ZEGG [Center For Experimental Culture Design] is an intentional community of 100 people located near Berlin. ZEGG`s goal is to integrate personal development, new social structures, political commitment and action so that a vision for a more humane world can grow. We see ourselves as an experimental community working together to develop models which serve this vision in the different parts of our lives. As well as political engagement and community-building, our work also includes ecology, love and sexuality, our spiritual search, and living with children.
After many years of preparation in a forerunner community, ZEGG was founded in 1991on a 15-hectare site some 80km southwest of Berlin. ZEGG`s aim is to establish an international conference and research centre working on draft models for socially and ecologically sustainable ways of living. In addition, ZEGG has become a diverse cultural centre, a meeting place for the region and a networking hub for communities and activists searching for new solutions within the fields of politics, ecology and communal living.
Our ecological work is guided by the principles of permaculture: this idea combines `permanent` and `agriculture` and encompasses sustainable ways of cultivating foodstuffs and utilising construction materials.
Because of our region`s particular requirements we are busy with the following issues:
Water: We have our own spring on site and since 1992 we process our wastewater in our own plant-bed sewage system.
Soil: The soil on our site is mainly sand, which is nutrient-poor and has very low water retention. Hence, one of our main tasks is to increase its humus content using organic materials [e.g. mulch] and enrich it through appropriate planting [e.g. green fertilisers].
Energy / Air: Since 1992, ZEGG has had a wood-chip fired heating plant: the wood-chips are a locally sourced sustainable resource which ensure our energy supply is CO2-neutral. We are planning to install a wood-fuelled block-type thermal power plant in 2003, which will provide both heating and electrical power. Some of our vehicles run on plant oil.
Plants: The woodlands around us are predominantly pine plantations; on our site we are gradually changing this into a more native mixed woodland. As well as this, we are planting edible park and garden landscapes around our buildings, bringing fruits and herbs within easy reach of the kitchen. Our organic garden provides us and our guests with fruit and vegetables.
Buildings: Alongside several more conventional renovations and conversions, we are increasingly utilising ecological building techniques [e.g. wood and cob], for both internal and external work.
Sustainability: In the long term we would like to see the establishment of a sustainable economy in our region. We are working together with individuals and projects from the surrounding area to develop regional economic and resource cycles. This includes concepts for manageable regions, where the provision of life`s necessities can be built up anew, reducing the dependence on industrial goods: these concepts need to include food production, a decentralised energy supply from biomass [wood, oil seed crops, biogas etc.], recycling and the use of regional construction materials.
Food: Communal meals in ZEGG are vegetarian or vegan [this doesn`t mean that all members are vegetarian]. The majority of the ingredients are organic, from our region, or fair-trade products. Our food policy was a political decision, taking into account both the social and ecological implications of our food and luxury purchases.