Rachel Edwards.klein

I’m standing on a small meadow, all around garden and fields. On the meadow you can see a few fruit trees. Some are still green, others already blooming in their abundant white flower dress. The meadow also is blooming. Little daisies finding their way through the gaps of my naked toes, butterflies and other insects buzzing and humming in the air filled with sunlight. I look at the boyish young man in front of me.


The sun is shining on his naked back. In his worn out trousers covered with earth he is watching a white-brownish cat, playing and hiding in the middle of some rhubarb plants. His long and slim hands also are covered with earth, just like my hands and knees. I still remember the feeling of bringing up shovel per shovel from a deep hole in the ground. My body is comfortably tired. We really did a good job today. I slowly lift my eyes from my hands to meet the gaze of Jonathan. My chest widens and and the left corner of my mouth is slowly moving for a smile. I am falling. I fall and fall in the space opening up between us. I fell in love. With this garden. With ZEGG. With this young man. „Now“ a voice inside of me whispers „in this very moment everything is perfect!“ Yes. That’s true. In this very moment I am incredibly happy, I notice. „Remember this“ says the voice „when he’s leaving in a couple of weeks, remember moments like this one. That is the time you have. Shortly after there is a wild cry from the little garden next to us just before Jule is showing up to drag the two of us with her. Leyla and Hugo are waiting at the wooden gate, loosening the dirt at their boots. „Let’s go“ says Leyla „Lunchtime! Pia is waiting. We wanted to take a picture with all the young people today“. 

The memory is slowly fading and all the images become little black letters on the screen of my laptop. Many of the mornings I spent in the ZEGG community and ecovillage felt like this. Almost one year has passed since than. A giant year.

I will share my experiences made as a volunteer and as a longterm guest of the community - because work and life here are so intermingled that I could hardly separate them. But how can I summarize everything that happened here? How can I describe how this year inspired, challenged and changed me?

I have to admit that in the first place I was attracted to ZEGG as a place and only then I considered the chance to do my voluntary service here. „I want the full dose community, not the light version. I want to experience what comes next after I put off the rosy glasses of a festival experience“, that were the enthusiastic words of my application letter. YES, I was ready, impulsive and full of euphoria. I wanted to be with like-minded people to support each other in our potential instead of feeling alien among busy, worn-out human beings. I was longing for clear communication and less bypassing messages. I was looking for direct feedback that would help me identify my projections. And I wanted to create something together. Wanted to grow, become wider, more authentic and more of myself. More human. I want to be present when I feel stressed, in a bad mood or lost in some drama. And then the occasion of a volunteer service opened up. 

Voluntary service in ZEGG. An unusual and diverse hosting organisation

The format suited me as I was really motivated to work in the garden and I was looking forward to take care of the site with Almut. The garden work was a source of many happy moments. To be outside with the nature, witnessing how the garden changed its faces and how the plants transformed with the seasons - that brought me peace in spite of the eventual stress moments of the community life. I loved the great, young team of other volunteers that became my friends and Axel and Gert who seemed to have inhaled the calm of the garden. Together we prepared the new pipelines for the polytunnel (to come this year), we planted many lines of salad, cabbage, carrots and many more. We harvested, washed, turned the soil, composted…  And the work with Almut also was extremely diverse: One day we cleaned the streets, the other day you could find us in the forest bringing together the meditation path with the place of women and men. We cleaned windows or colored walls and Almut made me discover many hidden chambers, cellars, paths and other places that enriched my ZEGG universe. As she was talking about the value of physical work, she - in some magical way - gave beauty and spirit to all the little places. Before, I always felt an inner resistance when it comes to repetitive tasks that seem to have no end. Keeping care of the site taught me that these tasks in particular are love declarations to things and places we appreciate. Since then, for me love equals care.

Challenges. My inner spring.

All this came much later. During the first months of my voluntary service I often felt lost and it felt like too much for me. Little daily things that seemed clear to everyone else challenged me: Where to get bedlinen from? Where to wash my clothes? I also have to join a cooking group, how? What program is set up this week and how do they all know?! Am I allowed to go to the sauna? Who will sign my administrative papers? Cordula? Alright, how does she look like? Ah, no it is Christine. And who is she?! Damn, I am new here - I have no clue! I was angry and at the same time I knew I still wanted this. I wanted to stay when it gets difficult. I wanted adventure and challenges and here it was: daily life in ZEGG. It was only me who could find my way through. 

Blossoming. My inner summer.

Not only butterflies and insects arrived with springtime. More and more summer guests joint us to help in the garden. The place’s energy increased continuously. When the summer camp reached  its highest heights I was sure the air was vibrating. Not knowing anymore where I was I just knew this here was incredible. I wore no shoes but colorful skirts, put feathers in my hear, shared ice coffee with friends and guests and listened to inspiring conferences. And I had the occasion to help with the youth camp (the 13 to 18 old ones). To be in contact with these young people and all their joyous, scary, confusing emotions made me happy as I was doing something meaningful and good - just being myself. 

Personal transformation and maturity. My inner autumn.

Some late summer afternoon I sat alone in the garden when the heavy insight - how much I was marked by patriarchy - hit me. As I was losening the roots of plants less welcome, the roots of my own conditioning where shaking. I dressed in a „beautiful“ way during summer, I often talked to men in a flirty way and tried to please them. All of my self-worth derived from their confirmation and appreciation. Jonathan had left for Switzerland. And even though we had no relationship or commitment, I felt some inner set of rules wanting me to be „faithful“. He encouraged me to be free but I could rarely believe that a woman living her sexuality in a free way could still be respected my men. Until know I didn’t respect those women. I realized how women actually belonged to men over centuries. Given from father to husband, no own rights. I was shocked how much this was still alive in me and I decided to learn, from now on, how to be centered in myself - so that I can choose how to live relationships.

Dark times. Doubts and pain. My inner winter. 

Leaves were falling, one after another. There is a photograph showing 15 young adults in front of the restaurant. Six out of fifteen have gone, three of them will leave soon. Most of them have become close friends, my crew, like-minded. Just what I was wishing for. But one after another is going to leave in spring, in summer, in autumn - and the winter will be calm and dark. Their leaving makes me feel loneliness, emptiness, a painful whole and the question why I am still here. And the even bigger question what I want from this life, on this earth. I felt separated and my own „otherness“ though I only wanted to belong. In January, I listened to a presentation of two of my friends. They talked about unconscious hierarchies and about conscious consent. When they finished, I was deeply moved and it became clear: I am right here. Right now. The ZEGG is no perfect place. There are humans, like me. And many share my intention: striving for a kind of transformation that does not avoid dark and shady corners. 

A new spring - what next?

For my part, I am not yet finished with this place. Jule and me will be part of the community course and I can imagine staying afterwards. Personally I want to travel on with the question: what structural changes do we need to let young people find a home here. I think our generation needs a wider circle of movement and the possibility to connect far beyond the borders of ZEGG - and to sink deeper in the community simultaneously.


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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