The ancient art powering the ecobrick movement, principles, means and methods.
Mandalas are an ancient and sacred art that can be found in every culture and religion of the world. A mandala can be as simple as a circle drawn in the sand, as beautiful as a cathedral rose window, or as sophisticated as a multi-terraced Mayan pyramid facing the stars. Like a flower, mandalas unfold outwards from the center, taking a pattern of their own.
In ancient times mandalas underlied temples, rituals and art. For centuries, the process of mandala making was used as a therapy to find insights and healing. Today, we use the principles of the mandala to guide the unfolding of the global ecobrick movement.
The ecobricking methods and principles of the Global Ecobrick Alliance (GEA) are developed from ground up along he principles of mandalic collaboration. We use this process to guide both the process and results of the GEA and the ecobrick movement.
To understand the way that the ecobrick movement works mandalically, it is helpful to look at ancient mandalic traditions. Mandalas have been used throughout the ages as a means to hold intentions, elevate consciousness and guide collaborations. Mandalic arts are found on every continent throughout history.
One such tradition is that of the Tibetans. Tibetan monks have used mandalas both as process and medium for almost a thousand years. They used the mandala making process as a from of meditation to purify and heal the mind and to come together as a group or community. They also used mandalas as an end-art.
Unlike paintings or sculpture, ancient mandala making always lent itself to be a collaboration. In the same way that medieval craftsmen would make a Church rose window, or iron age communities would make a stone circle, Tibetan monks would work together to make a mandala with colored sand. Their mandalas were made around a specific intentions: perhaps blessing a new temple, asking for peace in a conflict, harmony in a community, etc. The process affected not only the makers of the mandala, but those observing the process and the final creation. In so doing the collective consciousness of the surrounding community would be raised towards the focus of the intention.
Tibetan mandalas are circular in more ways than one. The end of their mandala is intended from the very beginning. In a symbol of the impermanence of all things and a representation of the cycle of creation and destruction, monks will destroy a mandala after it has sat for only a a few days or weeks. All the colored sand will be mixed up by hand, collected, and brought to a river. There it is ceremoniously scattered as a blessing– to share the coalesced energy and intention with the rest of the world.
Ecobricking, shares the intention of blessing the world. Although, we’re not always making a physical mandala like ancient asian and european craftsman (though milstein modules and earth benches are certainly mandalas!), underlying ecobrick endeavors is the spirit of of mandalic collaboration.
When the ancients set out to build a stone circle, everyone in the community joined in a process that often last centuries. In the same way as that ancients came together around an intention and all worked together to make it happen, through the Global Ecobrick Alliance, this site and through our various resources, we help hold an intention for plastic transition that is clear and accessible. This way, others that resonate, may unite and add their energy to the shared intention through ecobricking.
Just like the Tibetans would come together to bless a space with their mandala and intention, our intention is meant as a blessing for the planet (see our dedication). Through a monk’s meditative process, mandala making was healing for mind and body. In the same way our ecobricking is healing and regenerative for our local ecosystems– and us.
In the same way that the monks planned from the beginning the destruction of their creation, in all our ecobricking making and building, we think about the end of our creations. We call this circular design and it underlies how we pack ecobricks and how we build with them. Ecobrick modules and circular ecobrick earth benches don’t just look like mandalas, their end and destruction is also planned.
The geometry of an unfolding sand mandala is open and predicable so that many monks may join and contribute. In the same way, we strive to make ecobricking as accessible, open as possible. We’ve thus designed methods that don’t rely on capital, machines or special skills so that anyone, anywhere can copy them.
We have fancy words for these principles: circular design, open source, trans-petroleum, and transcaste. But it is really as simple as making sure that all our methods and mediums are replicable. In this way we enable anyone who resonates with our intention of plastic transition to join us and copy the insights we’ve already got to. Because of this, we’re proud of the incredible spirit of collective innovation that underlies the global ecobrick movement. Ecobrickers are always improving and innovating new ways to put their plastic to use. In some cases, their journeys take them right out of the ecobrick movement (Jo, one of our cofounders now happily makes ubuntublox). And that’s just great!
Of course, its not about ‘where’ we our movement is moving to, what’s important is the direction we’re pointed in.
Mandalic principles– blessing-focused, circular and collaboration powered– serve as a compass for the Global Ecobrick Alliance and the ecobrick movement as we see our ayyew and regenerative visions into reality.
The methodology and principles of mandalic collaboration were developed and refined by GEA co-founder Russell Maier. You can read more about the philosophy of mandalic collaboration on his site.
You can also read more about GEA and ecobrick principles here.
See examples of the GEA’s use of mandalas in constructions and workshops…
Mandalas are an ancient and sacred art that can be found in cultures and religions around the world. Mandalas harness circular geometry and symmetry to create a pattern filled with meaning, symbolism and intention. Their creative process enables one or more folks to come together and organically unfold consciousness raising co-creations.
Mandalic design is a fundamental to ecobricking– so you’ll find mandalas throughout the work of ecobrickers around the world.
About the GEA
We're not a company, nor an NGO. The Global Ecobrick Alliance is a principled, not for profit, Earth Enterprise focused on deep plastic transition.
Read more about mandalas in an essay by GEA principal Russell Maier: