CASA (Spanish language acronym for the Council of Sustainable Settlements in Latin America) is the Latin American region of the Global Ecovillage Network or GEN. CASA formed in the Call of the Mountain in January 2012 to ‘coordinate the networks of various sustainable initiatives, both rural and urban, family or community, nomadic and educational, etc.” These types of initiatives, which are expanding rapidly in Latin America and worldwide are contributing in a big way to the regeneration of Planet Earth at this important moment we are living on our planet.
Since its founding three years ago, there has been much work put into structuring and organization in the Latin American region and at the level of national networks, some of which are already consolidated and others that are emerging. So far CASA has national networks working in Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Brazil. Other countries that are working to build national networks include Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Perú, and Venezuela.
CASA representatives recently convened with the purpose of strengthening our relationships and also to achieve a new level of sociocratic organization that integrates the voices and the different ways in which various Latin American cultures are able to thrive in our different territories in a sustainable and regenerative manner. During the last week of June 2015, we came together for the 2015 ECCO Gathering in Aldea Feliz Ecovillage in Colombia. The event took place in the ancestral territory of the Muisca people, a place that since ancient times has hosted meetings between different communities and nations.
The ECCO was organized in synergy with the Latin American Permaculture Convergence, held a few days earlier in the Varsana Eco-Yoga-Village, also in Colombia. For a week about 80 people from 14 countries arrived from all corners of Latin America, and together «we organized our common house» (the word ‘casa’ also means house in spanish), talking around the fire, holding meetings, workshops, medicine circles, and of course, not to be forgotten, a cultural night with music, dancing and joy.
Throughout the entire event a sacred fire was kept burning in the community’s Kusmuy or «thinking house», a space to have conversations with elders around the fire, as important in the decision making process as regular meetings. The presence of the Mamos (spiritual leaders) of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta accompanied us throughout the meeting, doing spiritual work, and guiding us to make «payments» to Mother Earth in the opening and closing ceremonies, remembering and reconnecting with rituals and ancestral forms of knowledge. Many in CASA feel the need to integrate modern social methodologies with the ancestral ways, rebuilding our contemporary Latin American identity.
After intense work sessions and ceremonial circles, which lasted all day and much of the night, we took a step further to review our vision, mission and design the main objectives for the next three years. The CASA Board, a group who has been sustaining the CASA process for three years, was opened to new participants using the sociocracy model for decision making and marvelously facilitated by our hosts at Aldea Feliz who have been learning and using this method with much success for a few years now. We managed to collectively display a diagnosis of the achievements and challenges we’ve had and managed to make an organizational restructuring of the network. We also conducted a selection process of the new operative leaders of each of the thematic holons (communications, processes, project incubation, alliances, etc) which were formed to pursue our goals. We also elected new representatives to serve on the Board of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). The sociocratic process was very agile and fun, in addition to democratic and transparent. It’s clear that if we want to build sustainable communities, we have to learn and apply new models of governance, and sociocracy is one that is working well for us.
In these very special times, our emerging Latin American organization decided to join forces with the World Conscious Pact and the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. In the coming weeks they will will be launching a global campaign with the AVAAZ international network in order to collect signatures worldwide for this purpose.
After this beautiful celebration, a group of CASA delegates departed to Findhorn, Scotland in order to bring the Latin American spirit to the Global Ecovillage Network Summit or GEN+20, an historical meeting held from the 6th to the 10th of July in celebration of this organization’s twentieth anniversary and in order to meet with over 400 global ecovillage, transition town and intentional community activists from five continents.
We are infinitely grateful for these exciting times, this new dawn, to all who have opened many paths that reconnect us with the web of life, and our home, our beautiful Pachamama.
As agreed at the ECCO 2015, the next C.A.S.A meeting will be in Brazil in 2017 hosted by the Institute Bioregional Cerrado in the Chapada dos Veadeiros, state of Goias, Brazil.