Alūksne region was one step away from having an ecovillage and alternative (knowledge balanced with skills) school

Education system of Latvia is suffering from encyclopedic type of education – mostly we learn only to read and write. Such education system has resulted in unbearable bureaucracy culture in Latvia. There is a lot of office workers and very little craftsmen and engineers. Read’n write education phenomena has pushed forwards different alternative education movements – homeschooling movement, private schools and parents NGO based schools. Such names as Montessori and Steiner became widely known. I, too, have dreamed of participating in creation and maintanence of such school or at least that my children could attend it. A few months ago this dream was very close to come true.

Group of young people from Riga lead by Raimonds Celms and Anita Mitriķe, members of Give and Get NGO were searching for a place to start their own school and ecovillage somewhere in Latvia. They traveled this country and examined abandoned schools until they ended up in Alūksne region small settlement Mārkalne. It just had it’s school closed. They started negotiations with municipality and in the beginning they seemed to receive support. They were almost granted the building with 4 hectares of land.

At the same time they published announcements in local newspapers to invite locals to participate in creation of the school. It was my happy day, when I read it.

4 km away from school I own some 30 ha of land, where I dream of creating an ecovillage, where people from all the world could meet to share or improve their ecological skills. This ecovillage would be a community of those who gather money and seek for his or her own piece of land in order to make an organic or permaculture farm. Life in this ecovillage would be free of charge to give people maximum opportunities to save money for their own land. Impressed by Pope Francis encyclical letter “Laudato Si”, I even thought of option that this could be a christian or even catholic community, however that would narrow my opportunities to attract ecological people from outside of church.

When I found out about Raimonds and Anita, I could not believe it. My dreams of ecocommunity in Alūksne region were coming true. If they succeed, that would mean a lot of young people moving in this area. Not just young people, but ecologically aware individuals. I felt like I was teleported to another reality. It seemed so impossible and unbelievable.

And impossible it unfortunately was. Municipality changed their mind and offered only a small part of the building. 3rd floor would be some appartments, 2nd floor – the school, 1st floor – library, dance corner, canteen and doctor’s cabinet. Municipality did not believe that creation of alternative school had any financial basis. Well, they are right, of course, because starting ecocommunity does not produce as much money as craft works, vegetables and fruits. But, well, it is hard to believe that something is possible without money. However I suspect that some locals had their own plans towards the building.

Raimonds and Anita are now searching for a new place with more friendly welcome. But they will need support anyway. If you wish to support them, please, find them on facebook and write them.

As for me. Life returned to it’s previous state. I herd my sheep and continue to pick up plastic and other trash all around while meditating on creation of ecovillage here. Cow gave birth in march, now we have our own milk and a second cow.

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About Pavels Melnis

Independent ecology activist, family farmer, gardener and forestkeeper. Musician: violin, guitar, singing. Hobbies: traveling by bicycle, learning to play different music instruments - accordion, piano, recorder flute, harmonica, drums; languages, theology, prehistory, logbuilding, repairing and recycling. Religious. Ecological. Love all things ethnic and traditional.
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