heart-communication1How can we communicate with people from a different culture who have lost everything? Dolores Richter, a member of the ZEGG community, is part of a group in Bad Belzig exploring deep listening with refugees.

I live in a town which has hosted many asylum seekers. We see each other every day in the food store, in the street. There are more every day. We got to know when the buses come and gathered musicians, baked cakes and made music for their arrival. We want to let them know that they are welcome. The social worker in the refugee home was open to this but also challenged. Some days later she said: I would like you to come back for the next bus. But will you? If not all the people will ask where are all those friendly people who welcomed us? This is how many invitations and meetings started.

We start with word and name games, sometimes with German, sometimes with Syrian words. Thus everybody comes into the situation stumbling over a language that they don´t know, which is humourous and acts as an icebreaker. In conversations with Syrians we are asked: How is it for you as Germans that so many refugees are coming? I feel gratitude for this question. I have many answers. But the first one is that I am sad when I think of what you have been through and why you had to leave your home country. In this moment there is silence. They look at me and we all are close to tears. We share this moment of consciously feeling what cannot be put in words. Everything they say afterwards is: Thank you.

heart-communication2As so many people are looking for refuge in our country, I feel, more than anything else, compassion for their fate. What I can do here in the place where I live, is make contact. A small contribution of welcome that may help to make integration possible. I don´t do this only for the refugees, I also do it for myself. I always come back very moved from these sessions. What I have only known before through the news, becomes reality.

The refugees get faces and names, relations emerge. A 19 year old whom I asked for his name and home is very shy. Then he says that I am the first German woman he has spoken with. It feels good to be this woman. Then there is also the level of uneasiness, and worry. The things that happen in the world and are brought closer through the refugees, make us feel very clearly how explosive the world situation is. I realize there is a layer in myself that wants to shut down, set borders, secure a safe terrain. These days I perceive our freedom as unbelievably, preciously good. It is important to deal with the fear - seeing this freedom under threat - as well as with the compassion.

If I don´t deal with the fears in myself, I am all too ready to project them on to others. The ‘others‘ are all those who openly demand security and borders. Am I able to feel empathy with everyone - even with those parts of the population and myself that are "against refugees"? Or is this the end of my empathy? There is a silent agreement in certain circles that seems to demand that those who want a culture of welcoming should be against those who are against such a culture. But will this not again create new polarisations, just like building fences? Empathy does not mean having the same opinion. But I feel if we who stand for a culture of welcoming meet our fears open and consciously, then the layer of limitation that always cuts us off from our internal world melts away, thereby defeating hostility.

What I can bring into relation in myself, can heal. Does the integration of refugees not also mean that we perceive the differences in our inner country, giving them space in ourselves, instead of rejecting them in the outside world? We are required to put our long developed spiritual knowledge into practise in society; bridging our inner and outer worlds and evolving our humanity.

Dolores Richter: https://www.doloresrichter.com

Empowerment for refugees in Bad Belzig:

ZEGG von obenIngo Sparr, our layout expert and multi-talent, flew his quadcopter over the ZEGG site as it was covered in a blanket of snow. You can enjoy the wonderful images here.




open-handsBeginning January ZEGG had a spontaneous visit by two Iranians, father and son, that belong to a group that want to found and build an ecovillage outside Tehran. A longtime Iranian friend living in Tehran initiated the group. He was visiting ZEGG several times.
The group bought 1ha of land on 1800m an is ready to start. They asked for our support, morally and with our social and ecological knowledge. During Summer 2016 20 members of this group want to journey to ZEGG and stay for at least one week. They wish to learn as much from our experiences as possible.

Forum Los Portales 15-23Barbara Stützel and Achim Ecker just returned from a EU supported Teaching Assignment in Spain. They had offerd two 4 day courses on ZEGG-Forum and Community training under the title "Presencia y Esencia". One took place in Galicia and one in the "Los Portales" Community near Sevilla. Both were well attended by a crowd of facilitators in formation with IIFAC-E, a Spain based encompassing Facilitators training. ZEGG-Forum is seen as an additional tool to be able to facilitate emotional issues.

GEN LogoGEN Takes Action regarding the Refugee Crisis on the Island of Lesbos

“Together we aim to provide help on the ground in Greece and take responsibility for an issue that affects us all.”

FahneAll we want is peace and freedom - Aftermath of June 2015 elections in Turkey

“Peace at home and peace in the world- Atatürk”

June 7th general elections was utmost important for Mr. Erdogan, the president of Turkey. According to present Turkish Constitution the parliment has the power and the president should be neutral, but he has never been neutral and worked for his previous party before the election. He wanted the majority vote for his party (AKP) to change the constitution which will allow him get hold of the remaining power he could not get.

Achim Ina 14 SuIna Meyer-Stoll and Achim Ecker are founding members of ZEGG and in community for more then 30 years. For about 20 years they are deeply involved in teaching ZEGG-Forum and community building tools. Since 2006 they are coming to the USA teaching Forum and working with groups. They see themselves as constantly learning to be more authentic in their lives and in their teachings.

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 (https://gen-europe.org/donations/index.htm). 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: https://gen-europe.org/about-us/gen-europe-council/gen-europe-staff/index.htm

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

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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