For the last ten years, a network of locally-based projects from across Europe have been visiting each other to learn, teach, share and discover the knowledge held in their communities. This network has involved projects, practices, participants and ordinary people from six countries, nine regions, four cities, two towns and six villages. This is the Eco-Nomadic School.
The Eco-Nomadic School grew out of two pan-European collaborative research projects: PEPRAV (European Platform for Alternative Practice and Research in the City) in 2006/2007, and Rhyzom, from 2008-2010. The experience of taking field trips to study and meet other local projects across Europe led to a bigger idea: to use the budding network as a place for mutual learning – a school – where the curriculum is organised around the topics, needs and ambitions of local projects.
Many groups have been involved in running the school, including atelier d’architecture autogerée in Paris; Myvillages, based in Rotterdam; FCDL and APTNV in Romania; Brave New Alps in Northern Italy; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig; the Peasant Museum in Bamberg; and the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture, in the UK.
The school reflects the projects that comprise it. It’s informal, self-organised, de-centralised and geographically dispersed; non-hierarchical, peer-led and multi-lingual. Crucially, the roles of learner and teacher are interchangeable. The same applies to the roles of specialists and amateurs, locals and incomes, doers and speakers, researchers and makers.
One of the strongest aspects of the school is its trans-local focus: the fact that people involved in local projects travel to see others, learn from others, and inform or influence others. Rural activists from Brezoi meet students from Sheffield and architects from Paris; residents of suburban Colombes meet community artists from Northern Ireland or women entrepreneurs from Holland; rural women from Höfen meet clay specialists from nearby and academics from Sweden. The school acts as a means to travel for people beyond the usual academic/artist network, who might never have travelled before, or only done so as tourists. Ordinary local people can thus become ‘international’, too.learn_to_ACT
The Eco Nomadic School has been financed through a series of EU funded Strategic Learning Partnerships, with the administration and coordination of the whole thing being organised in turns by the different partners involved. The terminology required to administer EU applications can be terrifying, but in times when terms like internationalism, trans-national collaboration and diverse identities are increasingly associated with being un-patriotic, elitist and cosmopolitan, it’s of upmost urgency to amplify values of civic engagement and society, shared trans-cultural identities, mutual exchange and non-profit focused economies, across both rural and urban communities.
The book is titled Learn to Act, because that’s what we set out to do. The title is a clear proclamation towards a form of learning which is both an act of commoning and a moment in which knowledge becomes relative, collective and applied. Learn to Act is about the near future, how to act, and how to support each other.
Click here for detailed information and to access the « Learn to Act Book » online.