Anotherland: A Chinese Eco-Village

As I am currently staying in China for an internship with GIZ, more precisely in China’s capital Beijing, I was very keen on getting to know people in China that are concerned with the direction their country is heading towards. Chinese that want to lead simpler and probably less stressful lives than the millions of their fellow countrymen that migrate to cities with the hope for a “better” life, a life similar to the one most of the people in the rich, developed countries lead. This “better” life in essence is however nothing but a dependent life, subordinated to the principles of the rapid economic development in China and the excessive consumerism it is accompanied with, while people are simultaneously overtly alienated from their natural environment and lack the understanding of its vital importance for human society.

The eco-village is located at the bottom of Lao Shan in the eastern part of the city Qingdao (5.8 million inhabitants). The eco-village is organized as a non-profit organization (Anotherland or 国家计划) with about 5-10 members and was founded in 2009. Most of the people involved in the project are in their 20s to 30s and aim to explore and practice sustainable lifestyles. During the summer months the community members primarily live in a small cottage which they rent from a neighbour. Through their self-sufficiency lab they also aim to disseminate sustainable and environmentally friendly ideas and technologies to a broader audience.

I visited the project Anotherland during the Chinese New Year holidays from 20th to 23rd of February this year. In short, I had an amazing time with Guanhua and his wife Xing Zheng staying in the cottage at the foot of the mountain, drinking home-made Chinese spirit with cherries, meeting their friends and the artist scene of Qingdao, while also discussing (as far as my Chinese and their English permitted) their project, aspirations and future plans and ideas.

Some impressions of my stay:

Fig. 1: Two storey house (with a PV panel on top of the roof) and a compost toilet, both built by the Anotherland team

Fig. 1: Two storey house (with a PV panel on top of the roof) and a compost toilet, both built by the Anotherland team

Fig. 2: The inner yard of the cottage (living room to the left, workshop in front) and Guanhua and me in the living room

Fig. 2: The inner yard of the cottage (living room to the left, workshop in front) and Guanhua and me in the living room

Currently, we are planning to hold a small windturbine construction workshop in June or July this year in order to provide for some off-grid electricity (by now, the cottage is still connected to the grid) and also to teach the required skills to a larger crowd.

Fig. 3: Guanhua welding for a wind turbine prototype

Fig. 3: Guanhua welding for a wind turbine prototype

More information on Anotherland:

http://shhczs18.gotoip1.com/anotherland/contents.htm

http://shhczs18.gotoip1.com/anotherland/about.html

http://shhczs18.gotoip1.com/anotherland/lab/subject.html

http://shhczs18.gotoip1.com/anotherland/work/

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