At a time when everything is supposed to appear smart – cell phones, cities, governments – it’s time to show that there are real alternatives to classic economy: the smart working units of Familiafeliz, for example.
On Francesca’s initiative, Familiafeliz has started to set up a new working unit: chicken farming in the Spanish home unit. In the construction phase, we create the infrastructure for rearing and keeping the animals. The aim is to make the working unit autonomous and independent of other activities in color garden, according to our charter. We are inspired by Cecosesola in Venezuela, a network of cooperatives with an extremely smart approach to establishing a new economy in communities.
The few rules of Cecosesola are: no hierarchy, everyone gets the same wage, plenum with consensus AND veto. Those who stay away permanently are automatically kicked out. 4 rules are organizing 43,000 people at Cecosesola, peacefully, without corruption, without police, judiciary and penal system. This can be a real model for the innovative organization of people beyond turbo-capitalism.
In our German home unit we have been raising chickens with one break for over 25 years. The experiences flow into the Spanish project. We also provided the infrastructure in Germany. The chickens are cared for by several parties (families). This allows each individual team member to travel and does not permanently bind him to the place. All services provided by the members of this unit are gifts to the group. No one calculates who has worked for how many hours. A list is kept and all those involved enter their willingness to provide care in advance for the coming month. This list is available to everyone in the stable. In this way, a direct contact can also be made at short notice if a team member cannot take care of the previously announced support on one day. It has emerged that individual members of the group have preferences, some being more concerned with logistics and finances, others more concerned with the animals. Everyone gives what they like and to the extent that they like. Rarely is a care time to be negotiated. It works, quietly, stress-free, just smart.
The poultry working unit in Germany offers the following products: eggs, hatching eggs, chicks, young animals, chickens, hens ready to lay eggs, selected cocks for breeding. In Spain, education will be added to encourage others to keep chickens. In Germany, the eggs are offered at a reasonable market price, currently 50 euro cents. EVERYONE has to pay this price, whether customer or team member. There is no strife between members of the group, and no conflict of interest between team members who have high egg consumption in their families and those who eat little or no eggs at all. The income covers the costs, fodder, tools, hatching eggs, young animals from external sources to refresh the gene pool. The surplus money will be returned to the teams. The balance after 25 years: no arguments, few discussions, always enough money for the first-class supply of organic feed, high-quality food, local recycling of food waste, and the development of an extended community of customers who regularly buy eggs and the animals with their visit children.
This team is currently being formed in Cervera. Familiafeliz continues to make the infrastructure available free of charge. We will not dictate how this working unit will ultimately organize itself (we will report!). But after more than 25 years we can take stock: based on the innovations of Cecosesola, it works… smart.
If you can see social developments like the organization of education in a society as a NATURAL proces then you can apply the principles of nature to further development as well. Then:
Evolution instead of revolution. Niche occupation before displacement.
From the first it follows that in the end there is no legal way to further develop of an existing system. Due to the system, innovation is declared to be an illegal activity.
And second, the occupation of a niche that cannot be reached by the system is a prerequisite for gaining strength and energy in order to be able to displace old systems in the subsequent step.
Organized education is an instrument of power. It was founded around 800 AD by Charlemagne. The goal was to create a unified class of officials with similar qualification in reading, writing and calulating to govern such a large empire.
Every subsequent social group has repeatedly viewed this educational system as a stable guarantee of its own survival and, if necessary, realigned its educational goals in the short term.
Anyone who talks about alternative education systems today should ask themselves whether he want to gain or stabilize power, whether he simply want to siphon off money from elites in a niche, whether he want to realign educational goals (with the hubris of making them binding for everyone else too) or whether he then wants to say goodbye to the idea of organizing education in systems.
The strategy of the classic offers intends to focus on the educational content, but does not question the structure of the mediation. Anyone who withdraws access to their child must be tracked by the system. He does not question the educational content at a parents’ evening. He questions the system.
So it is first of all to define a niche as such and then to recognize one.
In a reorganized world there will be a tension between the will to virtualize and the access to matter. The relocation of educational offers into virtual spaces is a trend. But it is accompanied by the desire to get all human-machine interfaces under the skin.
The Internet of Things is becoming the Internet of Thoughts.
High infrastructure costs do not pay off in the area. So this niche will develop in an area of low population density. The niche will also be found far away from mineral resources or other systemically important resources (like traffic routes). Every instrument of power is subject to the laws of nature and also to the second law of thermodynamics. A consideration of the ROI for an investment will always lead to peripheral areas, which are not addressed in the first step. Niches will identify themselves as “too expensive” for the mainstream.
The escalation of violence to secure and expand power is also an escalation of the means chosen. Black powder is replaced by fact checkers.
Informal education is based on the natural needs of those who ask. These needs are difficult to predict. Nutrition seems to be becoming increasingly important.
Epicurus provoked the classical educational system of antiquity. Instead of erecting a new school building, he invited people to a garden. Instead of prescribing content, he created a space for the free flow of communication. Entering the room was linked to the acknowledgment of the principle of equality of the people who enter this room. The niche will therefore be a social space in which the analogue dialogue is geared towards the needs of the communication partners. The teacher becomes a space builder. The conductor becomes the stage technician.
People’s strong urge to externalize their thinking, because their own thinking costs so much energy, leads again and again to the formation of roles. These roles (like that of a teacher) are adorned with privileges and burdened with conditions and restrictions. Above all, they are associated with a clear mission statement. The exemption from the task of gathering food is a hallmark of roles in a clan.
Leadership, healing, jurisdiction, defense are assigned to systemically relevant roles. The niche will probably be characterized by the absence of roles… as well as the absence of rules.
Evolution is only recognized by those who remain behind.
The gift to the new generation will be expressed in a wish: please do not disturb.
It is and has always been a challenge to keep the artist residency CASAdelDRAGON open for guests and activities. Decoupled from public funding, every action, no matter how small, is a big task. On the other hand, what has been and is being achieved under these circumstances is a success story and sustainable, since it is not dependent on political sensitivities or depends on the monetary drip of lobbyists.
The dragon’s house is a gallery and workroom and offers 17 beds. It is inhabited by people who come together to participate in a social sculpture. Art is one reason to come, another is health, education, politics or economics. At the beginning of 2020, the house also became a place of refuge, rest and meeting of people who had left in very compact Echo Chambers. CASAdelDRAGON as a place to meet, to build bridges and to approach, a place to experiment, with the option of failing and starting again.
Jo Pellenz is certainly one of the most important contemporary artists from the cathedral city of Cologne. He has visited the artists’ residence several times and left clear traces in the art and culture of the village of Cervera del Maestre. His magnificent installation in the Ermita Sant Sebastian with over 650 unique paper figures remains unforgotten.
The second building in the mountain village of Cervera del Maestre, which is dedicated to art, is called CASA PACHA MAMA. Inconspicuous in a small street in the middle of the village, it shows a facade with mosaic and sculpture. You have to be almost exactly in front of it to see this facade. It was inaugurated in the vuelta del Arte in 2009 with an installation by the Mexican artist Rosana Velasquez.
The CASAdelDRAGON is dedicated to social art. At the opening of the first exhibition, the artist Juan Petry asked his guests to write down words that they wanted to give the place as “good wishes” along the way.
More than 150 people from all over the world helped to rebuild the house. In over 20 years they have rebuilt a 750 year old stone house and filled it with life. In the preparations for the first exhibition after 20 years of construction, these two friends in the “Electronics inclination group” helped assemble the installation for the professional lighting system. The material (ERCO – rails and lights) comes from a former department store in Isalohn (Germany) and was only purchased 6 weeks before the opening of the exhibition.
It was always the declared goal to bring the activities of CASAdelDRAGON together with the people of the region. The builder David Sales, friend, companion of the Casa and specialist in old building materials, helped to prepare the rooms of the gallery.
The floors of the natural bulges of the back walls are laid with river stones from the RAMBLA CERVERA. Margret had helped collect these stones and contributed a lot to the fact that we were able to open the first exhibition on time, three and a half years after we announced this vernissage!
This is a detail from the construction period. The cable harnesses all lead to a junction box that brings together all the house electrics. Thanks to Björn, a Cologne street artist and electrician, this installation is still working today without any failures.
The photo shows today’s living room of the CASAdelDRAGON, today a meeting place. Since then, more than 2000 (!!) visitors have entered this room, students, pupils, artists, creative people from all over the world.
CASAdelDRAGON is also networked with other important art venues in the region. A friend and mentor in the field of sculpture is Peter Buch (left). His “Jardi de Peter” is an impressive destination for the region’s contemporary art.
All these photos – and another 100 – were shown together for the first time in an installation in the rocket club in Cologne’s southern part. This was a social art event, a personal celebration and a music and theater event with Dj Joachim (DREAMS Koblenz) and many guests.
These photos will also be published as part of the Artsurprise art project and as part of an installation in Colorgarden, the CASAdelDRAGON campus.
Now is the time to show solidarity. Now is the time to realistically assess your own resources and conditions. Now is the time to build strong bonds between intentional communities and their members. This European dialogue – as a simple sample of backstage activities – is an indication of the challenges and opportunities in working together over a distance.
And it also has special symbolic power thanks to protagonists from three continents. Global, regional and local conditions form the basis of the very personal decisions people make to migrate and to bind themselves to new places. Those who do not lose contact with their tribe, wherever their paths lead, have a clear advantage.
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.
This is a story of youth from Romania. This is a story of a social entrepreneur in the house of the dragon. This is the story of a beautiful and brave village in Castellon. This is the story of a founder of a summer school in the little village Ciocănești close to Bucharest. And this is a story of success.
FamiliaFeliz was visited in 2016 from Sorina. She decided to make a travel through different communities in Europe for her master thesis in social entrepreneurship in Copenhagen. She visited with a collegue CASAdelDRAGON to study the special arrangements of our decentralized living community. At the end of her visit she was very well connected to our ideas and principles and she said: “It would be a dream for my kids from the summerschool in Romania, if they could come to this place. Its magic, the village, the people, the kindness, the peace, and the opportunities for youth in the artist color garden of CASAdelDRAGON.”
Our answer was short: “Lets make it happen…!”
Less than 10 month later Serban, the president of a little NGO in Ciocănești (a village close to Bucharest) was sitting on the terrasse in the house of the dragon and said: “I can not belive, its true.”
Sorina took the risk to pay out of her private budget the flights for a group of youth, FamiliaFeliz organised travels inside of Spain and accomodation and food.
For nearly all of the youth it was the first time out of their country, it was the first flight, the first bath in the mediterranean sea, the first trip without parents, the first immersion in a new language, a different culture and a life in an open house with lots of art and music.
The irrepressible will to take in as much as possible, to enjoy as much as possible and to share the joy with everyone in the village was evident every minute.
The youth prepared an activity for the local school, a social art project in the color garden of CASAdelDRAGON.
Sorina co-organised before and after many youth activities in Romania and Juan form FamiliaFeliz joined the team in Bucharest to realise some workshops for trainers, teachers and the management (game of life) of the summer school, also workshops (trencadis, catering) for youth of the region in the following years.
Sorina finshed her studies and started an NGO in Copenhagen, called HORA, related to a traditional Romanian folk dance in which the dancers hold each other’s hands and the circle usually rotates counterclockwise as each participant follows a sequence of three steps forward and one step back. The greek routs of the word are related to circle, singing an celebrating.
Four years later Sorina knocked on the door of CASAdelDRAGON again, and explored in a video panel the possibilities to invite, FamiliaFeliz, the village of Cervera del Maestre and the youth of the region, to participate in international youth projects in the future.
FamiliaFeliz as an open think tank for new social art movements and CASAdelDRAGON as a cultural spot in the region of El Maestrat in Castellon confirmed support to the new NGO in Copenhagen, founded by Sorina on Christmas 2020.
As menioned before, this is a story of youth from Romania. This is a story of a social entrepreneur in the house of the dragon. This is the story of a beautiful and brave village in Castellon. This is the story of a founder of a summer school in the little village Ciocănești close to Bucharest. And the best… the story is true.
In early 2021 FamiliaFeliz received a message from Eric, a belgium father of a daugther, interested in community life. He explained that the original project was to set up a ecovillage project in eastern Spain. Surprisingly he was working on this project in the neighbour village since 3 years and we never met.
In his request he pointed out, that there was a second family from the netherlands and they also like the idea to put roots in the soul of “El Maestrazgo”, the region around us.
We confirmed a chat all together and you can listen the audio record. We added some photos of spring 2020 to underline the reality of a living community in these times. All photos are taken between march and june 2020 in Cervera del Maestre in the CASAdelDRAGON and the color garden.
Open doors – a weekend in peace in the garden of Epicurus – meet like-minded people and exchange ideas with others about the chances of a decentralized community with a common economy. Take a close look and experience the realistic everyday life beyond roles and expectations, beyond security and hierarchy. On a long weekend we have a lot of time to watch and listen and we look forward to your visit… Please use this form… Registration is mandatory. We will contact you soon.
CASAdelDRAGON – Cervera del Maestre – Castellon – Spain
We can offer places for your tend, trailer, caravan, mobile van and we have limited places in the CASAdelDRAGON (please take your slepping bag!). We start Saturday at 3pm and we end Sunday at 11pm. You can arrive Friday and leave Monday.
The first impression in the human environment is dominated by the hearing, the second by the optics, then comes the smell and the touch, and the taste may be internalized as the most intimate in the truest sense. May this be the case offline, some senses are lost in social media. Very much we are focused on visual information.
The most frequently accessed page of our website is the front page. And the first impression is more of a visual one. Instead of choosing a picture as a substitute in the hope, that it would convey all the emotion and truth about the real situation of our community, we decided on a picture montage that we update at irregular intervals and thus also lay an optical thread through the events.
The picture that has accompanied us through the last few years becomes history and takes with it all the stories behind it. Here the place is to pause for a moment and remember some stories and their protagonists.
Two young Spanish woman are planting trees in the color garden. In the third session again we planted more than 100 fruit trees in various locations. In a monoculture environment (olive, carob, almond) only a few fruit trees are planted, mostly as a food supplement for family and friends. Our strategy of planting as many trees as possible as early as possible is provoking misunderstanding from some neighbors. One farmer summed it up: You are already that old. Why are you still planting so many young trees? The answer was easy for us: For the children of your children. As non-professionals in agriculture, we were initially surprised at how fragmented knowledge was distributed among the local population. But nobody dared to do anything new, nobody questioned anything. FamiliaFeliz’s planting campaigns are an expression of the joy of exploring which varieties and varieties are opening up new alternatives for local production. The crisis in 2020-2022 made clear the need to look locally for solutions for food production. No matter how small our contribution will be over the next 100 years, there will be a garden in Cervera del Maestre where people can collect fruit when they can no longer look after it.
Abejas de amor is a bee project and reflects the situation of these insects, the market and the health situation of insect and customer. The pandemic effect had amplified all the unsustainability in global economy, but this sector was already suffering before. The problem with the bees is the beekeeper, not the pesticide. This sentence is certainly a provocation. It is surprising that in Spain Glyphosate is used for weed control – what a word – at the roadsides. In the rural area around Cervera del Maestre, large industrial agriculture has never paid off thanks to small terraces and so the use of plant toxins is not so widespread. But near the sea in the huge flat orange groves, airplanes are still sometimes used today. Most beekeepers have moved further and further inland with their colonies. The tough competition turns the full beehive into a commodity for dealers, and many colonies are stolen. A friend lost 25 colonies at one location in one night (value among dealers 150 – 200 euros, with 60 kg of honey and 30,000 bees in the box). This criminal energy also always needs an addressee, and that has to be a beekeeper who does not want to know exactly where these colonies come from, that are being offered to him. But this is not the place to judge beekeepers, especially small and part-time businesses fight with love and passion for a better world for the bees. But as everywhere where the economy finds its way, it displaces knowledge, reason and sustainability. The Abejas de amor project is about offering bees a habitat without having to exploit them economically. The aim is to gain varroa (varroa destructor) populations and to promote renaturation of the bees. That can only be done far from the market and money. The color garden is one of many locations in the area to host bee hives and to focus on solutions to go with the nature more than against it.
One old and wise farmer put it in simple terms. Philippe once said: Carob, that was the oil of the Middle Ages. The Maestrazgo has always been very rich in this type of tree and it is a real pleasure to be able to spend your siesta under a carob tree in the hot afternoon. Its crown offers protection from the sun, its fruit tastes good to people and animals, and its wood is warm in winter. And its germs pacify even the diamond dealers. FamiliaFeliz has started to collect the carob and give it to the local cooperative. The attempt to alleviate the feed shortage in northern Europe and to send the carob was unsuccessful. There were none interested. A few kilograms are enough for our own use, in 2018/2019 we collected the first 2 tons, in 2019/2020 we are just over the first ton. We can only achieve this thanks to the tireless helpers, the money goes to our social youth and educational projects.
The color garden with its more than 4 hectares and numerous terraces offers very different goals for learning, staying and working. There are signposts so that you don’t always answer the same questions. The project started in 2018. In the following time new signs were added again and again. The infrastructure is growing. A signpost is also a symbol of orientation. Just as in the small that is shown the way, it also gives orientation in life. And that is one of the most important tasks of this garden, providing orientation in life, not as a requirement, but as an offer.
In 2017 and 2018 there was a time with children and young adults in the CASAdelDRAGON. Community was easy to experience. Some projects where realized. People have moved on, some have started the way back to the life they came from and that they actually wanted to leave. Others have settled in Cervera themselves, founded their own Familiafeliz and connected with the country and its people. So the village has grown, the large relaxed community of Cervera del Maestre and now and then the children still find their way into the garden of colors, to paint, to play and for one or the other piece of pizza.
The development of the Art Camp as part of the color garden took up a lot of space. The infrastructure of toilets, showers, cooking and catering areas made it possible to welcome 56 young people and adults as guests. After that, the place was often used for meetings and workshops. And shortly after commissioning, art also discovered and conquered the new areas and rooms. This gives the area of the garden its character. As you can see from the new cover photo, this will also be a long process that will keep generating new ideas and solutions.
Imagine you return to Europe, to the places of your ancestors. You get a bike for free and earn the money for the trip. You are driving from northern Europe to the south of Portugal. You are on a journey, to your roots, and to yourself. A place like FamiliaFeliz is just one stop. You leave a lasting impression, there is room in the heart. Letting go as a sign of Love. From the perspective of some visitors, the CASAdelDRAGON is a place of constant change, and fatigue and insecurity often spread as a result. For others it is a great gift to get to know so many such important people, it is also called LIFE.
Hidden between many arrows, the reference to the “bar of all reason” appears. This is a typical German-language play on words and describes a bar on the one hand and a place beyond all common sense on the other. The bar itself is still fiction, but the prospect of its opening in 2021 is not small. What began with Julien’s mushroom cultivation as an Erasmus funded school project will take shape. The Art Camp also needs a hospitable place to stay. With the “bar of all reason” we are addressing a typical Spanish phenomenon. A large part of the social takes place in public spaces, as long as it does not concern family or closest friends. The bar is an integral part of social life. But it is always tied to being liquid and being able to afford the coffee. The decline of the economy was already before Corona, and will certainly be accompanied by a loss of purchasing power for the common population for many years afterwards. This means that these social places can no longer be reached. The aim of this social sculpture is to create a new space of opposition that is not driven by the money economy. Rather, the guest is invited to bring something to eat, on condition that it is shared with those who are also there. The bar of reason provides a space in which guest and host are united.
You can build walls or build bridges. The results are different. This bridge was built by students from Halle and crosses the acequia, a medieval sewer that runs through the color garden. It was built by 3 women who have used hammer and nail for the first time in their lives, all of them older than 22 years. The intense experience of nature has also built a bridge in their hearts. The more theoretical training in biology got the desire for the physical experience to the side. Anyone who crosses the acequia is grateful for this bridge. And he will have access to the sculpture garden, where the first works are under construction.
In the midst of the pandemic in 2020-2022, some where wondering what the government’s exit strategy might look like and realized to their surprise that there might never be one. The signposts in the color garden also show the way back. And at one point, back is just another direction.
The CASAdelDRAGON is very often in the foreground when we report on our community. But in addition to our homeunit in Cervera, we have a second home, in Windeck near Cologne in Germany. This place is more in the background but no less important or significant. And there, too, the art and creativity are visible in many places. The tile fragments connect these places, like the people who worked on them. And these also convey stories of events and people who have accompanied us.
This is the second article about our cover images. The first you will find here. If you want to be part of these movement and these histories in times of reconstruction, think about a visit and apply for joining one of our next activities.
In the middle of the hardest lock down measures in Spain our living community was invited to participate in an international project initiated by Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). Out of hundreds proposals and based on similar characteristics on our reality as a living community we where selected and linked to a project based in Nicaragua.
This is the story about a man who had never seen India and a story about a militant theologian and revolutionary and a story about two expats and their vision of community and a story about informal education, neoliberal hubris and the second sentence of thermodynamics.
It is also a story about the ability to relate, to bind, to be humble and to love.
Nicaragua is the land of a thousand volcanoes, a very fertile area between Honduras and Costa Rica, hard hit by Spanish and British colonialism, shaken by wars up to modern times and deeply divided in its camps: large landowners versus rural population, village versus city, poor versus rich. Like a sleeping magma chamber, Nicaragua is waiting for the outbreak of the next civil war in order to get rid of the tension of unresolved land ownership claims and yet only to pile up new suffering in its own history. There is a rural exodus, but at the same time there is also a great opportunity in this crisis. After the colonial rulers and the capital oligarchs came free thinkers, hippies and dropouts. But, as in modern Spain, there were also committed young people from the north who wanted to create a different, new reality for their families, children and themselves. Some came with weapons, others with ideas, some were interested in efficient harvesting, others in learning and sharing knowledge.
In a first video panel we exchanged some personal information and we dived into a brief conversation of what could be a real sustainable exchange between our two communities. We decided to explore the chance to route some knowledge about old Latin American native technologies back to its source, Terra Preta in combination with our infrastructure project in the art camp, which is part of the color garden in Cervera del Maestre.
To enjoy more lets step back a bit and have a look how the universe had put together this story inside of the story inside of the story.
In July 1502, on his fourth voyage, Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on the soil in this area. More interested in the sea route to India, he did not subdue the indigenous people. Gil Gonzalez caught up with that twenty years later and many indigenous people ended up as slaves in the mines of Peru.
The immeasurable accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few was initiated by the hunger for gold in the ancient world. Enslavement as a means of efficient exploitation of natural resources required the intellectual idea of races and their differences, followed by their evaluation. What the mounted Europeans began, the ore, oil and finance barons completed in modern times. They left behind a severely decimated indigenous population and drove the impoverished farm workers to the metropolises to find cheap jobs in their factories and to service themselves. Of course there have been riots to counter this blatant injustice, but as always, counter-violence is only a link in a chain of violence. After the large landowners were driven to the beaches of Miami, the land was given to the rural population without formal legal protection in land register titles. In the following counter-revolution, thanks to the corrupt judiciary, many won back their lands and the question of land ownership still hangs over the people like a sword of Damocles.
When the Portuguese under a Spanish flag set foot on the bottom of Nicaragua on the Rio San Juan, the geography appeared to be a hindrance when looking for the sea route to India. The Spanish crown recognized the potential of cheap labor all the more. The monk Bartolomé de Las Casas estimated the total population in 1552 to be less than 5,000, the rest of them had been expelled or murdered in barely 50 years in the slavery abroad. Imperial America also enjoyed the instability on its own doorstep and intervened as early as 1927. As so often, they installed Varsallen, in this case Anastasio Somoza. He invited his enemies to the last supper (1934-02-21) and put himself to power in 1937 against his uncle, whom he himself installed as president. The Somoza clan was to dominate the country for 42 years and even take advantage of natural disasters to enrich themselves. Even a murderous poet could not avert this. Cotton, gold and silver mines, felling of precious wood.
As strong as the pendulum swung to the right, it also picked up speed on the way to the left. The Sandinista under Ortega tried it with education, elevated Ernesto Cardenal to the position of minister of education and also used women’s rights as a unifying force. But they too were subject to the hubris of knowing better than their own people. What began with a forced relocation of 8,500 Miskito Indians ended with another exodus abroad. While the rich indulged in the villas on the beach in Miami, the poor decided to flee to neighboring Honduras or hired themselves out as illegals in the meat factories and plantations of the southern states of America.
Thomas Müntzer, qui pro veritate militat in mundo
A monk acknowledges his last sold in Zwickau
History has not only divided the population in their earthly values. The argument about true faith broke out in heaven too. So Nicaragua repeated what happened 500 years earlier in the county of Stolberg (Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation). While Columbus was looking up the Rio de San Juan, the theologian and reformer in Luther fan Müntzer stood in his print shop and sank about the syntax in high pressure to spread and implement his ideas, the dissolution of monasteries, space for the homeless, the dissolution of privileges for the nobility. From the pulpit of the Marienkirche, a church in Mühlhausen he led the peasants to the gates of Frankenhausen (old german cities), where they had their lives, he lost his and his head, first tortured and then beheaded in May 1525. Before that, after studying for a long time, he had received his ordination, probably also because he was teaching as an assistant teacher in Halle an der Saale.
The Catholic Church had also lost ground in Nicaragua, with only 47% now professing this belief. Many free church initiatives share the task of getting their message across the majority. Again and again intellectuals got involved in politics and tried out their visions of a different Nicaragua, displaced by violence and arguments, in social projects. The Casas de los tres mundos, a book bus with literature by Berthold Brecht and the Musica en los Barrios are just examples.
The Global Ecovillage Network has now brought the community Nuestra finca sagrada from Nicaragua together with ours in Europe. Both are initiated by expats. Both are small, are preparing for new communards, relying on education and sharing, on closeness to nature and sustainable development, insofar as people can have a lasting effect at all. Both prefer to recycle rather than buy, both want to combine country life with nature experience. Both share a desire for delicious, valuable and healthy food.
In the original Latin American communities, it was customary to pay tribute to the host after being invited to a meal together. With respect for the food served, one visited the host’s toilet after the meal to leave something valuable. The manure was covered with earth and pieces of coal and kept in clay pots in the absence of air for several months and then applied as black earth to the fields as fertilizer. The compost of the Incas still works today. The anaerobic bacteria find a safe habitat in the coal and in their fermentation process they digest and upcycle them over many years. What the indigenous people anchored in their culture was lost in Western societies. FamiliaFeliz has brought this knowledge back and has gained initial experience in the construction and operation of dry toilets in recent years.
Ironically, a high school from Halle, named after the theologian and revolutionary Müntzer, provided the opportunity to build two more toilets. As part of a new infrastructure for visitor groups of up to 60 people, in addition to showers, washing facilities and cooking areas, toilet houses were also built from old pallet timber.
Four concrete blocks and a wooden pallet form the basis. A wooden box was screwed onto it and a concrete slab in the front part (entrance) to weigh down the construction (wind, storm). The concrete blocks promote rapid drying of the cheap wood and prevent termite infestation. The walls and roof are also made of pallet wood and a roof with tar paper protects the interior a little from rain.
A toilet seat is screwed onto the wooden box. Next to it there is an opening to make the earth coal mix accessible to cover. Feces, earth and coal are collected in hermetically sealed metal buckets, as is the paper. A urine trap allows the liquid to be drained into a tank, which is also fed by shower water and wash basin. This urine-water mixture is used to irrigate the terraces further down.
After we presented the infrastructure to the students, they decided to divide the toilets according to gender. You use the toilets several times a day for a period of 9 days. They could organize the handling of the buckets themselves and also procured more earth and coal (the latter was also used for cooking at the nearby barbecue area). 55 students and 6 teachers used less than 1000 liters of water for the shower and wash basin and left behind about 1500 liters of urine-containing wastewater, suitable for watering the nearby trees thanks to natural cleaning agents. In addition, the group left about 100 kg of the mixture of feces, soil and coal. The closed metal buckets are still waiting to be used in the color garden in places with ornamental vegetation or in the dye garden. Since we have to suspect drug residues in the leftovers and want to make sure for future visitor groups that they eat uncontaminated vegetables from our garden, we decided to separate them. We are thus also compliant with the health regulations of society. And yet we give back what we have borrowed from the local nature with respect.
The students were very attentive, very social, very committed. After two years, we even received a request from two of them whether they could do their social year in the projects of our community. Both must have been impressed by the life in nature and with nature. The initial reason to create a minimal infrastructure for the first group of visitors was important. This visit mobilized the strength in our community to create this opportunity, without money, without funding, without other public help.
In the period that followed, it was precisely this infrastructure that offered visitors the option of pitching their tents on the Art Campus for a while. With Nora Valdez, a Latin American artist came to exactly this place and, in addition to an impressive group of figures, also painted the toilets in the tradition of the colorful, naïve, often socially critical and ambitious murals of Nicaragua.
The black and red human torsos formed the basis for the action artist and painter Rolf Habel to work out the colors and souls of the people.
Now these toilets are connected with a distant place in Latin America, with its history and its indigenous knowledge of food production and the treasures of nature, but also with a farmer leader who as a teacher risked his head and shoulders for his convictions and with new generations who oppose it decide the mainstream and set out to revive the abandoned land and create new space for free thinking and action, for informal education and the dialogue between north and south, young and old, city and country.
A big thanks we want to announce for Arta Garanča for her exquisit drawings!
The Art Camp in the Garden of Colors (val.: jardi de colors / laboratori d’artistes), as Esther, a friend of our community, called our dye garden, is now setting out to process and pass on the knowledge about these Terra Preta toilets to a new community project in Nicaragua. And this article is the beginning.