C.A.S.A (spanish acronym for Council of Sustainable Settlements in Latin America) is the Latin American branch of the Global Ecovillage Network or GEN. It was 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 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 that are already consolidated and other that are only emerging. So far C.A.S.A has country level networks working in Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Brazil. Other countries that have not yet formed its local network but are working towards it are Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela.
C.A.S.A representatives and mobilizers 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 what we called the ECCO 2015 in Aldea Feliz ecovillage in Colombia, in the ancestral territory of the Muisca people, a place that since ancient times has been a place where different communities and nations.
This meeting was organized in synergy with the Latin American Convergence Permaculture, 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, were together “we organized our common house” (the word ‘casa” also means house in spanish) around the fire, holding meetings, workshops, medicine wheels, and of course, not to be forgotten, a cultural night with music, dancing and joy.
During the extent of the entire event a sacred fire was kept in the community’s Kusmuy or “thinking house”, a space to have conversations with elders around the fire, as valid 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 guide us to make the “payments” to Mother Earth in the opening and closing ceremonies, remembering and reconnecting with rituals and ancestral forms of knowledge. We feel the need to integrate modern social methodologies with the ancestral, 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 “Kitchen team” or network designers, which have been sustaining the C.A.S.A 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 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…) formed to pursue our goals. Also new representatives were elected to serve as representatives of C.A.S.A in the board of of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). The sociocratic process was very agile and fun, in addition to democratic and transparent. It important in our time and for the building of sustainable communities 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 force 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 delegation of C.A.S.A departed to Findhorn, Scotland in order to bring the Latin American spirit to the Global Ecovillage Network Summit or GEN+20, a 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 another 400 global ecovillage, transition town and intentional community activists from five continents.
Infinitely grateful for these new times, this new dawn, to all who have opened many paths that reconnect us with all living tissue and lead us home, our common 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.