GEN Conference, Arterra, Spain

The former hotel and current home of the Arterra community and this years GEN conference

We literally landed in a heap on the doorstep of the enormous old hotel that houses the Arterra Ecovillage community and this years 20th anniversary European Global Ecovillage Conference in northern Spain. Uprooting from Tamera we reentered convention and all experienced a clashing of worlds. Having battled sickness since we left Australia, Tom’s body had finally given a clear sign that rest was now the only option. The children were warm with a looming fever and it was up to me to keep the ship afloat. We arrived on the Sunday with the conference due to formally begin on the Monday. We walked past the wall of paper detailing every workshop, event and opportunity to get immersed in this unique gathering of like minded people and headed straight for the cool dark apartment we had been allocated.


We had arrived at a place that we wanted to engage with fully and I observed my frustrations as it quickly became obvious that our priority here was going to be healing first, over and above the program. Being on this quest has caused me to create quite a significant amount of pressure, I have felt that I’m continually looking for someone or something that will enable what needs to become clear, clear.

Day 2, the formal start arrived and the children both went down with fevers, bed ridden for the whole day. They took exactly what they needed and slept almost all day. We ate dinner with them wrapped up in our arms, they were still and so warm and we joked at how this had been the first meal in 6 months where we had eaten, without the intense stress of having to manage our children’s lack of interest in the sit down and eat mentality.

Sleeping and healing

The days began with a large morning meeting followed by the first round of workshops, lunch, the second round of workshops, dinner and evening entertainment. I was able to attend one dance workshop, an improvisation space which challenged the group of adults to play. It felt very odd, how to make contact? when to make contact? what to do? Unlike therapeutic dance spaces I have experienced before where the work is more on the self and the personal interpretation of music, this ‘play’ space wanted connection. It felt beautifully significant to the questions I currently embody regarding education, I was grateful to be taken from my mind and encouraged to engage with my inner child and my body.


The conference space felt a little frantic, so many people all wanting to see and gain as much as possible. In some ways it was a relief to surrender to simply being there to heal. As the children slept off their fevers we received news from Australia that our house, that we had sublet to friends and was full of our stuff, had been placed on the market. The news was unexpected and for me personally one block too many on an increasingly fragile tower. It felt ironic however that we received the news at such a time, surrounded by people either searching for, or representing the new paradigm in community living, those courageous enough to turn their back on convention. Our tie to convention, our house with its boundary lines and private address was now uncertain, the anchor lifted? The following day we celebrated a significant birthday for Tom, the dawn of a new decade, and with the gift of returning health.

Happy birthday Tom!

With a course of antibiotics, plenty of rest and the added loving support of some fellow conference guests healing hands, Tom began to improve. He also got a taste of the Forum model he describes in the Tamera post, during a workshop delivered by members of the Zegg community (Tamera and Zegg were both formed by Deiter Duhm and Sabina Lichtenfeld). He attributes a great deal of that energy to his healing also, with deep human connection through sharing. My time just being with the children had been really wonderful too. A morning child care program meant Basil could enjoy some space and the picturesque surroundings provided a wonderful nature playground.

New skill!


We were able to connect with some wonderful people during the week, A swiss family of 6 whom we had met at Tamera also attended the conference, we had become very fond of them. A former biology teacher in conventional education and now on a quest with his wife to find their children a home and school. The family had spent the past 8 months on the road in their tractor and converted railway carriage. Beautiful people on a very similar quest. We also met 2 Israeli families who were in the beginning stages of establishing a community very close to Tamera and with the intention that their children will attend the School of Hope when it eventually opens. I felt great warmth towards the families.

The week came to a close with my turn at getting sick. A cost effective step in the commute to England saw us taking a bus toward Bilbao via another community called Alamurra, for one night before our flight out. This small and very polished community was a leap upmarket from Arterra, with its straw bale seated alfresco dining to the silver service in this new community’s beautiful hotel dining room. The energy moved somewhat chaotically with the end of what had been a huge week of exchange and connection. Neither of us felt ready for England and with so much time being focused on recovery we really weren’t ready. With a handful of very interesting educational models to see, time was running out to organise any visits.

Alamurra community

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