South-east Europe Ecovillage Network (SEEN) at the Hungarian Gyüttment Gathering

Written by: Fanni Sall from Nyim Eco Community,  the organiser of the International Tent at the festival

Gyüttment (Newcomer) festival is the biggest Eco-Gathering in Hungary, held every year at the end of August. This year it took place in Magfalva, near the village Gomba. It is open to anybody who is interested in a sustainable lifestyle and holistic worldview and wants to thrive in the countryside: crafters, builders, members of eco-communities, and ethical enterprises. This is the place of support, acceptance, patience, and learning, also a field of co-creation. This is also the place where you can experience care for each other, and Mother Earth. You can learn a lot just by visiting: zero waste lifestyle (at the event there are no trash bins), using composting toilets, and being responsible for one’s mugs, plates, and soaps. Also, it is a good place to eat delicious local food. Former times this gathering was a festival with 1000 visitors daily, but the organizers decided to keep it smaller – that way eco communities can host the event, and the built infrastructure can be used by the locals later throughout the whole year. 

As a member of Nyim Eco Community, which is connected and inspired by GEN from the very beginning, I had this thought together with my husband that Gyüttment has the same values as GEN. Our dream was to connect these two networks in some way so we have involved organizers of Gyüttment (Miklós Tóth, Zsófia Szepesi, and Zsófia Rónaháty) in the newly forming SEEEN – South East European Ecovillage Network. They offered a place for us at the Gathering where we could spread the news about SEEEN and GEN, and do some actual networking – all in English.

So what have we done at this International Tent called: SEEEN-stage? 

First of all, I invited all the Hungarian projects on the topic of community building who already worked with partners from another country, to connect them with each other, and with the idea of the SEEEN network. So we had the Butterfly village game presented by Edit Jagodits from Nagyszékely, Community Catalysts for Regenerative Development project presented by Profilantrop Association (Zsuzsa Mester and Attila Mester), Mother Nature Project presented by Ágnes Berecz from Pandora Association, we had two sessions with Arina Matvejeva (Latvia) about Scott Peck’s Community Building International method, and we had Bálint Nagymihály, who shared his insights about the Danish Hojskole system where he spent some years, and also his dreams about bringing the model to Hungary. Finally of course we presented the Community Incubator (CLIPS) and WE-SEEN project with Daniel Zimmermann (Hungary), Katja Stremberger (Slovenia), and Mirjana Grabovac (Croatia).

We involved ESC volunteers, Sonja Regardh from Finland who serves in Nyim Eco Community, and Mathilde Maindrault from France who serves in Szatyor Association. They planned, and designed the whole visual outlook of the networking place, did a lot of crafting work, a reading corner, and chill-out places. They also planned a session which was about sharing volunteering experiences by creating a human library place. Gabriella Nagy, a professional facilitator of youth training participated in this session. As she lived one year in Torri Superiore Ecovillage, she shared some experiences about this time, and she took on the role of a translator during the whole program.

Overall these 4 days were rich and meaningful, we had a lot of enthusiastic visitors, and made a lot of friendships and connections. Katja and Mirjana who traveled from neighboring countries Slovenia and Croatia to co-create the program with us felt inspired and satisfied, and I was moved by having them here in connection to our running WE-SEEN project. 

In the end, I also want to share two stories, which were important to me: The first person who visited our space was a man, who just moved back from the Netherlands to Hungary, and turned out he lives in the next village to Nyim. He wanted to connect with the region’s eco people, so we bonded instantly. My other experience was with a Spanish girl who was informed by me about the Spanish ecovillage network, and some Spanish ecovillages. She said that she knows that they have ecovillages, but didn’t know where she should start, and my personal recommendations helped her to begin. 

These are two examples of how networking and weaving personal connections can support local processes.