Project in Practice
Catalyzing community through a voluntary task force: Case study of Charlottendals gĂĽrd Peter Tallberg Student number: xtv807 Supervisor: Ole Fryd 13.06.2018
TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Introduction
1.2. Foundation 1.3. Structure of the report
1.4. Hypothesis 1.5. Strategy
2. The host organisation 2.1. Transition Town Movement 2.1.2. Stöd Organisationen för Omställning i Järna (STOJ) 2.2. Anthroposophy 2.2.1. Charlottendals Gård 2.3. Tasks and timeline
7 7 7 8 8 9
2.3.1. Lilla Bullerbyn 2.3.2. Föreningen SOFIA 2.3.3. Under Tallarna 2.3.4. Cykelkultur
10 10 10 10
2.3.5. Nackunga Community 2.3.6. Charlottendals gård
3. Two selected activities
3.1. Permaculture Design
4. Community 4.1.Community survey 4.2. Community interview 4.3. Case Asplunden 5. Reflection 5.1. Key objectives 5.2. Volunteer interview 5.3. Cycle of change 6. Conclusions and perspectives 6.1. Answering questions 6.2. Available resources 6.3. A different paradigm 6.4. An end and a beginning
14 15 16 18 19 19 20 21 22 22 23 24 25
1. Introduction Many trends today indicate a collective awakening to the importance of living in natural environments, for the sake of our own quality of life. We are increasingly growing aware of the dire need to halt the structures and processes which are currently clearcutting, contaminating, and corrupting the only home we have ever known - earth. Certain places and people carry a larger role in this state of affairs, but it is no less a challenge we all must collectively rise to meet. I have simply followed my call of realizing â€œthe dreamâ€? in a strategic manner, which has led me to design the nature and connectivity of human habitats and homes. I agree with Jacobs (1961), who has stated that cities are suffering greatly from a negative spiral of development trends of centralization and standardization have led to less diversity in many different aspects, and the link to nature has been as good as severed in most larger cities. Such large centralization of people assert a high demand for resources and infrastructure. We each have our basic needs, wants and wishes, and the environment which we live in ought to be able to cater for those needs. But as most education and career possibilities are in the city, many are attracted or forced to move there. Design wise this has in increasing cases led to generic environments (Koolhaas, 1995) and unhealthy places of habitat as resources are stretched. According to lectures given during a university course called Urban Ecosystems one can observe phenomena like urban heat island effect (UHI), wind tunnels, and other design-related issues arising in urban environments (Autumn lectures, Urban Ecosystems 2015). The waste to nutrient cycle is another matter entirely, but there have been some reports of increasing initiatives to grow local food in urban environments, e.g. by permaculturists.1 Thanks to a diverse range of education received from my brilliant role models, teachers and guides, I came to ponder the underlying processes of urban development. The situation seems so complex that it will require a simple method of answering, most likely something easily adaptable to different environments, cultures, and scenarios. The pace of development in urban and suburban environments is pushed by the large amounts of people moving to cities, and the increasing rate of urbanization of places (Beall, Guha-Khasnobis & Kanbur, 2010). In order to return to a more qualitative form of urban design the pressure of development needs to be decreased. By re-allocating some resources for development to rural and peripheral landscapes and villages, it may be possible to reignite the countryside and attract people back to environments and lifestyle with a stronger connection to more natural landscapes, as well as to the resources we need to thrive.
For more information see Permaculture Research Institute.
1.1. Motivation My choice to complete a project in practice at Charlottendals Gård in Järna, Sweden, came both from wanting to design alternatives to the negative spiral of development I see in cities and from my conviction of the importance of living in natural environments. Charlottendal is a small farm in transition towards an ecovillage, with a kindergarten and a community of five families living on the property. Because of its small scale, this seemed to be a great place to gain an understanding of the inner workings of a community: a small scale community is less complex than a city and therefore easier to grasp. My motivation is to grasp a practical understanding of building community, so that knowledge could then be scaled up and make a contribution to how we design cities that inspire similar community. Different life experiences led me to Charlottendal. One of them was discovering permaculture towards the end of my Bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture at Aalto University. I became very interested in the field as I felt like this was a natural design tool for me to add to the foundation I had received at university. I completed a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) at Ecotopia in Österlen in the summer of 2015, then began a Master’s programme in landscape architecture at the University of Copenhagen. As I saw a larger need for new designs in the urban landscape, I selected urban design as my specialization. Due to health reasons I decided to take a leave of absence from my academic studies in Copenhagen and return to Finland as soon as I had finished all mandatory courses. During this leave of absence I had a opportunities to be a part of three different projects where the mission was to create the basic necessities for human habitation. The first project was my family cabin in Finland (April - October 2016), which had been falling into a poor state for the past two decades. The second one was helping a man named Magnus establish a yurt camp at Asplunden (see property map), a new area within the Charlottendal ecovillage in Sweden (October 2016 - March 2017). The third project was creating a festival for Nordic permaculture enthusiasts in an Icelandic desert, mainly with salvaged materials (May - August 2017). During this time I was able to gain a better understanding of the basic elements, processes and functions of a place of habitation and how to design healthy homes. Figure 1. Map of property. Illustrated by Svetlana Rodionova. Digitized by me.
1.2. Foundation Creating a foundations require a good grasp on the needs, wants and wishes of the people and the place. Through i.e. permaculture design education on can understand the basic ecology and interaction of organisms, while the needs for human habitation can be found in the realm of psychology. These needs are shared by all in one way or another. Fortunately they are not very difficult to satisfy to a comfortable standard if one focuses resources on simple designs, places comfortable enough can be created with little effort. As I had previously been taught about the building foundations during the three projects I partook in, I was now looking to answer the question: “After establishing the basic necessities, what happens then?”. On the first of March 2018 I began my newest project as volunteer at Charlottendals Gård, which is the focus of this report. Figure 2. Maslow (1943) a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. The basic needs are in the two bottom most layers. The realm of community lies in the middle two. The dream lies on top. Image courtesy of simplypsychology.org Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, McLeod, S. 21.5.2018 An additional question which arose at Charlottendal concerned the role of volunteers. The owner of the property wanted to begin hosting volunteers with the intention of kick-starting the inner workings of the community and providing some assistance with the daily responsibilities of running a farm. The owner, Peter Hagerrot, applied for a European Voluntary Service (EVS) project funding which was approved and, as such, there were resources for a small volunteer base. The arrival of the three volunteers brought new questions: How could newcomers be integrated into the existing community? What impact could volunteers have on the development of Charlottendal?
1.3. Structure of the report The following report will give an overview of my experience as a volunteer at Charlottendals Gård, showing the insight I have gained in both community development and the role of volunteers as catalyzers in this process. I will begin by outlining my guiding hypothesis and strategy. In the section “Focus”, I will discuss some of the broader contexts of urban and community design and environmental degradation. I will then present Charlottendals Gård and its connections to the neighboring city of Järna as well as the global Transition movement, and 4
describe the concrete tasks completed by volunteers at Charlottendal and within different member organizations of Transition Järna Support Organization. I will focus on two specific activities forming an important part of our volunteering: the design of a permaculture garden at Charlottendal and celebrations. Developing an understanding of how community works has been a key part of living at Charlottendal. In order to deepen my understanding, I created a survey and conducted individual interviews with most adult community members. The findings of this research are presented in the section “Community”. The last sections of this report show other volunteers’ reflections on their experience at Charlottendal, and tie together conclusions from our experience and the research conducted here.
1.4. Hypothesis The fundamental forces of community design, be that in an urban or rural settings, are the same. However, in a more human scale, such as the rural setting the forces are more conceivable and easily influenced due to its human scale.
1.5. Strategy By becoming involved in community design through action based research a variety of practical perspectives and insights in community life can be gathered. Together with theoretical knowledge and design tools, a more rooted understanding of creating places of residence is received. Through the lived experience, theoretical knowledge and practical experiences can be integrated into a holistic understanding of creating communities. By refining the fundamentals of creating healthy environments for human habitation, a deeper level of awareness can be added to projects of larger scales, like urban environments. In this fashion, by seemingly taking step backwards, we can gain a more stable ground to build future steps upon, which will with more ease allow healthy homes and sustainable settlements to be built. Thanks to modern technology we can easily create comfortable and connected lifestyles which are completely off the grid. These technologies would allow leaps in technological development for places which has yet to invest in constructing vast infrastructures of national grids for energy, heat, waste etc. So called “developing countries” do not need to follow the same path of development as “developed countries”, generalizing the use of fossil fuels before moving onto green technologies for energy generation - they can instead take the “shortcut” of directly adopting green technologies and permaculture designs for creating habitations. Similar leaps in development has been done when mobile phones outcompeted the landline. People in developing countries can start using mobile phones as a means of communication without going through the preceding step of first creating a widespread national landline infrastructure as developed countries have done (Dobush, 2015).
In other words, a rural village in Asia which does not yet have access to electricity or internet, could easily be uplifted to the electronic and digital era by means of local solar, wind and mobile technologies (Barton, 1998) and (Wong, 2011). Nowadays places who are looking to join the global stage of communication and technology, can chose ways of development which do not require large investments in infrastructure, industries, and land, thanks to the work of those who have come before. In this way places and people can also reach modernization without such large impacts on their local environment. In fact, today it is easy for people to invest in the development of such places thanks to platforms like Trine.2 Choosing the direction of self reliance means creating a holistic design based on creating diverse ecosystems with a harvest abundant enough to meet most of the community’s needs. This is not only food and water, but financial income and desirable opportunities in life. Today we see in movements such as the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and Transition Town hybrid designs of habitations aimed at establishing new links to nature and creating more favorable living conditions through permaculture and biomimicry. This is not a return to the stone age, but rather a rethinking of how we use the resources that we have.
1.6. Focus During the University of Copenhagen course “Theories of Urban Design” (Autumn Lectures, 2015) the difference between top down and grassroots development was frequently discussed. This made me ponder Upon deeper analysis I came to ponder how one might play with these two perspectives. After months of education at the University I decided to begin searching for a strategic place to invest energy. After unsuccessfully applying for an apprenticeship at Ridgedale, I chose to rather make the best out of what life offers me adopting the frame of mind that “the machine”3, as the system of our mainstream society can be called, was already broken, and the best action one could take was to sow seeds and plant hope in the cracks. We have already soiled much of our environment due to negligence and ignorance, becoming sustainable is not enough any longer (Wahl, 2016). The need to reintroduce the human being into the natural environment in a beneficial manner has become one of the newest trends in many ways. From wild kids to freeriding, rewilding courses to unschooling, a strive to something which lies beyond or possibly before education became institutionalized. Research shows nature being a very efficient healer of mental imbalances, like stress and depression (Lee et al., 2017). Christian (2003, p. xviii) also makes some solid points on health benefits of living in community. The largest challenge we as a species and planetary ecosystem are facing at the present moment is environmental change. Whether global warming is caused entirely, partly or not at all by human activity is not analyzed here, but an overwhelming amount of research (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2013) suggests it to at least be accelerated by human activity, manifold increased since the industrial revolution. The fact of the matter is 2 3
For more information, see TRINE, 2018. Welcome to the Machine, song by Pink Floyd (1975).
nonetheless that changes in our so far quite favourable climate are occuring. In one perspective it is reassuring that our activity can influence this, because that means that we can influence the change also in a positive direction, unless a cascade scenario happens on a global scale (Pollard, 2011). Figure 3. Ecovillage mandala drawn in 2004 ecovillage by educators designing the core of their ecovillage education (EDE). It depicts the four different dimension of their curriculum: ecological,economical, social, and worldview. Applicants to their education need to meet a certain requirement in all four dimension before being accepted. As I strive to find different designs that are easily adaptable to different conditions, I find scalability becoming an important factor. So how do our local actions have global impacts? Courtesy of: https://gaiaeducation.org/elearning/design-for-sustainability/design-studio/ With awareness we can focus, or transform our footprint beginning at the level of infrastructure, water and energy all the way round through the economic and social sections and into the section of worldview. The combination of the basic needs to the layers of community creates the foundation of the community. And it is within this foundation that the collective vision of the community can be found. The vision is not made up of pure imagination, rather it is the potential of the group of people in interaction with the potential of the place they interact with. What makes community life so attractive are the opportunities to make one’s dreams come true, according to the collective opinions shared in Creating a Life Together (Christian, 2003).
2. The host organisation I have allowed my intuition to guide me to environments most to my liking, carrying as large of a potential as possible for transformation and regenerative impact on our world. Through the earlier project at Asplunden I came in contact with Charlottendals Gård, a GEN recognized eco-farm in transition towards an ecovillage, and the place began opening up its potentials to my eye of design. I now find myself volunteering for an organization intended to support transition in Järna, a region which could be called the alternative capital of Sweden. Our volunteership is financed by Erasmus+ as a European Voluntary Service (EVS). We are based in Charlottendal which is undergoing transition in many regards. Our volunteering is divided roughly in half between the farm and the other projects, which is explained in more detail in the next section.
2.1. Transition Town Movement Transition began as a concept of transitioning the English town of Totnes. In his book The transition handbook, Rob Hopkins, recognized founder of the Transition movement, bases Transition Initiatives on four key assumptions (Hopkins, 2008, p. 134): 1. That life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable, and that it’s better to plan for it than to be taken by surprise. 2. That our settlements and communities presently lack the resilience to enable them to weather the severe energy shocks that will accompany peak oil. 3. That we have to act collectively, and we have to act now. 4. That by unleashing the collective genius of those around us to creatively and proactively design our energy descent, we can build ways of living that are more connected, more enriching and that recognize the biological limits of our planet.
2.1.2. Stöd Organisationen för Omställning i Järna (STOJ) Transition Järna Support Organization (Directly translated from its Swedish name) was formed 2012 as an ideal foundation and project. It has hosted courses and projects with financial support from Leader4 (short for “Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l´Economie Rurale” which has offered funding for projects involved in helping rural societies and areas improve their quality of life). One such project was the course called “One Year in Transition”, hosted partly at Charlottendal. Today, there are workgroups and an annual meeting, which acts as a forum for gathering. The organization mainly supports and upholds a network hub for administrative and 4
For more information, see Jordbruksverket, 2011.
practical coordination. While participating at their annual meeting it seemed quite clear that this organization is more of a shell, which can be filled with activities and driven individuals, but as of right now it seems to be in between chapters as well. Järna has been called a community of community by Maxim Vlasov Umeå University who researches grassroots initiatives for sustainability5. It is like a web or tribe of people and projects. However, during the most recent period of development most projects have been run separate from others. By physically moving between the different projects and places we volunteers both support individuals’ initiatives, but also tie together a stronger network of activity between them. The next chapter of development promises a direction of more cooperative action between projects and communities. The solutions and designs that could emerge from this development have the potential of impacting society both near and far. Hence also the name of this volunteering project: Glocality.6
2.2. Anthroposophy Anthroposophy is a general theme both in Järna and Charlottendal. According to Carlgren (1985), Anthroposophy is not a religion, it does not have any dogma, nor is it a philosophic system that someone has created. Rather it is a path to knowledge, anthropos and sofia being the greek words for human and wisdom. The basic principle of the path is that of self governance. The spiritual foundation is shared, but workgroups, seminars, schools, hospitals, research laboratories etc. are totally self governed. Within its path it naturally addresses all aspects of life, from education, art, medicine, agriculture, history, environment, religion, and visions of the future. Anthroposophy views people as creatures in development, carrying hidden potential which has not yet been ready to be expressed. Every person is on their own journey of embodying their higher purpose, which is of a spiritual nature and matures step by step. Carlgren (1985) writes that it is for this reason the she (human) needs repeated lifetimes on earth, and that if one adopts this perspective and begins living it there will be drastic changes in one’s life.
2.2.1. Charlottendals Gård Charlottendals gård is a partly agricultural, partly forested property of 35 ha, on the outskirts of a town called Järna in the municipality of Södertälje. Presently there are 19 adults, 2 youths, and 6 children sharing life here together with 2 horses, 12 sheep, 19 lambs, 3 goats, 2 geese, 7 goslings, around 25 chickens, with perhaps twenty chicks, and a handful of roosters, a couple of dogs and a few cats. 5 6
For more information, see Umeå University’s web page. For more information on the concept of glocality, see Fernandez, 2009.
Figure 4. Charlottendals location in relation to Järna. The property is situated close to town with grocery stores and public transport, but also on the edge of the forest. Printed map: System RT90 2.5 gon V Date: 2007-04-19 Considering that it is in a temperate climate zone, and vegetation zone 2 (Hasselfors Garden, 2018), there is an abundance of existing life. However, the potentials of this landscape is without a doubt prime for a self-reliant paradise to flourish. During the past 25 years, since the property was purchased by the current owning family of Hagerrot, there has been a somewhat ongoing period of infrastructural development. Homes for 5 families, a Waldorf kindergarten (for 28 kids employing 9 staff members), a campsite (with a theme of Nordic natural building and tribalism) have been constructed in addition to one previously existing house and barn. The architecture is a blend of traditional Swedish countryside living, anthroposophy, and green technology. Despite the breathtaking terrain the community of Charlottendals gård has suffered a fair amount of conflicts during its newest chapter. A pattern of separation is visible, which is in parts the result of a lack of collective vision, an imbalance in ownership and power, too few members and individuals with available resources. The property connects to a local walking circuit “Mora rundan” and a national hiking path, called Sörmlandsleden. On the property also lies an old hill fort with a history of some thousand years, indicating that this has been a place of gathering for a significant duration of time. Currently a new chapter is beginning as the foundations of life have been created and the possibilities for community to grow set. In late February of 2018 a newly formed taskforce of three volunteers (funded by Erasmus+ as an EVS programme) moved into the community: Noora Puolamaa from Belgium, with a Finnish background; Svetlana Rodionova from Russia, and myself Peter Tallberg7, from Finland, with a Nordic background. Together we were tasked I am currently going by my middle name Edward as there are two other Peters and two Petras living in the community 7
with creating a foundation for voluntary activity in the local Transition initiatives and help carry and develop the ongoing projects. In return we are given possibilities to learn from the change makers in this region, to experience many different perspectives in life and connect with a diverse range of people and activities.
2.3. Tasks and timeline On the 20th of February Noora and Svetlana arrived and were introduced to the place until I arrived on the 1st of March and the team was complete. In the beginning we were introduced to our co-workers and tasks. The volunteer project we are a part of is for the support organisation for transition in JĂ¤rna, which means that we are helping out at a variety of different places currently undergoing transition. Additionally by living at Charlottendals gĂĽrd, one of the places undergoing a strong transition in the area, we were tasked with helping carry some responsibilities and chores around the farm. Easter was the milestone when everything began happening, and as spring turned into summer many projects were being worked on simultaneously.
2.3.1. Lilla Bullerbyn For the Waldorf kindergarten located in Charlottendal we have been building an outdoor shelter for the kids with a carpenter called Torsten Grind on Thursdays. We began by discussing the possibilities of constructing something a bit more durable than a new tipi, as the old one fell to pieces during winter. We recognized the terrain, identified possibilities and resources, played around with some designs, and presented our findings to the children and staff of Lilla Bullerbyn. Together we then took the next steps in designing the shelter, which looks like a wooden hybrid lavvu. We began constructing it together with others in the community engaged in carpentry. Slowly but surely the structure was raised and Figure 5. â€‹Building a shelter for the children, completed for the summer. with local carpenter Torsten Grind.
2.3.2. Föreningen SOFIA SOFIA is an umbrella body for international initiatives within the anthroposophical movement, which could support each other and exchange experiences, and use a common formal organization externally. Here we help out on Fridays with some individual tasks we were given: Noora was set to redesign the webpage; Svetlana began working on connecting SOFIA’s project with the United Nations’ global sustainable development goals (United Nations, 2015), and I began planning activities for youth focused on sustainability. We also helped with the organizing of the School eurythmy festival in the Culture house of Ytter Järna at the end of May. Furthermore, we are part of the organizing committee for the SOFIA charity gala held in November. Figure 6. The crew smiling after an intensive couple of days, at the end of the school eurythmy festival. We helped with food distribution, cleaning, and organized a game. As a reward we got an insight into the anthroposophic world. From the left me, Svetlana, Noora.
2.3.3. Under Tallarna On Tuesdays we volunteer at a project of community supported agriculture (CSA) in Järna. The project, called Under Tallarna has been running for six years now, and feels quite established. So far, we have been “helping hands” in the gardens, but recently we have started to make lunch for the volunteers in the fabulous outdoor kitchen. Under Tallarna produces a veggie box for 23 weeks for up to 80 customers, so it is an important part of serving the community with fresh produce. Due to the severe drought this spring the crop so far has not been ideal, but there is still time for the season to turn-around and be a success. Figure 7. Mulching around berry plants.
2.3.4. Cykelkultur In recent years a Leader-funded project called Cykelkultur has started in Järna with the purpose of reactivating an old goods warehouse by the railroad as a bicycle cafe and repair shop. We have not been there much, but will soon start to help out both in the café and with servicing bikes on Thursdays and Saturdays, as well as holding some workshops targeting local youth next Autumn. We also repair our bikes there. Figure 8. Bicycle maintenance.
2.3.5. Nackunga Community Nackunga is an up and coming community in Hölö, close to Järna. We helped them during some Friday workdays to establish their garden and greenhouse, as well as aiding the community in creating a spring gathering for all community enthusiastic people in the area. We partook in planning and preparatory meetings, and were assigned certain responsibilities. Noora was a part of the photography crew, Svetlana took on the café, and I was on construction and hosting of volunteers from Stjärnsund and Suderbyn. Nackunga’s vision is to create Figure 9. Food break together a with meeting place, and although there have been a series the Suderbynians of workshops and events held there before, this was the first time a gathering of this scale took place. Volunteers and companions from communities near and far gathered for a weekend of work, play, celebration, and coaching.
2.3.6. Charlottendals gård At the farm we help carry the daily responsibilities and chores, such as animal care, maintenance and carpentry. We are also currently constructing a house which will become the base of operations for volunteers in the area. As of writing this the house is standing, but still in need of a floor, fireplace, and interior, as well as bathroom, outdoor kitchen and greenhouse balcony. We take part in community Figure 10. The up and coming base for meetings, engage with most of the people living volunteers, with Joakim’s sauna to the right. here, and help out with administrative activities, such as funding applications and web design. 13
We have also an Easter workday, and a permaculture gardening weekend workshop. I have also interviewed most adult community members in order to allow all voices to be heard when collecting an understanding of this place and its people.
3. Two selected activities In the foreword of The transition handbook Richard Heinberg answers the question of what a concerned citizen should do in response to the greatests crisis humanity has ever faced with acting locally, by, i.e. producing our necessities close by. Efficiency and impact on the state of affairs requires one to identify points of large potential transformation. Certain areas of life we all share like home, family, safety, life and death, can connect widely different people and cultures. A key aspect of transformation is the variety of perspectives of the people involved.Therefore, it is important to facilitate meetings between different people, lifestyles, interests and activities. I call this “building bridges between worlds”, but in essence, it is more like creating a space for meeting which is connected to many different dimensions of life. Change is the only constant, and a particularly elusive one. In addiction related studies DiClemente (2003, cited in Hopkins, 2008, p. 85), present a model of the stages of change (Figure 11.). This shows that change does not happen all at once, and that it behaves cyclically, and gives a better understanding of the story of Charlottendal so far. In order to allow change to happen in Charlottendal two areas of large transformative power were identified; permaculture design and celebration. Figure 11. The stages of change (DiClemente 2003)
3.1. Permaculture Design The concept “permaculture design” was first coined by Bill Mollison, together with David Holmgren in the seventies. Basically it is an agglomeration of three words: permanent, culture, and agriculture. Today, this is a global development philosophy and sustainability movement, modelling its designs for agroecosystems, buildings, and communities. Permaculture views human activity as part of the natural world, and focuses on the interconnectedness among all life. As a design tool permaculture is adaptive and emphasizes local and bioregional perspectives and practises (Veteto & Lockyer, 2015, p. 97).
Permaculture gatherings and education attract people from many different worlds, like large corporations, property owners, gardeners, and vagabonds around the same topics of discussion and activity. These gatherings are often life-changing and offer diverse perspectives and insights in the workings of life, as well as great opportunities to support or influence others achieve a more holistic and sustainable lifestyle. Permaculture adopts an attitude of seeing potentials, resources, and solutions, which make up a very transformative experience considering the otherwise probably pessimistic perspective on the state of the world. These transformative experiences can be very profound and may leave you with a newfound interest in life. Permaculture also breaks down the complex workings of nature into comprehensible packages of knowledge (see appendix 1. Permaculture principles). By living permaculturally one begins to favour household and local economies, which means a reduction in supporting the drives of current inequities. Holmgren (2002) states that from this perspective looking after yourself first is more accurately a challenge of self development and maturation than an invitation to greed. Haluza-DeLay and Berezan (2013) conclude in their chapter on permaculture in the city that the permaculture network is a learning community, where participants first learn that their place matters, they build a different awareness than the mainstream population, and that they engage in various way with relations in community. Permaculture has been incorporated in the Transition movement, which originated as an effort to adapt to a post-peak oil future, and is used as a design tool to structure communities, food production, house buildings, and livelihoods (Haluza-De Lay & Berezan, 2013). It is also used to shape site plan decisions, effectivize resource and energy management, support integration, and uplift flexibility. Management of one of the gardens at Charlottendals Gård was uncertain and as we, (the volunteers), had an interest in learning a bit of permaculture, we decided to make a little investment in the garden. Together with Julian Baw, a local permaculture teacher who has lived in the community before, we created a weekend community event around it, and invited the farm residents, neighbours and friends to take part. We identified the garden as being a strategic meeting point as it lay between all houses Figure 12. The garden we had the and the parking lot with the sorting facilities. permaculture workshop in. Hence, most community members pass by it, and so do all the children of the kindergarten and their parents. Therefore, we saw its potential to be a natural meeting place. The garden had been locked due to previous residents’ constricted wishes, but was now ready for a makeover. Our hopes were of engaging the residents by having fun in the garden together, as well as over time create a fun garden for children with berries, fruit, flowers and small hideouts.
Some residents showed up, some thought it was an invasion by us. Despite the lack of engagement from the residents of the house to which the garden belongs to, they still gave us compliments for uplifting the previously run down garden. The family residing there are moving out of the community, hence the need for someone else to take charge of the garden. There have been some thoughts on creating a collective in the house, which would strengthen the design of the place as a meeting point, but for now we are simply caring for it during this period of transition.
3.2. Celebration Another realm of transformative experiences which allow connections beyond the mundane to occur is celebration. The act of celebrating one achievements and enjoy the little things is a very important part of what makes a place come alive, and life worthwhile. (Dragon Dreaming Project Design, 2018) Celebrations can be small events like the one we organized for Easter, which was aimed at working, playing and eating together as a means to generate togetherness also called community glue (Christian, 2003) with the closest neighbours and friends. The next level of celebration can target a certain group of individuals like the one at Nackunga, which was aimed at those with an interest in community living and design in the region and beyond. These gatherings, as one might also call them, can coincide with cosmic events, natural cycles or cultural holidays to create links beyond the immediate community. It is a most vital feeling in life, enjoyment of what is. It is when one is in this state of mind that the threshold to see past the superficial layers in self and other is lower. Therefore, it may be easier to connect with place and people in a deeper way during these events, thus these act as the glue mentioned earlier by Christian (2003). Celebrations can be casual or ceremonious depending on the goal of the gathering. Nonetheless, they are moments aimed at connecting in a joyous way, and once interaction has broken through the superficial chitchat, great new chapters and partners in life can be found. In more ceremonious settings the ordinary layers of identity are shed and a deeper connection to self, between individuals and finding purpose in life can be facilitated. A “connection to a higher purpose in life” is mentioned in the GEN declaration of commitment as the first point under “best cultural practices”. Ceremonies do not necessarily need to look in any particular way, but they do generally require the agreement of participants to access realms of the non-ordinary. It can be spiritually inclined, it might not. A ceremony usually has a well defined framework, with one or many facilitators and participants. The gathering at Nackunga was a great opportunity to facilitate a meeting with many people engaged in community living. As there was only one community member involved in the events, having volunteers was vital for the realization of the gathering. In the end the crew consisted of a handful of engaged friends at the core, an additional handful for preparations and over twenty volunteers for the actual event. Luckily 14 volunteers came from Suderbyn, another alternative community based close on Gotland 16
and running an EVS project. The gathering of work, celebration and community development was a joyous and warm weekend of spring, with excellent entertainment and funny meetings. The only downsides were that the neighbouring farmer decided to plough the fields in front of Nackunga, (creating quite a lot of noise and dust pollution) and the workload behind creating the event. Since this was the first time the place opened up to this scale of gathering, the structure behind managing the organizing was challenging, creating imbalances in workload and friction. Figure 13. The finishing band at Nackunga. Afterwards the crew from Suderbyn joined us at Charlottendal for a couple of days. Our community trubadur Joakim Ehn played for us as we arrived home to Charlottendal. Over the coming days we worked together on different projects at the farm, as well as rested up after the festivities. It was a great time to bond. On the last day we entered the forest as a group and in a ceremonious fashion reconnected with nature and rebooted our minds. This signified that we were now ready for new adventures. When, after only a few days together, the crew from Suderbyn left it really felt as if we were saying farewell to family. As such, the ceremony could be seen as a success as the connections were indeed formed on a deeper level.
4. Community The situation at Charlottendal seems very similar to what Diana Christian mentions in the beginning of her book Creating a Life Together (Christian, 2003, p. xv). As Christian describes her first experiences of community, I found it resonated with the one I have experienced at Charlottendal. The lack of a common vision or written down values and agreements easily creates blockages and suffering. Christian presents a list of general tendencies which founders of successful intentional communities have followed (see appendix 2. Many ways to for a community). An intentional community is defined by her as a group of people living together sharing their intentions, e.g. Ecovillages which have a focus on living in a more humane and sustainable way, with a positive influence on their surroundings (Christian, 2003, p. xv). “All’s not well in paradise” is a statement which seems to hold solid when it comes to intentional communities. Christian states than ninety percent of communities fail. She identifies lack of money, trouble finding the right property, but mostly it is internal conflict that is the reason for failure, especially when it leads to heartbreak and lawsuit (Christian, 2003, p. 5). The book lists both how to do it and how not to do it. Reasons of failure may include unrealistic views on the 17
costs, time to establish it, resources of managing it, and structure in organizing all aspects of community. Ways of reducing structural conflicts are also listed as having a clear vision, decision making, written agreements, platform of communication, selective process for new members, and skills. Furthermore, a general need for a strong core group, legal structure, appropriate property, strategy of development, and internal economy is presented. Intentions and decision making play a fundamental role, as any issues in regards to them will influence everything else. At Charlottendal the community has been through their fair share of hardships during the past two and a half decades. Members have come and gone, and the community which is left is more accurately defined as a housing association renting land from a private owner of the property of Charlottendal. There has been an imbalance in power and decision making from the beginning which has after over two decades of infrastructural projects left most of the long term members wounded and wary of initiatives to create a collective vision. This has very much led to resentment and disappointments, and as there now has been an influx of new community members during the past 18 months, it felt important to hear all voices on community matters again. I invited the community members to do an online survey and a voluntary interview. Based on a set of general questions posed to the owners of the property Peter and Merle Hagerrot, such as “what constitutes this as an ecovillage?”, Noora and I wrote an interview and survey outline (see appendix 4. for the full set of interview questions). We made an email chain with all the 13 adult community members who have lived in Charlottendal for more than one year. Unfortunately, not all accepted the invitation, but I did manage to collect survey responses from 8 members and interviews from 9 members.
4.1.Community survey In total, 61% of the adults in the community returned their surveys. The survey results show that the community members have a large passion in the caretaking of children and animals, which is also observable in the designs and daily activities on the farm. There was a wish for more spirituality, expressive art and music, bonding and fun. Diversity is one of the central values at Charlottendal and this was,visible in the range of animals that the respondents thought appropriate for the place most which already live on the farm. Geese did not get many likes, but everyone agreed on the importance of bees.This result might indicate a collective wish to refocus some farming resources from birds to bees in the near future. Sheep and horses were given large interest, confirming their place in the centre of the farm. There was a noticeable need and want of producing more vegetables on at the farm. Permaculture design wise there are some designs being planned inspired by Richard Perkins’s book Making Small Farms Work (Perkins, 2016). The general wish seemed to be in gardening, animal care and organizational matters. Finally I ask how many people they think could live and be engaged in Charlottendal. The answers aren’t clear enough to draw any solid conclusions, but there seems to be some kind of limits of comfort around both 20 and 50 people. 18
4.2. Community interview In collaboration with Noora Puolamaa, I conducted 9 semi-structured interviews (see â€‹appendix 4â€‹.â€‹ for full set of interview questions). The interview participants were adults and represent 69 % of the adults living or critically engaged in the community. The purpose of the interview was to: 1. Understand the needs, wants and wishes from the different perspectives of the people living here. 2. Reignite the process of community communication, structure and vision. 3. Gain insight in the inner workings of a conflict riddled community. 4. Help people ask and answer essential questions in life. The interviews yielded a lot of perspectives of the history and ongoings of Charlottendal. There is quite a variety of people who have moved here at different times ranging from more than 25 years ago, (in the case of the owner), to barely one year for the newest resident. This gives an insight into different chapters in the history of development of the place. Everyone agrees on the beauty of the location and the large amount of possibilities it presents. However, there has been a focus on infrastructural development, which has been done with high standards resulting in a narrow target audience, especially considering the ownership status of the houses. Also, as focus has been on construction, (which has had a tendency of being hectic), a lot of structural and social work has been neglected. There is, however, a common interest in creating beautiful lives with a sense of belonging and togetherness to a place. Presently however, the image of the farm acts more of a shell, with quite a mess inside. The farm is in a state of transition from one story to the next, it is a period of change. Certainly the place has been under transition ever since Peter first arrived, but during the previous years a new aspect of transition has begun growing. Peter tells of different strategies that have been used in the design of Charlottendal as it looks today. The kindergarten has been placed close to the hill fort and possible place of sacrifice to polish the energy with the laughter of children. There have been drumming ceremonies here previously as well, which have opened up new realms of possibilities. Another large change was the construction of Asplunden (presented further in section 4.3. Case Asplunden), a place of yurt dwellings and camping. Shortly after Peter invited Magnus to create his yurt dream, Alva, who nowadays also lives at Asplunden, as well as myself. We formed a tight core group and have worked, lived, loved, played, bled, laughed and cried together. This tight bond has since been extended to attract more people wanting and willing to engage with Charlottendal, as well as begun to integrate into the workings of the other residents and groups.. This development shows promise in inspiring a closer connection to each other through certain shared interests and needs, as well as providing alternative perspectives to meeting our needs, wants and wishes. Charlottendal is an emerging experiment of designs for small farms which are not economically viable as agricultures.. It is committed to taking on the challenges of ownership, decision making and community spirit. There have been many conflicts, and some residents here have 19
expressed a feeling of unhappiness bubbling under the surface. Much of the struggles are ongoing, as there is a lack of a platform for communication which allows all to feel included in the ongoings on the farm, resulting in voices not being heard. This leads to unwillingness to partake in collective responsibilities and friction between friends and neighbours. Relationships can become riddled with official matters and chores, e.g. maintenance of house appliances, which easily lead to falling apart. When a lack of structure is present casual time easily gets mixed with work, which tends to disrupt the balance between work and play. Rudolf Steiner presented the notion of moving your bodies and vocal chords together as creating a deeper level of connection (Christian, 2003, p. 33). Working, eating, and sharing stories in life are uplifted as vital connectors, the glue in the community. When analyzing answers on what works well and what needs to change I come across patterns of “magical thinking” as the many developments which have and are occurring have taken a larger toll on the place than planned for. New initiatives seem to take priority over caring for what already exists, and improving upon the structural foundation of the community has become fairly neglected. Also I am unsure of the level of aware regarding the differences between pioneers and settler. Christian (2003) also uplifts the important difference between a community, which is collectively owned, and a privately owned property with a sense of community. Unclarity in this matter can easily result in conflict between members and blockages of development. There seems to be a large need for working on decision-making structures, keeping a logbook and being clear about decision-making power. These issues are presented by Christian as tools for operating whatever format chosen. In fact, there has not been mention of any general principles agreed upon within the group of people currently living at Charlottendal, nor any financial model, timeline of development or any agreements during my 9 months of living on the farm. Therefore, Charlottendal could be compared to Christian’s “Willow Bend” community. Both have a lack of a common vision, or agreed upon values, purpose or aspirations creating a void in a place where there should be strength and unity. Over the past two decades this void, fuelled by imbalances in ownership, power, decision making and missing platform of communication, has led to a pattern of recurring problems. The most visibly result has been in separation and resentment. Christian pointifies a need for clarity and transparency in vision making. In Creating a Life Together she quotes Adam Wolpert in saying that the vision can be seen more like a future insurance for what a community does not want to happen (Christian, 2003, p. X). The different elements of community vision are presented as mission, purpose, values, interests, goals, objectives, aspirations and strategy. One suggestion would be that Charlottendal use the excerpt from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage vision documents to formulate its own direction (see appendix 3. Excerpt from vision documents of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage). Alas not all is rotten. There are many things Charlottendal can be proud of: it is a beautiful place and they are still working on developing community; the kindergarten is established and operates well, with its own structure in place; there exists an attitude of contribution, which allows people who dare to engage and help out to enter the project with their talents; and the 20
animals are well appreciated on the farm, (despite their care being mainly shouldered by a couple of persons). When asking about the state of affairs in the past, present and projected into the future there are also many positive aspects. Five years ago the place was still very much locked down, (partially due to the presence of an old lady still living in the center of the residential area). But since then, the farm has matured to a point where it now has a new generation looking to form a more tightly knit community on the farm. Without a doubt the place is abundant enough for a small paradise to be built, with the right amount and maturity of engaged individuals.
4.3. Case Asplunden One resident of Charlottendal thought of Asplunden as a parallel community to the earlier one, which the resident no longer sees as a community at all. The community around Asplunden is structured around Magnus dream of living in a yurt together with family. He began his efforts alone, but was soon joined by other helping hands, primarily Alva whose yurt we raised in the pictures, and mine for the duration of a winter 2016-2017. Afterwards, it has been Figure 14. â€‹The crew that raised Alvaâ€™s yurt a steadily growing enterprise branching off to; natural building (with the building of new yurts); camping with the arrival of a variety of characters and lifestyles; and a meeting place for a wide range of activities. Asplunden has more of a renegade feel to it, which lowers the threshold of becoming a member. As there is not much of a financial investment on anyones part in this project, (considering all are living mobile lives), the power struggles are minimal and mainly in the form of emotional relief or personal space. Most of the core members in the community of Asplunden are emotionally mature, used to sharing circles, and committed to their own crafts and willingness to share life in an effort to grow and improve. Although the community lacks structure, the ground rules are clear to most, and few conflicts occur internally. One could describe Asplunden as an experimental project in forms of creating community utilising simple designs and local Figure 15. â€‹Spontaneous meetings leading materials. Unfortunately, although perhaps to laughter and a great moment captured.
predictably, there was some initial conflict within the rest of Charlottendals community due to the sudden appearance of these odd forest folk. Magnus arrived much as a question mark for the majority of the residents of Charlottendal. He represented a lifestyle and values very different from others, and his moving there was met with a mixture of fear and curiosity. During his two years of residency here the fears have been laid to rest, and he is now one of many curious characters around. In comparison to the long-term residents of Charlottendal, the more temporary residents of Asplunden are not concerned with long-term commitments and investments. This means that the need for a comprehensive vision agreement is minimal, and the “community glue” seems to be much stronger as members are aware of the experience being more like an exciting chapter in their lives rather than a life-long commitment to a shared project. Certainly this community is closer to a pilot project or practice of community establishment, but more easily managed due to the various reasons mentioned above. This seems to be a smart strategy considering all the challenges highlighted by Creating a Life Together.
5. Reflection At times I believe we all ask ourselves questions like “what am I doing here, is this crazy, how did I get here, what will happen next?” I certainly have during this project. Yet the answers which bubble up from inside easily dispel my doubts. Certainly, there are moments of worry and chaos in the roller coaster of life, portrayed as a cycle in the stages of change model (Figure 11.). p.14), and there is always more to do, but as far as the context of what this project has been about, I find it utterly on point with the development occurring on multiple layers of society. When it comes to catalyzing community certain things do need to be considered: Is the community ready to integrate new lively workforce? What are the expectations and responsibilities of the volunteers? How do we communicate about the good and the bad in a mature way? There exists a need for clarity in the common vision so those who wish to join and invest in the project can know what they are supporting and learning from. Inspiration can be found in the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage vision document excerpt (see appendix X.)
5.1. Key objectives The key objectives for this experience were defined in my project proposal as the following: ○ ○
Establish a volunteer center in Charlottendal Ecovillage. Maintenance and development of the ecovillage. 22
○ ○ ○ ○
Improve the internal cycle of the ecovillage and take a large step in the development of an intentional community. Reinforce the network of transitioners, permaculturists, and change-makers both locally and globally.. Host events, workshops, courses and gathering in i.e. sociocracy, dragon dreaming, permaculture, natural building, anthroposophy etc. Upgrade the permaculture design of Charlottendal and assist in planting, harvesting caring for animals, and other farmlife tasks.
During the first half year of our volunteership we have had a noticeable impact on the farm of Charlottendal. We have initiated and made much progress in many of the key objectives of this project. Naturally there have also been some things which haven’t been ready to happen yet, like taking large steps in developing an intentional community. At least in the perspective of Charlottendal it has been a process of letting go of the past. However, both amongst the volunteers and in connection to Asplunden there has certainly formed an intentional community. Our group of youths have brought a lot of vitality, help in carrying the responsibilities and available workforce for managing chores, organizing events, and developing ideas. We have helped out at many different places and projects, from building a house on the property, a lavvu for the kindergarten, making food at Under Tallarna, documentation, web design and organizing events for Föreningen SOFIA, and creating a large spring gathering for Nackunga Community. At the farm we have helped in building a house, building a platform for a healing temple among other things. With our presence at the farm there exists also a larger need for structure, clarity and communication, which is found lacking presently. Hopefully we can be a part of pushing these agreements and platforms into being created.
5.2. Volunteer interview I decided to interview Noora and Svetlana in order to present reflections from the other volunteers in my group. This adds knowledge to the volunteer-experience beyond my own personal experience, thus adding to understanding more about organizing such processes in the future at Charlottendal. The questions I asked them were the following: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
What motivated you to come here? How would you describe Charlottendal to someone who has never been here? What do you as a volunteer bring to Charlottendal? What does Charlottendal give you? How does it feel like being in Charlottendal & Järna? Pros and cons of volunteering here? Advice you would give to future volunteers and/or hosting organization?
The interviews showed that both participants were looking for an experience that might open up new avenues in life, and expressed an interest in ecovillages and volunteering. They found Charlottendal a small farm with a group of people who live on a property. There is a 23
kindergarten, a farm with a diversity of animals, some residential houses, a community of people living in yurts, and now volunteers. However, they were critical towards the notion of it being portrayed as an ecovillage. According to them, many structures are lacking that are required in order to be a true ecovillage. However, Charlottendal is recognized by GEN as a place which is strivingâ€‹ to be an ecovillage (so in a sense this is a work-in-progress). Both agreed that we brought a workforce to the place, but expressed a wish in making the experience more personal and actually leaving traces of their involvement. Like artists with their own styles of expression, leaving a story behind of what achievements were made during our term as volunteers would make the experience all the more worthwhile. Having a clearer vision of the possibilities and schedule would make it easier to find a personal purpose or place. The fact that there had been a very little guidance by the hosting organization created some anxieties, but as another volunteer, (me), took over the role of coordinator, things were able to progress. However, as there was a limited structure, it encouraged us to imagine how we would structure a similar project if ever we were in charge of one. It has been a learning experience, which has given us much rewards, like genuine relationships, new perspectives in life, many beautiful meetings, and wonderful experiences. Svetlana is now inspired to building her own tiny house and living in it. Both have enjoyed living in such a beautiful place. The say it feels like home, but comment that perhaps it is the people. It has also been a very intense experience with many emotions involved like frustration, anger, incompetence, joy for the things we have been doing, reflection over our experiences, and beauty in the things and people we have engaged with. It has been a very full experience. Noora thinks that it has been nice volunteering at several different projects, because when doing different things she has found new interests. The set up for this volunteership is good, but in the practical day to day it does not work yet. Their advice for the hosting organization is to be better prepared for volunteers and have structures in place which can give the volunteers a clear idea of their tasks and responsibilities. By having better guidance in the tasks volunteers could take initiative with more confidence. They also wished for the conflicts to be sorted and communication to work better. As advice for future volunteers they mentioned consciously creating a tight group, where honesty and togetherness is cultivated, and if any conflicts would arise, a will to deal with them in a mature way. They suggest to begin with sharing circles, then negative sharing circles when you feel ready, and lastly discuss conflict resolvement strategies. Figure 16. â€‹Stages of natural succession after a forest fire. With human involvement we can cut down the time of forming a climactic ecosystem manifold. Image credit: modified from Forest succession by Lucas Martin Frey, â€‹CC BY 3.0
5.3. Cycle of change In nature there exists a cycle of succession, where different phases of ecosystem overtake each other, until a mature stage develops. Different layers are added to a foundation created by the most basic elements both in nature and culture. Upon arriving to the stage of contemplation in this project, looking back at the stages of change model (p. 14) I begin to see a noteworthy point in the creation of a voluntary task force. Having groups of people from around Europe, (at least as long as it is connected to the EVS programme), integrated into Charlottendal and the transition movement of JĂ¤rna for a long term period can create a quite intensive cycle of change. Depending on the potentials made possible by the property and host organization, driven individuals can certainly find room to grow here. Together the projects and communities will grow, and the web of transition will spread. When considering that the project I have reported on thus far is only the beginning of creating a platform for volunteer work, the potential impact of this kind of venture begins to dawn. Certainly once more the importance of a flexible structure, clear vision, solid agreements, and balanced division of responsibilities deserves to be pointed out. Likewise remembering the dynamics of pioneers and settlers may certainly give some peace of mind. However, beyond that lies realms of creative capabilities and possibilities of change making, which certainly could have a large impact on facilitating the change of our time, also called the paradigm shift, to occur. McKenna (2017) describes a paradigm as a lense that transforms everything when you look through it8. One practical way that farms, communities, and projects can be a part of change-making is simply by allowing new forms to express themselves, that is to say being dynamic rather than static. A voluntary task force may be a very good example of a dynamic form of expression, as the achievements made during the experience will correlate to the level of interaction between host and help.
6. Conclusions and perspectives I wish to advise the reader that the conclusions drawn at this stage are more of a mid-term analysis as our volunteership continues for more than 6 months. I will further deepen my understandings and designs of alternative communities in my thesis until then. I will use this project in practise report as a foundation for future visions. I will first answer some questions posed in the beginning of this project. Then available resources and the paradigm shift is discussed, and some hot advice at the very end.
For more information see McKenna in weblinks
6.1. Answering questions I posed some questions in the beginning which I can now draw some conclusions about: “After establishing the basic necessities, what happens then?” - One answer given to me during this project was the difference between pioneers and settlers. Once the pioneers have built it, the settlers will begin arriving. Some of the pioneers will leave, even some of the settlers will change over time. Slowly but surely the constellations will morph and evolve, until something falls in place and a new chapter begins. “How could newcomers be integrated into the existing community?” - Allow me to draw you a picture of assembling a chess board. It is a complex game, with lots of different pieces and rules. Without guidance very few would be able to make a playable game out of the different elements. The variety of pieces would make little sense, and the chequered board would certainly give one a headache. However, due to the simplicity of the rules, which basically is a foundational structure with some added agreements, even children know which piece belongs where, how they move, and what the goal of the game is. One can compare the board with the property, the pieces with the members, and the point of the game with the common vision of the community. - Hence, one answer to this question is by having a solid foundation on the property, a flexible structure in the social sector, and clarity in the common goals. God knows playing chess with a child who is making up their own rules all the time doesn’t give you a very rewarding game. “What impact could volunteers have on the development of Charlottendal?” - Adding individuals who are inspired and willing to help manage and develop others’ projects are worth their weight in gold. My co-volunteer Svetlana compared us at one point to the müsli we feed to the sheep. We quickly brushed up against our own limits of integrity and work ethic, as so many has a need for help with their projects. The impact of volunteers can be game changing. Having someone help you with a project can be critical. I heard an example during a teamwork coaching workshop in the neighbourhood a great example of a person who at some music event was dancing like a weirdo while everyone was sitting down. The situation remained as such until one bypasser decided to also break out in a weird dance, and shortly afterwards the amount of dancers grew, until a party of weird dancing was going on. The value of the first follower cannot be overstated. But nothing happens without an initiator. - Likewise in Charlottendal there are many different visions and projects happening, but as there is no common vision or platform for communication they are quite separate. Adding energy in the form of available resources, be they blunt workforce or creative minds, can be of great value in tying together different projects and people, as well as helping the different projects manifest.
6.2. Available resources People who have time, energy and willingness to assist or lead is an available resource. This may seem obvious, but in todayâ€™s world most of us are very wrapped up in our own lives. Being available means being able to help now or very shortly, not in a month or next year. With available resources the act of catalyzation happens naturally. One can use the act of catalyzation as a developmental strategy e.g. in cases of stagnation. However, once more this requires certain structures and agreements to be in place. Otherwise one risks making a mess out of things. Catalyzation and addition of voluntary workforce has a transformative effect on all parties. Depending on the structure one can customize the experience given and gained from having volunteers. Currently we are beginning to fall into certain fields of activity in addition to our general contribution: Nooraâ€™s role is that of an administrator dealing in web design, media and applications; Svetlana has the role of a caretaker and has taken over management of the garden; and I have the role of designer and constructor. These are roles that can be further developed so that the next volunteers will have a clear understanding of tasks and expectations. Volunteering has proven a great way to uplift community and catalyse a project. When connected to the different skills available at a project the volunteers can get a great education and experience in doing different things in return for helping someone with their project for free. It is a modern version of apprenticeship, which can well complement the more formal varieties of education. With proper guidance individuals can learn much during a long-term volunteership. The challenge lies in finding financial means of realizing these kind of programmes. Fortunately there are certain foundations and trusts which offer the means to financially cover volunteering projects, like Erasmus+ which is financing us through an EVS project. The different funding opportunities make transitioning easier and volunteering more accessible, however considering the possibly impending collapse there may come a time when we will have to find the means to make such projects work in a self-reliant fashion. In fact, I recommend using financial support only for the period of transition, as I agree with my fellow volunteers on the standards an Ecovillage ought to meet, the most essential being self-reliance in form of food production. In a civilizational collapse scenario I dare suggest that agreement in regards of common vision is somewhat easier to find as most of our personal ambitions fall away and our instinct to survive takes over. In moments like these, it is certainly a very different story in a group which has already established a self-reliant community to some neighbours who suddenly are forced to fend for themselves without the support of the state.
6.3. A different paradigm Everyone has something they can contribute with, much as we all have a need, want or wish patiently waiting to be satisfied. One platform of communication relating to fillings our desires is the Gift Circle9, â€‹founded by Alpha Lo and spread by Charles Eisenstein. The Gift Circle is simply a circle where everyone expresses what they need and what they have to give. This is a radically different perspective on consumerisms and material value, than the ones operating on a mainstream level within a capitalist society. Eisenstein (2013) beautifully describes transition as moving from the old story, through the empty space between stories, and into a new story in terms of the purpose. However, in my experience the space between stories is not at all empty, rather chaotically full, like the edges between biotopes. It is the experimental ground, where everything which has been created previously comes in order to decide which game to play next. Asplunden has been an exciting experiment in alternative living and cooperative creation. The place has naturally been formed according to the needs of its inhabitants and whatever the possibilities has inspired, like rock circles and fireplaces. On a personal note, I wish to express having found my way to Charlottendal via Asplunden and I find it a good manifested representation of the place between stories. There, new technologies and habits mix fluidly with ancient knowledge and natural rhythms. Asplunden provided me with an ideal doorway into Charlottendal, and without Asplunden this farm would probably not have awoken my interest much. I sincerely hope that what I have been a large part of creating can offer some solutions to the challenges it is facing. With understandment for the law of attraction one could perhaps identify the different forms of natural healing an attempt of introducing the balance and structure this place seeks. During my time at Charlottendal I have been exposed to a diversity of perspectives as I have consciously connected to many different beings and forces present. With a good foundation in landscape design and knowledge in permaculture design I have been able to empathetically place myself in the shoes of e.g. a sheep, a tree, a tomato plant, a bird or a person both living and visiting the farm, with understanding of their situation. I believe this combination to be vital, as without the skills and knowledge one can easily believe they are doing something right only to find out later that they actually hindered the process from occurring naturally. On the other hand, without the empathetic side the design will not be well integrated with the potential of the place.
For more information see: https://www.shareable.net/blog/how-to-integrate-gift-circles-into-any-community 9
6.4. An end and a beginning I wish to end with a quote from the beginning of Creating a Life Together, which has been invaluable in understanding the creation of community and in the writing of this report: And a friendly reminder, learn letting go of plans painlessly, because life is filled with plot twists. “Do not be afraid to build castles in the sky. That is where they belong. But once the dreams are in place, Your job is to build the foundation under them” - Henry David Thoreau
Figure 17. Several of us smelled smoke around the farm, and soon after Magnus called in a forest fire. Three firetrucks showed up and we helped the firefighters calm the fire which was spreading along the extremely dry ground cover. We were lucky and all went well.
7. References 7.1. Books Beall, J., Guha-Khasnobis, B., Kanbur, R. (Eds) (2010). Urbanization and development: Multidisciplinary perspectives, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Carlgren, F. (1985). Den antroposofiska rörelsen: Verksamheter, bakgrunder, framtidsperspektiv, Täby, Sweden: Bokförlaget Robert Larson.
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Appendix Appendix 1. Permaculture principles
Appendix 2. Many ways to for a community
Appendix 3. Excerpt from vision documents of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage
Appendix 4. Full set of interview questions: Questions for owners of Ecovillage: Peter & Merle Hagerrot By Noora, Peter and Svetlana (input by Magnus) Sent: 25.3.2018 Answered:27.3.2018 1. How would you define an ecovillage? What characteristics of Charlottendal make it an ecovillage? 2. What is the overall vision of Charlottendal / its reason for being / the values at its basis? 3. What do you think would be the optimal amount of people living in Charlottendal, considering the capacity of the land? 4. What kinds of permaculture designs, visions and strategies would you wish to implement at the ecovillage in the next five / ten / twenty years? (e.g. fruit orchard idea with chicken tractors, some forestry work you've done...) 5. What do you consider to be an appropriate decision-making organ for Charlottendal? 6. What role do you see yourself having in the ecovillage? 7. Why did you decide to apply for EVS? What do you think the volunteers can bring to Charlottendal?
Community interview questions Written and conducted by Peter and Noora March - June 2018 1. Could you please describe your affiliation to this place? What motivated you to come here? How long have you been involved with Charlottendals gĂĽrd? 2. Can you please describe Charlottendal to us as if we are your guests and have never been here before. a. What kind of place is it? b. Who lives here? c. What do you do? d. What is an Ecovillage? 3. How are your relationships with other community members. How many do you engage with? What interests do you share? 4. What do you think works well here and what doesnâ€™t work? Is there anything you would like to see change?
5. Please share your views on: - How do you see this place five years ago? - How do you see this place now? - How do you see this place in two years? - How do you see this place in five years? - How do you see this place in ten years? Community survey of Charlottendal 2018 By Peter Tallberg The survey was designed on surveymonkey.com A summary of the questions and responses is presented here. Dear resident of Charlottendal, please indicate how much you agree with the following statements or answer the questions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Charlottendal is a GEN recognized ecovillage 0-100? Charlottendal strives towards sustainable living and ethical caretaking of life? Charlottendal is an intentional community (living, working playing together)? Lilla Bullerbyn is an important part of Charlottendal? Please select which animals Charlottendal should have: a. Horses 62,5% b. Cows 37,5% c. Goats 25,0% d. Sheep 87,5% e. Pigs 50.0% f. Geese 25,0% g. Chickens 62,5% h. Bees 100% i. Insects 12,5% j. Ducks 12,5%
58/100 83/100 52/100 78/100
6. What type of food should Charlottendal produce? a. Fruits 87,5% b. Nuts 50,5% c. Berries 75,0% d. Vegetables 87,5% e. Greenhouse produce 87,5% f. Eggs 75,0% g. Meat 50,0% h. Fish 12,5% i. Crayfish 0,0% 37
j. Honey k. Dairy products
7. What type of other production would you like to have in the community? Answers: a. Farm shop (veg and clothes) b. Art and different productions, like courses, meetings, processed goods c. Music, ceremonies, courses plant dying, saw/timber, permaculture courses, yoga d. Creative/ spiritual/ artsy meetings, courses, workshops and festivals e. Pub / bar with music once a month, a place to test myself and share my gifts f. Processing of foods g. Open kitchen / cafĂŠ h. Workshop, communication, personal development, art 8. What type of activities would you take part in? a. Fitness 50,0% b. Spiritual 87,5% c. Music 87,5% d. Art 75,0% e. Games 50,0% f. Movies 62,5% g. Dance 75,0% h. Parties 75,0% i. Sweatlodge 12,5% 9. What type of responsibilities would you like to help carry? a. Gardening 50,0% b. Construction 25,0% c. Forestry 25,0% d. Animal care 50,0% e. Tool workshop 37,5% f. Garage (Mechanical) 12,5% g. Organization 50,0% h. Marketing 12,5% i. Celebration 37,5% j. Ceremony 10. How many do you think could live or be involved in the activities at Charlottendal? Answers: a. 25-30 b. 16 in houses, a handful of volunteers and another of seasonal guests, plus visitors, total of 40-50 people c. Many many more then now 38
d. e. f. g. h.
15-50 Easier to make a structure with only a few, maybe four families 20 living, 40 connected to activity Up to 50 , some more children / families 20
Figure 18. â€‹Zorro the goose spreading his wings as he heads out for a day of adventures together with his family.
Thank you for reading! -
Project in practice report for my Masters degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Published on Feb 5, 2020
Project in practice report for my Masters degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.