The ZEGG Intentional Community
and International Meeting Point
80 km southwest of Berlin, Germany
(Information on their website is in Deutsch, English, Espanol, Francais, and Hellinika)
Living in Community - Consciousness in Love - Responsibility for the Earth
The ZEGG community / La comunidad Zegg
* Living in community
* Understanding among men and women
* Sustainable living
* Regional empowerment
* Support of international peace projects
The information on the website suggests that there are no ready recipes for the building of new ways of living. The challenges of our time are too complex. What is needed, besides the necessary changes on the outer level in the form of sustainable technologies, is a supportive context for inner growth. In 1991 they founded ZEGG with the intention to bring together these two aspects of change. What does the earth need, what do humans need? With their programs they are creating a space for new experiences in the area of love, community, and communication -- hoping to encourage taking the future into their own hands.
A new society can only be based on a wide network of multifaceted
new models. This is one model. They invite you to get to know their
work, and visit their community.
ZEGG has thirty years of social experience in living together nonviolently. It combines many ecological, economical and spiritual ideas leading into a practically lived, vibrant new whole. On the way, they developed a new culture of communication, visible in all areas of living and working. They learned that desire is allowed as well as love, that confrontation and disputes are okay and, in midst of all, to retain a sense of humour.
It took many years of preparation before ZEGG was founded in 1991 on a 42-acre site southwest of Berlin. The community has seen many changes: from its beginnings as a relatively homogeneous pioneer community through to today´s 80-strong group woven together from a variety of initiatives, spiritual and political working groups, enterprises, artists and creative thinkers. The common thread amongst them is the quest for new forms of love and sexuality and the manifestation of inner and outer peace.
An aerial view of ZEGG. ZEGG is located 80km south-east of Berlin on a 15 hectare (42 acres) site.
There are 80 adults, youth and children living at ZEGG.
ZEGG is also an international conference centre which is run by this community actively engaged in ecological and socially sustainable living. In addition ZEGG has developed into a diverse cultural center, into a meeting point for the region and into a networking hub for intentional communities and activists searching for new solutions within the fields of politics, ecology and communal living.
Talk in the big marquee. ZEGG is also an international seminar and meeting centre.
Decisions are made by consensus. Some are made during the plenary; others are prepared and posted by special working groups. They become valid if nobody has a contradiction within 14 days.
Meeting on the terrace of their dining-room
The community members meet regularly in a variety of ways: the Sunday `Matinee` to exchange ideas on a spiritual and intellectual level; the Plenary for matters of information and decision-making; festivals to mark the seasons; making music; art actions; dance; the sauna; and for communal work.
Dance performance – New Year 2005. The ZEGG community
organizes conferences and seminars, where ideas, experiences and
community building processes are shared with interested guests.
One form of communal meeting of particular importance is the Forum, a ritualized and creative form of communication. The Forum offers a stage upon which people`s thoughts, feelings or anything that moves them can become visible to others. This supports a healthy transparency when it comes to the issues of love, power and decision structures. It helps to maintain a clear distinction between factual discussion and emotional processes.
The Forum is thus a significant building block in the development
of self-knowledge and trust within the community.
Supporting transparency. The Forum supports a healthy transparency
when it comes to the issues of love, power and decision-structures
and it helps to maintain a clear distinction between factual discussion
and emotional process.
Community / Comunidad
No human can live without community. This is true even if our Western culture propagates the illusion of the autonomous individual living freely and consuming without connection to the world. We are living in a culture of separation - from ourselves and our fellow humans. We live separated from nature, treating it as a source of raw materials, not as our home - a home which we are a part of. This ability to see and know ourself within the human context of Planet Earth grows when we live in community. The social competence and affinity which develop from this are probably the most important abilities which we need in today`s world.
Regional meeting in the ‘Aula’. ZEGG is a meeting point for people in the region.
Experience shows that living in community necessitates a few personal changes. Living, working, thinking communally is a demanding process if your emotional base isn`t clear or if important values haven`t been communicated. Ways of behaving which we learnt because of competitive and performance-oriented ways of thinking often get in the way. Luckily, the more experience you have of support from and trust in others, the more these thought patterns disappear.
Residential quarter. Most people live together in groups of three to eight people.
A community course is obligatory before becoming a member of the community.
It is a process of getting to know each other which might take some time.
Becoming a member often takes one, two or more years.
Community course 2006 at work. The annual training group at ZEGG provides an
opportunity to deepen the basic ideas of ZEGG and is often a good training for
people who want to start their own community.
Ecology / Ecologia
They see ecology as the embedding of human life within nature´s universal process; they strive for partnership with the elements, the land surrounding them and its inhabitants - the animals and plants. Nature is not something that is there to be used or exploited; it has a soul and comes from the same source as we do.
ZEGG vegetable garden and gardener. They see ecology as a
way to integrate human life within natures universal processes.
Their ecological work is guided by the principles of permaculture. Permaculture is a planning system for sustainable life and use of land. They are engaged mainly with the following issues:
Water * Soil * Energy * Plants * Building * Sustainability * Food
Children and Youth / Niños y jóvenes
Potato planting. The soil on their site is mainly sand, which is
nutrient-poor and has very low water retention.
Currently 15 children and youth of the age 2 to 18 live at ZEGG. Some are born there; most of them joined with their parents. They go to the Nature Kindergarden and to the schools in and around Belzig.
The children´s house offers a nest in the complexity of community life and seminar center. This is where they come to after school, for lunch, to play and to run around. The large safe grounds are ideal for them to be adventurous. The site is sports ground and expedition territory, where ideas can be explored.
For their children it is normal to have various relationships in addition to their parents. There are many possibilities to find adult friends, mentors and teachers. It is important to them that they build reliable and supportive relationships in order to develop naturally and to trust in the love of their parents and the other adults. This enables them to follow their own paths in life with self-confidence.
Spirituality / Espiritualidad
Meditation. They are a networking hub for communities
and committed people looking for new solutions in politics,
ecology and social life.
To them spirituality means to live in a conscious relation with the whole of creation. Each being is part of the bigger universal body, connected to all that is and with an impact on all that is. Spirituality in this sense does not lead to withdrawal from the world but to consciously contributing ones own qualities for the benefit of all.
‘Retreat’ in the forest. A place for relaxation and enjoying the senses.
ZEGG members follow different spiritual paths. All paths have in common that they aim at experiencing deeply rooted spiritual laws and to establish a practice that supports living in harmony with them. A spiritual practice is no light undertaking. It is the consequence of responsibility for ones own happiness, for ones task in life and for the whole that gives birth to all that exists. Spiritual practice leads to a wider perception, to be the creator of ones reality, to let go of automatic patterns, to the freedom of choice, to playful reconditioning instead of panic reactions to situations that life presents. Living in community one cannot do without it.
Creativity / Creatividad
Art, music, dance and theatre are natural expressions of creativity that they share. They are a chance to experience community and an integrating source of joy. In shared creative activities they are able to see aspects of each other, that are not visible in verbal communication. Artistic work trains awareness and concentration. The self-forgetting that we sometimes experience in a creative process is a training field for more presence and creative quality in life.
Performance at the Campus. There is a complex cultural and artistic life at ZEGG.
The artists are painters, sculptors, photographers, they work with metal, produe railings and facades, act and follow other impulses of expression. The artists at ZEGG don`t have a particular style in common, but they do share an atelier.
Enjoying dance and theatre and being open for an artistic expression of their issues, experimental groups are forming and creating new improvised performances for their events and conferences. Some also work out pieces of theatre and dance.
Crossover – Music meets literature meets theatre. Since 1996 the
Whitsun festival at ZEGG is a meeting point for people who want
to get to know their creative potential and stage it. It is also a focal
point for people concerned with the question what might
ANOTHER WORLD look like and how might it be implemented?
Music and singing are healing for the soul, and they have the power to create community. The music they love is as multifaceted as they are: The ZEGG choir, Greek music with Zisula, chansons with Barbara and Batisse, the rock band „Dju Dju“ with Roland and last but not least world music from the heart „Come Together Songs“. collected and published by Hagara in two song books and four Cds.
Consciousness in love / Conciencia en el amor
This particular community intentionally develops a focus on their expression of a Consciousness of Love. Love is the home of the divine on earth and the quality that makes us human beings. They want to create ways of living that integrate these sources in a conscious and positive way. Consciousness in Love is in this sense an all encompassing cultural work to heal these sources of our life. A peaceful culture is rooted in solidarity among men and women.
Various forms of relationships. People at ZEGG live in forms of relationships
which are as colourful as the people who live them.
Many people see the issues of love and sexuality as exclusively personal affairs and try to solve them in private or within the framework of therapy. This community sees love as a political issue because social and cultural changes are needed for love to grow.
In the patriarchal era sensual love and sexuality were connected with guilt, shame and fear. They were split into a lived and a suppressed part. Men and women are confronted with this historical heritage. The resulting conflicts can hardly be dealt with inside a relationship as they are rooted elsewhere.
Love is a political issue. They see love as a political issue as it plays a central role in
people’s lives. For love to grow personal, social and cultural changes are needed.
What individuals go through in the end moves everyone who is in touch with them. If communication about love is cultivated love can become more free of the fear of abandonment, lies and pretense. The bigger the social and mental/spiritual context for love is the more we are able to handle difficulties in a playful and unattached way, the less we depend on this one moment of fulfillment, the less we tend to accusations, the more truth we will risk, and the more power and love we have to give to the world.
Community is a lifestyle in which the healing of love can take place in a stable surrounding. The following conditions are needed:
* the full commitment for one`s own responsibility for love
* awareness of our historical conditioning
* a spiritual foundation
* a conscious approach to one`s own sexual nature
* developing self-esteem and the capacity to love beyond a partner
* integration of couples and families in a larger social network
* respectful communication between men and women as well as among women and among men.
In the community lovers can open to both the inner and outer movements which love needs to stay alive. When there is trust, love can expand and include more people - this also applies to erotic and sexual love. This organically leads to the formation of a network of relationships where everyone has their own place, a tapestry of varying intimacies, intensities and qualities.
A source of life. Love and sexuality are sources of life. They see it as an essential task
to research the social and spiritual conditions in which these sources are available,
clear and flowing freely.
People at ZEGG live in various forms of relationships. These include longterm partnerships and spontaneous adventures, relationships between women and between men and sexual friendships with more than one person. They cultivate communication about love issues in mens' and womens' groups and in the Forum. Consciousness in love is one of life´s most significant opportunities for learning.
Finances / Dinero y Alquiler en Zegg
Ways to support ZEGG financially
Since the beginning of ZEGG they have invested over 3 Million Euros in the purchase and development of the site. This has been financed through shares and loans from over 250 of ZEGG´s members and friends. Another part was financed through bank loans. After some initial difficulties they have balanced the books every year since 1997.
ZEGG is now financed mainly by the income from the conference and seminar business, the rents by its members and the firms based on their site.
Global Ecovillage Network (GEN)
ZEGG is an active member of GEN-Europe. GEN is the worldwide network of intentional communities and ecovillages and an NGO with consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and a partner of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
Contact: email@example.com. www.gen-europe.org
Gaia Education is an international training concept for the development of sustainable communities (ecovillage design education). ZEGG actively participated in designing the curriculum.
Further information: www.gaiaeducation.org
The University on the ZEGG campus offers Gaia International
Education courses and degrees. The University building is planted
with grapes and Kiwi fruit. As well as this, they are planting an edible
park and garden landscape around their buildings, bringing fruits and
herbs within easy reach of the kitchen.
Through a unique pioneering approach and educational concept Gaia University offers access to accredited bachelor and Master degrees. It offers the chance to combine new ideas of supporting local and regional sustainability, of regeneration, of justice and peace with practical personal experiences in these fields.
Further information: www.gaiauniversity.org
For more information on ZEGG please visit:
We hope you enjoyed this little vacation to this small community in Germany as much as we enjoyed researching and writing it. We'll be back in a few weeks with another interesting destination of a Green Community.
If you have an interest in a certain community like this or are very knowledgeable of a community, please let us know. Please feel free to add any comments or discussions or research that you have done to give us a more comprehensive and reliable view of these communities.
* Note: Once again, we state that we are only sharing information. We have not been living in any of these places, and as a result, we are not promoting nor even recommending them. With this in mind, we hope you enjoyed reading how these communities are attempting to evolve new ways of relating to our earth, to each other, and to all that we share it with.