when art serves people

when art serves people
when art serves people

Familiafeliz is engaged in art and alternative gardening. In our vegetable garden and in the color garden with the art camp area we are surrounded by many little and big artworks.

Many people are frightened about artificial intelligence. They dont see that human mankind was giving birth throughout artificial intelligence: we call it nature.

Juan Petry

Its a pleasure to stay in such an environment. We believe: “good” art serves the people!

Many of our green friends (gardeners, permaculture activists) have a very special relation to art itself. They often feel strongly that nature and its exprressions in flovers and real bioconstruction is the most beautiful thing on earth. They are right in the sense of this natural source of artificial intelligence. The construction of a leave, the mecanism in a flower, all this is indeed a very beautiful expression of art.

But part of art is the social implication. Art as a human expression is a way to communicate, for the producer in a sillent intimite dialoge, and with the audience in a smart and sometimes very sustainable way.

We think, if a gardener is surrounded by positive expressions of artists, he will harvest later more tasty food for all of us.

Today (2019-12-18) we cleaned the ground under a little fruittree in the vegetable garden. It was a pleasure working in the sun, looking the amazing art around us.

The little mango tree is still alive and we covered the soft ground with some grass. The tree with the number 26 is registered in our database and we added the working session in the activities – log.

Familiafeliz charter – hungarian version available

familiafeliz charter - hungarian version
familiafeliz charter – hungarian version

Last month we posted the slovenian version of the charter (Thanks to Nina!!). Today we are able to publish the hungarian version as well.

We hosted Amanda in 2019 for some weeks as a volunteer. She was very creative in the kitchen and we enjoyed it a lot. Beside the fact that she experienced a lot of different cultures in the past she was highly interested in the concept and reality of our little decentralized living community.

Amanda showed up as as real european citizen. After studies in Denmark she returned to her country but she visited several other countries for post-studies.

Familiafeliz really address free spirits and social entrepreneurs like Amanda to form a new typ of community live by crossing borders mentaly and physically. In the post-BREXIT aera we talk about the free movement of ideas based of free movement of european citizens.

So we say thank you to Amanda and we hope we find some hungarian friends with interest in alternative community live in europe. Copy and share this information with all your (hungarian) friends.

The original version of our charter and all other translations are available here.

Somewhere over the rainbow – the healing snake – Part 1

Somewhere over the Rainbow - the healing snake
Somewhere over the Rainbow – the healing snake

In 2007 we inaugurated the first exhibition in the CASAdelDRAGON. Till the last moment we where working on construction. We finshed with a lot of help from friends and with the crew of David Sales – a local construction worker – the building of the gallery and we opened the exhibition in time. After 20 years we inaugurated the first exhibition “Amigos” with some artist friends of the region.

It looks like your mission is to challenge the people. You will not harvest the fruits but you place a lot of seeds.

Alison – artist and permaculture volunter

Nevertheless a lot of work in the house of the dragon was not finished. So we decided to review each year one room of the house. This will take us another 20 years after already 20 years of rebuildung the house. Some rooms where already used for years in the construction period, like the kitchen or the bathroom, some rooms where used but unfinished like the living room in the second floor. In winter 2019 we decided to spend time for the unfinished work of light installation in the staircases and some bedrooms and – as a big and long pending project – some plasterwork in the living room.

Somewhere over the Rainbow - the healing snake - start
Somewhere over the Rainbow – the healing snake – start

As part of this work we decided to place a snake in the open area of the staircase. First it was the idea to found a technical solution to cover a cable for a AC circuit / changeover but on the way it became a passionate art project – as ever.

First we placed some heavy duty dowels in the wall to support the weight of the snake. We calculated 300 to 400 kg including steal, mortar, plaster, glue and ceramics. Then we formed a structure with chicken wire and iron sticks. These iron is part of a donation of David Sales who helped us twelve years before to accomplish the mission of opening the gallery. Everything is linked to everything. Even the body of this snake is a remarkable quotation of the last 35 years of the house of the dragon and assembled with some historical construction material.

Later we used mortar to fill the wire and to give the animal a smart shape.

Somewhere over the Rainbow - the healing snake - structure
Somewhere over the Rainbow – the healing snake – structure

Because of the height in the staircase we had to prepare a working structure to reach all parts. So we separated the construction in two parts, the higher tail and the lower body of the snake with the head.

Somewhere over the Rainbow - the healing snake - shape
Somewhere over the Rainbow – the healing snake – shape

Overstanding material of the dowels was cutted and plaster gave a smarter shape. We started with a selection of ceramics from stock. This gave us the opportunity to use some old pieces we had as leftovers from the dragon and other sculptures. First we placed some leading colors – like the red – randomly over the skin to harmonize the later expression of the skin.

Somewhere over the Rainbow - the healing snake - colors
Somewhere over the Rainbow – the healing snake – colors

Working with mosaics is a very relaxing work. After two working sessions we finished the tail in the second floor.

Somewhere over the Rainbow - the healing snake - head
Somewhere over the Rainbow – the healing snake – head

In the first floor we focused the head of the snake. To shape the face we used carton and plaster.

Somewhere over the Rainbow - the healing snake - head volume
Somewhere over the Rainbow – the healing snake – head volume

To reduce the amount of material we used also old brick pieces.

Somewhere over the Rainbow - the healing snake - finished tail
Somewhere over the Rainbow – the healing snake – finished tail

After all we growted the tail with white cement and cleaned the ceramics several times. After one week we get a real impression of how it would look later.

The technical decision to use the body of a snake to cover a missing light cable was obvious. But by working on the sculpture we realised the message we recieved by placing this animal just in the staircase between 1st and 2nd floor. In many ancient mythologies the snake is a powerful symbol for fertility and a creative life force. Many of them shed their skins various times and therefor the snake became also a symbol of rebirth, immortality and medicine.

As all progress in construction in the house of the dragon it became an organic growing of an existing art intervention which took place in the same staircase several years ago. Sonia and Juan placed two shadows on the wall, one for each of them.

The rainbow snake of the Aborigines embodies the primordial state of nature in the state of the dreamtime and rules over her equaly life-giving and devouring aspects. So even the snake is leading up to our last guest from australia.

This is part one of the documentation of this artwork. We will continue to work on the project and we will post another part two lateron.

Memories – the altar of love

memories - the altar of love
memories – the altar of love

In late 2004 CASAdelDRAGON hosted a special guest. Christine from Germany was following an invitation for a short retreat. She arrived and was falling in love directly with trencadis, making mosaics out of broken ceramic pieces.

Some people make things happen. Some people watch things happen. And then there are those who wonder, ‘What the hell just happened?

Carroll Bryant (blogger and writer)

Her wish was, to connect herself to the location and to find a very personal contribution to our social art project. After helping in other construction she found her place, a hole in the wall of the living room, formerly a feeding trough for chickens, charged by an old pipe from backwards of the house.

memories - the altar get shape
memories – the altar get shape

Christine asked if it is ok, if she would put all her power in this project, even if it was not very important for the progress of finishing the bigger construction work in the house. We agreed with pleasure for two reasons. One: the concept of CASAdelDRAGON is to donate and receive donations. If we invite a person under such special personal circumstances we want to give peace and freedom to the guest. Two: we saw in her project a powerful sample of what this house of love (so titled by an artsit friend Rolf Habel) could deliver for its guests.

Christine contributed in daily work like washing dishes and laundry, cooking and cleaning. But every day after the breakfirst she started with her personal project for at least some hours.

memories - cleaning the environment of the artwork
memories – cleaning the environment of the artwork

Working with ceramic pieces is like a meditation. After one week Christine finished the project, happy and proud and much more relaxed than before.

memories - letting go of love means receiving love
memories – letting go of love means receiving love

The altar of Christine is since 2004 part of one wall of the living room in the house of the dragon. Everybody pass this location on the way to the terrasse. Many people are asking for this altar. And again and again its a gold reason to talk about all the helpers and supporters of the social project CASAdelDRAGON.

Christine prepared the altar itself. Later some guests used the space to place souveniers or little gifts. So the space became a comon spiritual place in the house, very personal, for a lot of followers.

Inside of the big social art project CASAdelDRAGON Christane created her own social art project, maybe without an intention for others but in the context of the dragon house finally it became a manifestion of a holy place, to remember the release of love to be able to receive the new one.

So everybody who donated a personal piece as a gift to this place repeated the mental journey of Christine.

The power of passion

the-power-of-passion - the dragon dream
the-power-of-passion – the dragon dream

In November 2017 Viane was facing some new challenges. After preparing a part of the working bench in our open kitchen near the vegetable garden she focused a grew wall. This wall is part of the kitchen structure and on top of a foundation layed out by Margret, Mariella and others in 2015.

If we realize how many people in the last years where working at this place: its amazing. Some of them had the chance to meet in place, some of them are not aware about the former or following worker. But all their work and contruction is part of the story of CASAdelDRAGON and FamiliaFeliz – and therefor also part of this story.

the-power-of-passion - giving birth to an idea
the-power-of-passion – giving birth to an idea

Viane started to draw a sketch on the wall. Over three days she was looking and thinking and trying to find the right proportion and expression. Finally she get very sure about her design.

the-power-of-passion - facing the crystal bullet
the-power-of-passion – facing the crystal bullet

The first dragon was showing up in the color garden. But it took more than 12 month to continue the work.

the-power-of-passion - wings get shape
the-power-of-passion – wings get shape

Antje and Corinna started to work from outside to inside. The selection of colors was decided by both of them. As a quotation to the dragon on the wall of the artist residence CASAdelDRAGON they selected also last leftover pieces of its lightful blue color.

the-power-of-passion - trencadis - being in a flow
the-power-of-passion – trencadis – being in a flow

The white glue (special product to stick ceramics on walls) is waterbased, usable for some hours and give enough time for relaxed progress.

the-power-of-passion - trencadis - all about love
the-power-of-passion – trencadis – all about love

As a passionate tribute to a big love Juan added the heart in the center in late 2018.

the-power-of-passion - trencadis - the finish
the-power-of-passion – trencadis – the finish

In spring 2019 Antje and Corinna finished the work in a two week session.

the-power-of-passion - trencadis - nearly done
the-power-of-passion – trencadis – nearly done

The dragon as a positive symbol of power and passion and health will be part of the history of the color garden. This dragon will focus the crystal bullet in the wall, aware about the future of this space.

the-power-of-passion - trencadis - the power of love
the-power-of-passion – trencadis – the power of love

In early summer the dragon was finished. He is waiting now for the next sessions around him to continue the work on this open kitchen.

We should never underestimate the power of passion, to create an idea, to start, to continue and to finish a joyful project. Even if it takes sometimes years to succeed we should never give up our dreams. What remains until the end: the power of love.

Cleaning up in the garden of Priapus

Cleaning up in the garden of Martas Home
Cleaning up in the garden of Martas Home

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.

refurbished compost pile
refurbished compost pile

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.

Martas Home - Fruits of the work
Martas Home – Fruits of the work

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.

Water moves life – life moves water

IBC tanks for watering infrastructure

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.

moving the water – collecting pallets

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.

cement stones and wood pallets to support more than 1 to per tank

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.

storage for more than 15.000 liter of water
storage for more than 15.000 liter of water

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.

Familiafeliz charter – slovenian translation available

familiafeliz charter – slovenian translation

Do good things and talk about it.

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 – the birth of a dragon

CASAdelDRAGON – the house of the mindful dragon

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.

Juan & Juan and Martina working on the dragon shape

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.

the dragons body with more than 500 kg of mortar

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.

Amigos I. – the first exhibition

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.

Its all about love – ever!!

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.

Kitchen sink design – Social art in progress – Part 1

open kitchen sink design – playing around with the design

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.

Juan Petry

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.

 open kitchen sink design - foundation and ibc tank placement
open kitchen sink design – foundation and ibc tank placement

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.

open kitchen sink design - Rebekka as a new bricklayer in action
open kitchen sink design – Rebekka as a new bricklayer in action

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.

 open kitchen sink design - basement and final position of the sink
open kitchen sink design – base and final position of the sink

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.

open kitchen sink design - worktable
open kitchen sink design – worktable

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.

open kitchen sink design - service hatch for dishes
open kitchen sink design – service hatch for dishes

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.

open kitchen sink design - re-use of pallet wood
open kitchen sink design – re-use of pallet wood

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.

open kitchen sink design - organic shape
open kitchen sink design – organic shape

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.

open kitchen sink design - natural fridge and storage under the worktable
open kitchen sink design – natural fridge and storage under the worktable

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

open kitchen sink design - worktable platform
open kitchen sink design – worktable platform

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.

open kitchen sink design - plastering around the bottles
open kitchen sink design – plastering around the bottles

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, Fron├žois, Sacha, Youri and Ivan.