Life in Damanhur ecovillage
"Visiting communities can bring a sense of reality to your project and refine your vision of what you want and don't want in your community." - Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities
With this in mind, I got to know and touch the Italian Federation of Damanhur Communities for 3 weeks. An ecovillage founded in 1975 in a mountainous landscape near Turin. The Damanhur Federation is one of the oldest ecovillages, a center of spiritual, artistic and social research known around the world. My name is Matěj, I am a supporter of the "Zeměsouznění" association and I dedicate these few sentences to all fans of sustainable living, especially those interested in membership in the "Zeměsouznění" , who have all sorts of questions in their heads: "What is it like to live in an ecovillage? "
Before I begin, I draw attention to the book Ecovillage: 1001 Ways to Heal the Planet and the aforementioned Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities, which present the true face of establishing an ecovillage and community life - if more members would flips through these books, "Zeměsouznění" would be stronger, more stable, and happier.
So how is the life in the Damanhur ecovillage? The Damanhur Federation is set of a 25 communities that are sometimes up to 15 kilometers apart, but this does not prevent members from getting to know each other intimately, engaging in intense relationships and moving between communities on a daily basis. Residents are also strongly connected by the four page diary Qui Damanhur quotidiano (Damanhur daily), where they share news, events or interesting things related to community life. Damanhur covers an area of 400 hectares and is inhabited by approximately 500 people. In addition, there are about 400 supporters living in nearby villages and valleys who are involved in Damanhur activities; the Damanhur in the World initiative, in turn, provides courses and awareness at a global level. During my stay, I visited many communities - NUCLEO, and each NUCLEO - community deals with something different.
From the diary: The capitol is where the first community originated, I spend most of my time here. Before I could enter the Capitol grounds, I had to announce my pre-arranged arrival at the Welcome Center and know the significance of the various parts of the Capitol. There are two communities - The Casa Ragazzi (Teenagers' House), where young people from the age of 16 have the opportunity to live without their parents and learn responsibility, and NUCLEO Damjl - a center for spiritual development. The capitol decorates and creates sacred altars of the four elements, paintings on buildings, many statues, colored stones stacked on the ground in various shapes, totems, sculptures of Egyptian deities Sekhmet, Nut or Horus and many others, including greenhouses, apiaries and the Sacred Forest. a place for meditation and relaxation, in which an ordinary mortal enters only for a specified fee and at a specified time. I feel that spirituality is one of the most important elements that will keep the local population in close connection and family relationships. Every Tuesday is a ritual in which only adults take part and during which others should not go out. However, some rituals are also open to the general public. For example, Commemoration of the Dead is one of Damanhur's most visited rituals - we first prepared ourselves with a spiritually short meditation and the ritual could begin. It took place in a stone circle around the fire, with meditation, songs and the piercing sound of Gong. It was all over in an hour. The Damanhuri began to take off their colorful robes, and a pleasant atmosphere prevailed, followed by pizza in the communal dining room. All the houses in the Capitol are more or less common, only the rooms are sometimes individual. "
"Life in the community is better, but sometimes harder," I heard from many settlers. They share one kitchen, one dining room, houses and share almost everything - voluntarily and spontaneously. In ordinary society, we live in a disillusionment of consciousness that limits our affection for a few closest people, family, friends and acquaintances. Damanhur wants to be a part of building a sustainable culture, and these barriers do not exist in there. It is no sense of separation of families, generations, nations, cultures, religions or races that prevents us from living sustainably and in peace. However, there are conflicts in Damanhur as well. With such a great effort for continuous positive change in society, they occur, not often, but still. It is not for nothing that we say that starting an ecovillage is like starting a marriage and business at the same time with teams of certain people. But let's now look at the environmental pillar - self-sufficiency and sustainability.
Damanhuru's primary food self-sufficiency is in charge of NUCLEO Porta della Terra (Earth's Door), where Damanhuri produce most of their food. What they do not grow themselves (approximately 50%) are bought in an organic shop in the multi-purpose premises of Damanhur Crea near the Capitol. The Federation bought these spaces and breathed life into them in the form of a gallery, where you can find paintings and works that create the visionary and driving force of Damanhuru - Falco. You will also find a café, a souvenir and grocery store, a medical clinic, wellness services, a small museum, a hairdresser and many other services. There is also a conference on life in Damanhur every Thursday (in Italian with English or German translation).
The Dender community, in turn, focuses on self-sufficiency in electricity generation, own water, and communication with the world and with GEN (Global Ekovesnic Network). In it you will find a house selected for participation in the Origin pilot program, which involved the other two largest European ecovillages - Tamera and Findhorn. This house currently produces more electricity than it can consume. In total, about 15 people live in it. In August 2019, there will be a monthly Ecovillage Design Education course in Dendera, which I want to attend! Among other things, you can find a sample of natural architecture, experience the charming atmosphere of a place that, according to legend, was inhabited by druids, or talk to Intim - Damanhur.com, who lived with a few other for a year in a mountain hut during a self-sufficiency experiment in order to know whether complete self-sufficiency can be achieved. Other communities are developing other areas of sustainability and self-sufficiency, whether in the economic, environmental, social or cultural dimensions.
The truth remains that every ecovillage and NUCLEO is original, made up of its inhabitants, just as the world is made up of people. For Damanhuri, an important daily exercise is to perceive ourselves and others as part of one being, after all, we all breathe the same air, and such an exercise can only help us realize how connected we really are. Many strong individuals think that community is not the right place for them, but the paradox remains that such people usually form deliberate communities or ecovillages. This is called unity in diversity. Damanhur is also such a place. A place where everyone is themselves and has their role and responsibility - whether they teach at school, run an alchemy course, milk the cows, work in the garden, paint, cook or accompany visitors to the majestic Temples of Humanity. In Damanhuru you will also find many elements that are not easy to understand at first. One of the things is the fact that the inhabitants have names after animals, plants or Gods. Some places in Damanhur are inaccessible to visitors due to their sanctity, and the empirical research of Selfica, which uses spirally curved metals, various inks or minerals, can be an elusive delicacy for some visitors. Well, they don't have a hard time breaking the conventions in Damanhur.
And we don't have to either. There are already more than fifteen thousand ecovillages and deliberate communities in the world, and the Global Network of Ecovillages is beginning to take the form of a colorful flower meadow in all its diversity - each flower is different, each is beautiful and good. We are establishing a new ecovillage that will be a mirror of all of us and a reflection of what we all want - a better world, more honest and deeper relationships, to be authentic. I invite you to think about how to bring community and a higher purpose into your life. I invite you to a meeting of the Zeměsouznení association, which you can learn more about from Facebook or on the zemesouzneni.cz website.