All content of this site is published under the Creative Commons License “CC-BY-SA”


Setting the Context

Inspired by Cloughjordan Community Farm and now practised by Sieben Linden, Ängsbacka, Ananda Gaori and Cloughjordan Community Farm

What is it/ How do you do it?
When welcoming ESC Volunteers to the Farm project and the Ecovillage, we include a session on Context on their first Induction day.  

The Context for this activity is nestled in Sustainability Values: 
One of the key values and core advantages of living in an Intentional Community is our focus on developing the resilience needed to face current and future challenges: 
Climate breakdown is the crisis that we are trying to build a better world in the face of, and everything we do aims to be regenerative for people and the planet so that we can thrive and not just survive. 

How we live this out in actuality is demonstrated in all our choices; for instance:

  • using green modes of travel 
  • eating seasonal local food 
  • supporting the local economy over global supply chains 
  • using organic products
  • minimising waste etc. 

All of these are wonderful things to do but individual acts and large-scale change need to go hand in hand. 

Although on Cloughjordan Community Farm, the ways we produce food and the ethos of our project all fall within the context of living regeneratively, it is important to link this approach with the European Youth Goals, namely Sustainable Green Europe, and to explore how sustainability supports the other Goals.

Note: It is also really important to convey the essence of this approach during the initial interview process – so that Volunteers are aligned with the values and Sustainability Mission of the community’s activity.


  • The benefit of making this context explicitly clear is to ground the Volunteers’ experience of living in the community, and all of their related project activities, within a lens of wellbeing – for people and planet – the actions of the present taking care of the future. 
  • It is this kind of caring worldview that we are trying to nurture in the young people who come to an ESC placement. They are the ones inheriting our world and who will shape societal culture.


  • If our ESC projects do not support our local and global ecosystems, then there are serious issues to be addressed and changes to make.
  • That the worldview and sense of social responsibility can be overwhelming, and contribute to anxiety. 
  • It is vital to support the young people with the spaces to connect emotionally to themselves and others, and to be able to share their feelings and opinions in those safe, connecting spaces. 
  • It is also important to be aware of the contrast that some may experience between their lifestyle on the project and their lifestyles prior to their ESC experience. e.g. Volunteers can become nervous as to how they will re-integrate socially, after the project ends.

Be careful not to instil guilt, judgement, blame or personal criticism in the Volunteers or of others who are not appearing to live in the same value system of your approach to sustainability. 

This is, after all, a shared challenge that needs a sense of unity in response, not a condition to measure others against, and feel ‘better’ than them due to our own responses.

There are useful tools (see below) that can help with absorbing the wider context but contacting those members of your community with the relevant knowledge and a willingness to inform and introduce the Volunteers to the wider community activity picture, is mostly what is required.

What is Needed:

  • The space being made for that for Volunteers during Induction Week. 
  • The Expertise to inform the Volunteers of the climate and carbon context 

Active Hope and Sharing Circles