Eco Nomadic School

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.

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 accompanying book Learn to Act has been published in September 2017. 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.