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Moldotopia – A Gleam of Hope at the EU’s edge? | Moldova

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by Valeria Șvarț-Gröger and Julian Gröger, first published on oya-online.de. Translation into English by Martin Hofmann.

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In his magnificent science fiction novel “Ecotopia” Ernest Callenbach has imagined a society in which resilience and community are a lived reality. Of course in his time and circumstances he chose the North-West of the U.S. as a scene. Where would such a place with such a promising future be located today? Maybe Buthan or Bolivia – but within Europe? Where could one imagine a profound change until the year of 2040? Resilience and inner peace would be just two catchwords. Which country would you count on?

It would rather be a small country, so marvelous changes could quickly be set into practice. This country should have good soil and many people experienced in agriculture. It should not be too industrialized, and less embedded into global substance flow. And of course it should possess enough natural resources in order to sustain its energy. Maybe Austria? But is it possible to realize such a utopia within the EU? And is it not a fact that Austrians use up too many resources in 2014?

We count on Moldova, or Moldtopia as we call our vision. Moldova – the Republic of Moldova, to be exact – is situated between Romania and Ukraine, at the edges of the European Union and has around 3.5 million inhabitants. Its capital is Chișinău (to be pronounced as kee-shee-now). On an area slightly bigger than Belgium the population is a one-fifth of western-Germany. The preconditions for a development towards Moldtopia 2014 are as follows:

Moldova owns very good soil. In former times Moldova had been, together with Georgia, the fruit and vegetable garden of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately due to this fact just 9% of the country’s surface is still covered by forests. Moldovans are dwelling with a much smaller amount of energy and consumption than people in Western Europe. Around 40% are active in agriculture, many of them in a semi-subsistant way. For political reasons the Soviet Union did not initiate large scale industry in Moldova as there were concerns that the country could reunite with Romania. This low level of industrialisation is still considered a disadvantage in 2014, but from our point of view it will soon turn into benefit. In matters of energy the country is still dependent on Russian gas, but the potential for solar and residue-biomass energy is tremendous. Most Moldovans are bilingual (Russian-Romanian) and more and more learn to see it as an advantage rather than as a burden. Romanian and Russian-Soviet culture with all their treasures are deep-seated in the cultures literature, cuisine or language.

But what exactly is Moldotopia and what do we want to achieve on this piece of land until the year of 2040? Moldtopia nourishes its population with ecological and regional cropping. The bicycle is the one means of transportation used most often. Within the cities some trolley coaches are going, for longer distances the railway transportation is electrified and well developed. Small neighborhood communities are living, working, eating and celebrating together in the cities. The majority of the buildings is erected with regional building materials. Moldovans are own a world-wide recognition for wood-straw-clay constructions. 40% of the country’s surface is again covered with forests. 10% are areas saved from human intervention. Agroforestry has become the established form of agriculture. There is no erosion of the soil and water from every source can be drunk. There is a feeling of abundance rather than one of deficit. Children are the most valued aspects of live and the whole community is taking care of them. Those are just some aspects of Moldtopia.

We, the Moldovan NGO EcoVisio, together with young people are working on the invention and realization of the Moldotopia-vision. Young people, of course, mostly have another idea of their country’s future. Political debates often focus on the strategic orientation towards either Russia or the European Union, whereas a form of regional pride is not very common. People have an emotional connection towards Romania or towards Russia on are arguing about this bias. The conflict on Transnistria interferes with the concentration on the own development, too.

Our programme “activeEco – Sustainibility in Action” adds new elements into this situation: What, if my future would take place here in Moldova and not on Rome, Berlin or Moscow? What, if our region could be a model for others? The requirements do exist and each year around 30 alumni of the programme come along, being able to spread the word about Moldotopia. We are in the year of 2014 and the power of the vision along with the energy of young people can lead us faster and faster to Moldotopia 2040. The joy of anticipating the future and a community in which big madcap ideas can be said and will be understood – that is, what we are working on. For the moment you still here rather of the conflict on Transnistria or the “Europe’s poorhouse”. Be curious what kind of news you will hear about Moldova twenty years from now…

Support: Eco-House as Traningspace in Moldova
Become part of building an ecological training space in Moldova to promote education. The moldovian NGO asks you kindly to support and help them to build an Eco-training center in Eco-Village Moldova. In the future this will be the home for activEco, one cooperationprogramme of the Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg. “We are collecting funds on betterplace. We’d be very grateful if you could share this link in your networks or even participate in the fundraising campaign yourself. Any small donation or share will be greately appreciated!”
Share and donate here betterplace.org/training-space-in-the-eco-house.

What has been achieved so far?
In just over a year we managed to build a 3-room straw-bale workshop, start an eco-club at the local school, plant over 300 walnut trees and engage over 200 volunteers from Moldova and abroad. Multiple activEco networking meetings and alumni actions already took place at the Eco-village Moldova site as well.
What we need your support for?
This year we need just a little more help to finish the 3-room straw-bale “workshops” building and to equip it with basic amenitiesto be used for seminars and technical trainings for up to 25 people.
Support and read more on betterplace.org.

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