My name is Marcus Letts. I’m a co-founder of One Planet Productions — a bioregional-scale development agency based on the Aegean island of Evia — and also an Agile Learning Facilitator.
My background is in political science by training, community building by passion and event production by livelihood. Then in late 2016 I moved from the green and pleasant land of England with my young family - my wife Emily and boys Seth (4) and Lucas (1) - in order to pursue the adventure of a lifetime.
Transform Evia’s “bioregional scale design challenge” revolves around a core question:
How do we learn to place greater emphasis on the medium — our culture and environment — in order to intentionally build ecosystems optimising for the regeneration of people and place?
Over the last 18 months I have been researching around the cross-disciplinary field of regenerative culture design and asking myself the question 'How do I want to design and live my life?’ I'm guessing that this is a question that many Agile Learning Facilitators are also exploring.
After hosting Europe's first ALF Summer in August of 2017 I have embraced this open source social technology as the common logic which runs through everything we're building and planting here on Evia island. However, drawing on my prior experience with startups like Origin Club and Landstory I feel called to move beyond the boundaries of Agile Learning Centres as schools, into an exploration of Agile Learning Communities as ‘regenerative culture design labs’ as well as the design and build process necessary to inform the co-creation of intentional 'Agile Learning Villages'.
I am committed to holding space for the further development of the interwoven Transform Evia, Origin Club and Nature Play startups I've helped to seed here in Greece. But my long term vision is to help establish an open-source Agile Learning Village blueprint that will enable many more communities to build their own 'dream spaces' across the world.
The challenge / proposal that I would like to make to
the our emerging community and crowd is this:
Let's co-fund, co-design and co-build
an Agile Learning Village.
Imagine a magical place designed around the core values and rituals of an Agile Learning Community. Imagine a place that we can use for hosting regional and global summits as well more intimate retreats and work aways. Imagine a place with a warm climate and an abundance of nature where you can live with integrity, build your dream space and let your kids roam wild and free. Imagine a place that celebrates diversity and blends social and digital technology with agroecology. An Agile Learning Village can become a platform for experimentation in service of extraordinary learning, where many of us can co-create new ways of living, working, learning and playing together.
We have fallen in love with an 800 acre site called Farakla. It takes just over 2hrs to drive to the site from Athens International Airport.
The site has two large open fields that can be used for building an event site, research farm and media production facility which will also include an epic Agile Learning Centre, co-working hub and maker-space. The rest of the site is made up of woodlands, 10% of which can be harvested and used for further construction according to ecologically sensitive planning rules. The vision is to co-fund, co-create and co-build the entire development using ALF tools. We want this site to not only be a perfect venue for running global and regional trainings and network convergences, but also a basecamp / second home for semi-nomadic ALF's, or even those of us who are thinking about investing in a community, perhaps to start a family of their own.
The open fields and the vast forest will be owned by Agile Life (a Greek registered non-profit) and will be developed by North Evia's regional development agency, One Planet Productions (a UK registered Cooperative Society). Within this wider estate, smallholdings can be privately owned by members on long leases, as is the common practice in places like the UK.
Key Point. We are just at the beginning of this Agile Learning journey and nothing is pre-agreed. Evia, Greece is just one of many possible locations. Ideally we hope to inspire the formation of other Agile Learning Villages which will be encouraged to learn from our mistakes and successes when adapting this open source model for themselves, in diverse locations all over the world.
Many Agile Learning Facilitators have talked and dreamed about creating a physical place for the community. I believe we have an opportunity to make this happen in Evia, Greece.
The rationale for choosing Evia comes down to climate, land price and proximity to a major airport. Evia is a place of immense natural beauty; with mountains, beaches and forests just a short car ride away. It is also only a two hours drive away from Athens airport. Given it's location and warm Mediterranean climate, it is surprisingly under-developed, with an ageing population. Within the context of existing planning and legislative frameworks, we can buy land at a very competitive price compared to other European locations and then design and build a truly regenerative development.
Over the next twenty years can we create a global network of Agile Learning Villages?
We are going through a major transition as a network as Agile Learning Facilitation is adopted by co-creators all over the world. It’s feels like the timing is right to challenge ourselves to co-create something that has never been done before: to build a community-owned village and campus that can become a blueprint for other ALF-inspired regenerative developments across the world.
A project like this has the potential to inspire this global community and it's extraordinary learning journey to new heights and depths. It can make running global and European network convergences, trainings and even Self-Directed Learning festivals much more accessible. And above all it can become a great way for nomadic ALF's to invest in building a place to call their second home.
"The timing is perfect" - the feedback so far!
(work in progress)
Phase One | Elysion Fields
We raise funds to secure a purchase the estate, masterplan the site and build the infrastructure we need to host ALF-inspired retreats, summits and festivals.
Phase Two | Agile Ark
We start building an Agile Learning Village alongside the event site, media production facility and research farm, designing for ecological sustainability to development a network of smallholdings hidden within this wider estate's 800 acres of woodland.
We want to create an authentic and inclusive place that represents our core values. Ideally the entire development will be crowdfunded with Community Shares issued by One Planet Productions match-funded by philanthropic gifts entrusted to Agile Life. Members who invest with both their time or money will be rewarded with shares in the development. These share can then be traded back in return for private ownership of land on a long lease basis.
The potential to create the world's greatest crowdfunded development is in our hands.
If you want to join us in making this happen get in touch.
Outline Implementation Plan
1) Convene a working group who are most committed to the project.
2) Agree on budgets, commitments, funding strategy and governance structure. Do we fundraise through Community Shares (quasi-equity), philanthropic gift (endowment) or low interest loans? How do we incentivise all members to engage with and contribute to this project in their own unique way? What if we don’t raise enough from the community? Should we seek out external funding too? Or is an ethical ICO a viable option for this community?
3) Secure land purchase or at least on a long term lease (with an option to buy) by the end of 2018.
4) Spring 2018 - Evia Innovation Lab - Rent a 10 bedroom open-house for three months with good wifi on North Evia (close to the Farakla site) and recruit a multi-disciplinary "dream team" from both within and outside the ALF community to masterplan the development. Think through the business models, local services, infrastructure and other contributions that an Agile Learning Village can make to the local economy / community.
5) Build out basic on site infrastructure for the development of Elysion Fields (think "Burning Man for Kids"): our flagship event community via an annual convergence for up to 2,000 participants.
6) Launch and develop Elysion Fields over a 10 year learning cycle.
7) Simultaneously raise the next round of funding to build out the Agile Learning Village within the context of the wider 800 acre estate. Consider how we secure EU funding to conduct leading edge research into this kind of regenerative, agro-ecological development scheme.
By combining the concepts of an event site, media production facility, research farm and a small, distributed co-living village we can create a truly unique, impactful and commercially viable development.