In the previous part of Let`s Dream and Sail away together with Äerdschëff, we looked into a personal story – my own – from a longterm volunteer at Äerdschëff. From the arrival during the first chantier participatif in August when the construction phase had just begun to what it means to work in a pilot project that aims to bring education on sustainability to the forefront. The different aspects of a project came about, such as the envisioning stage, the planification and the life cycle as a whole, basically the nuts and bolts of almost all projects.
In this part we will sink deep into all the unhappy and unforeseen events within projects before we rise out of the storm and see a bright and clear future unfolding at the horizon.
However a plan might be in place or a compass set out, usually you will find that the road twists and turns and is windy. What I want to say is that projects are fluid, not static or rigid. Inherently projects will have booms and busts and ups and downs, just as if you are sailing the waves. What happens when the project funding runs out or lack of manpower brings extra stress. How can one be prepared for the worst? Well, you adjust the sails a little.
One exercise that proves to be useful, is to think of different future scenarios, including the worst case scenario. Better be well prepared and keep your eyes on the horizon while not forget to take in all the impressions along the way.
Not knowing what is coming is usually quite frightening. But uncertainty is all around and change the only constant in life. Having some confidence and a positive attitude can change that fear into a firm curiosity. A curiosity that will be the motor of the challenges to come. Ultimately is, from a perspective, every moving a moving forward, even if it might feel like you are stagnating or seemingly moving backwards.
In a society where progression is regarded as an end goal in its own right, having a break can do miracles. See it as a time to rest and rejuvenate, to gather new ideas or to plan for getting things done the moment you are ready to launch again. Or “think of it as a moment of reflection”, as a team member once so beautifully said. You can plan as much as you want, but you will never be able to foresee everything.
Besides the actual project and planning, the ups and downs, there is a whole other side of what it means to work in a pilot project like Äerdschëff. For instance the working in group. Interacting with each other, relations growing and changing over time, even you yourself changes: think of your personal engagement or responsibility.
Working along projects and in groups are a learnful experience and it`s not completely out of the blue that there exists a method which is called Project based learning, a learning and teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. Students take responsibility for their learning and develop solutions for complex problems by engaging in a project they really care for. A way of learning that I can relate to.
The rise of ARCS
The Äerdschëff can be seen as a regional catalyst triggering change as well as the transition towards a more sustainable way of life by developing alternatives together with the public. It is a demonstration site to make potentialities visible to all interested.
The aim to educate students and teachers and the public in general around topics like sustainable energy, circular economy and regenerative culture was already engraved in the project since the very beginning. While the Äerdschëff project is still taking shape (on site), a new project has been born that will focus all its attention on realizing that mission. ARCS – The Äerdschëff Regenerative and Circular Science project – aims to develop an educational programme for students aged 14-plus, using as inspiration the Äerdschëff (earthship), an off-grid building that manages its own resources in a sustainable way”, as the outline of the project proposal reads. It involves the students and their teachers in “meaningful action towards sustainability and circular economy”. Besides a “train the trainer” programme will be implemented that is targeted for trainers and educators from the educational formal, non-formal and informal sectors.
If you want to get involved with Äerdschëff and help out on the construction site, please get in touch with us through firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Tuesday July 14 at 18.30 we also have an open online meeting in which you can get to know the project and the people behind.
Written by Saul Lans,
Long-term European volunteer at Aerdscheff since August 2019