Regen4all December Session: Collaborating effectively with local governments

A joint ReGEN4all & CfF session that happened on 4th December 2023.

This event was part of the “Regenerative Communities for All” (#Regen4All) European Community of Practice. More infos here. The online platform has content from the other Communities of Practice (Global, Iberian, Danish) to view previous Colloquiums with leading practitioners from the ecovillages field. There is also the Ecommunity Library, info about this here.

A hands-on webinar offering concrete steps for citizen-led initiatives to collaborate effectively with governments.

  • Hosts: Ilonka Marselis and Mieke Elzenga
  • Speakers: Ilonka Marselis, Mieke Elzenga and Ad Vlems

 

In this webinar we will explore together how citizen-led initiatives for sustainability can collaborate effectively with their local and regional government, and why you would want this! Mieke and Ilonka have experience bridging between governments and citizen-led initiatives for sustainability, for the benefit of both. In this webinar you will gain insight into the different layers of governments and which procedures you need to follow or influence to benefit your project. We will offer a simple 4-step roadmap for collaborating with your government, based on our experiences. We will offer two examples of effective collaboration between local governments and citizen-led initiatives for sustainability in the Netherlands. Collectively we will share experiences of collaborating with our governments, and explore what can help benefit citizen-led initiatives for sustainability.

Ecodorp Boekel is a small ecovillage of only 36 houses. Even before the building phase, the ecovillage was visited by 17 directors of various Dutch ministries. It is the only citizen-led initiative in a Dutch law that is meant for innovative, sustainable projects to get exemption from regular laws. Ecodorp Boekel has gotten exemption from the building code and now the exemptions it asked for, are added to the regular Building code. Ecodorp Boekel has changed a Dutch law!

Their province has made a 30 year investment of 1,2 million euros to the ecovillage and when someone asked why, they said: ‘The way the ecovillagers of Ecodorp Boekel live in 2022 is how we want all of our citizens to live in 2050. That’s why we see the ecovillage as our showroom and living lab. Ecodorp Boekel applied for an EU subsidy of around 1 million euros for two clean energy innovations in 2019. The EU had sorted all 24 projects that applied that year in order of potential impact and the ecovillage was number 1. Because the ecovillage had so many innovations they could apply for the maximum, which was 2,5 million. The EU expert team that approved the ecovillage for the EU grant called Ecodorp Boekel their flagship project as it was the first time they gave the grant to a CLI.

There is much more interesting to tell you, so try and be there!

  • Short bio of speakers

Ilonka Marselis is a researcher and policy advisor. Ilonka has worked as a policy advisor for the Dutch national government and for municipalities, advocating for interaction of local government with citizen initiatives in the energy transition. She currently represents the interests of citizen-led initiatives for sustainable heating in the Dutch federation of energy cooperatives. Before this, Ilonka was a researcher at DRIFT research institute for transitions, studying a.o. ecovillages.

Mieke Elzenga has been a Social Entrepreneur since 1982 in the Netherlands and Czech Republic. She has worked in several organizations for Welfare and Healthcare in operation, staff, and management. She likes to create new services and products that supports people to be active in the regeneration of our planet and in personal development. With her organization Liberta Care Foundation (NL) she supported Dutch youngsters involved in criminality, with time-out projects. Later collaborating with young refugees in NL. LiberTerra’s integral concept isf ‘eco-communities which supports authorities around issues like climate change and biobased building’. Mieke is currently the co-president of ECOLISE, the European Network for Community-Led Initiatives on Climate Change and Sustainability.

Ad Vlems is initiator of Ecodorp Boekel and has given about 100 presentations and interviews since the start of the building phase. Each month he gives six tours around the ecovillage to building companies, building contractors and of course starting communities. Ad is going to start as a Social Entrepreneur to help others to have a positive impact on their natural surroundings and live within the boundaries of what the Earth can provide. You can subscribe to his newsletter on his website pip.how.

  • The ReGEN4All project:

The ReGEN4All project was born at the European Ecovillage Gathering in 2022 and stems from the years of ecovillage research, networking and advocacy conducted and catalysed by the GEN research team and partners.

The purpose of the ReGEN4All project is to serve researchers, practitioners, and adult educators from ecovillages and academia as well as policymakers on all levels. ReGEN4All aims to make the knowledge gained within and through ecovillages more accessible both for academic research and to help inform policy decisions on sustainable lifestyle and regenerative practices.

ReGEN4All is a year-long project that includes six online research colloquiums, the establishment and research of Communities of Practice (CoPs), the creation of a database of ‘state of the art’ ecovillage research, and an online platform weaving it all together. The platform will include a pilot matching system to connect ‘ecovillagers’ and researchers, a protocol on how to approach ecovillages, and more!

The project partners are GEN Europe (represented by GEN Research), ISCTE-IUL (Center for International Studies / University Institute of Lisbon), ECOLISE and LOES, the Danish Ecovillage Network.

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