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Ecotopia Biketour: A different theme every year

The name “Ecotopia Biketour” already contains four key aspects which the project focuses on ever since:

  • Ecology/Sustainibility/Low-Impact-Living
  • Visiting inspiring alternative or struggeling places [topoi] (especially those that try to practically implement the above)
  • Bikes as our means of transportation and common identifier with bike culture projects we visit
  • Being a tour, meaning a travelling community or caravane – not just a relaxing “all-inclusive” beach holiday

Besides these and some other longstanding focusses, we chose a different main theme every year. It is used to identify and visit places that are especially connected to this theme. As a group, we try to focus a big part of our informal learning on this theme. Thus we constantly try to link everything we see, experience and learn to the main theme when we discuss or reflect upon our trip.

Past year’s themes have been “local and sustainable food” (2011) or “degrowth” (2012), to name some examples.

2013 Theme: “Borders, Boundaries and Beyond”

From a 2012 participant: "This year the tour crossed two national
borders – I witnessed one of these crossings during my stay. It
went along pretty unimpressive: Just a sign on the road. The topic
of borders wasn't discussed at all in our group, not even the
question to some of us, whether they were even able to cross these
borders easily with their passports. Now this can actually say
something about a group of people for whom national borders just
„don't count“, which I consider a healthy state of mind.
Nevertheless, leaving these powerful constructs totally out of the
view is obscuring a dark part of present-day society, as well as
important events of the past."

Berlin “Wall” Today

In 2013, we have chosen the theme “Borders, Boundaries and Beyond” to go into more detail about something that we do on every year’s bike tour: We are crossing and experiencing borders – mostly without talking about it. Especially if this takes part within the Schengen zone.
Once you start to think about how many things borders can mean, you also come across manifold ways to “experience” borders: Especially in Europe, you can cross almost invisible borders (e.g. Schengen Borders, Historical Borders, Language Borders, etc.), but also see and feel highly fortified ones (or their remains): The Berlin Wall, fences around Ceuta and Melilla, barbed wire in Calais. Sometimes borders coincide with natural phenomena like mountain ranges or rivers – sometimes they have literally been “drawn on the map”.
But apart from their physical presence, borders have influenced social and political life as well – not only since the Iron Curtain.

Berlin Wall before 1989

We are cycling to study borders in their broad sense, learn about how they shape societies and meet people whose lives have been deeply influenced by borders and/or who engage in cross-border activities.

Here‘s a small brainstorming mindmap about what borders can mean in 2013 and what could be used as a point-of-departure for discussions.

Some of the issues from this years theme are being explored on our blog>>>>

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