GENPlease find below an open letter from GEN Europe to its members. The financial situation in 2015 is critical and GEN Europe is asking for your help. You can read more below. If you would like to help this wonderful network, please become a Supportive Member for € 30 per year or more, and/or consider giving a one-off donation ( ZEGG is responding with a donation of 500 euros!  Thank you very much! Best regards, Thomas Heuser / ZEGG Managing Director and GEN Europe Council Member

Dear Members of the GEN Europe network,

As you surely all know by now, at the last General Meeting (in Findhorn in July 2015) the new Board was elected and the new office confirmed for Arterra Bizimodu, Spain. If you want to get to know the new Board and staff members, please take a look at the GEN Europe website:

We all know that GEN Europe is reliant on the active participation of all its members. In the coming months and years, you will therefore hear from us in the Arterra office regularly. We would like to ask you for your ideas, request your support and involve you in projects being planned. 

The first issue which GEN Europe needs to resolve is the negative financial situation we are currently facing. We have been supporting the establishment of GEN International in Findhorn for several years, and since GEN International was responsible for the largest part of the GEN+20 Conference we also shared the surpluses from the conference with GEN International. In other words, to ensure that GEN Europe does not record negative figures in 2015, additional income to the value of €20,000 has to be created by the end of December 2015. That is the figure for this year only! As explained at the General Meeting in Findhorn, for 2016 we are expecting to balance the books again. 

The Board is responsible for generating this additional income and they are voluntarily providing their time, energy and knowledge to make it happen. So we are now asking all members of GEN Europe to join in and help us meet this challenge. Let’s connect and benefit from our network of people, ecovillages and networks of ecovillages.

We are inviting all members to:

  • give an additional donation to GEN Europe if you have the financial resources to do this.
  • translate this e-mail into your local language and circulate it to the members of your community and your networks.
  • help us to find new funders (foundations, philanthropists, companies, individuals) to ensure long-term, sustainable backing for current and future projects.
  • help us to attract new members and supportive members, strengthening our organisation and connecting their expertise with that of our existing members. 

We are looking forward to your thoughts, creative ideas, contacts and cooperation!

We are aware of the achievements made in the past twenty years by GEN Europe, its staff, its Board and its members: GEN is a well-established organisation – recognised at UN-level – in the fields of combating climate change and developing alternative sustainable ways of living. As a network of innovative grassroots communities,  it is our duty to make available our ideas, experience and deeds in order to support the transition to a sustainable way of living on our planet.

Let’s continue the good work GEN has been performing so far. We believe that these challenges will strengthen us and bring us closer together. Thank you in advance for your support, in whichever way you can help GEN.

Genny Carraro, Managing Director

GEN Europe Team

Dachstock Juli 10The last day of our summer camp was, in a way, the first day of the next phase here in ZEGG, since even as the last guests were still saying their goodbyes, busy hands were already helping to prepare the most intensive construction site in ZEGG’s history: the rebuilding of the western and southern sections of the roof and attic of our main building, the Uni. By clearing the “Dachstock” seminar room and dormitory and fetching much of the needed construction material, they ensured work could already start early in the morning of Monday, August 3.

Achim Ina 14 Su“Deepening Community – Deepening Love” with Ina and Achim

Train with Ina Meyer-Stoll and Achim Ecker, primary teachers of ZEGG-Forum at the ZEGG Community in Germany, to understand the impact Love & Eros has on building community. During this tour Ina and Achim will help you explore your personal truths about as you move towards a better realization of mature love that wants to give, rather than take. The workshops are designed to create transparency in groups in a safe social setting and to put us in touch with our real inner feelings. A gentle focus on Love & Eros is a profound training ground for a facilitator, providing essential social feedback skills needed to help others grow in self-experience. This awareness training is a deep and intimate process designed to build trust and transparency leading towards a peaceful culture of high human and ethical values.

The aim of ZEGG-Forum is to reveal whatever is authentic, alive and true. It creates a space of trust, openness and transparency between people. A person connected with his or her own inner truth, no matter how wounded, is always beautiful and the process will create love. Peace building is not about compromises as commonly understood but rather about learning to access our own truths. Being vulnerable and honest to share inner truth in a gentle community context is scary business for most of us. However, “Seeing deeply is loving”.  Once feeling secure we start listening deeply to others in a safe social setting with open hearts. This ZEGG-Forum training will show you how to not only facilitate those in their process, but to also build the capacity of the entire community to provide the essential "mirrors" that are needed to supplement, broaden and sharpen the issue brought forward.

GEN Logo

Or: go on holidays in Greece, Mrs. Merkel!
Open letter to the German Government

We, the German participants of the international GEN+20 Conference, distance ourselves from your policies. The Global Ecovillage Network unites more then 10.000 villages and communities of all continents. In Germany there is a growing network of ecovillages, communities and transition towns. In cooperation with people and organizations from many countries we generate knowledge and expertise for the regeneration of destroyed landscapes, for community building on all levels, for social enterprise, for decentralized supplies of energy, water, food, healthy water cycles and regional economies. In our work we experience daily that healthy communities cooperating with nature are the basis of a healthy economy.

Terra PretaAchim Ecker ist experimenting with Biochar - in his site in Portugal but also at ZEGG community. Here is an article about his successes.

Khalil's familyFinally they have arrived. After several nerve-wracking months, we were finally able to welcome them to Belzig: Khalil’s relatives. Khalil is a Kurd from Syria and has been living in Bad Belzig for almost 4 years, where he became friends with a few people from ZEGG. As the conflict situation in Syria worsened, we asked him to tell us more about the real situation in the country, including the role of the Kurds and how people are dealing with the rise of the IS.

The more he told us, the more empathy we could feel with their situation. His family wanted to stay in their home country: his parents, brother, sister-in-law and their two children. Two years ago we collected donations to enable Khalil’s father to install a pump that secured a supply of drinking water for the 1000 villagers and up to 6000 refugees they were hosting (mainly from Aleppo).
Then, last September, Khalil called us one evening to say that the dangers of the war had now encroached directly on the region where his family were living. The roaming military had repeatedly approached his brother, trying to ‘take him with them’ and force him to fight. Fighting was only 20km away. There was a very real danger to the lives of Khalil’s family: as he said, they had “no future” there anymore.

We discussed how we could help and how to make it possible for this family to leave Syria. Silke Grimm began enquiries at the Foreigners' Authority and the relevant ministries. There was no possibility to include them in the official ‘refugee quotas’ for Germany as a whole or for the state of Brandenburg, so perhaps we could issue private invitations? But this would imply finding people to sign legal guarantees to cover all and any costs that would arise for the six-strong family for the entire duration of their stay in Germany. And this is where the strength of community became visible, with only one further meeting necessary to raise donations or guarantee pledges. German bureaucracy moves slowly and there were plenty of legal hurdles still in the way, but on March 8 all the steps had been taken and the family could board an aeroplane for the first time in their life, arriving safely in Berlin. The photos show their welcome meal in ZEGG: Khalil’s parents, his brother, sister-in-law and their two children. For the meal, the Kurdish refugees brought the starters and we cooked the rest. “This is the happiest day of my life,” said Khalil. “My family is safe and I am no longer scared what could happen to them.”





We are overjoyed that we could help to bring six people to safety. And we hope that many more people do the same, since there are still hundreds of thousands of people in acute mortal danger and seeking refuge. We can readily advise anyone who wants to help in a similar way.

ProstgGmbH SusanneFor some weeks now we've had a little ‘g’ in front of the “GmbH” in our company name - as of 1.1.2015 ZEGG is officially “gemeinnützig” or non-profit! Our official company name is now ZEGG Bildungszentrum gGmbH. “Bildungszentrum” translates as “Education Centre” and in German law a gGmbH is a non-profit limited liability company. During recent months we've invested a lot of energy into the conversion of our previous limited company. Since we have always considered our work to be “for the public benefit” it is great news to have this confirmed officially. This status will greatly help us achieve our aims.

Sabine LichtenfelsAs an immediate response to the war in Israel-Palestine, Sabine Lichtenfels initiated a Vision Camp in the West-bank, July 23rd – 29th, which hosted around 50 participants from Israel, Palestine and beyond.

thumb GEN 2014.Leila 5The conference of GEN Europe from June 9-14 took this year place in ZEGG. It showed a record and a milestone: never before did so many people from the European ecovillage movement meet in such a fruitful and joyous atmosphere.

thumb IMG 6135Whitsun 2014 - A Photo-Reportage





Sword-fighting exercisesAn atmosphere of change in the community: Last weekend 50 people attended a special community weekend with invited facilitators Clinton and Marion Callahan helping us to create a “Space of Opportunity”.

Using their “Possibility Management” methods we practiced radical honesty, gave each other feedback, and practiced saying Yes and No. Here we also made use of sword-fighting exercises from Japanese martial arts. In the space of clarity which we created, we turned to current issues in the whole community: What is our intent?  What does ZEGG give to the world?

Pfingstintensivzeit Mai14.susanne 106When does a dream become effective? What are your dreams? And how are you effective? These questions and more  were the focus of a whole weekend here with many people from our community – part of the creation process for our Whitsun Festival this year. Gradually the festival is taking shape, with ideas from the “48 Hours” in January being developed further, artistic impulses tried out, experiments amongst ourselves, and the sorting out of the final offer. So: We now have a diverse program of experiential spaces offering the chance to play, increase effectivity, expand boundaries....

SoCa 10 347On May 11 we open our doors to this year’s ‘summer guests’, from Germany and abroad.We are looking forward to welcoming people who would like to support us by working in the kitchen, garden or guest house. Work with our site team or on our building sites is also possible for those with appropriate skills. The summer weeks see us harvesting fruit and vegetables together for our communal kitchen. We meet in the morning at 8:45 for an attunement and the work assignment. Summer guests work about five hours per day from Monday to Saturday.

Achim EckerThe 3 years project 'Ecovillages for sustainable rural development' ended with a final conference in Lithuania on 17th of October, 2013. Achim Ecker gave a presentation about the ecological aspects of ZEGG with a focus on Terra Preta and soil improvement. Watch this video

Frühjahraktion14.bill 9From the 2nd to 9th of March, ZEGG hosted 31 participants in our annual “Spring Action” work week. We undertook extensive improvements to the sewage plant, chopped firewood, installed green roofs on the outside kitchens and one of our residential buildings (the “Flat-Roof Bungalow”), and prepared for the coming garden season by distributing compost.

ZEGG Club14.1We invited all of our supporters and this year over 100 of them came to our annual ZEGG Club Weekend. It is a time to meet up with friends, make new contacts, gain advice from each other and have fun together. An ‘Open Space’ allowed exciting issues to be discussed, including the idea of a ‘Power of Feelings’ festival and new ideas for transforming the economy in ZEGG. 

Solaranlagen 1The ZEGG community has done one more step towards a complete energy supply from renewable sources. Since December the combined heat and power plants run with the wind gas tariff from Greenpeace Energy. This tariff supports the development of wind gas technology - produced by wind energy that cannot be fed into the grid – and thus could become an innovative and sustainable form of gas generation. Since 1991 the ZEGG owned cogeneration plant has been operating with wood chips. In 2010 heating was improved by installing a modern wood chip boiler, a log boiler and an exhaust gas heat exchanger. The devices will switch off and on automatically as needed. Four photovoltaic systems and three wind gas-fired cogeneration plants produce electricity and hot water. Additionally the waste heat of our large cold store is used for heating water. ZEGG thus stands for an energy supply system that is innovative, regional and CO2-neutral.

Hella Suderow and Christian Schumacher At the beginning of this year, twelve couples from the ZEGG community took part in a special 7-day “time out” for couples: the Making Love Retreat from Hella Suderow and Christian Schumacher. This was the third intensive community time in close succession, following the internal seminar with Clinton Callahan and the community’s own intensive time focussing on the issue of love in December.

Kläranlage Winter12 2After a few months of hope, everything is open again: The decision about being connected to the public water and sewerage mains run by the “Stadtwerke” (town utility company) will be taken by the town council presumably by the end of this year. Being forced to connect to the mains in this way would mean an end to our own water supply and our constructed wetland sewage treatment. Wether we can convince the councilmen of preserving our ecological model depends on many factors. One thing is for sure: it will take some time and we will need to be persistant.
We will keep you up-to-date on any further developments via our website.

Kläranlage Winter12In recent months, one of the core elements that makes ZEGG an ecological model project faced a serious threat: our decentralised water cycle. As part of the procedure considering a building development plan for our site, in the summer of 2012 the Building Committee of the Bad Belzig town council recommended that ZEGG be connected to the public water and sewerage mains run by the “Stadtwerke” (town utility company). Being forced to connect to the mains in this way would have meant an end to our own water supply and our constructed wetland sewage treatment.

Uni-UmbauA plenary meeting of the ZEGG community on Nov 28 gave the go ahead for the next step in the conversion of the remaining attic space in our main 'Uni' building. The application for building permission will now be submitted. With this, the community wants to create urgently needed additional member accommodation. At the same time, the opportunity will be taken to give 'character' to the somewhat plain building, in the form of an impressive gable above the main entrance.

ZEGG – Center for Social and Cultural Design

Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. 89
14806 Bad Belzig

Telefon: +49 (0) 33841 595-100
fax: +49 (0) 33841 595-102


The ZEGG is a community of about 100 adults and children. How can we create a sustainable and creative life and an awake awareness to promote issues of love and sexuality, ecology, community, and create policy. We invite you to visit us, especially our summercamp.

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