Sustainability Institute South Africa
The Sustainability Institute is an international living and learning centre located outside the South African university town of Stellenbosch. Surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Cape's towering mountains and rooted in an agricultural community needing to break free from its' racial past, the Sustainability Institute provides a space for people to explore an approach to creating a more equitable society that lives in a way that sustains rather than destroys the eco-system within which all society is embedded.
The Sustainability Institute forms part of the wider Lynedoch EcoVillage. This is an emerging ecologically designed socially mixed community built around a learning precinct, the heart of which is the Lynedoch pre- and Primary School attended by over 400 children who come mainly from the families of farmworkers. This emerging community offers a unique African setting where creative work and learning can be inspired by the joys and challenges of sustainability in practice.
Founded in 1999, the Sustainability Institute provides residential accommodation for visiting writers, artists, activists, volunteers and scholars, and a learning space for participants in the Institute's various educational programmes.
The Institute and the Lynedoch Primary School share a large ecologically designed building. This is why children seem so present in the daily life of the Institute. After the chattering and giggling children have gathered in the hall for the morning assembly, the Principal leads them in a prayer that often starts with a word of thanks for the beauty and wonder of the Western Cape's unique ecosystem which includes the grand mountains, the exceptional diversity of the 'fynbos' plant kingdom, the ancient history of local settlement, and the wild and windy coast. Although the children come from some of the poorest families in the country, the Principal reminds them of the promise of a better life through education. He offers them the possibility of hope. And this, in essence, is what sustainability is all about. If Apartheid was about "all for some for now", then sustainability is about "some for all forever".
Equipping people for the fundamental global changes already underway involves learning that combines explorations of deep experience with skills building and rigorous intellectual inquiry that cross-cuts and goes beyond traditional academic boundaries. This can best be achieved through learning in multiple dialogue groups engaged both in- and outside the classroom. This relational approach to learning is implemented throughout the range of short courses and degree programmes that are aimed at people from all countries and across sectors.
In addition to classroom work, learning takes place through community work, field trips, visual and performing arts, reflection and meditation.
To enrich the learning experience, the Sustainability Institute will strive to ensure that course participants are attracted from different backgrounds and countries. This diversity of experience brings a range of perspectives into the learning process. It will also make it possible for participants to build networks and friendships which will facilitate ongoing learning and solidarity.
Venue & Facilities
The Sustainability Institute is located within an eco-village development known as the Lynedoch Hamlet. This is a 7 hectare property that forms part of a wider agricultural community. The Sustainability Institute's facilities are in a large ecologically designed renovated building that includes a primary school for 350 farmworker children, and a large hall that is used for performing arts productions and community events. The construction of Phase 1 of the EcoVillage began in January 2004 and includes 42 ecologically designed houses which will become home for a mixed community, plus 30 residences for the Sustainability Institute. 11 of these residences are in a renovated Cape Dutch Estate Home that is a national monument. The remainder will be constructed during the course of 2004.
The Sustainability Institute's facilities include classrooms, library, meditation room, offices, canteen and kitchen, boardroom, and hall. The residences consist of units of 4 rooms, with shared kitchenette and bathroom facilities. The main house has a lounge, bar and restaurant.
The Spier Estate is located across the road from the Lynedoch Hamlet. This includes a 150 room upmarket hotel, four restaurants, an outdoor amphitheatre for the arts and a major winemaking facility.