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A Brief Overview of ZEGG

The Center for Experimental Cultural Design


In 1978, 10 men and women got together with the intention of addressing the pressing issues of our time. They came from various fields, from theology and medicine, the natural and social sciences and the arts. Their aim was to develop an overall concept for research into the future of humankind, and for the implementation of the resulting ideas.

Several areas were seen as needing to be addressed. One was to recognize the need for all humans to feel part of the direction of this planet, to be aware of their true usefulness, and to bring that sense of connection and excited responsibility and involvement back to the individual.

Within that, critical areas were recognized as needing to be addressed: ecology and health, war, fear and violence, the raising and preparing of children for their future as stewards of the planet, and questions of spirituality and love.

It soon became clear that, to create a humane world, the central ecological and social problems hinged on the most basic human issues, not fully appreciated for their influence on our lives. These were the issues of spirituality, community, love and sexuality. True and lasting healing of the earth would depend on the inner healing of the human being, and whatever unrecognized habits, structures and beliefs that promoted destructive patterns.

The group decided to conduct a three year social experiment: Fifty men and women were to live together in the Black Forest in order to address these basic human issues and to develop new perspectives in thought and action based on the experiences and insights they gained. This experiment started in 1983 and ended in 1986. The result of this work was the launching of "The Experiment for a Humane Earth." The Experiment For A Humane Earth could be considered a political project, not in the traditional sense, but in terms of the changes it proposed. It's main focus became a vision of authentic human goodness and humaneness, an absolute commitment to putting an end to all forms of violence on earth, including recognizing forms of violence commonly accepted as normal, and the acknowledgment of the essentialness of human love and sexuality.

Current Facilities:

By 1989, they were prepared to take their project to the next level and in 1991, after the Berlin wall came down, they purchased the center which is now known as ZEGG. The name ZEGG (Zentrum für experimentelle Gesellschaftsgestaltung), German for The Center for Experimental Cultural Design, demonstrates a key aspect of their philosophy of each human as a researcher of life. The property has 40 buildings on 42 acres and has housed as many as 100 full time residents and up to 500 guests.

Their network also includes La Massilla - The Center for Eros and Culture, also known as The Love Academy on the Canary Islands, and Tamera, their newest community in Portugal where their community success at ZEGG has brought them to the next step of forming a new cultural structure which will support a community of the next level, approximately 3000 people over the next 10 to 20 years.

Research and ZEGG University:

ZEGG University is the research and educational part of the project. It's intention is to bring people from all fields of science and from all areas of the world to share their research and knowledge. The larger focus of all this work is toward developing knowledge and skills necessary for a new nonviolent culture. Many courses, lectures and workshops are given in many fields such as architecture, permaculture, alternative energy, biological waste treatment, community dynamics, ecology, human relationships, art, music and interspecies communication.

The interest in interspecies communication resulted in 1992 in the design and construction of a dolphin research ship named the Kairos. It sleeps 24 crew and has a complete music and sound studio for doing communication research with dolphins.

Much of the research at ZEGG focuses on the study of the earth as a living organism and the conscious re-integration of the human being into the biosphere. It is believed that learning to think in a way that resonates with the earth and nature will reveal "soft power" solutions which are not reachable by current ways of thinking. The force with which a blade of grass penetrates a layer of asphalt is not the same as that used by a jackhammer.


ZEGG is an integrated community where research, work, play, child raising, socializing, and the lives of each member are all part of creating an alternative culture. The community aspects of self-responsibility, mutual support and transparency are a major focus. All political, economic and human processes that are important for the whole of the community are open and visible. Thinking in terms of the whole and the concept of transparency are seen as the qualities of living together that create trust and true cooperation.

One method of increasing transparency is the "forum". In the forum every kind of human question is presented publicly and gets the attention of the whole group. The forum is the glue that holds the community together. Handling the fear of being known and understood intimately is crucial to a sustainable community, as well as for a persons own growth. This area of human research is taken very seriously, and each person is encouraged to see themselves as a study of humanity and it's issues, without judgement, and that ones seemingly secret issues are in fact the issues we all share. Since the larger goal is the creation of a culture without fear or violence, where they are replaced by compassion, there is much attention given to understanding the sources of these fears and in creating trust. It is healing for the whole group to have individuals heal their own issues, since we have so much in common, and knowing and trusting this allows one to move beyond shame and guilt.


The children live in a children's center of their own where there are several full-time adults. Children are seen as needing love, understanding, attention, support and being allowed to participate. Giving the children a true sense of home is a major value of the community as it is seen as a vital to a child growing up with trust and security. Children are the seed of the next culture, and so the raising of children is a central theme.


A number of community groups in major cities in Germany have sprung up as a result of the inspiration and support of ZEGG. Since the philosophies of ZEGG focus on the basic human needs of love, support and a desire to make a difference, ZEGG is seen as the center for those interested in both personal and social growth. ZEGG University serves as a way to connect interdisciplinary and intercultural knowledge in addition to creating social contact. There are always a number of courses and workshops going on and during the summer there can be as many as 500 guests at the annual 2 week summer camp.

La Massillia - The Center for Eros and Culture on the Canary Islands serves a key role for the larger network as a retreat giving seminars and workshops devoted to the study of love, relationships and sexuality.

Many close connections have been made between facilitators at ZEGG and the "city groups" throughout Germany. Regular events are given in different cities to support the stability and growth of these groups. The vision in the larger network is that many of these small groups will continue to grow and become centers themselves to continue to support the growing number of people who are asking serious questions about ourselves, our relationships and the earth.

To contact ZEGG, see our Network Contacts page.

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