pj lilley (pj@tao.ca)
Fri, 13 Jun 1997 18:22:21 GMT

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by Elisa Peters, for RELAJO, a publication of Red Juvenil Latinoamericana por un Desarrollo Sustenable (Desarrollo, Ecologia y Derechos Humanos en America Latina) (REJULADS can be contacted at <rejulads@chasque.apc.org> in Montevideo, Uruguay) -------(((((( http://www.tao.ca/~sustain/ecotopia.html ))))))-----------

ECOTOPIAs have been happening in different countries of Latin America and Europe for more than ten years, promoting environmental action, social justice awareness and sustainable ways of life among young activists. Canadians are now taking up the idea as well and organizing a series of seven eco-camps across the country, to be held in June and July 1997.


The idea of organizing Ecotopias across Canada was born after young people from Latin America and Canada met in Spring 1996. The Latin American concept of ecologically sound activist camps for youth inspired Canadians to try the same experience in the North. "What about having several small scale bioregional camps rather than a single one?" they thought. In that way, people could network locally and make contacts that they would be able to use in their own region to work on local issues. And that's what is going to happen!

All the Ecotopias are going to be local and small scale experiences. Only around twenty people from the region will gather to each of them for ten intensive days or so. However, a First Nations youth gathering will be happening as well with native youth from across the country.


The basic features of an Ecotopia, from Europe to Latin America and Canada, are camp fires, songs and collective cooking. However, workshops on fundraising, networking and project development will also be given by and for youth to benefit them and ultimately the organizations they represent.

But there's even more to the program! In Quebec, the youth will also be learning about the environmental and economic benefit of vegetarianism and how to cook wholesome and delicious vegan & vegetarian dishes. Anybody out there who would be interested in receiving the recipe book?

On the other side of the country, on the pacific coast, the program includes participatory workshops on organic agriculture and the construction of a native plant garden and composters.

In the middle of Canada, in the Prairies, the youth will be part of a wide project to reduce to use of pesticides on lawns. Young people will go door to door to convince their neighbors that they don't need to pollute the streams, the air and the soil to have a nice garden. So what's YOUR tip to have beautiful flowers and green grass?

On the Atlantic coast, the Ecotopia will be happening on an organic farm and the Ecotopians will help the farmer to grow plants, compost, garden while learning about food security and health problems at the same time. In Ontario, the workshops will range from food security to biotechnology, endangered bird species and butterfly garden. I have never heard about butterfly gardens before, so I might go and spend a few days at this ecotopia! And in the North, where it is winter eight months per year, the Ecotopia will features workshops on how to prepare salves, ointments and oils, to keep you healthy and comfy when it is cold outside.

Finally, the youth at the First Nations will learn about the protection, conservation and knowledge of plants that are used in traditional medicines. Workshops include computer mapping systems, field work with a botanist, traditional teachings, training in survival skills with native elders, etc.

In short Ecotopias will be a week of sustainable living experience, based on direct democracy, popular education techniques and consensus decision making processes, showing youth that alternatives to our destructive consumption and production patters are possible. A series of community workshops to publicize and lay the ground to the Ecotopia are currently happening across the country.


A few people from Latin American youth environmantal groups will be touring in Canada in June and July to go from one Ecotopia to another. AECO from Costa Rica, Proyvision from Columbia and PEUMA from Argentina are some of them. This will give the opportunity for the youth to exchange experiences on the Ecotopias and plan for future partnerships. Partnerships is also the idea behind a 13 week work placement in Latin America for Canadian youth. We hope that a lot of inspiring projects will come out of these events!

If you have any questions on the Ecotopias, please contact the Canadian Environmental Network Youth Caucus <cenyouth@web.net> tel: (613) 728-9810; fax: (613) 728-2963

or the Youth Sustainability Project at <sustain@tao.ca> tel: (613) 728-9292 fax: (613) 728-8758

-------(((((( http://www.tao.ca/~sustain/ecotopia.html ))))))-----------

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