In a magical place magical things happen. The garden of colors, the campus for informal education of FamiliaFeliz, is a place to enjoy. Again and again this space releases the creative potential of the visitors and transforms them into the actors, the protagonists, the designers, the facilitaters of happiness. The garden becomes a stage, a canvas, a building site, an exhibition space and a memory of an idea: in the garden of Epicurus, all people are equal. Unintentionally they give themselves joy in looking at, using and building. They often pick up the thread that others have laid before them, they continue to spin it for the next to come. They meet in their deeds, across time and space. And they take something with them in their hearts, to have experienced themselves in an all-encompassing WE.
Motivated by a group of very dedicated partizipants in a weekly video conference moderarted by Jubilee Creates Something Amazingby meandering through life it might be time to reflect about some upcoming questions around communities and especially the inicial process of community buildung.
You can see community building as a process of integration, if you imagine the members of the new entity are coming together without having any relation before, or as a process of decomposition, if they had a kind of relation before. We see more evidence in the second, because the first denied the former status of each member as part of entities like society, religion, world population or GAIA or however you like to name it.
In the video podcast we meander around the inicial phase of community buildung, but as in a deterministic view on the world there was every a before. So you could argue by saying that there is a gap between reality and the common reality simulation produced in the community which motivates somebody to change the common simulation in the first place, and if not possible to convince some other members to escape together by forming a new community based on a new narrative, expecting, that this new narrative might be more close to the real reality.
It is clear that this will encounter resistance in the old community, because regardless of the positive intention, any attempt to split off is always seen as a weakening of the existing group. The other aspect might be that this process of decomposition leads always to a weak new fraction of power, compared to the abandoned group.
Another source of new communities might be the exclusion of members to get rid of never ending provocations. Even academic communities are not aware about the force to exclude its members from any access to the elite by establishing a playground called the academic world. It is a big myth – to put it in nice words – that all this educational institutions where released in a process of ethnic liberation.
However, in the beginning of the beginning a single person or a minor group discover a gap between these both simulations of reality. And the ability to do so is comming from a personal flexibility and independence from the group – or from its failing to control its members in a more efficient way. Again, lets point it out: you can see social media as a last place of liberty or as a tool to identify desperate provocateurs.
In Jubilee’s circle there are some questions on the table and we like to walk through. We are able to view them from the perspective of a single member of a decentralized intentional living community, from the point of a basic ruleset to decribe the reality simulation of this community and from the point of a never stopping provocateur inside of this community looking for new ideas and better fitting narratives to adept to a better simulation of reality. None of this views are able to find any truth, but, following Karl Popper, they are useful to exclude some narraives and the greatness in this is simply, that a wrong assumption in one view doesn’t need a proof in another. So even this post is published to be evaluated as false, and nothing more than this could be helpfull to develop a better – false – narrative about how community buildung might start. Keep this in mind, even when you read the next part.
The open questions and the answers (bold and italic): What should I expect from myself? Nothing! In what ways am I responsible to my community? In no way! What do I expect from others? Nothing! What should I realistically not expect from others? Maybe, that they would answer in the same way – if i would expect something, what i try to reduce as much as possible.
It looks like a big provocation, and it is. But it is a kind of provocation to enlighten the source of community building which might lead to a subset of an old one – driven by a surely positive intention – by implementing the same negative conditions. So lets get through it.
As an open minded thinker and member of such an open minded community already the word should is a kind of interlectual hijacking. To be able to use this word I need a simulation of a moral entity higher than me as a given source to blue print a self policing narrative which allows me to submit to it in a gesture of humility. I would not go so far that I deny exactly this, but if I am asked by a third party i might feel just a tension.
Assumptions are a clear survival advantage in the unknown savane – which we have never left because the future always has something savannah-like uncertainty – as long as they are questioned deeply in preparation and follow-up and they are used in action – in combat – without any hesitation. This is no guarantee of individual success, but it is an advantage for the community in the sense of swarm intelligence. Expectations are not. The difference between assumptions and expectations is the delussion of adding a kind of truth or inevitability to an assumption, to make it likely more relevant. And this is excactly what happened in the process of a lot of community building initiatives. There is somebody who see the gap between the outer and the inner narrative and announce in the community the need to reinvent a better narrative.
Faced with the resistance to give up an avoidable security, the provocateur experiences the role assignment of a potential leader who is supposed to substantiate his claims and assumptions about the unknown outside. A natural reaction might be to reinvent his assumptions as expectations, by claiming evidence for them.
This might lead to crazy constellations, like a researcher in front of a board, who is forced to certify the economic usability of his research results in order to raise the funds he needs to be able to do this research.
If somebody is using the word responsibility i am not sure about the intention behind. I by myself experienced this world again and again compagnioned by “and therefore you should…”. When responsibility came in my simulation i was a kid and my parents tried to invent a reason for a desired behavior, to eat the soup, to tie the shoes by myself or to deliver a homework on time. Sometimes parents try to charge the value of this responsability by “God is looking at you!” or “No cake | tv | smartphone | love … if not…”.
By adding these possible arguments, I do not want to discredit the actual – maybe positive – motivation of the parents, rather it is about showing how helpless adults are when they want to introduce something – responsibility here – without really being able to explain and prove it.
Many years later a kid might realise in a confrontation with other kids in the street or with teachers, that there was a kind of truth in the attempted upbringing of responsability as a narrative, but not in the sense that the parents tried to explain it. It is a big difference if you learn from this that you accept responsability as a moral compass introduced by somebody who might own or drone you, or, if you learn out if it, that people tend to use the idea of responsability to hack your brain.
We see, like the narrative around money, that the idea of responsability is able to gather people to form big sized communities and you could count them as successful. But if so, do not try to leave them.
The idea of responsability often is implemented by using “because you are” followed by a role. You are kid, partner, mother, grandmother, driver, employee, tourist and citizen. And on every role the inner narrative of the society is binding a set of rules, and the self-fulfilling self policing happened … mostly. If not, by accident or purpose, somebody might be punished or excluded from community activities.
The obvious link between the first and third question leads to a similar answer. Instead of just repeating the argument it make sense to add some other aspects. If I would expect something from another person and if I would communicate this – maybe by using the word responsability – i want to make it happen more likely, what i expect. In fact, this ties the other to a certain outcome and it has to be seen as an act of capturing. If so, the deny of expectation and (!) the clear communication about this frees the other and can be seen as an act of liberation.
The answer to the last question may make one or the other smile. Even this answer is carrying a big ingredient to community building, which is called humor. The ability to use humor in communication deliver a strong message to the other, that binding doesn’t lead to prison automatically.
At the end of this post you might return to the introduction of the three different views on the subject, as a member of a community, as a reader of our basic rules – our constitution, our principles – and as a never stopping provocateur inside of this community. You are right to see this three views as constructed viewpoints to highlight roles, and you could imagine different answers to this fundamental questions, given by this three different positions of observation.
First of all, it is my personal assumption so far to publish this set of answers. If I look at our basic ruleset I find evidence that we created these rules based on assumptions and that we tried to affect the individual simulation of the reality in the least possible way for every member. As a never stopping provocateur I feel very comfortable in this living community FamiliaFeliz, because its aim is to enable me to experience alternative narratives all the time, maybe even because this community itself doesn’t create the narrative, i could find sense and meaning inside of it.
Our solar system is formed – beside other factors – by the immense gravitation of the sol. If the same mass would be compressed in a few cubic centimeters it would be a black hole and eat up the whole system over time. But the big sized sol distributed a beautiful environment for the blossoming of life as we know it, and not because it eats up everything around. There is a relative time-limited equilibrium between the sustaining and stabilizing forces of gravitation and the centrifugal forces as a power of innovation.
So you can try to explain the spawning of a new community from an old larger one by saying that you want to do it better, or by trying it less badly, knowing and underlining that there may be more of this less. The second one might not solve any problem, but doesn’t hurt its members so much.
I could identify my community as such a community, because I can answer these questions in the same way, as a member, as a reader of our charter and as a never-ending provocateur with curious look at the outside.
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.
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.
Working with ceramic pieces is like a meditation. After one week Christine finished the project, happy and proud and much more relaxed than before.
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.
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.