How to Treat Volunteers?
And why are People Volunteering in Ecovillages?
Many motives have been put forward for the reason why people go abroad and look for volunteering work. As a volunteer himself, Rolf Grooten, 70, from Holland, raised the question in the group that he met in March of this year, 2015.
We are in the ecovillage-under-construction, Istria Park in Slovenia. Volunteers come from all over the world. While I was at the ecovillage there were people from France, Sweden, a young woman from Germany who spent the winter here, from Ireland, and the die-hards from Slovenia, of course.
People in their twenties, or thirties, have a lot in common as to why they are here: such as 'I want to see the world'; 'I do not know what I am going to do for work after my studies, so I start traveling a bit, while working and learning'; 'meeting other people and discovering who I am, and others can help me with this'; 'I was in a lot of stress at home with my family, so I thought: I just go traveling'; 'I want to learn about sustainable building and living and an eco-village seems the right place'.
When these volunteers are not 'twenty-something's' any more - like myself at nearly 70 years young - the reason can be to share the experience accumulated in a rich life. When my life is done, I want to have transmitted as much as possible. So I love to travel around and share my little tricks of the trade in living simply and building with anything that is available: Reduce, Re-use, Repair, and Recycle.
But there is more, of course. What about: Re-furbish, Re-store, Re-think, Re-imagine, Re-connect, Re-spect, Re-vere, Re-late, Re-flect, Re-cover, Re-plenish, Re-invent, Re-sist, and, eh, RE-FUSE of course!
For Ecovillages and start-ups who need help (who does not?), there are two very good networks that provide hosts and volunteers. They are WORK-AWAY and HELP-X.
All the persons present in Istra Park have found this place through one of those two media. I can recommend them as reliable and efficient partners in attracting volunteers for your eco-village:
It is useful just to have a look at different hosts and study their way of describing the help they need. It will save you a lot of wasted energy on volunteers who are not suited for your situation.
Define your situation, describe the work that is expected from volunteers, and discourage people who just want to hang around or look for a cheap place to stay (simply say so).
And be fair. Do not expect volunteers to work 10 hours a day because you are doing it.
It helps also if you set a minimum period for staying with you, so you do not lose lots of time by introducing new guests. And yes, volunteers are guests. Treat them like that and share as much with them as possible and you will be blessed (as a rule)!
Hosting volunteers is fun, if you organize it well. So enjoy, because life is meant to be fun!
Find testimonials from volunteers in Istria: http://parkistra.com/kdo-smo/pricevanja
P. S. there is also WWOOFERS, of course, to be more complete, but I cannot give first-hand experience about this one.