includes the observer. Just by looking at something is it changed, because nothing is as it seems, and only through connection to everything else, is the observer who and what  they are.

This includes the state of the mind as Sulak Sivaraksa explained. There is no slipping into the misty forests of the past to regain connection to Nature, participants learnt they must embrace the modern world and make it work for them. Through engaged spirituality the participants can consciously bring the spiritual and the material together in a way that ?re-wires? the human mind.

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Wongsanit EDE Report

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Wongsanit EDE Report

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Wongsanit EDE Report  

January, 17 - March, 6, 2011 Wongsanit Ashram, Thailand

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