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= Globally Integrated Village Environment, Initiative by Franz Nahrada to promote the expansion of Global Villages



" We therefore study and support particular dynamics in seven fields:

  • Global political and societal developments fostering fractal decentralisation as a planetary political priority - allowing for better stewardship of our planet's resources for present and future generations.
  • Local education and research centers to motivate, integrate and support local actors in the improvement of their immediate surroundings - and their connectivity and resources.
  • Cyclical economies and ecologies based on abundant, renewable resources as the base for real autonomy, thriving and sustainability, including new technologies that allow for improvement of local cycles, spanning from energy to matter, preferably based on user led innovation and openness.
  • Global knowledge cooperation, preferably based on P2P schemes, like virtual universities, joint projects, research and development communities.
  • Successful cases of integral community development, internal governance, participation, coherence, external cooperation.
  • Architectural and spatial patterns (the "gestalt") that foster local life, support diversity and wholeness, and also deep health as the ultimate goal of Global Villages
  • Cultural, spiritual and psychological conditions and implications of a multiple - shell - world, spanning from local to global.

Our seven themes in detail:

(1) Global Villegiatura - Trans Market Economies

"In a time when fewer and fewer productive industries supply the global markets with the full range of industrial basic goods, we have to understand that it is not feasible any more to make it the general rule of behaviour to export and sell values, lifestyles, commodities and ideologies to survive. We are far too many and too productive to do business as usual and waste our wealth in warfare economies. (We see the historical example of Venice which was a maritime trader nation, but vigourously engaged in land cultivation when it lost its sea power. The term "Villegiatura" was coined for the rediscovery of the hinterland, a cultural revolution into beauty and thriving cultural landscapes, and serves as a reference model for a global change nowadays.

Rather than the further growth of already unliveable cities, we foresee the emergence of more and more inside-looking communities, who - with the help of decentralizing technologies - build their own self-sustaining microcosms. They seek to combine the best and most apposite buildings blocks available in the shared knowledge and experiences of humanity across the continents and ages. This turns into new experience for others. A fractal, holotopic world is emerging within the broad planetary land mass, heralded by the solar revolution, with more and more places that become the passion of people because their potential goes far beyond traditional boundaries. Within the virtual presence of the whole world and their cascading "paying forward" support, each place can overcome many of its limitations by climate, geography and historical factors. Global cultures offer an incredible array of choices for different development models, allowing people to develop collective individualities. It is in the best interest of all to make this a universal and inclusive development pathway. By filling needs of others, we enhance their capacities to contribute.

GIVE is active in developing global politics towards this type of "cooperative - individualistic" community development. We even work with large towns and large institutions to fractalize within and also acknowledge the opportunity for "mothercities" and "hubs" to thrive on the support requirements for the Global Villegiatura. Like the personal computer grew individual capacities, the next stage of the prosumer revolution lies in delivering tools and services to improve community capacities." (

(2) Global Village Learning Centers and Maker Spaces

Education is at the center of what we do, but it can be only defined meaningfully in a context of a community goal. On one side we study local education and resource centers with tools and content to join forces globally improving their local scope. On the other side these centers are also centers of community innovation, of meaningful encounters for locals and guests, they are places of self - definition and self - improvement.

We believe more and more technologies will increasingly mirror these values, allow us to turn the designs and schemes that we learned about and developed together in the "learning field" into tangible realities. Therefore it is important not to stay "bookworms", but to know how we do best combine the power of learning and making; how spaces that realize dreams look like; what is their possible scope.

GIVE is therefore studying the many ways to boost the potential of local learning institutions, teach people to become entrepreneurial and cooperative, reclaim the skills that their grandfathers and grandmothers still had - and combine this with the latest in automation and production technologies. We study urban and rural models of different scope and specialisation. We even study historical examples of study and realisation like monasteries and see what might be retrieved and reactualized from these forms of learning spaces.

(3) High Tech Ecologies and Upcycling Economies

The goodbye to warfare economies means an increasing turn to local cycles, which requires interdisciplinary work with those who study the human societies metabolism with nature. The Metabolism of Global Villages is a complex one, requiring hundreds and thousands of processes, requiring new inventions and technologies and the revival of old knowledge.

GIVE is very interested in cradle to cradle schemes, renewable resources and the possibility to create technologies that use non-toxic materials - that even become digested by the metabolism itself. We see natures cycles and nodes as a model for high technology, and we embrace the embedding of natural principles by sophisticated and complex human artefacts.

We distinguish Global Villages from the broader movement of Ecovillages by the simple notion that we might need more, not less technology to enable humans to fully cooperate with nature. GIVE aims at jointly with others creating innovation centers for advanced village technologies to be used appropriated to local cirumstances.

(4) Virtual University of the Villages and Open Source Culture

The networking of learning villages will eventually create wealth and growth superior to what the industrial age has delivered by the sheer multiplication and miniaturisation of productive capacities. In our view, it cannot be built on so-called intellectual property, but by a culture of sharing and joining pieces and bits of disrupted knowledge to integrated and holistic "pattern poems". Therefore our next research goal is to find out about effective knowledge cooperation.

GIVE has been a partner in calling for the first Village Innovation Talk, a virtual event simultaneously connecting six villages in 6 different states of 2 countries. We also initiated the first Vienna Open Source Hardware Summit in May 2013. We advocate shared tasks and division of specialised practise, when it comes to improvements and experiments. Villages can be theme villages and share their findings with others. Thus a virtual university of the villages will emerge, a shared learning platform that connects local learning places and will be their lifeblood.

(5) Community Observatory and Networking

The arrival of a new societal pattern never happens simultaneously; we see "islands of progress" where - mostly as a result of visionary individuals - social life starts to take a different direction. Today, we see the advent of Global Villages by many different types of local developments like Ecovillages, Cohousing, Coworking, Intergenerational Villages, Theme Villages, we see dedicated networks like Transition Towns and others emerging.

GIVE aims to build up a reference system of existing and planned projects, be it local or thematic, or at least have a good understanding of the best references available. We started a global community back in 1997 called the "Global Villages Network" that we want to become increasingly active in connecting good practises, developing strategic initiatives and publically advocating Global Villages ideas. The backbone is thorough research on the state of the Global Villegiatura.

(6) Community Architecture and Optimum Health

Maybe one of the greatest theoretical breakthroughs of our time is Christopher Alexanders "Pattern Language". Patterns are recursive structures that we use in everyday life and which support and enable the vitality of everything we do. Patterns are the obvious or less obvious solutions to problems - which can be researched, identified and taught. Patterns bridge theory and practise, they allow us to include non - experts in shaping our world. Patterns span from architecture to computing, and yet pattern theory is still at the beginnings.

GIVE uses pattern theory and methodology to organize knowledge and guide research. Whilst Alexander was referring to cities, we seek for optimun patterns of smaller forms of settlement. We seek for helpful and balancing patterns in the relationship of man and nature; we seek for empowering patterns in social life. We are convinced that there are universal laws of optimization and yet a large degree of human freedom and inventiveness at the same time. The ultimate purpose of our work on villages is in achieving health and happiness. We think that finding the organic relations between man and environment is the key to both.

(7) Acting locally, thinking globally

Organizing our life more centered about the local as the stage where the global just appears as mutual support (and not as an empire) will require a lot of changes in human behaviour and values; on the other side, it will give people an unprecedented freedom to shape particular value systems that only need to work in particular local settings. Instead of homogenous industrial societies we will find a very colorful diversity of lifestyles and an environment fostering inventiveness and creativity. Yet this cultural diversity is embedded in a system of relations and the tendency to even manage global commons by dedicated communities.

GIVE is seeking to find patterns that foster at the same time global intercultural cooperation and local cultural intensification. We are not only working with scientists, but also with artists and activists who express and enable these complementing requirements. We do assume there are cultural universals, seek them out and include them in our work." (


" In 1993, we arranged our first congress ("Global Village 93") at the Technical University of Vienna with the basic goal to introduce our ideas and create a forum for architects, planners, technicians, sociologists and politicians to discuss the new possibilities of telecommunication for community development.

This initiative was successful, it was recognized by governmental planning institutions and led to various follow-up activities. The results were published in the book "Wohnen und Arbeiten im Global Village" - "Living and Working in the Global Village" (partly German, partly English, Vienna 1994) ISBN 3854391285

In 1995, GIVE organized a congress together with the municipality of Vienna in the Viennese City Hall, called "Global Village 95". This congress tried to bridge between the views on urban and rural development. The manifold aspects on synergy and cooperation between city and village, the internal and external networking potential of cities as hubs of knowledge, economical and technological power were at the center of attention.

Cities who are supporting the "global villages" will probably be the winners of the 21st century economic struggle by expanding their economic reach in a sustainable way. Vienna at that time was keen to show its willingness to be at the leading edge of this development. The related exhibition "Global Village" was so successful that it was repeated five more times and attracted 35 000 visitors to the city hall in its best year!

In 1998, GIVE was the initiator of a cultural Austrian EU presidency event called "Cultural Heritage in the Global Village" (CULTH). We began to shift our focus from architectural designs to the necessity of providing world-class education and cultural participation in even the remotest villages. That requires a shift in the role of culture institutions.

In 2002, GIVE joined forces with ECOVAST the European Council of Villages and small towns, which led to fruitful cooperation. One of the issues was to reactivate dormant structures within regions (small towns and monasteries) which in former times were active cultural centers. The idea is to have these places support the intellectual renaissance of rural areas by becoming specialised educational hubs for the needs of the villages. We took part in 2 GRUNDTVIG Learning partnerships, ERDE and MIR.

In 2003, at the Blog Talk Conference in Vienna, a meeting between Franz Nahrada and Andrius Kulikauskas led to the fact that GIVE joined forces with the Minciu Sodas Network of independent thinkers and began to use several online tools.

In 2004, GIVE co-sponsored the 3rd international Oekonux Conference in Vienna, actively opening up to the emerging patterns of Open Source and Open Culture as backbones of village cooperation.

In 2005, GIVE joined forces with Frithjof Bergmann and the New Work movement, explicitly engaging in the renaissance of self-providing supported by efficient technologies to revolutionize village economics.

Over the following years, we started our pilot (see below) and also worked with the villages of Wildalpen and Neuberg. In 2007 GIVE's founder was commissioned to give a visionary speech at the European Broadband Conference to motivate people for rural opportunities and goals.

In 2011, we started Village Innovation Talks as a live format to connect village innovators around the globe and again called for a Global Villages Network.

These are some of the "layers" that we combine in our work and we seek for opportunities to apply this combination in local pilot cases all around the world." (

The origins of Franz Nahrada's Global Village initiative GIVE

Source: contribution to the Cooperation Commons mailing list, May 2008.

Franz Nahrada:

"Actually a meeting with Doug Engelbart in Stanford was the original and central reason why I dared to start the GlobalVillages project.

It was back in 1990 and I travelled through the bay area, visiting all pilgrim places like Berkeley, San Francisco and so on....of course also Palo Alto.

I strolled through Stanford University and saw his name on the door of an Office in Sweet Hall. I knocked the door and told his secretary I would like to see him, a sociologist from Austria working with HyperCard.

I waited several days until I could meet him, because his schedule was very busy. I stayed in the Stanford Arms motel and remember that finally the call came from his secretary that he was available for an hour or so.

Doug greeted me very warmheartedly, saying he was extremely happy to meet a young sociologist. I was wondering, because I left my studies behind me without much emphasis and I hated my so called "profession" for its lack of reality perception and scientific zeal.

So Doug explained to me that being the inventor of mouse and windows (he also showed me his incredible mouse with 5 keys), being the first one to implement hypertext and so most likely being the father of modern computing, he bore a deep dissatisfaction with technology:

"Technology is dull" I heard him say.. "Society takes it for granted and mostly does nor really know how to apply it in the best possible way. We cannot solve this by engineering. There must be a completely different approach, putting technology in social laboratories to find out what is really empowering and augmenting human mind and action".

He told me that he had increasingly shifted his interest from the technical to the social side of things, He had adopted the "bootstrap concept" that people like Capra and Chew used in physics to research and development policy. "You cannot assume that any single group of humans are experts that can solve the problem when we are transgressing into the unknown", he said. Yet society needs advice to react and adopt technological changes as early as possible.

So the answer is that society develops social laboratories aka "Bootstrap communities" , These Bootstrap communities include all stakehoders of technological development, not only business and politics and experts, but also users. So a technology is openly developed and tested in a multiperspectivical framework, which is not determined by the interested view of marketing people trying to push finished products into the market, but by a real assesments of peoples needs and and intensive dialogue in which there is no axioma and no intellectual property.

Rather than that, truth (in the broad sense of the word) emerges from the confrontation and intensive, magical interaction of perspectives.

Doug sent me down to have a "world lesson", a full experience on this instead of a "word lesson", by visiting the institute for the research on learning in Palo Alto. There I would see what he meant: That children have a real say about educational tech- nologies, as do have teachers and parents, all of them interacting with scientists in non-prestructured, seemingly "chaotic" ways. The played with technological gadgets, tried to find out there usefulness (or uselessness) and even made suggestions.

I began to understand.

Doug then told me that such a research community must be built around a goal. "What brings these people together is the urgent need to solve a problem together and the recognition that each single person or group does not have the answer, but only the interplay of perspectives can help us find correct answers and patterns.

He asked me if I was interested in such work. My HyperCard stuff suddenly was vaning, going into the background of things. I told him that indeed I had a grief, a real deep problem.

In the years before, I had gone many time to Greece, I discovered the beauty of those villages in the mountains of the island of Samos and in Crete or elsewhere. Not just beauty - it was as this was the environment in which I could really feel well, the smell of oregano and dozens of other herbs filling the air, the life being non-hectic, the conviviality on the plateia, the village plaza, being like one big living room, and hundreds of other small things that are too insignificant to mention here...but all together lifted my spirit up.

I had witnessed that young people left those villages in masses, because the agriculture was not profitable any more, crafts were outcompeted etc. They were dazzled by the ease of getting jobs in tourism that brought them out of what seemed miserable and stuffy for them. Their exodus drew them more and more away from their homes, and the villages stayed, deserted by the active popolation, started to decay, and the decay was also the suffering of the old people that remained.

I said that I wanted to find ways to save the beauty of villages, use technological progress to reinvent and reinstall the beauty that we had lost.

He said: "wonderful proposal for a bootstrap community!"

On this day, the GIVE Project was born, although the name "Globally Integrated Village Environment" only emerged a few months later when my friend Teddy The Bear (famous Apple etc. tech writer) said "try to fill this acronym with life"."