In greek mythology Priapus was was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens … and more… We enjoyed the warm summer days in 2019 to clean up the garden of Martas home, our german home unit. Again powerful family members where helping Antje and Corinna to clean the area around the compost pile and the chicken area.
In the history of Familiafeliz the house of the dragon was the first property and project, but the big plot in Germany hosted the first of our gardens. Here we planted the first fruit trees, prepared beds and havested salads and vegetables. Also it was the place to develop the chicken population based on Araucana , Amrock, Brahma, Sussex, Wyanddotte and others.
We developed a brave and healthy population by mixing these variations and preselect new generations of high productive females and strong males.
Even if nowadays most off the garden activity is happening in east spain in the colorgarden, the source of knowledge and joy was coming out of this garden in Germany.
And still the chicken unit in Germany is the oldest social community activity and involve several families (customers of fresh eggs) from the village and around.
If you want to visit Martas Home check out the next german information day on the front page or apply for volunteering here.
Since 2014 we develop the colorgarden – jardi d’colors / laboratori d’artistas – and bringing water to the plot was ever a challenge and still it is. In the beginning we had only one barril of 200 liters and a little peugeot car and some buckets. Water in the garden was ever a valuable treasure.
By expending the infrastructure with more than 30 raised beds in the vegetable garden and a educative aquaponics project we added step by step ibc tanks to be able to store more water.
Also we started to use a trailer to be able to transport 1000 liter at once. To give the ibc tanks a stable support we used second hand wood pallets.
To support the heavy installation and to prevent the pallet wood from termites we used cement stones as a foundation. This keep the wood dry after rain. We also divided the infrastructure in different segments to reduce water loss by accidents and leaks in the water pipes.
Also we segmented the infrastructure for different usage: art camp, tree watering, open kitchen, vegetable garden.
The ibc tanks are refurbished and primary used in the food industry, mostly for lemon juice transport.
Some visitors are criticizing that the usage of ibc tanks and the transport of water by car and trailer in such little quantities of 1000 liter is not sustainable and not helpful at all. They suggest to harvest rain water or water from our asequia would be much more efficiant. They are right in general but to create a bigger central deposite we need an investment of more than 5000 Euros. We need actually between 50.000 and 100.000 liter of water per year for watering, service (kitchen, shower and sinks) and construction. To compare this: a four-person household requires on average about 164 cubic meters (164.000 liter) of drinking water per year. We welcome between 50 and 200 visitors per year in our community and we have sometimes lunch and dinner for groups up to 60 person in the garden and we are watering the plants as little as possible.
The main decision is still, to start with what we have and what we can support. Instead of waiting for subventions or funds we start and we keep our installation – as much as possible – independent from public water supply and we start with planting fruit trees – which will take years to get a certain amount of fruits. These growing trees willl spread some shadow in the vegetable garden and this will reduce watering, als well as the deep roots of trees will lift huminity in the upper region of the soil.
Re-using local materials, re-use water from sinks, showers and open kitchen and restrained watering of plants will lead us to the best possible solution, which is for sure not the best solution.
As a side effect our restricted water handling is a good sensibilisation for our guests. The 50 kids of a german high school used less than 1000 liter in one week for shower and sink. The installation of 3 dry toilets was supporting this.
Volkmar Schultz – former member of german parliment
Now, more than 30 months after publishing the final draft of the charter of familiafeliz in english we are happy to publish the slovenian version .
We didn’t expected a specific growth of the community at this time, nor we do now. But we where hoping that this document would help us to spread the message of a contemporary alternative living community and its values and goals.
We invited a lot of guests in the last years to have a closer look to the reality of our community. We didn’t overastimated the PROs and we didn’t underastimated the CONs of our living reality. Even by showing the weakness of the community and the limitations of its members we tried to create and to maintain the social space for personal happiness.
Again and again we saw people coming, full of illusions about sustainability and just checking ressources and looking for their own benefits. Even we donated accommodation and food to people, who where not willing to donate this to others.
We maintained this open door to be able to find people to share this contemporary idea of living together in a weak community with powerful members.
We enjoyed a lot of discussions about communty life and social values and even the charter was a lot of times a useful reference for this.
In fact, it works! – After all this time we – the members of familiafeliz – still feel very comfortable with this charter and its implications for our daily life. We have no tendency to change it. Even some very critical comments from visitors made us more sure about its values.
Also we noticed that our way of life is still inspiring for some guests. Especially the international background of these guests motivates us to spread the message of how we could organise people in peace and happiness into the world. Quoting an old friend and politician, it make sense for us to publish now the slovenian version of this charter. Maybe we find some slovenian people interested in international and decentralised communities. So we send this message in the bottle (by using social media).
Very grateful we say thank you to Nina for the translation. With her professional background as a translater for the European Commission and her social skills and her profund questions she opened another door for us to spread the message of a community in which the currency for interaction is donation. As we received Ninas donation of this translation we will donate it to the slovenian community, to people looking for another way of life, with pleasure.
Memories… with this article we open a new category in our blog. From time to time we will look back and we will add a piece of history about the roots of familiafeliz to the common memory of the internet. There was a form of life before the rise of the internet, yeap!
In May 2000 we started to build the dragon on the wall of our house. It became later a symbol for the spirit and mission of our spanish home.
To understand the allegory of the dragon on the wall we have to step back to 1979. At this time Juan was a high school student and he was invited by the teacher to prepare a lecture about the greek philosophers Sokrates / Platon. By preparing the lecture he fall in love with greek mythology and the way of storytelling. At the same time he was studying chinese IGING and the rich animal-based chinese mythology. The chinese dragon Long is a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people.
In 1986 Antje, Juan and a lot of family members and friends started to rebuild the ruine in the Calle Las Parras 19 in Cervera del Maestre. In the begining Juan was looking local TV in some lonely evenings to get used to listen Castellano. He was really surprised to watch spanish TV. Nearly every news about foreign countries was about a country in Latin America. In every news he watched minimum one notice about Cuba and Castro… Europe… european politics… that didn’t happened in Spain TV at that time.
Fourteen years later we arrived at the top of the house and decided to add a big sculpture on the highest wall. This sculpture should deliver its own story, the story of outstanding people and beautiful memories of community life. And it should give a hint on the future, of the house, of the village and of Spain.
The dragon is placed around the chimney shaft. The dragon enjoy the warm temperature of the place. He is looking over the highest terrasse of the house and he is facing the north.
The dragon, as a chinese symbol for power, strength and good luck, is looking to the future of Spain. This future will be much more defined by what happened in Europe (in the north).
Based on the concept and a raw design Martina – a beautiful mind and professional german stage designer located in Cologne – worked out the body of the dragon in detail. On a roadtrip to the south – to visit the castle of Alcala de Xivert in the Sierra d’Irta – Gabi, Antje and Juan passed a place of an truck accident on the national road N340. Beside the street they harvested a lot of broken blue ceramic pieces.
After 3 weeks of work the top of the wall and the dragon became alive. Short after this the people from Cervera del Maestre named the house CASAdelDRAGON.
When we curated the first exhibition in the gallery of the dragon house in 2007, we decided to use the image of the dragon for the invitation card, as a common brand for the new art gallery in the village of Cervera del Maestre.
By delivering invitation cards in the region (Amposta, Alcanar, Vinaros, Benicarlo, Peniscola, Morella) we discovered that the house was well-kown from its sculpture on the wall.
A lot of guests enjoyed the first exhibition in the gallery. Many of them helped a lot in the last weeks before the opening. Some people where thinking that we quoted the history of the local dragon FARAM. It was not the case. The dragon on the top of CASAdelDRAGON is a more mindful, wise and peaceful version. In fact we added a new dragon to the history of the village and many years later the local youth started to celebrate their dragons in a yearly festival.
Since 2007 the CASAdelDRAGON organised more than 30 exhibitions localy and in other european countries together with professional art partners. The dragon is still looking to the north and is giving us a hint, from where we will receive our future.
The dragon is also a brave and strong commitment to Cervera del Maestre. Over the last 50 years the wonderful citizens of this village welcomed foreigners from all over the world and more than 100 people from different nationalities (France, Belgium, Netherlands, England, Poland, Ukraine, Norway, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Australia, Switzerland…) decided to settle in the village. The spanish home of familiafeliz is bounded to the house of the dragon and all its visitors and guests. In Chinese culture, excellent and outstanding people are compared to a dragon. Our dragon welcomed more than 100 visitors per year, some where attracted by art, education or community life, others by gardening or bio construction. Some stayed for days, others for months. A lot of them became friend with the mindful dragon on the wall. All of them where really outstanding people. They created CASAdelDRAGON as a community work, with the dragon on the top.
In September 2019, we decided to add a kitchen sink to the open kitchen project in the art camp. After building different fireplaces and a rocketstove, we wanted to add an option to clean dishes nearby, instead of having to move them back and forth between the Casa del Dragon and the garden.
A key element of the project was to re-use waste water from the dishwashing process to water plants in the lower art camp garden area, especially the fruit trees.
The wise creator knows that he is only a facilitator, using what is donated to him by others.
Together with Rebekka, we played around with potential shapes of the sink area around an old almond tree. We talked a lot about the workflows and processes of serving food, collecting dirty dishes, cleaning and storing them for another lunch or dinner session.
Besides ergonomic and logistic issues, we focused on the social aspects of cleaning dishes. We wanted it to be possible for the dishwashing station to be used by several people at once, allowing for small teams to work together. We also wanted the people washing dishes to be able to communicate with others nearby.
Once we agreed on a suitable design for the kitchen sink area, we started to build the foundation of the sink, the main part of the construction. When we decided on the location of the foundation, we considered that the nearby dry stone wall would need to be repaired in the future, respected the roots of the almond tree and allowed for enough working space for the dish washing team.
For the foundation, we used small natural stones. A refurbished ibc-conformed pallet was placed on top of cement stones. This construction supports the weight of the water tank and the elevation protects the pallet wood from termites.
Wherever possible, we used old construction materials. Iron pieces were used to increase the stability of the wall, holding nearly 600 kg of weight (0.6 cubic meter of waste water) in form.
Even the sink is a refurbished piece that was donated by a friend (thanks to Angie!). To clean and fertilize the waste water, plants will be placed in the open area of the abc tank.
After finishing the raw structure of the sink, we added a worktable. In reference to the design of the open kitchen, we repeated a circular cutout between to pillars.
On one side, we added a space to collect dirty dishes. On the other side, we placed a service hatch for clean dishes. In the foundation, we placed a hole for better ventilation. It will be covered by a fine net to protect the inside from little animals.
The construction will also protect the stored items from the sun. The service hatch is designed to cover around 60 dishes and protect them from rain and dust.
Wherever we established a construction in a certain height we find glases and bottles lateron. A lot of visitors are likely to put used stuff wherever they stay. To work a bit against this habit we created a organic shape around the sink table. Later it will be also an invitation for next mosaic workshops to find another place to play with colors.
Nearly 300 bottles where used to create the circular wall, giving the worktable a solid foundation. In the center, we constructed a natural fridge, using a
We raised the outer arch of the circular shape and placed a piece of wood on the inner arch to create a frame for a 6 cm thick concrete platform. Small recycled iron pieces were added to the concrete, to increase the stability of the structure.
Next, we added plaster around the bottles and experimented with a new mix (6 soil : 1 cement : 1 lime). The challenge was to use the right scree to prepare the best mixture.
This kitchen sink is a piece of social art, supported and done by many people. One of the biggest contributors was for sure Rebekka. But also people like Angie from Benicarlo and David from Cervera donated materials to this structure. Many people collected bottles. Guests of the Casa del Dragon, like Amanda and Nina, prepared dinners for the hungry bricklayers. Others carried construction materials to the location. We have to honor all these people helping us to make this possible. Special thanks to Nina, Fronçois, Sacha, Youri and Ivan.
In Summer 2019 we continued with some artwork in the open kitchen area of the color garden. The workspace for food, pizza dough and bread near the big oven in the dry stone wall became a work of art.
Our friend and guest in the CASAdelDRAGON Lisa joined this ceramic mosaic project. Like many other helper and supporter she contributed with a personal work and gave her “fingerprint” to the whole project of the color garden in Cervera del Maestre.
Like other little projects this is real teamwork. By changing the position of working the group can balance the mix of colors, therefor the final result is looking like made by one single person.
Happy workers are enjoying their result. The new working space will be used in the open kitchen to prepare the food like pizza dough, bread or salads.
By enjoying the photos we like to remind you, that this social project of the color garden in spain is only possible because there are people behind the szene, working and donating to this.
It was a pleasure to be able to invite a friend like Lisa for a short retreatment in the CASAdelDRAGON. But we should keep in mind, its only possible because other silent beautiful minds are supporting a lot: Thanks to Eddy (Happy birthday!)and Angela !
Information day – Familiafeliz | 2019-10-26 | 12578 Cervera del Maestre | Castellon | Spain
Obviously this greek mythology based title might irritate some guests of our upcoming information day but by looking closer to the ancient creation myths we find evidence for a neverending challenge of human mankind to substitute chaos and darkness with cosmos and light. Familiafeliz explore and develop a social space for personal happiness.
You should know in which type of game you are in – we are part of an infinite game.
If you are interested in exploring an alternative way of living together in peace and harmony, embedded in social activities and a healthy environment and in friendly neighbourhood to classical societies, you are welcome.
We don’t share, we donate – and it’s important to understand the difference.
In most of the given economical systems you find always these clever people accumulating most of the ressources after a short time of grows and stability. If you organise people based on deals there are always some of them, being able to make the better deals. In Darwins competition modell this was an advantage in a growing market economy (last 5000 years) and it leads to an agony in competive market economies (next 5000 years).
If you sell and buy you organise your life in a classical economy. You divide societies in winner and looser. If you share you are focused more on social points than on money. Nevertheless you want to deal with you altruistic habit.. And a lot of times these commmunity designs leads to political, religious or environmental activism (and dogmatism).
We do not want to guide you in organising your daily life, we do not define what you should eat, should vote for or should believe, nor where you should want to live on this planet.
We host between 50 and 100 guests per year and a lot of times the visitors are wondering where this community showes up, and what are the binding features and advantages of being member of such an open minded weak community.
Redesign your idea of community! – Communities are created sometimes by locations (farmhouse), by terretories (country) or by skills (language), other are created by actions (platoon) or by believes (religion).
Familiafeliz is a communitiy based on a simple idea: well-beeing by donation without expectation.
Most societies are guiding their members by fear. Some of these members get tired and they like to leave these places of indoctrination. We might attract some of them but we are not a safe harbour being able to protect them from their fear: not, because we don’t want, because we can’t.
Leaving your comfort zone is a very personal journey and Familiafeliz try to establish a possible destination for those, who are looking for an alternative way of being by recommending their own responsability for their actions.
A lot of single mothers are asking us: how many kids are in place? A lot of environmental activists are asking us: do you reject to take airplanes and do you work on permaculture? A lot of spiritual people are asking us about gathering, ceremonies and meditation practice on a daily basis.
We try to be honest at all time and we give our answers based on the actual situation. But the real answer behind all this is: all this is up to you! Familiafeliz is not a ruleset and a new member has to fit in, it is a stage for personel development embedded in a trib of people gathered by the idea of respect and attention for the other and her / his well-being.
If you are curious to explore an alternative way of living for yourself, if you have time and ressources to meet us, we are happy to welcome you and to enjoy our information day with you. We can learn from you.
CASAdelDRAGON in Cervera del Maestre in Castellon is a hotspot of contemporary art and invited the musician Andreu Ubach to perform one night with his extraordenary sound sculptures in the gallery.
Ubachs instruments are manufactured by himself, inspired by the Bachet brothers.
On Monday night Ubach explained and played on various sound sculptures and invited the guests to join the social process of making the sound of love.
In the beginning everybody was to shy to touch one of the impressive instruments. But Ubach and his charme moved everybody to join the performance.
Finding his own rhythm again and again and stimulate the other players to join his sequences is a big challenge for a professional drummer like Jordi Effe. But finally after more than 2 hours of constaniously playing the sound became a solid body and emitted some beautiful sequences of impressive melodies.
By changing position and instrument the group discovered again and again new rhythms and collages of sound pieces.
The very special accoustic environment of the little exhibition space in the house of the dragon moved the sound to magical impressions.
Overall we have to say thank you to Andreu Ubach for his short visit. We also want to underline the big help of Cecile in preparing the space and performing with Andreu in such an harmonic way that all guests where fascinated and impressed and highly motivated to join the performance.
The invitation to join social art projects is a neverending challenge for our community and we hope, guests like Jordi will carry these invitations ot other members of the village and abroad.
We grabbed some videos and sounds and we will publish it soon as possible.
In early summer 2019 Mihaela and Laura invited me to offer a workshop as part of her alternative schooling project in the village of Valenii de Munte, one and a half hours far from Bucharest.
To raise a child, it takes a whole village
Mihaela Stinghe (mother of 2 children, located in Bucharest) is doing homeschooling since more than 5 years and she developed several strategies to improve the outcome of her desire of an alternative and valuable education for her children. On one side she invites as much as possible other youth to join her activities and in summer 2019 she organised a little summer camp in her countryside mansion. On the other she invites other mothers like Laura to join the educative part and to expand the possibilities for the kids to develop relations to various adults.
With my invitation she went a step further. She challenged herself and the group to interact with a foreigner by using a foreign language and to share leadership in the design of daily activities.
In a first step the kids had to move hundred of old bricks from an neighbors garden to the right location, to select broken once, to pile them under different criteria.
They washed the bricks by using water from a river nearby and the tagged the wooden construction by drawing the outline of their hands and adding their names.
The youth measured the basement, cutted some roofing felt and calculated the amount of bricks we would need to create the basement of the oven. Then they started to fill the gaps between the stones with mortar.
Like baking a cake they tried to follow again and again the right recipe to mix the mortar and to finish the foundation (6 and + 2 cal + 2 cement + water). They also figured out how to center the iron barrel to define the fire chamber location on top of the basement.
The fire chamber under the iron barrel will heat up the inside of the barrel and therefor it has to carry the barrel. The engaged brick layer is discovering a suitable strategy to put bricks in place as well as not to loose the shape of the design of the chamber.
With creating the fire chamber we finished the first day of the workshop. The four stones at the top corners will support the iron barrel.
In the second day the youth continued the work to clean bricks, to select right dimensions, to mix mortar and to add them in a stable way to the construction. The preliminary end is shown on the left photo.
Organic education is a way to implement a social space for self orientated learning of youth in a natural environment. Some ingredients have to take place to improve alternative education.
Adults are initiating an activity and they are explaining goal, milestones, reason and motivation to do it. They advertise for help. They give up control in any step soon as possible and don’t try to push the outcome nor the daily results. They don’t judge about the individual contributions to the group result. They accept a different progress for all individuals. They even accept errors and failures as much as possible and if these mistakes need to be fixed they used them to offer the youth to develop strategies to fix it or to find workarounds.
They also accept all limitations of a given situation (technical or logistical problems or economic challenges). They explain their motives for any kind of interventions.
Homeschooling can be part of organic education if it leads to these habits of guidance. The isolation of one teacher in a classical school class is not a good foundation of sustainable learning, therefor also the single mother at home might be not a good idea.
Informal education is based on the social space in with a individual kid can decide about subject, teacher and time. In this workshop my subject was defined but it was so open and weak that below every youth could find a suitable activity (calculating, moving bricks, brick laying, mixing mortar, cleaning bricks or even playing basket ball, cooking, serving lunch or dinner).
More and more the Romanian society is suffering from loosing well-educated youth to other European countries. The only way throughout this might be to redesign education and to support initiatives like Mihaelas and to explore and develop alternative ways.
We have to realize that homeschooling might not be a solution for all youth in a society, because not all parents are capable to deliver this. Organic education is a way of education more than a quality of classical or alternative environments. It could take place in both, and it could lead to a future in which it might be a link between classical and alternative education, to gather the best of both ways.
Thanks to Mihaela, Laura, Pic and Serban for the opportunity to enjoy this experience. Thanks to Familiafeliz and my social network to cover costs and to support this workshops.