NFGL Local Network Skövde embraces eco-living

NFGL Local Network Skövde teamed up with students from Stockholm and Uppsala to visit Suderbyn Permaculture Ecovillage on Gotland. Sergey Redyuk, who represents Skövde’s network, shares his reflections on the trip.

NFGL Local Network Skövde embraces eco-living

Suderbyn Permaculture Ecovillage is a community of open-minded people from various countries and cultures located on Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea.

The community is focused on creating a prosperous society while minimising their environmental footprint. They do this by aiming for a more sustainable lifestyle by striving for self-sufficiency in food production and renewable energy creation. This leads to changes in patterns of consumption, prioritising of ecological and local produce and materials, and building a model of a happy and healthy society.

Acting ‘glocally’

There are two main parts to Suderbyn: People-Care Cooperative and a RELEARN NGO.

The Cooperative is responsible for maintaining and developing the ecovillage, providing a sustainable home for short and long-term residents, and volunteers.

RELEARN is a non-profit organisation that operates locally and internationally with the promotion of a sustainable lifestyle, with a strong focus on education and international cooperation for sustainable development.

The community acts ‘glocally’; it runs local projects with the aim of sharing experiences and affecting the global picture of sustainable development processes.

It has experience in working with various leading transnational projects: locally, within the Baltic region (Baltic Ecovillage Network, Societal Transition to Sustainability), and internationally (Global Ecovillage Network, Service Civil International). It also takes an active participation in the development of the Ekobyarnas Riksorganisation (ERO) — the Swedish Ecovillage Network.

The main goal of our visit was to familiarise ourselves with the projects conducted at Suderbyn Ecovillage and its ecosystem. We wanted to learn about the best practices of sustainable development and apply them to our daily life. We were looking to acquire knowledge and experience with permaculture design principles and methods for biogas production and renewable energy creation.

Promoting a sustainable lifestyle

The people living in Suderbyn are researchers who strive to combine permaculture principles and technology to reduce the environmental footprint. They try out different approaches such as building reinforced soil walls to protect growing plants from the wind; reflecting and accumulating solar energy; and managing companion planting where various plant species grow together on the same field and benefit from one another (wind shielding, fertilisation, better balance of minerals, and so on).

Secondly, these people are educators whose passion is to promote a sustainable lifestyle.

The key point worth admiring is that Suderbyn community teaches by doing, showing that this lifestyle works and benefits the environment. We were lucky to take part in workshops on sustainability and future trend predictions where we learned how to look further into the future and anticipate possible outcomes. This exercise helped up to realise the changes our society needs to make in order to reduce environmental issues and live more sustainably.

The main highlight we learned came during the workshop of management and closed-loop production. In a world of limited resources, people must change their consumption habits and find new, smarter ways of using, reusing, and recycling available materials. The ideal strategy is to shift towards a closed-loop system to minimise waste and pollution. This also requires social changes in the way people perceive their environment and the surrounding nature.

Last but not least, the people at Suderbyn are more than just a community committed to building an ecovillage together. They are a family that takes care of each other. Their motto is ‘sharing is caring’, and the people there foster a particular system of values based on ethics and health.

Currently, there are families living there who believe that Suderbyn is the best place to raise children and lead peaceful, happy lives. The overall goal is to promote a positive social environment of trust, friendship, and diversity by combining simple living with ecological innovations and experimental ideas.

Our team would love to thank Swedish Institute and Suderbyn community for this incredible opportunity. It was a great pleasure to meet new people and listen to their stories. We are going back to Suderbyn this spring and invite everyone to join us!


Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.