Based on government restrictions for many people social media becomes more and more important. To flaten the curve of requests we decided to offer more video- and audio-content online for people interested in our community life.
Actually people are moving from cities to the countryside, from flats with balkonies to garden areas with tiny houses and from industrial areas to rural remote places. A lot of people ar working now in home office and even digital workers don’t see a return to the office in a short time.
We hope these podcast might help to navigate a little bit on the way to approach FamiliaFeliz.
This is a story within a story within the story. If you have already developed your own opinion about human intervention , please read no further. Cancel culture shows the way.
Human life evolved from biomass, the mass that it shares with all other living things. The distinction between inanimate nature and animate nature is already a simplification in terms of perception. Since we can neither think structurally / parallel nor exponentially, our own thinking costs us a lot of energy (in a state of rest our brain uses around 40% of the total energy used for our body) and we are not willing to overwork our body regularly, we work essentially in the unconscious autopilot mode. The lowest possible energetic expenditure for maximum yield was and remains the challenge that nature faces again and again.
The extension of our extremities (ax, bow and arrow) is subject to the same premise. The energy expenditure for the production of the tool, but also for its care and provision (logistics), must overall be less than the energy yield that we achieve by hunting the buffalo in the savannah. Obviously that worked quite well for over 300,000 years. But as so often, euphoria and the feeling of superiority are in the foreground, especially with those who can bring home a greater success than their competitor when used skillfully. It is also underestimated that fast running, a good eye, the ability to work in a team, safe orientation and good reflexes lead to success using the arrow tool. Since there have always been people who were better at arrow production than at hunting, this not only favored a division of labor, but also paved the way for marketing. Those who could make better arrows also got more of the meat. The number of arrows became an expression of the social position, the hierarchy of the hunting party (driving or shooting) was always based on the use of the tool. This ranking could only be overlaid by those who had the opportunity to tell the hunter when and where the animal was to be found. In order to maintain his position as clan leader vis-à-vis the young, fast and skillful hunters, it was necessary to put them in their place and sometimes to send them astray, with the sure intention of then ascribing the failure of their hunting luck to the hunter himself. What began with the arrow leads to what we call politics today: divide and rule.
The consequences of this tool arrow could not be foreseen: longer life expectancy of the clan members, lower child mortality, greater need for food, greater space requirement (and the associated higher risk of meeting other humanoids, with a dubious outcome: more deaths, more children), no more existence threatening leisure time (training cultures), much can also be attributed to the arrow.
Even if this list seems positive up to now, other consequences can easily be found: fundamental change in diet (more meat), loss of knowledge (for the utilization of flora), greater dependence on regulatory systems of natural cycles (the higher the food in the food chain is tapped, the less certain is its availability). So there may have been some discussions around the campfire in which the vegan neighbor reminded of the good old days, when you had to move your tents much less often and the peacefulness in the clan was greater, not least because most of the people were busy in spending most of their time with them collecting and preparing plants for dinner. Probably the neighbor already had a difficult time against those who lived from the production of arrows, who wanted to make a career in the hunting society or who had already made it. And politics, too, which, with the intention of maintaining power, did not want to forego the hierarchy as the economic implementation of their will, had found that the rest of the clan could be encouraged to make sacrifices for the good Lord of hunting luck to vote. Even then, everyone agreed: technology is progress, and progress is good. So it was okay that some arrows found their way into the meat of the brother, the neighbor – especially the vegan one. There are a lot more newcomers than before to fill the gaps.
But that’s not all: if you see humans as moving biomass in their habitat, you will have further consequences. The digestion, largely left to bacteria and fungi, first had to adjust to the new offer. New diseases appeared, the immune system was challenged and so was the medicine man in the clan, who then usually took up the plant, if he still knew about its effect. The social burden on the clan due to the wounded and those, who lived longer and longer was a price to be paid.
If you have already developed your own opinion about human intervention , please read no further. Cancel culture shows the way.
The arrow of the past as a tool and manifestation of technology has become today’s computer science. The extension of the hunter’s arm by almost 50 meters was rewarded with meat, known to be a piece of vitality (old slogan in the advertising of the meat industry in Germany: Fleisch ist ein Stück Lebenskraft!). Today the confident handling of the bits and bytes is rewarded. The meat somehow fell by the wayside, but you can still enjoy FIAT currency, since you can still buy highly subsidized meat with it.
It was 55 years ago that Lotfi Zadeh developed the fuzzi logic set theory. It was more than 30 years ago that researchers recognized the connection between population, settlement area and the quality of this area in terms of sustainable settlement. Both sources of these scientific considerations offer many opportunities to understand the effects and interactions in dynamic systems.
The populist of that time narrowed the discussion to the statement: no arrow equals no meat. He described the use of the technology with its collateral damage as no alternative. Anyone who still talked about a purely vegan diet was left behind in the best case, but possibly also a threat to the survival of the clan, maybe also a conspirator in their own ranks, not belonging to their own clan and sent to weaken the clan. The evidence-based statement is obvious: the hunter goes with the arrow and he comes with the meat. The progress denier becomes a useless blackhead. He should not be entitled to the hunted booty.
Attention should be directed to the development of larger and sharper arrows, the conquest of land is unavoidable and thus also the military conflict with neighboring clans, whereby one should first concentrate on those with the smaller arrows. The trade in agate / jasper (the arrowheads in the Stone Age) is to be promoted in order to produce more arrows and the carrying of arrows is only permitted in locked quivers within the village in order to be able to better guarantee general safety. In order to enforce these measures, selected hunters, who can generally be recognized by their openly carried arrows, are to be released from the hunt (eligible to claim a tribute).
If today the simulation of reality using limited available and arbitrarily selected raw data from the same is called science, and virologists insist on the evidence of the prognoses calculated from it, then the world is on the wire (as R. W. Fassbender showed us), then the prognosis becomes the truth that cannot be questioned, and if they do not match, the fault must be looked for in the real world outside the simulation. A few years ago a hurricane laid down large parts of the German black forest. Those responsible did everything in their power to research how to reanimate the affected forest areas as quickly as possible. Different strategies (clearing, new plants, use of fertilizer, fast-growing varieties) were put into the race side by side. After all, areas were also shown without human intervention, as a reference and yardstick for the expected success of human intervention. The result was sobering. After ten years, the forest had recovered most precisely where humans had left it alone.
That was of course not in the interests of the manufacturers of heavy forest machines, not in the interests of the tree nurseries and also not in the interests of politics, which assumes its success in the degree of its intervention and als a minor class of society can only benefit from it by diverting energy and taxing it. Anyone who clears too much damaged wood from the forest and explains that there is a risk of fire will also drive the bark beetle into the fresh wood. The next danger was presented to the populist: the dying of forests: The Waldsterben.
In Central Europe, one person can work on 15,000 square meters in such a way that they can pass this land on to the next generation in the same or better condition. That has something to do with the amount of sunlight, per square meter. In Spain an average of 3.5 people live in this area, in the capital Madrid 79.5. But it is not the case that human progress could change this relationship between human / surface / soil quality. He can only use this technique to extract the energy from one surface in order to supply it to the other, which is heavily populated. The energetic costs of logistics will also be reflected in the negative balance. The arrow from the buffalo is automatically directed at the neighbor in order to distribute the hunting area, and this effort also costs energy that needs to be imported in order to be available on one’s own land.
If you have already developed your own opinion about human intervention , please read no further. Cancel culture shows the way.
Anyone who regards the symphony orchestra as a cultural achievement of a society should not deny the price (redirection of resources to the detriment of the neighbors). There are only symphony orchestras on this planet where there is agricultural overproduction. Where around 5000 children die of hunger and thirst every day, no music plays. It may help in the short term if the neighbor is far away, the chief speaks of meat deniers and the hunter of grass-eaters. But if the neighbor then wants to get closer to the meat pot, it was good to have invested in longer arrows early on.
Hoimar von Ditfurth once put prospective development worker students in front of a computer simulation in a science program. With a fixed budget, they were able to invest in consulting, wells, tractors and hospital wards. The computer simulated the coming year. And it looked better year after year. More children, less child mortality, more housing, population growth. After 20 years the budget was exhausted and the population was released into its fate. It looked good, better than ever. What the budding development worker students did not knew was, that the simulation would continue to calculate for the next 20 years, now with no extra external budget. No spare parts for the old agricultural machinery, no money for the infirmary, wells that are drying up, fields that are too salty. After 40 years, fewer people were living in the same area than before the student’s intervention.
There was a hidden role in the simulation, based on sunlight and square meter.
So if students are not supposed to intervene in the fate of nature with their half-knowledge, then scientists, who are concerned with the study of reality should not be used to set the pace for political decisions. When these scientists withdraw from a confusing real world into the simulation of a subset of the same, and thus declare simulated evidence to be the yardstick for politically correct action, then premise becomes fact, assumption becomes truth and evidence becomes belief. Whoever questions this, has to be seen as sneaky.
If you have already developed your own opinion about human intervention , please read no further. Cancel culture shows the way.
Surprisingly, you’re still reading on here! You may wonder what this story is doing on the website of an alternative living community. What do arrows, bark beetles, computer simulations and intestinal bacteria have to do with contemporary lifestyles? It is not an expression of the refusal to progress, it is not the swan song for serious science in Popper’s sense, it is rather the holistic view of the resulting patterns and the structure on which they are based. As a living community, we know about the relationship between area and people. As a living community, we know about the consequences of using tools for optimization. As a group, we know about the resulting structures from the division of labor and specialization. Anyone who walks through the pedestrian zone clapping their hands to drive away pink elephants may count their absence as a service, but we provide no way of counting them against salad (or meat).
We don’t question everything every day. We too are subject to the second principle of thermodynamics. But we allow ourselves and all of our neighbors to question everything. We locate progress in better simulations; the real world remains the benchmark for us. We navigate between assumptions and avoid dogmas. In our relationships, we refer to fellow human beings, not to roles that others assign to them. You can’t really see our permaculture garden. We are still studying. We hold back with the imagination of interfering with nature. We don’t want to create any needs and have suitable products in stock to meet them.
We avoid hierarchies and those that require hierarchies. Some of our visitors miss rules, distrust sustainability without law and order and can still answer the question of who should determine the violation, who checks and evaluates this misconduct and who carries out the resulting punishment. Most people seek security and simple solutions: arrow equals meat. They pay with freedom and show solidarity with the guards. They go their own way, with no alternative: it just doesn’t work without arrows. And if the old arrows are really no longer useful, they can at best be replaced by new, better ones. The populist promotes alienation from nature, and what is meant here is the attempt to manipulate the simulation in the minds of his followers. He knows that this increases the distance between the real world and subjective simulation. That is his leeway, enough for pink elephants. A community that has no room for this populist cannot become popular. A community that hardly distinguishes outside and inside cannot show a strong profile.
This is a story within a story within the story. You wanted it that way and you have read on until now. Therfor now it’s the story in your head, in your own simulation. And this story of yours is embedded in the history of our society which is part of the great history of this universe. Cancel culture equals malfunction – to late. Go ahead, avoid people who clap their hands and want to be rewarded for it.
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.
This article is about interpersonal relations, our limited capacities to communicate and our creativity to manipulate somebody. It is about the question whether a weak community with powerful members is more sustainable as a powerful community with weak members. It is about our view on ourselves and our group as well as on the others.
Again it is motivated by a weekly video podcast of Jubilee and the upcoming question What is the relation between me and a member of my community and between me and my community as an entity?
Before we go into details we should be aware about which tool we use to understand the topic and what it means for any possible outcome of this thought experiment. Even posting an article in social media is such a thought experiment. It is writing against – or for – a projection, limited by resources and the choice of means.
As visualized in the first image, i could choose between son, brother, father, man, driver, or community member for my simulation of you and i pick one of these simulations to address my message to you. Maybe i got it right or wrong, i never know if i picked the right simulation, not only because it is just my simulation, also because i have no idea in with mode you are when you receive my message.
When you are looking to a 4 year old child playing with toys you see the kid playing in different roles, at one moment a doctor, a fireworker, a father, a police man and a few seconds later as a kid inside the created scene. No border to cross, no inconsistence to take over the little child and move it from on to another role.
We are all populated by various personalities and we like to experience these personalities from the beginning by inventing sets and roles to explore the values and advantages of each.
Growing up one will be the winner, based on our childhood, our history and the history of our ancestors. One personality will take over our body, and: the winner takes it all.
In these battles in our heads we sozialize and we learn to establish an image of ourselves and of others around us. We learn how efficiant it is to be focused on one personality. We loose the flexibility in this take over but we earn a kind of peace. Also we pay a high price, we are owned by the winner.
As much as you kept your creativity you might choose a profession like actor or artist – or spy – to be excused to slip into other roles from time to time.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me
The first commandment
So far so good. Passing your adolescence you become aware about the fact that it make sense to show in different situations different aspects of your personality, or, motivated by joy – spy – or by violence – victim – even different personalities at all (ICD/DSM).
I do not want to dive deeper into any personality disorder. All this preludium was only to regognize the roots of our media (body, mindest), used to discover more about relations and consequences between members in and members towards a community.
To establish a relation with another person is a complex process. First of all you need to be aware about the probability that there is a real person behind your simulation and you might calculate the advantage of spending energy in developing this relation.
Also you choose set, environment and the peronality / role you want to approach.
If you look at the image (fig 3) it looks more like a comunity talking to another community and there is a big truth in this observation.
However, we establish relations between our own favorite image (as a representative of our physical manifestation and as well as a speaker for all the other hidden campions in our personality group) and the simulated image of a targeted person. With techniques of non-violent communication, awareness and supervision we might limit the colateral damage but we are trapped in this setting and we have to be aware about it.
The investment in a relation could be motivated by a desired result: the date, the dinner, the job, the money, the protection, the capture. If its not about size or testosteron we like to invent a higher reason for moving the other to a desired behavior.
Name it religion, ethics, a moral instance or science. We invent or use an acceptable authority to underline the evidence of our argument. With this trick we gain sovereignty of interpretation, we safeguard ourselves against responsibility and we demand submission to the obvious, because it is obvious. If the other accept this authority we can expand the impact of this tool while developing the relation.
We tend towards this behavior because we basically only repeat what we ourselves have experienced in the personal struggle for dominance over our bodies. To manipulate a single other person we invent or use narratives around these authorities. We invent rituals and routines, framed in such stories and established and delivered in rhythms.
In our approach to charge our message with weight and validity we like to show ourselves as a speaker for this authority.
We politicians cannot determine what happens, our job is to determine what it means.
Gerhard Schröder, former prime minister (GER)
If we are able to move the favorite representation of our personality in the position of such a speaker of this authority – and we are able to convince the other about this status – we re-route and control also the whole communication in the future. This even allows us to display our own opinion that differs from the authority.
So far, so good. You might ask yourself, where is now community in this picture and how it leads to the answer to our question, if a weak community with powerful members is more sustainable as a powerful community with weak members.
In one moral or ethic believe you might share a vision and based on your qualification you try to speak in the name of...
If you own this believe, you will control it as well as you certify the speaker of it and you might name it company or enterprise.
The legal equality of a company with an underage person gives the owner the opportunity to delegate responsibility, to select recruits, to define the purpose of the company and to have interests asserted by others (CEO…).
The boundary between good and evil does not run between people’s heads, but inside of these heads.
Juan Petry, artist
This allows the owner of a weapon manufacturer to act privately as a philanthropist and cognitive dissonance can be subdued in the ranks of employees at the yearly company party.
Game A – driven societies are in favor with entities like associations, foundations, companies, enterprises. The invention of the personified authorities forms the basis for the success of the neoliberal economic system. The ambassador becomes the message. The message becomes a commodity. The commodity becomes the truth.
Like every belief system there is a dogma in the established narrative: something which can not be transcended into commodity can not be truth.
The underage person as a company needs the advocate. This company creates roles (like CEO). People choose these roles because they are associated with validity and status. This validity is necessary for a person to stabilize the personality that had gained the upper hand in becoming this person.
When people fall in love with a house, a car, with something, we speak in pronounced cases of a personality disorder. The fetish becomes a god. Worship lies in submission, just as submission lies in worship.
If you see a community as a company, if you create a narrative and you like to gather followers, you become the guru, or the advocate of a belief system. In the best case you end up with disciples convinced in the same faith in a competition about leadership. If you own the idea, you might achieve total control.
In the process of building a community people gather and exchange ideas and narratives. If a core group of people are able to identify similar thoughts in their projections of the others they might to establish relations. Based on this relations they are able to form a group, a clan, a family, linked together in a belief system.
To establish this entity and to manage the inner relations the group is forced to explain it’s view from inside and outside. This force is delivered by the society and at the latest when the first car is bought, the first house is built, the first tree is planted, the question of ownership arises.
And ownership itself is a narrative, an authority and if the members of the group agree on this idea of property, at least externally, they submit to this idea. In this they form the interface to the society. It is the interface this society wish to encounter, for the purpose to delegate responsibility.
Most communities distrust their members and choose to put ownership in the hands of an association. This association, however, as a minor, needs a guardian. It is chosen from it’s own ranks. And with that, the equality of the members is abolished.
Entities like association or company may sustaine on a short term. In finite games they can act much more agressive and overcome moral or ethic handicaps. On a long term in an infinite game they become useless.
Democracy is only conceivable among equals. A community under the open sky that finds itself in order to develop a social place for personal happiness, that has more advocates than members, that gives no rights and takes no toll, could be created and recognized. Nobody could build a realistic relationship with this entity. It throws everybody back on the simulation of himself.
So far, so good. If this headline had survived for a second in your focus and you are starting to read, we will celebrate together a victory over cancel culture at the end of this post. So far, so good. You might thought about it as nonsense is the aim or as every aim / goal is nonsense or senseless at all. We are talking about intentional communities and especially the moment of creation. And we are talking about needs, expectations and perception.
This post – in a line with several others [1|2|3] – is based on a open question “Howto move from survival mode to wholeness?” pointed out in a Jubilees video podcast.
Our community FamiliaFeliz is flooded by requests since we published this website five years ago. In the early times it was more frequently a student or wwoofer, who asked for a shorter and cheap visit to help in the garden, in construction or in some other projects we organised around informal education and community building. Since the beginning of 2020 there are much more singles and single mothers with kids searching for a new and alternative life. Also couples or whole families with one, two, three or more children are asking for conditions to join our community project.
In the beginning it was not a matter of money or there was no economical need to find another home or to move from a city to the countryside. Now it looks as it becomes more and more urgent to find a safe haven, expecting a kind of escalation in winter 2020.
I asked myself what is survival mode and how i might be able to identify it in all this requests, even the question if there is evidence in these requests that people shifting in this desperate mode of reptiles and just focused on surviving need verification.
Many of these single mothers are showing up with a very clear set of conditions they had already defined before a first call. They are browsing through their check lists and at the same time they are listening carefully in these interviews for any sign of weakness, uncertanty, risk. Already trapped in a society which promote the family, but if it occurs, it had become more and more a private coop with little public support. And in case of these single mothers even the male has been lost on the way.
A lot of young tourists and wwoofers also get trapped far from home and where searching for a shelter in spring of 2020.
All this is very human and no reason to judge or belittle. It is just a fact and reality in these times and also a consequence of contemporary identy politics.
Think about two different people trying to enter community. One of them has the money or resources to always know they can feed himselve. The second person does not always know if he can get all his food needs every week. These two people might have different expectations, or desires, about what a community might be like, what it might provide, what they can offer.
Daniel – panalist in Jubilees video podcast
We know from other community designs that inviting and exploiting a visitor is very common. But even if the community has a more holistic view on looking at people it might favor the wealthier person in times of a social break down and an upcoming economical melt down.
It’s easy to imagine different people with different needs and different priorities searching for communities. If you ask each person about the optimum (s)he will define a different design of a community. So far, so good.
If you ask this searching person about the number of identified communities, providing all what’s on the list and with the right priority, the answer is mostly zero. So far, so good.
If you ask them about the expected probability of finding such an optimal community, the answer is: very low. So far, so good.
If finally I asked them, after talking 2 hours by phone about our community design, values, priorities and conditions, why they don’t give a try to one of the communities they already identified before this call, the answer is mostly the same: “I wanna search more to find a better one...!” So far, so good.
Therefore many people are searching now and they are creating a massive overhead of communication towards the interface of each community.
We see two main versions of communities, one is based on a common goal. If some people identify such a goal and others searching for the same, sometimes they are able to gather and unite and cooperate to reach this goal. Most of the times its done after reaching the goal, or, its done before because they realize that they have to deal in the group process with much more than only being focused on that goal.
The other version of communities is not established through members looking for a goal or any specific and maybe missed ressource at all. These communities are born by the enjoyment of the common. They have no aim, no goal, no target – on the level of the community.
If it is a classical company it might be created by exploring the maximum of benefit for the shareholder by opimizing for a minimum of costs to produce this benefit. If every employee experienced himself as a tiny company as well he will act in the same way. Funny to see them walking on the same path by complaining that they have to work so hard for so little benefit. The shareholder complains about deregulation and limited access to the open market by limiting the same in the best way internaly. The employee complains about the pressure inside and the bad labor conditions by serving exactly an entity which does so.
If you compare this two principal designs – and you can switch easy from company to community – you might asked yourself why so many Game A like communities can exist and so few of type B. It is about the human mankind and it’s ability to lie to herself/himself. Therefore you also find many intentional communities which are providing the illusion of any kind of problem-solving. Inserting a problem in your mind you do not have and offering an affortable solution moves you to the leading class of community designs.
Some of the requests for joining our community are motivated by people charged with bad experience from other communities before.
I must leave the system! I need to rest! I want to be self-sufficient! – Many of this we listen again and again. The uncomfortable answer to this: Leave the planet. Stop searching. Hermit might fit.
One of the big myths in western societies is still, that you are an individual as a human being and that happiness is based in individual skills and cleverness. In a worldwide competition it looks like that happiness is a tradable good and money a tool to gather it.
Be effective, be efficient – which is not the same by the way – and focus of what makes sense. Parents, friends, teachers and the whole society is hacking the brain in repeating this dogma of sense.
I had once a talk with an australian language teacher. He visited and contributed to our community several times in the last years. He is working only (!) 6 weeks per year at an university to teach english for new students. The rest of the year he is traveling, reading, talking, moving around and interested in a lot of things. He complained bitterly that his family thought he was a good-for-nothing and that his father accused him of only doing nonsense. I told him, this would be the greatest praise for me, if somebody is identifying me by doing nonsense. Only a person able to do nonsense is a free person.
A community for purpose might lead to endless discussions how to reach the goal or how to re-invent another. The basic rule in neoliberalism “privatize benefit and socialize losses” is from the view of a Game B likely community nothing with favor.
So a lot of times there is another question for the person asking for the community: Why do you think a community would solve any of your problems? The answer is a lot of times: Because i can give the community also something! So far so good. Therefor we have COOPs or companies. So far, so good.
In FamiliaFeliz we are following an old knowledge about the people/surface – ratio in Europe to live in such a way on a piece of land that we can use it for our own life time and we can handle it over to a new gerneration in the same or in a better quality. The ratio is in south Europe 15.000 square meter per person. So we offer a new member 1,5 ha land, a room to stay in the house of the dragon and the ressources we gathered already, all this, without asking for an initial investment or very specific skills.
You might asked yourself why FamiliaFeliz is not – flooded by requests and therefore – growing fast. The answer is simple. We do not provide security, we do not provide sense and most of all, we are not lying to people about setting such goals or meaning.
Every unique member might have his goals, as much as his needs, fear, anger, sadness, happiness and peace, the community – as an entity – has nothing of this.
At the beginning God gave every people a bowl and from this bowl they drank life.
Digger Indians, America
Whoever God might be in this quote, we learn, that every people – a kind of community – already exists before the beginning, and that life appears after drinking it in a common practice.
And that’s the clou. If somebody want to join a community because he want to offer a deal, to give something to this community and to receive a solution for his challenge, it will not work. Beside the fact that he will later give something to some members of the community but never to the community, the community is not an entity like a company and therefore no contracter.
If somebody want to join a community because he is curious about solutions coming out of a crowd self-policed by swarm intelligence and solving unpredictable challenges for it’s members in the future…. so far, so good.
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 the last days of june 2020 FamiliaFeliz was invited to partizipate in a video postcast about intentional communities. Jubilee Creates Something Amazingby meandering through life is one of the emerging video-potcast channels on social media. The host Jubilee is interested in Game B and other projects and initiatives to develop a better life for all of us.
This article is about some of our community activities in the first 100 days of spanish lock down, about the challenge to develop a social community project between community twins, about the daily reality in the house of the dragon and the intention of the community founders to set up a basic rule set – our BIOS – of how it might be to live inside of our community and a link between all of them.
Before we go into details lets discover some main keywords like intentional communities, ecovillages, self-policing and self-fulfilling rules.
Bill Metcalf’s definition of intentional communities in his book “Utopian Struggle: Preconceptions and Realities of Intentional Communities” doesn’t really help. For him traveling 40 years and co-existing in 100 community projects wordwide leads – for us – only to white swan narratives rejecting everything else, especially black swans.
FamiliaFeliz is an alternative living community with shared economy. Every member had already a good life, there was no reason to escape from something or somewhere or to reject, to limit or to fight (against or for) something or somebody. Our intention to gather was basically motivated by our knowledge that we could enjoy more our personal happiness if it would be embedded in a group. And the process of founding it was more a late result of a long term closed friendship between all of us.
In the environement of spanish language the word ecoaldea is often used as a substitution for comunidad (community). It might transport for some the idea of an ecological driven location but for locals its more to seperate it from ancient ideas about the meaning of the word comunidad.
Communities are an inherent feature of human social capacities. Communities as a phenomena are emerging, if a core group of two or more people develop a relation because it makes sense for them. The source for the initial motivation to do this could be indentified by an external reason (violence, forces, pressure, leak of sense…) or by an internal reason (lift personal peace, freedom, joy, fear…). Both types could be linked: imagine a submarine, in which the marines become a team over time after leaving the harbour, has a failing engine and starts to sink. In the first place the relation was designed by externals. At the end there is a strong personal inner will to survive which brings the crew much more together.
Sometimes these constellations of people are invited to define their inner constitution. In case of FamiliaFeliz we where asked again and again: “What really is this FamiliaFeliz?”. Not willing to get tired about explaining again and again we invited our friends to create and verify our basic ruleset, our charter.
When FamiliaFeliz – in this case the crew living in the home unit in Spain in spring 2020 – experienced the first days of lock down, we had a running gag in every dinner at 10pm. Instead of counting the days of lock down we cheered ourselves up with “day hundredminus something of the survival of the fittest”. Nobody was really thinking that it could be our cheers for more than 100 days.
Two years ago we created a prototype of a compost toilet. This was – in terms of our charter – a temporary working unit. The members of this unit donated time and energy to set up a first terra preta compost toilet close to our vegetable garden. The group of contributers where not stable over the time and it was finally finished by a german couple and their son.
The most important content of our basic ruleset is the missing part.
When we came together to start to think about a basic ruleset it was motivated by many talks about our community life, hidden rules, team buildung, and core values. Again and again we where asked about it and again and again we explained it, and everybody in her or his best intention – but surely different. We decided to create a charter. We decided also to create it in an unpresidential way, by inviting everybody online to participate. Finally we where surrounded by more or less 50 people (everybody had some experience with us and most of them where asking before about such a basic paper).
Self-policing is the ability of each member to follow the rule and to experience the consequences of not following them without any intervention of others. It finally empower each member and gives a very smart design pattern for rule sets.
Self-fullfining rules are amazing because they do not need protection.
1.3 Membership To FamiliaFeliz belongs only, who accepts the charter of its group and is member of at least one working unit.
Definition of a Member in FamiliaFeliz – final draft of our Charter
In July 2016 we started to write a first draft and in August 2016 we published the first version. Lateron it became a smart process based on swarm intelligence to figure out the best way of what and how to express our basic inner rules. Again and again we published new versions and the discussion emerged again. In the 9st of January 2017 we published the final draft and here you can find the history of its creation.
The challenge was for sure, how to write such a paper to explain truthfully and honest the reality of our community, to define core values and to be as much as possible flexible for future members and their ideas and needs. We defined some meta rules on the way, rules how to create rules:
Less is more.
Reduce as much as possible expectations.
Define only the core values and procedures.
Define the way in and define the way out of the community.
Make it impossible to break a rule.
Even the last might be a tricky thing. But – thanks to our forcing swarm intelligence – we made progress even in this. Finally we see the ruleset more like a blue print – it was already copied by other initiatives – and as a useful tool to explore the mindset of somebody with interest in our community life. It helps every member to reject false expectations and reduce the guidelines to a smart minimum. In fact after agreeing in the ruleset we never experienced a feeling or need to change it (in the last years). The only thing which didn’t apply was a reduction of explaining our community life, it only added the phrase As we wrote…sometimes many times. :=)
In our community – and in our basic ruleset – we have no reglementation about food and kitchen responsibility. Everything related to a living home has to be organized by the members of this – we call it – home unit. The community is created by it’s members. But we are living in a decentralized community and we have more than one home. We do not think it makes sense to rule out the content of a plate in a dinner session in a house where we are not part of on a daily basis.
The house of the dragon – our first home unit in spain – is an extrem sample of this way of thinking. The artist residence and think tank is visitied by 50 to 200 guests per year (before corona) and the crew on bord decides again and again new about ingredients (vegan, vegetarian…).
People are not equal, and to force them to be equal and declare this as a right goals to achieve is not in the favor and advantage of an individual. Dilan (10 years) like to cook and design but is very lazy in wiping the dust in his room.
The GEN network started in the global lock down period a project to add value to the movement of communities. It asked related communities for twin projects. As a decentraized community in Germany and Spain we applied and we get into contact with Nuestra Finca Sagrada in Nicaragua. Finally we agreed in a knowledge transfer from our project to them, including documentation of the process to send, receive, transform, adapt and realize a project of terra preta based dry toilets. In a first video session we discussed the steps of implementation and we will continue this in the summer of 2020.
In the lock down we started also another knowledge transfer with some friends in Belgium.
We invented a terrace garden and refurbished and upcycled material to produce some food like salad, tomato and beans. We published some posts and chatted with Belgium about strategical and technical solutions.
Whether a person is defined member of our community or not, whether this person is living with us in the same home unit or not, whether the person is part of our community or is on the way to set up his own in another continent, we treat this person in the same way. The unique difference between a member of FamiliaFeliz and somebody else is, that somebody outside of our community has no voting rights to decide on the admission of a new member.
We want a better life, and it doesn’t mapper if we rise the happiness inside or outside our community, because in both cases we experience that we rise it finally on both sides (because in our construction of “we” there is no outside really.
Somebody may be grandkid, kid, mother, couple, family member, car driver, teacher, inhabitant, citizen, activist… but these are only roles, given by societies to manipulate people by sticking responsabilities to each of them.
Inside of Familiafeliz, a social space for personal happiness, all these roles are fading out. We like to see the human, and we do not expect anything from her or him.
Publishing our charter with the name DRAFT is an expression of our humility in the view of the diversity of nature and people. Maybe there is something like GAME B, but – for now – there is only Planet A.
A good question about evaluating a community is: what kind of world would it be if everyone did it in the same way? It might be also a good goal, if diversity blooms and the goal of the community is, to make the members as independent of their community as possible.
However you have stumbled over a deep link to this article , you might see SOS as a distinctive Morse code sequence associated with phrases such as “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship”. When it became a standard after prevailing over CQD it was used by any case of maritim accident, first reported by the sinking of the Cunard liner RMS Slavonia on 10 June 1909.
Happy about it’s ambiguity i will use it here also as an abbreviation for Social Operating System. If you keep your attention and curiosity you will read about the intention of our community to publish it’s charter, embedded in the long history of coded social operation systems, the challenge to mitigate the impact of AI – Artificial Intelligence and about the infinite game to establish a location to invent some Game B spin-off.
<humor>By the way, you do not need to wear a mask by reading this post.</humor> But be aware about that it might change your view on your life – in society and in community.
Coding is a process of using something to deliver something else sometime in the future expecting the capacity of decoding by somebody someway. The meaning had shifted to IT and software over the last years but it make sense to recognize the roots of the word coding. Showing a grime, pointing in a direction, putting stones together as a landmark, painting cave walls – all these are coding activities. Coding goes far beyond humanity as most of us discovered in spring 2020 by learning about RNA and DNA and virus mutations. Likewise it seems beyond our horizon of understanding to find something which is not coded itself. Just as the approach of science your reading of this article is purely decoding. The medium – here a flat screen with pixels – represented as a blog post and created, hosted and delivered by software plays a important role in this process of decoding. I will come back to this later.
Expecting the capacity to decode something implies the presence of something else, the learned ability to return the code into the original, to benefit from the understanding, promised by giving attention to the code. In other words: You can learn only what you already know. The difference between education (in German Bildung) and training (in German Ausbildung) is more clearly coded in the German language because the second is an extension of the first. It is for sure another story to tell about education, here i like to continue with learn equals decoding.
From a more scientific point every decoding leads to an inherent process of coding in the field of the receiver, because processing and storing information again is a process of using something to deliver something else sometime in the future expecting the capacity of decoding by somebody someway.
I shorten Social Operating System by using SOS. To explore the term lets start with Operating System. In case of a simple computer model it means an intermediate between hardware and application software. The transition between the operating system and hardware looks easier than it is – you might think in a Central Processing Unit (CPU) in which coded software defines moves of electrons along cable ways. But even the boot sequence of an Operating System itself is coded in software which has to be loaded into a physical system. All this is done by BIOS, the fundamental Basic Input Output System. And this layer itself is implemented partly hard wired and partly software based. The transition between the operating system and applications – like the browser you actually use to display this article – is smarter and depends on design patterns. It could be, that the operation system provides basic functionality like to open a basic windowor to handle requests for CPU-time in multitasking systems. Beside IT we could think of an Operation System as an intermediate between hardware like rain water, and software like taking a shower at home. The lake as a storage, the pump, the pipe and the water infrastructure in a town and inside a building are more related to the hardware, the contracts between storage investors, suppliers and town hall and the land lord of the building are more software related. All these contracts are based on language, culture, habits and embedded in a very complex environment we called society. Therefor we could use the terminology of computer science to re-view society. And this is, what i like to name Social Operating System or SOS.
Before i went straight to a contemporary living community and its implementation of SOS i like to frame you a bit by walking around and play with these ideas of social basic input output systems and some different types of social operating system technologies.
If you see an Operating System as an assembly of definitions, parameters, functions, logical implementations you will find similar parts in social operating systems. Some of this social operating systems might boot which one god, some other with many, in some cases you should contribute time to him once a week, in others many times a day. Some other social operating systems are booting with a ruleset for monogamy or polygamy, some others are booting with a certified certificate of business partners to form a new company. Some are more related to politics, to food, to food production or to health.
In IT we have single user single task operating systems as well as multi-task and multi-user operating systems. Society – like an intranet – is a multi-user multi-task and multi-operation-system assembly. The world as a location of multiple societies would be the multi-intranet of multi-user multi-task and multi-operation-systems, lets call it Internet.
The main reason for any implementation of any of these operating systems is to balance efficiency and innovation by lowest possible costs. This leads to the Yin & Yang of everything. You are also motivated to update your operating system, if the hardware has changed to adept better to your new environment and if you might take advantage out of a more advanced handling of this hardware.
The cost factor in natural environments is based on bio feedback loops of mutation and selection, sometimes crossing dramatically tipping points.
In this set of ideas a social operation system therefore is based on a process of using something to deliver something else sometime in the future expecting the capacity of decoding by somebody someway.
The final draft of our charter is according to these definitions our BIOS – Basic Input Output System which allows to set up SOS – Social Operating Systems on top. Before we finally move to the details i like to define AI and the possibility to fool it.
Tesler’s theorem “AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet.” might be a weak introduction into AI and jet we have no exact definition. But we could handle this for a moment by looking at the promises of companies promoting AI as a cheap effective problem solving technology and a breakthrough in modern eGovernment.
Nearly 40 years ago i was coding a party planer simulation to predict the movement of the guests at my next party. The desired distance between one guest and all the other – given for all guests – was the data equals food for the simple algorithm, which calculated in every sequence for every guest avatar the possible best move. I would not go so far to define my 2000 line turbo pascal coded software as AI but i experienced in this private programming exercise what companies are promising today: efficient handling of big data, stunning un-expected results and at some level success in prediction.
But i experienced more. By magnitude the outcome became different if i played around with some parameters (like the rotation angle of the calculation of possible direction of movement, or the starting position of each guest at the beginning of the simulation).
Some constellations where attracted by a static final pattern of occupied places for all guest avatars, some other entered a never ending loop of movements.
In the process of understanding the capacity of my simulation i added some features like “furniture”, a chair to sit, a bar to have a drink, a table with tasty food (which want to be close to everybody but can not move by itself). I experienced that some data to start the simulation was easy to collect before, some other was more a guess and some unpredictable.
In fact i invited some friends to some parties and i wanted to proof and verify the simulation. The feedback was stimulating my effort to redesign the software again.
If we compare my little program with modern AI the Intelligence part was completely outsourced (into me) and a static code was running again and again. Now we focus in AI on a self programing algorithm able to learn and proof the output to optimize it’s predictability or problem solving capacity.
In 2020 the mainstream media is talking about a new feature coming out of silicon valley and they named it Artificial Intelligence. This narrative implies something arriving soon. But imho (in my humble opinion) its already here.
When search engines started to harvest the online available data and processed the content they started to use self optimization. At this time it was more based on handling and interpreting the raw data and less in changing the code but AI already started to play a major role in Big Data. At this time i designed a self organized online gallery for artworks, represented by photo and description. The gallery learned the favorite taste of its viewers and reconfigured dynamically the order of displayed artworks. I also discovered that most viewed art works correlated with most sold artworks. A lot of social media users are not aware about the huge benefit for companies when they click the like button. Even this article is delivered by AI algorithm predicting the Internet content you might prefer. If you follow my blog via social media you are the lucky one, to whom was shown the link to this article, decided by AI.
To bring all together we have to discover a little the meaning of “fooling” in this case. If you play poker it is a skill and you lift you social status by fooling better than your competitors. If you fool in your tax declaration depending on your social status you might loose or win social prestige. If you fool your kid for a short-term advantage you might get into deep trouble later on and loose forever. As a fly showing yellow stripes could be fooling your predator, very healthy.
In case of AI you could have a client that finances an implementation, a service provider that implements it and a targeted party to which results are applied. Many ways of fooling are thinkable. A right-wing party could order in a false-flag operation a left-wing service provider to implement an self-optimizing algorithm to discover strategies of left-wing parties to win the next election. The provider could manipulate data or hiding part of the result or deliver a misinterpretation of the result knowing that i was a false flag operation. Fooling AI in these cases could be manipulating the input data, manipulating the set of rules under with the AI system should discover a possible outcome or manipulating the output.
FamiliaFeliz is a decentralized living community with shared economy. It developed several social operating systems to define the interaction between its entities and the outside. It developed also several applications (named working units) to use the foundation of its SOS.
The charter is in this picture the basic input output system and defines the basic ruleset to interact with resources.
The initial motivation to publish the charter was driven by our friends and guests who wanted a clearly structured text – in the sense of a treaty or a statute – in order to better understand FamiliaFeliz and the rules we had given ourselves to achieve coexisting.
We – the three co-founder – decided to write a draft and to discuss it in public with our friends. One co-founder put it in this words:”We think and hope to make the real life situation easier when it occurs.” In fact we invited all our friends and nearly 50 people from different color, social background, nationality and profession contributed to the final draft.
On the way to formulate the basic procedures and rules we discovered that we implemented automatically our own values and visions in this paper. Also we experienced that it became more a protection for the members against wishes and dreams of candidates and people interested to join the community than a handout what and how to do for these new members. In one version i expressed it in an initial phrase: “This charter sets out how we have lived so far and does not describe how we will live together with you.” Later we erased this because we felt it was maybe to confusing for people to read this on their way to understand how we interact between each other. But nevertheless there is a deep meaning behind this sentence. Our goal was to describe our reality knowing that every new member might change this reality on his way to join us. And it was our explizite intention to welcome this new member and open this unknown space for him to develop beside and with us.
Some time before writing this article i discovered some folks in social media involved in deep discussions about communication, sense-making, and modern government. Some of them where involved inside the Game B – community. By listening these folks i realized that our approach to find a compelling SOS for our community was nothing else than finding a real manifestation of a Basic Input Output System to test Game B compatible Social Operating Systems.
In the first years of running our BIOS – without any reboot at all – we experienced another great output. Some research was made about our alternative living community because of it’s numerous unique selling points. Some visitors also used our charter as a blue print to redesign their own basic commitment.
In late August 2020 we will welcome some founders and co-founders to gather in a first edition of a festival (CFF2020). The main intention is to bring people together who really are on the way to found a community. One aspect will be to discover the different BIOS and SOS variations and to explore similarities, variations and differences.
Some people on the way to search for an alternative lifestyle are arguing that to fool the old system (armed by AI) Game A is ok. The end justifies the means. We disagree. We see our BIOS in an open infinite game with all competitors based on given resources.
Nearly 2030 years ago a mix of military and economic considerations had led to planning and realization of the Via Herculanea, later re-named to Via Augusta, an ancient public street of the Roman Empire to connect Cadiz, Sevilla, Alicante, Valencia, Tarragona, Barcelona and Girona with the extisting network of main streets, all connected to the eternal city of Rome.
Here I will explore a narrative about a spanish youth playing in the streets of Italica, a Roman consul founding a city for war veterans, a Gypsy woman walking barefood on the Via Augusta in Rome and the project of rebuilding a ramp in the color garden of our community FamiliaFeliz in Cervera del Maestre, which will be part of the upcomming community founder festival in 2020. Also i will shed a bit of light upon myth and reality of community founders on the way to work for an idea and enlighten the link between all of this.
As many politics truely believe a street is a tool to explore a region, to develop a new industrial area and to organize people on their way from A to B. And as we are all dealing most of the times with narratives of belief systems (like religion, science, common sense, the law of nature…) most of these times we are failing.
But there is a reason for a street as a tool for transportation, and human mankind mobalize much energy to set up a public street, if there are needs for a logistic solution.
On my journey to discover Spain in the 1980th i was living a month in Granada and joined a trip to an ancient Roman city named Italica, not far from Sevilla. On a very sunny day in May (we enjoyed +47 degrees later at 7pm in the evening in Sevilla) i was walking in the streets of this amazing ancient Roman city. During the Second Punic War in 206 BC Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus had moved a Turdetan settlement, after the battle of Ilipa, into a camp for wounded Roman soldiers and expanded it later into a military post. When i was so far away from the forum romanum in Rome i felt the power of this ancient empire, to be able to connect these places with a network of public highways. I imagined, what the boy Aeluis might have thought about the Roman Empire and his own career later on.
Nearly 15 years before i was sitting on a big marble block and drawing a Gypsy woman moving over a ancient street. I was not knowing at that time, to which destination this road – Via Augusta – could lead me. And – maybe as well as Aeluis – i was not aware that we both would take this street in our life, but in the opposite direction.
When the craftsmen began excavating the base of today’s Cologne Cathedral, the builders at that time thought that a building would only stand securely if the weight of the foundations corresponded to that of the building above it. It took them 40 years to excavate all soil and ground and to fill it with stones mixed with roman concrete, an ancient well-known buildung material. And as the Romans 1000 years before, they also used and recycled material from the old church at the same place.
Imagine what you would think, if you start your career as a freemason in your 20th to be part of a team to build a cathedral. And 40 years later you get retired and the last piece of stone you move is still part of the foundation. In the same way we see FamiliaFeliz as a long term project, much longer than our working lifetime and – for sure – longer than our life at all.
To reach this location everybody has to pass a old concrete ramp, created by the previous owner of the plot. This ramp was already broken and heavy weather events in the last years damaged this building more and more.
After 100 (!) days of lock down in Spain we hope to welcome people from near and far to our Community Founder Festival CFF in August 2020. So we thought it was a good idea to renovate and repair the ramp before all these guests will use this main entrance to the art camp, which will be the host for tends and trailors and vans and cars.
Two times in my life i was the guest in the villa of Aeluis near Rome. He made the way from Italica to the eternal city and became emperor and leader under this name Caesar Trajanus Hadrianus Augustus. His house – Villa Adriano – was more likely a municipal district than an ordanary house. On the way from his parents home to the villa on the hills of Rome he changed the carob seeds for diamonds.
On my visit in his house i realized the power of civil rights. Aeluis, as a spanish boy, was a defeated Iberian in the Punic Wars, who, with his defeat under the Roman empire, at the same time obtained all civil rights, including active and passive voting rights.
What a difference, if you compare this with manifestations in streets of contemporary empires, in which ordinary citizens complain that their civil rights have not been granted yet, after more than 250 years of beeing citizen of these empires!
Aeluis for sure traveled on the ancient Roman public street Via Augusta, he passed the little village of Benlloch in Castellon as well as Roman metropoles like Tarragona, Barcelona and Girona on his way to Rome.
Aeluis also passed on the Via Augusta a city founded and organized by Decimus Iunius Brutus Callaicus. This Roman conqueror had developed an little island in the Turia river, 4 km far from the coast. This city was designed as a retreatment area for soldiers. Later under the Caliphate of Córdoba it became a well developed commercial and administrative city named Valencia.
The Gypsy woman walking on the hot stones of the Via Augusta in Rome was a symbol of commerce for me and highlighted the meaningfulness of this network of public streets all over Europe.
Aeluis had not experienced any border control nor passed any check points on his way to Italy. It was one country at that time. And till the lock down began, i was a European citizen with the right of free movement and could followed him in the same way. Many years after his travel, with the spanish flue, countries in Europe invented border controlls for ordanary citizens, and, what coincidence, in these times again the free movement in Europe is falling apart.
Streets are used by military, by commercial dealers as well as by humans looking for new challenges in their lives in discovering new territories and remote places. Streets are links between centers of power. Streets are following ideas. Streets are places for the manifestation of human dreams and values. Sometimes, like the Roman empire, part of the idea disappers. But if we meet a street, we can meet the history, which leads to the ideas.
The ramp in the color garden of FamiliaFeliz in Cervera del Maestre, Castellon, located in Pais Valenciano, not far from the Via Augusta, might be used in the future also by travelers discovering their new lifes. As a main entrance to the art camp it is a kind of private street but also an invitation to peace, a link to the tribe of humans without fear.
Like the young freemanson digging the foundation of the Chatedral of Cologne, who in his imagination may hear the praises of the parish around the shrine of the three wise men, Dilan, Francisca, and Jens and many other are working on the ramp in the color garden, to invite guests, they might never see with their own eyes.
The myth of community building is sitting in a circle and singing, the reality is digging the foundation to set up a place to make that gathering happen. I took the Via Augusta to the south east of Spain. Aeluis went to Italy. He changed the peace of Italica for the violence in Rome, as part of the elite. I left the violence of neliberal capitalism in the north and I changed the diamonds for carob seeds. You might see the trees, if you walk the ramp.