CASAdelDRAGON – the spanish location of familiafeliz – is a artist residence since more than 30 years. We hostet artists from all over the world. The visual artist Arlo Laibowitz visited us several times in 2018 and 2019. He partizipated in exhibitions, art performances and in the daily life in the familiafeliz community.
Artists are coming and going all the time. Arlo gave us a strong impact and high motivation to continue the project of hosting artists and give them space to develop their art projects. In a microeconomy driven world it might be not easy for a non profit orientated project without any public or private funding to organise accommodation, catering, hosting and social art activities but artists are also creative in finding solutions for that.
Arlo is working worldwide (Las Vegas, Shanghai, Barcelona, Valencia) and part of the burning community and engaged in figuring out new art performances based on temporal installations all the time.
Uncertanty is the space for evolution and the emergent feature of Love. Happy birthday, Arlo!
Arlo is a storyteller and he tells his stories by using the wide range of media which is available for contemporary artists of this century.
In his new project he will create a tree of love for the upcoming burning event NOWHERE 2019. He used crowdfunding to succeed (deadline beginning of june 2019). CASAdelDRAGON offer the space for premanufacturing the segments. Arlo will gather a group of supporters to prepare and move the parts to the festival in summer 2019.
Virtual worlds and media are playgrounds to discover and simulate reality in a laboratorial environment, but we should bring into account that we do this to face a glimp of reality and to get closer to the brain of others.
Arlo is passionated in cooking as well as in using all media to deliver the story, to reach the other, to get in touch with the audience and to get in touch with himself.
Nowhere is a good sample for his journey. It is a project to gather people, to enjoy the moment and to share happiness. The temporary momentum of the Tree of Love will remind us, to enjoy this moment.
The compost stack location we are calling Camp David as an homenage to our friend David from UK who was initiating the structure years ago. In May 2019 we started to repair and expand the space.
We can not control what happen, we have to control what it means.
Gerhard Schröder, former Prime Minister (1998-2005) of Germany
First we unmounted the rotten pallet wood and cutted wild herbs around the corner of the dry stone wall.
Later we prepared the foundation. We cutted the roots of the wild herbs as deep as possible and we separeted soil, little stones and roots.
We moved some natural stones from the Art Camp to Camp David. These stones where part of the dry wall where we have now the pizza oven. Have a closer look to the weel – the tire was a bit damaged after this tour…
As part of our strategy to minimise costs and entropy we used some bricks from local construction companies. The bricks came out of a old house in the village of Cervera del Maestre. The advantage for the construction company is easy to understand: less costs for garbage disposal.
In the frontline we places some of the heavy natural stones. Inbetween we placed some little stones and we added bricks from the backside to level the stone height for a next line of natural stones in the front side. The advantage of the little stones behind the bigger stones is given by the fact, that we expect a lot of water coming out of the bigger dry stone wall behind. In october 2018 we had 300 liter per square meter in less than 5 hours. The little stones behind and the pieces of bricks are holding back the soil.
On the way we used some carton to give lower wild herbs a strong disadvantage to grow.
According to the second law of thermodynamics you might have a closer look to this project. As we identify life in general as a system to lower entropy inside itself by rising the entropy outside in its environment even alternative communities should think about their environments before they judge to fast.
Rejecting the waste of the classical society – in this case the old construction material – would not transform and redisign a unwanted behaviour. The bricks are older than 400 years. They where burned in a time of less polution and smog. In the world of cosmetics these bricks are valued like gold for this.
If we want to establish another way on looking at the so called waste we have to expand the time frame in which we are acting. If you are just looking on the moment in which somebody dump construction waste into a bio dynamic garden area you will not get the whole picture. The bricks are manufactured in the 15th century. They are a very good storage of water. In storing the water they grow and get pulverized.
If you are looking the time frame of 1000 years you will start with a mineral material used 500 years to support life in a ancient house in Spain and you will continue with a water storage for the next couple of centuries. Finally you will end with a mineral material.
Less entropy equals more social behavior.
Camp David get famous in a historical view in being part of the peace process in middle east (1978). Whatever we do, we will meet a political implication. In this little project we try to make peace with the waste by using them in a best possible way, equal if it is the organic part inside of the compost stacks or the old bricks from a ruin in the mountains of Spain.
Permacultura Penyaflor is a hotspot of Permaculture activities and informal education near Tortosa in Catalunya. The space is founded by Cecile Thevenot and she invited a group of youth from Barcelona in 2019 to have a closer look to alternative living in the countryside.
Count by yourself: you can enjoy the illusion of a result once or you can enjoy every moment of the process.
The workshop (2 days, each time 4 hours) ended with success. The youth where able to test the stability of their work.
… but it was not the end of the story…
To protect the young plants form too much sunlight we added a roof with canyas. This amazing invasive plant is growing everywhere around rivers and creeks in Spain and was since ancient time a useful material for construction. It is flexibel and easy to move and to handle.
We connected the canyas with nods in two lines and linked them sometimes to the wood construction below.
To protect the plants from direction south west we used palm leafs between canyas. 8 leafs where enough for 3 square meter of wall (an it took us 5 minutes to fix it).
To have space for heavy pots with water and plants we used old wood from pallets.
After 6 hours we where ready to move all plants into the new buildung.
Life is a process, and – for us – infinite. The session of the youth was a milestone to reach the goal of having a shelter for the young plants. Cecile, a wwoofer from France and Juan continued the work.
Our world is focused on results, but in a process driven world a final result is an illusion. This shelter will be never finished and it will need attention and care over the next years. But on the way to return to compost and food for new generations of humans this shelter will be useful for the purpose of having shadow for the young plants of Permacultura Penyaflor.
The opposite of right for pessimists is wrong, for optimists it is left.
Compost is wellknown in literature. Homer wrote about it, Aristotle developed a theory of compost / humus. And if you have a closer look at the food chain, compost and all its creatures are the hidden leader in the circle of life.
David established a bigger location for our compost handling early in 2016 and maintained the space later in his short and long visits since 2018. This camp of bacterias and mushrooms is an important factor in our garden design.
Again and again David was unhappy with the situation and status of the stacks and the mixture of indrediences in the three different chambers.
According to Murphy all what might be able to go wrong will go wrong and even what might not be able to go wrong will go wrong equal.
Actually the fourth or fifths generation of supporters and contributers are maintaining the compost. And a lot of times we find new bio waste in the wrong section or useless quantities of gras or hay on top.
The compost as a symbol of health and life is also a good sample for the challenge to bind together people coming and going in a very dynamic environment to act for a specific usefull purpose.
We are not able to establish a ruleset, and not, because we can not create a list of rules under which the compost should be used. We have no chance to push through these rules and to keep them alive.
The only thing we can do is to invite people to use it in a propper way. And the minimum of right is here the right stack.
For sure we will not have the best compost, but we have the best possible compost.
The location is a bit abandoned in May 2019 and we hope we will add soon the section for terra preta (by using the materiall from the dry toilets).
The compost reminds always to the circle of life. So we are waiting for a new circle in developing this camp of davids compost stacks, as well as we are waiting for a return of its creator.
In April 2019 Permacultura Penyaflor hosted a group of youth from Barcelona. The group visit was organized by a local NGO from Sant Andreu and the reason for the trip to the south was, to give the youth some experience of alternative living in the countryside.
Cecile Thevenot offered some workshops and a guided tour passing important locations and installations on the plot.
Permacultura Penyaflor, Cecile and all the other helpers are donating their knowledge to a lot of guests per year, neither Cecille charged any money for hosting these 20 people for one week.
Cecile is very engaged in the region and abroad about Permaculture and alternative sustainable living in the countryside. She is aware about missleading effects of mass-consumption and together with herr old friend Pep and members of her family and wwoofers and friends and neighbours she try to establish Permacultura Penyaflor as a hotspot of alternative farming, alternative tourism and alternative education.
All this is happen without subvention, without any care or help of the surrounding society and even most of the parents of the youth from Barcelona had never heard anything about this amazing project in the south of Catalunya.
In ancient societies – and till now in some asian countries – it was a common behaiviour for guests to use the toilet of the host after being invited for lunch or dinner. These grounded people where knowing that organic waste has value (like the food) and is itself part of the natural alimentation of a vegetable garden.
When Cecile cook her hands deep in the waste she was searching for some insects and worms to explain the natural circles around compost. The youth where uncertain about this contact with “mother earth” but they where looking and listening carefully and concentrated. Nobody had to call for order. Nobody had to explain why this might be a pure and important lesson for life. Youth still have a fine sense to realize the importance of a source of knowledge.
In one other workshop we offered the group to build a shelter, mostly by using local organic material from the plot. The shelter will support shadow for young plants in summer and should be also a stable host against strong winds and to much rain.
By talking about tripods, triangles, nods, dimensions and construction principals we talked about mathematics, physics and chemics. It came along on the way to solve problems (stability of the construction, purpuse, risks) and it was not mentioned as a classical education session. Most important we talked 5 minutes about a technical solution to reach a stable position for a pillar and we worked hours on that.
Can you believe it, no smartphones at all… we as the trainers and teachers of this informal education events are paid with total attention by the youth. Looking in their faces we imagine the concentration in something important, a feeling of ballance between inside and outside.
Nothing is greater than the experience of realizing a project in a team and feeling the sense of engagement. Beside other positive sideeffects for the individual mental state we have to underline the fundamental advantage of informal learning: it is learning for a purpose, defined by the learner, not by the teacher.
Modern societies seperated the space for learning from the space for doing it. This was mostly initiated from weak members of a society who wanted to escape from the space of doing it, motivated by the advantage not to be in the global competition. The price we all pay for this are less and less well educated youth for complex modern contemorary societies.
Again and again each generation think it might know what is the best for the next generation by treating them with their old fashioned values. Again an again the outcome of people realize by taking their first individual steps in the society that they are not prepared for what they had to be prepared for. And again and again they route their children to the same temples of classical education and they argue, that their is no other way.
To empover the youth in getting the experience they are requesting for, is our first job. To empower them again, when they have their own children, to cultuvate more and more informal education around there kids… is the next.
People from Permacultura Penyflor are showing us the other way. We should take care about Cecile Thevnot and these people. They are facilitator, mentor, trainer, friend and they donate their knowledge and time. They give their best to the new generation, their attention and their love.
Hestia is a virgin goddess of the hearth, architecture, and the right ordering of domesticity, the family, the home, and the state. In March 2019 we inaugurated a rocket stove with two different tajine cources.
Hestia is the old name for altar, fireplace and hearth. Familiafelliz is on the way to develop the art camp as a social space for gathering of individuals, families and groups related to our social art projects. Establishing a catering area was and is and will be important. Fireplaces, stoves and ovens are components for these daily gatherings. Setting up the infrastructure for nutrition workshops, for catering and service of group visits and for experimental cooking events was and is still a goal all over the color garden, the art camp and the campus of our free university of informal education.
Agnieszka from Poland was preparing a vegetarian tajine in march 2019 on a simple fireplace realized by using a wash drum and surrounded by stones. The power of the fire inside a wash drum gave us the motivation to build a secure and nice environment for new visitors. We decided to set up a third fire- and service place nearby the rocket stove and Arne and Isa from Germany on their way from Germany to the atlantic coast of spain joined the project.
In a first step Arne realized a little foundation based on cement and washed stones from the dry river nearby.
For little construction works we are using old tools like this tub. Independend of electric power we can realize mortar in all places of the color garden.
The mix of soil, cal and cement (6:1:1) is connecting the bricks and give stability for the littlle circle of glass bottles.
Using local materials is giving us an advantage in logistics, economy and time. Using the glass bottles as a reference to past gatherings and as a design item connect many generations of visitors and guests with this place.
The wash drum at its final place.
In the socket of the fireplace we used leftovers from a mosaic workshop in 2018 and we started with the service bar at the right side (next pillar and first line of vine bottles).
In 29 of April we inaugurated the new fireplace with a Calçotada and vegetables and seafood.
Hestia is honored by this open kitchen area, as in ancient times in Greece. “Wherever food was cooked, or an offering was burnt, she thus had her share of honour; also, in all the temples of the gods she has a share of honour. ” Among all mortals she was chief of the goddesses.
Even this project is a good sample of the organic development of the art camp and its facilities. Started by Tine and Dirk in January 2019, continued by young students from Halle in March 2019 we are on the way to develop more and more the Crystallization point of community life here in Cervera del Maestre.
If you step in, have a look to that place, linked to many generations of helpers and visitors, all on the tribe to look for alternative community life and personal happiness.
Thanks to Agnieszka, Arne, Isa, Tine and Dirk for their contribution to Hestias heaven, the new fireplace in the garden of Familiafeliz.
In spring 2019 we worked on the watering infrastructure in the vegetable garden. Belen from Argentina joined us to support the project and she was working hard to clean the ground under the young trees in the garden.
Familiafeliz get nearly every two days a request from wwoofers (willing workers on organic farms). Some of them apply via our form here on this website, some are using international databases like worldpackers or ic.org or the just send an application by mail.
The normal case might be that a host is running a business related to organic farming, agriculture, permaculture or to any other social activity (like animal protection). All these spaces have their ROI (return of investment) by hosting the workers, because they contribute to their production chain and help to establish and maintain the hosts economy.
In our case we do not make money! Familiafeliz do not sell products neither we charge money for guests. So we need to refuse most of the applications, not because of a specific reason given by an application. We just have no economical ressource to host more than a few wwoofers per year.
Our goal is to spread a message of a social space for personal happiness into the world. Most of the wwoofers are between 20 and 45 years and they are looking for alternative communities and lifestyles. We want to show them our way of life and give them a chance to live with us for a short period. Some are inspired by our rules and organisation, others by our infrastructure and activities.
Nevertheless we are hoping to find also some new members to share our vision of a future social life for a longer time, maybe becomming member of our community.
Belen was planting salads around the young trees. She was consuming ressources from earlier wwoofers and she supported the accommodation of future guests and wwoofers.
We see familiafeliz and our social project on a long run. Planting a salad is a circle of 3 to 4 month, planting a fruit tree is a circle of 100 or more years. According to the game theory we are playing infinite games… and we know it.
Four years ago we prepared the Spanish location for community life. One of the first activities in the garden area was to set up a point of reference for further design decisions and to commit ourselves to this project.
This symbolic act of commitment was the introduction for a new story, the story of the alternative living community familiafeliz.
We are storytellers and we are storybelievers. In a social competition between individuals and groups we try to bind ourselves to stories we invented to give sense to our actions or even to reactions of others.
Its all about stories. Even science is a believe system. We choose between different stories of how its gonna work and we believe the most common, or the most siutable or the most rare.
Sometimes our stories are astonishing and surprising at the same time. We do not know what Nigel Farage two german (!) kids are thinking about BREXIT but looking debates in the british House of Commons in 2019 is a fairy tail of storytelling at all. As the political economy professor Blyth explained, Brexit doesn’t matter on a long run, but most of the Europeans are sure about the negative impact of the referendum in 2016 in UK.
In the 9/11 debate we see evidence in inside jobs or falls flag interventions because we don’t like the government. In the four horseman we find the truth in listening secretaries of foreign political leaders because we like to trust people who explained us that we can not trust anybody any more.
One of the most common and famous story is the story about money. Even middle east fighters for the truth are keeping American bugs in protected places, the notes from the most hated animy, because they also believe in the value of these pieces of paper.
As a social animal we host very different stories and if we meet a tipping point in which we need to change the story we are furious to switch to another. In the competition between all these different and mostly incoherent stories we are able to switch from on incompatible story to another in a second (by surprising our family, friends and partners).
The advantage of inventing all these stories is obviously the glue to bind society and to organize ourselves and others around us. We like to know the truth, but it seems to be a hell outside and we are on a lifetime ride to find it.
We are looking for evidence for myths like “We are equal. We have human rights. We are social. The truth will have success.”
From public affairs to religion, from evidence in science to myth and culture, we stick on stories. In fact we are not able to handle the perception of reality without using any story. And for sure, any story is better than no story.
So what is the story of an alternative living community about?
The main story of familiafeliz is to create a social space for personal happiness. Whatever story is invented to fullfill this, as long as it respects the story of the others, its fine and suitable.
As a social artist i think, creating a kitchen and building a room for gathering people is a fundamental act of society building. If we want to explore further alternatives of how human mankind could survive in a much bigger competition about bio mass in the future, i think, it make sense to create places to meet, to gather, to enjoy.
Loved friends like Cecile in Permacultura Penyaflor near Tortosa are looking for alternatives and they invent their own stories. Cecocesola in Venezuela is a great example of a story of 5 woman. Now more than 43.000 people are believing in this story every day.
and dinner are perfect reasons for people to come together and to enjoy
social time. Mostly in these relaxed environments people are willing to
exchange their story and to validate its power and success.
Architecture – short or long term temporary – is in general a powerful tool to design a physical space for this exchange. To build a fish out of stones is a totally senseless project, except the fact that i can enjoy it and that i can invite others to discover the world in a joyfull way and push them to invent their own story about it.
So what counts at the end of the day? What matters in a world of competative stories and storytellers and who is in charge to decide the truth?
I have no clue for that except the fact, that familiafeliz is one of the best places i know to discover a nice future embedded in many happy moments with lovely people. And it’s not because it’s closed, it’s defined, it’s settled… it’s because its open, undefined, unfinished, imperfect, maybe because it’s a story invented and started in 2015 based on 40 years of life experience with a core group of members.
Familiafeliz is a unfinished story, we started to tell it since 2014 to more than 200 guests per year and it will grow in stories of others.
Thanks to all these friends and guests for inventing a story about a social space for personal happiness. At the end of the day, its a story about LOVE.
In early march 2019 we had some visitors from Germany, a young family with 2 kids. Lea the woman, started the communication with us and finally they arrived, coming from France on their way to Portugal. They parked their Camper Van in the garden area under a big carob tree and joined us in some tasks in the garden.
In the last four years we had several times families with young kids at our place, and a lot of times we have requests or applications from single-mums with a little child on the way to search for a siutablle community.
In most of the times we are asked if there are other kids in the community. We have to say NO (because we talk the truth), not yet. The normal reply is than: “Ok thanks but i am looking for a bigger community with children because i want that my child is playing with others and i want exchange and sharings with other mums.”
As long as nobody want to be the first, it will not work in our place. We are just in the process to create a community life here in CASAdelDRAGON and we need people willing to start something from scratch.
We enjoyed another time the visit of this family with kids and we ask them for a short review on their stay in the color garden.
“Searching for communities and different ways of life, we made our first stop at Familia Feliz in Cervera. We had read about a dyer’s garden. We did not find what we expected, we found what we did not expect 🙂 . For example we found in the garden: Philosophy of life, rooted in simplicity and expectionlessness; very different kind of fruits connected like a mycelium, unclear to the naked eye wheather its one organism, several or plenty; a place where every plant can find its place to grow. One thing is sure: never expect to find what we found – a garden is constantly changing and there is so much space to grow… Thank you very much! We had a very enriching and inspiring stay enjoying our time together a lot. All the best!”
We have to say thank you. Both adults where very social and helping in construction. We created a place to prepare the food in the open kitchen of the art camp.
After building and a first test of the stove we started to finish the outside. A mix of soil, cal and cement (6:2:1) will protect the structure in the future.
Also we added some last special ceramic stones inside of the burning chamber. And we prepared the top with some old ceramic pieces out of an anchient house in the village of Cervera del Maestre.
To protect the structure we added a final skin with soil and cal (6:3).
On 24 of march 2019 we inaugurated the stove with a gathering around moroccan food out of tajine.
Special thanks to Thomas, Clara, Julien and Agi for helping and contributing to this event.