How are people in (other) communities doing in times of contact prohibitions and distance rules? As a resident of Sieben Linden Ecovillage, I asked myself this question and assumed that our readers are interested in it as well. So I wrote to all the communities that present themselves in the current edition of the eurotopia Directory and asked about it – and was overwhelmed by the reactions. Reports kept (keep!) coming and it has been a real challenge to wrap it up for a newsletter and finally mail it out because I felt that I have to add reports because every one brings new insights. I did not even include every report. It’s a lot of text to read (under this article) but I’ll try to summarize it a bit below.
Although similar regulations apply to people in communities all over the world, communtiy “households” sometimes include dozens of people, and our contacts to “the outside world” can often be regulated so well that a community can almost be quarantined without having to change its everyday life too much. In many communities, children are looked after together at times when schools are closed – they live together in a dense space anyway, often as if in a common quarantine. And if isolation outside school hours is not possible, it would also be pointless for home schooling.
Often the official guidelines are implemented to a large extent, but cooking continues for everyone and sometimes meetings or sports activities continue to take place within the community – sometimes at a distance. One German community wrote quite openly in their last newsletter that they “move closer together instead of keeping their distance” – so far there have been no legal consequences to admit this openly, even though it might be against German regulations (it’s not clear if government authorities would accept communities as a household or as several households; in the latter case they would be obliged to keep a distance. Obviously, nobody wants to ask…)
One answer to my mail to the communities was: “…I am sure that you too will continue to take each other in your arms in Sieben Linden, … maybe a little less often, but not less warmly because of that…”
In fact, we only embrace each other within the groups in which we live closely together anyway. The 1.5 m distance has already become a habit for me when I walk through the village (which I have to sometimes, because we share pantry, washing machine, mail corner and much more). At the moment I’m pondering back and forth whether I may meet a girlfriend who is not part of my “reference group” – so you could say: We take the whole thing quite seriously at Sieben Linden. We are also affected economically. Like many communities, we offer a wide range of opportunities to get to know our community as well as seminars, which usually keeps many people in paid employment; in addition, volunteers are employed in the educational sector (Voluntary Ecological Year, Federal Voluntary Service, European Voluntary Service). We hope that we will be able to make ends meet with financial aid for which we are eligible (thank you, government!) – and the volunteers may help on the construction site of our guesthouse instead of setting up breakfast for guests. In any case, there will be enough to do for many more weeks.
Some reports from the communities are frustrated. Anton Marks from Kibbutz Mishol writes:
I’ve spent half my life removing my front door, intentionally, hinge by hinge. Now I need to put it back on, I haven’t got a clue where to find it, and even when I do, I don’t even know which way up it goes.
Frits from Amsterdam Catholic Worker, where anyone with symptoms is immediately isolated, feels trapped in his own community, worse than in prison. He bows to the decisions of his community and misses the freedom to deal with a possible infection as he sees fit. He feels that the ownership of a car or mobile phone ultimately kills people as well (presumably due to the consequences of the production and mining of raw materials for the mobile phone and the consequences of the operation of the car, MW), but that this decision would be left to each community member to make for himself – in contrast to the behaviour in case of a possible infection.
In my community of Sieben Linden – and obviously in most others as well – we are aware that an infection with the current Corona virus is probably not dangerous for most people, but could be fatal for some, and that the crisis with its measures and effects is simply terrible for many. But when community proves itself here, it is also an important contribution to the social discussion.
I suspect that people who live in familiar neighbourhoods and are familiar with constructive exchange are less likely to experience fear and panic. In many places, it has been shown that a community is a good place when a threat comes “from outside”. Some even experience more community in these times, less stress and a special time in a positive sense: Many community residents seem to be doing really well. In the “Giesserei” (“foundry”) in Switzerland, community dwellers are singing from the balconies every evening, in Pendragon (England) some enjoy the peace, “because they find normal community life stressful with people coming and going all the time”, and elsewhere, travelling journeymen have stayed longer than planned and are building more than had been hoped for. Many community children are jubilant: it’s a holiday, but nobody goes on vacation, everyone is there with them, their friends, their family, and they can play with each other as much as they want (apart from some schooling). It’s paradise!
While I read that in many cases those in danger isolate themselves more strongly within the community or even leave the community temporarily in order to protect themselves, I also read that the communities get involved in neighbourhood help and feel solidarity with the “outside world”.
I read about hope that the pandemic will have lasting positive effects (Tamera) – and I read about doubts about that. It does make us impressively aware that globally coordinated action is possible despite economic losses – why are air travel and pleasure travel not restricted simply because they make a disastrous contribution to climate change, why does a pandemic need to happen? – but on the other hand there is growing pressure to make up for the profits missed in this financial year, if possible. Roger from the Pendragon Community in England writes:
Some people think there may be a positive outcome from this situation, like the more socially responsible attitude that followed World War 2, and a relaxation of our murderous assault on our planet, but I will be surprised, generally I think the pain this is causing is likely to make people even less considerate when they are able to get back to ‘normal’.
Of course, there are also some sceptical people among the residents of the community who disagree with the governmental measures – wonderfully detached I find the mysterious text of the Saor Thoil Clan, where it is made clear “that we as a clan do not owe allegiance to unfamiliar politicians and their laws” and that one could actually easily obtain an antiserum against the virus… Also in the Valley of Peace in Portugal people are carefree because: “we have a member who can see the aura and he decides at the moment if and whom we take in”.
eurotopia just represents a very wide variety of worldviews (with clear limits as far as violence, racism or other violations of human dignity are concerned).
And: in each community, perspectives vary greatly. One of the challenges is to find a common ground on a subject that is just not only a private matter if you don’t live a completely private life.
In one of the reports below I read “Lived joie de vivre is the best immunization” – and that is a prevailing argument. Often the government regulations, which of course have been drawn up quickly and must be simple to interpret, are far from perfect when it comes to the question of what is actually most appropriate at a given time and situation. Communities are often able to better implement the goals of official policies. Communities are already trained to find good regulations for themselves on a voluntary basis, and they consist of people who are just as smart as the rest of society. After all, they are part of it: sick people in communities generally want to be treated in hospital just as much as people who do not live in communities. That is why – in my personal opinion – the regulations within the community do have to deal with and correspond to the risk assessments of government agencies. And on the whole, communities seem to be very cooperative (see below), but for some regulations it makes sense to adapt them (e.g. letting children play outside together who live together anyway).
Worth reading is the report of a community project in the Algarve – where all sorts of stranded people surprised by the pandemic have been picked up and taken into the community. They’ve all been immunised there now; they’ve got the Corona threat behind them.
What I find most moving about the statements gathered below (for example at Solens Hjerte in Denmark) is the compassion and humility in many reports. I do not read arrogance about being in a better position in community than when one has to go through the crisis alone – but a silent gratitude, and a solidarity with those who have to suffer more. This gives me hope in the not unlikely event that we humans will have to cope with other states of emergency in the future. Community dwellers remain connected to their fellow human beings, and the invitation to live in community stands.
And that is what we stand for with the eurotopia Directory.
For the eurotopia team
Below are many of the answers we received to our enquiry – sometimes without names, because the implementation of regulations sometimes does not exactly meet the official requirements. The communities are roughly sorted/summarized geographically, and the German answers have been translated by DeepL (deepl.com) and only slightly corrected. The original texts can be found in the German newsletter section (the automatic translation quality of DeepL is generally stunning, but some weirdness may occur – “formal meeting” had been translated as “orgasm” because the German term had “orga” (informal German short for “organisational”) in it…).
Kibbutz Mishol (Israel):
#socialdistancing and #stayinghome are a contradiction in terms.
I’ve spent half my life removing my front door, intentionally, hinge by hinge.
Now I need to put it back on, I haven’t got a clue where to find it, and even when I do, I don’t even know which way up it goes.
I’ve had text messages expressing envy that we have lots of people around during a time when others don’t. However, since we have lots of people coming and going in and out of the building, those that work in health services or the voluntary work that we are doing, in order to protect our most vulnerable (we have a significant number of people with pre-existing conditions which puts them in danger), and to protect those that we are working with outside, we need to distance ourselves from one another, something which is emotionally, but also practically, a real challenge.
No, I’m not going to lose my job, or the roof over my head. We’ll definitely take a significant hit economically, but will probably only start to feel that in the months to come. I won’t succomb to this disease personally and I don’t have my own parents or grandparents to worry about.
The life I have chosen is an attempt to actualize an antidote to rampant capitalism. An alternative to the fractured society that we see all around us. Aspiring to create a society that challenges the blind acceptance of poverty, violence, racism, sexism as ‘that’s just how life is’. It’s an alternative for ourselves, but also for those we meet and create new realities with.
And suddenly we are thrown into a new, unknown and unexpected crisis situation which challenges us both physically, mentally and financially. But the social side is the most confusing, where our all-encompassing togetherness actually works against us.
I’m not writing this looking for sympathy, but to share the complexities of being part of a very intentional and close-knit community that is also committed to taking responsibility for our surroundings.
Valsølillegård has from the start 35 years ago changed into living divided into families/couples. So we do not associate as much as we usually do. Several of the people consider themselves being vulnerable if they have another disease and we are all older than 60. Eating together has been suspended and so have the meetings until things change. I am the only single here, so I am more isolated than the others, but 2 of the other women have checked if I am still alive, and I go on bikerides with one of them. We talk together when we meet outside – at distance. I am a nurse, so I do get out and meet other people at my job. None of us are by now ill. May it stay so.
Dorte Gringmuth Aagaard
Solens Hjerte (“The Heart of the Sun”) (Denmark)
Of course, the Covid-19 is something that we have been talking about a lot and that have affected our lives and all 50 people in our community on many levels.
Already at the end of February, we made a group consisting of our doctor and other members of our community. Together, we read about this new disease and it was clear for us that it would come to Denmark at some point and that it would be necessary for us to have a plan ready for that time.
It was very good for us to be able to talk all the different aspects through and to help each other finding the right information and throughout this whole process, we have had meetings of all the members in our community, where we could talk about our knowledge and our plans. That has been really good and has created a lot of security in an insecure time.
No one really knows how hard the disease will hit, if they get ill and on top of that, the oldest one here is 92 years. We really want to take good care of each other and make sure that no one gets ill.
So now, we buy our groceries online and we have been closed off for guests and visitors for almost a month. No guests, no people passing by, no relatives visiting. That is a huge and unprecedented step and we have never tried anything like this before. Luckily, everybody in Denmark and Germany is in “the same boat” so there is a lot of understanding.
The children are at home, but luckily there are quite a few good teachers here. Until now, the kids loudly declare that they don’t miss school at all!
Most people here working can work from home and the last few, mainly people working on the hospital, is wearing masks when they are in our common house and otherwise sticking to themselves in order to not infect anybody.
As we often do, we regularly meet and meditate and we send our compassion out in the world to all those who are ill and otherwise affected by Covid-19. So many people are in a terrible situation!
It is certainly a comforting and empowering feeling to stand together and to work together in this special time of crisis; to use the skills we all have to make the everyday smooth and running and to be able to talk things through and find security and perspective in this time where it is so important.
We are all healthy and we are all closer together than before and somehow also more grateful for the company of each other and the many small things in life that we so often forget; the spring and that we are all healthy and alive.
Amsterdam Catholic Worker (The Netherlands)
I speak not for the community, but as Frits personally. I notice in my heart and mind a big and growing tension between complying with all measures aimed at preventing suffering and the suffering these measures cause in the life of society and the life of community and in my personal life.
I fear the suffering the measures cause in society from the micro to the global level, by far outweigh the suffering the virus brings.
Of course, we should slow down the spread of the virus, sure, but at what cost?
In the standard 2.1 average Dutch household sick people can go about in their house and make tea, watch TV, chat with their fellow 1:1. In our 20 person community people with symptoms have to stay in their room. “Let’s be safe, and assume it is corona”. We make it even harder for them then in society at large where one can go about in one’s own home when sick.
After days or weeks in our case when they have no longer symptoms, people are allowed back into the community. Pretty darn though, I find. Prison is less hard, with air, recreation, company.
In NL we cannot know for sure if it was corona because there are no tests in NL for people with only normal fever and symptoms. The current idea in the community is that when a new somebody gets sick and has symptoms inlcuding fever, all others cannot leave the house and the ones that have gone through isolation are not declared immune because “Let’s be safe and assume it was not corona” and they have to stay indoors as well.
In a ‘normal household’, I look at the checklist of symptoms and know if I had it or if it is a may be and I decide if I declare my self immune or a precautionary not yet. Similarly, buying a car or a cell phone causes suffering, even unto death for the planet and for other people, but each community members decides on his/her own wether to have one or not. I know pretty sure that I had corona and declare my self immune. If it is not and I cause harm, it is on me, just like when I own a car or a cell phone. All this group pressure to go for the absolute surest option at all costs, it makes me sad and angry.
At the beginning of the pandemic in NL the prime minister and the scientists said the goal is that we build up to about 60% group immunity and we try to keep the vulnerable people out of harms way. When there is 60% group immunity, the vulnerable people have a good chance to live until a vaccin is there.
We removed our one elderly person with diabetes from the house. All 20 + others are not in risk categories.
I would say, let us be a normal household, let us not shy away from getting the virus, let us contribute to the body of 60% immune people, let us be a family where the sick can move about in the house and the healthy can keep some distance but if they want to console someone, like a mother consoles her sick child, it is also ok. And when one is cured, let us assume it was corona, after all, it’s a pandemic! And let those who are likely to be immune free. They suffered enough from the virus, let us not suffer even more from the measures.
As you notice, there is quite a bit of tension in my heart. I am still secluded from the community and I hear the others are doing fine and seem to be happy with these rules (though all of them but one haven’t yet been behind their door) and spirits are up and a lot of beautiful things also happen because of corona, so this is a minority viewpoint. And undoubtedly biased and not containing the ultimate truth and a bit bitter. You probably would hear a different reply from me in two or three weeks, because my insights and the insights of the community evolve especially in this time of crisis. Community can find truth better in discussion and exchange, but it’s hard to discuss when you don’t meet people anymore in the kitchen or on the balcony or in the chapel and for the meetings you are behind your door and are allowed in by phone, but you cannot see and often hardly hear all the others in the room.
Luckily I am blessed with not only a room, but with an appartment, where I can see my wife and son who also were sick, and with a balcony, and a door, so I can go to a garden where nobody comes and even though infected, I am not likely to cause harm. But for our illegalised housemates, to imagine them to have to obey to such measures of confinement, even though the healthy illegalised housemates join in the chorus promoting these measures, I find it very hard to bear.
Photo: Frits in his garden
Studentenvrijstaat Droevendaal (The Netherlands)
Here in Studentenvrijstaat Droevendaal, most of us are students who study at the University of Wageningen. As the focus of most inhabitants lays on studying, we are not self-sufficient. Therefore it is hard to isolate ourselves.
We apply the same rules as the rest of the Netherlands. We try to keep 1.5m distance to each other and minimize the amount of visitors (both from outside and Droevendaal) to our houses. Most group activities are cancelled.
In practise we don’t always follow these rules, as it is very much in the nature of our community to visit each others houses and keeping the 1.5m distance is very hard. We do meet outside a lot, and campfires have proved to work quite well to keep distance but still engage in social activities. The rest of the time (when we are not studying) we work in our gardens or play music. It is not really the time of the year to have new students coming to live here, and the movement is further restricted by the University cancelling most internships abroad. But there is no stop to people joining us or moving out, also because the houses are owned by an external housing agency, who ultimutely decides who is moving in when, and does not want to keep rooms empty.
Ecovillage Boekel (The Netherlands)
In Ecovillage Boekel we are in the process of building our houses. The climate crisis is still going on, so we are also going on. All meetings are done online. Each month we have an information meeting, on average about 30 people are present from all over the Netherlands. The first online meeting was attended by 45 interested people and twee weeks later almost 400 people seen it on YouTube. The children love that they can play together all day without going to school. As for the adults, we still work together on the temporary community centre, but with a distance of 1.5m. We have one person who has Corona and we take good care of him with dinners and shopping. We have not made any Corona rules as we are all very responsible people and then you don’t need rules.
Bergen Ecovillage (Norway)
Life goes on in Norway and the process of establishing Bergen Ecovillage in Norway goes on, but our ecovillage work has slowed down a bit… One the one hand the pandemic has changed and enriched our awareness about the importance and the value of our ecovillage project – and of similar projects in Europe and all over the world.
We have our weekly meetings, but now in our homes or on Skype, because all public places in Norway are closed. We have our monthly Social Friday outside and not inside The Student Centre in Bergen where we used to meet, because the centre is closed. We have our monthly Working Saturday as usual, and guests are still welcome, as usual, but we can only receive one or two guests at a time, since the authorities have announced that only small groups of max 5 people are allowed to gather. When we start working in the fields in Mai and June, we will probably choose to work in smaller groups at different places, instead of working all together all at the same place.
At Tersen, those of us who have isolated summer cottages have moved there. Our meeting points, coffee at.10.30, Friday dinners etc. have been stopped until further. Those who feel any inflenza symptoms quarantine themselves in their apartments, the younger inhabitants have formed a purchasing group for us ‘oldsters’, . . . We keep track of each other. There is a lot of internal mail communication.
One community in France:
Not so much change here, people who don’t want hug anymore should take care of there need and communicate about it.
Is your process of moving in completely suspended at the moment or have you thought of something else?
We decided to stay open and welcome, but most people don’t want to risk a fine…
Here in Trémel, our concern was to avoid the closure of our Solidarity Grocery, which helps people in financial difficulty, and which contributes to reducing food waste …
We are also registered as a “Civic Reserve”.
As soon as the confinement began, the inhabitants joined their parents / family in order to help them as best they could. Some will return at the end of confinement, and others will leave for new horizons.
But that what is happening now gives meaning to our Community. We have to go faster, but we have already done so much …
In France there is a curfew because of Covid-19, which has lasted for almost four weeks. But here at the eco-town the time passes rather pleasantly. There are already five households living on site, that means eight adults and seven children. We get organised every day so that four adults can telework in the coworking room, others can do some construction or gardening work, and two or three in the morning to look after the children for one and a half to two hours and supportthem with the homework that their teachers send them every day. In the afternoons, one or two adults do handicrafts, sports or play activities with the children so that the others can do work that could not be done at work camps.
As far as shopping is concerned, we are also doing well here in the country. We continue to buy dairy products and vegetables on two organic farms in the village and about twice a month one of us picks up the orders in an organic shop in town. So we can greatly reduce our trips to respect the rules with the outside world.
As far as the rules are concerned, however, things work out differently than prescribed. Each family is not locked individually in his apartment. The children still jump into the arms of one or the other, no matter if this person is from their family or not. We still drink aperitifs together regularly, sometimes via online conference with the other members of the project who are not with us. A designated member of our ecovillage was morally so badly off, for three weeks all alone in her small flat in a town, that the permanent residents gave her a warm welcome, although it is normally forbidden. Just watching her perish was unbearable for us. Another member wanted to drive through two thirds of France to come to us as well, but wanted official permission from the group for “official” reasons, in case he was to be controlled by the police. But we decided against making this paper, it was not ethical enough for us. But if he wants to leave without our permission, he will be warmly welcomed…
It is quite difficult for our group to hear each week at our meetings how different the members feel. There are two opposing groups: those who already live on the site and feel quite comfortable, those who are together, who experience solidarity, who benefit from the eight hectares of meadows of the eco-resort. And those who are not yet residents and still have their homes outside, who then experience the blockade on their own, in pairs or within their families, and who are rather frightened and feel uncomfortable, who also often express their frustration at not being allowed to be here in the ecovillage.
For this purpose we have introduced fixed times where “empathic listening” takes place by telephone or online conferences. In this way, anyone who wants to and is able to do so can exchange feelings inspired by the current situation. And a deeper interpersonal contact than in the working sessions can take place among us.
Nevertheless, there are reasons to be concerned in the ecovillage as well. The construction work is imminent and should start soon so that we can welcome the future members soon. But now the deadlines are being extended… and until when? One week of workcamp has already been cancelled, it looks like the planned permaculture seminar will not take place either… and what else?
One thing is for sure: In such an ecovillage such situations can be experienced much better: Support, solidarity, humanity, resilience, cosiness (even without comfort as long as the construction work is not done). We have everything you need to feel comfortable. And I’m sure that people think so during their closure, because we have rarely had so many requests as in the last few days…
Birchwood Hall (UK)
I’m writing from Birchwood Hall Community, in a rural setting outside Malvern, Worcestershire in the UK. We have 10 adult members and around 15 people altogether, spread across two residential buildings about 50 yards apart.
The biggest change for us is that whereas we all used to eat our evening meal together in one house or the other, we’ve now separated the two houses to help with social distancing and minimise interaction, so we’re now, in effect, operating as two (mostly) separate smaller groups. Also, a couple of members who are still working are living outside the community for now rather than coming and going. Although the community spans a wide age range (9-78), we have a few older and potentially vulnerable members and we’re trying to protect them as much as we can.
Our biggest “weakness” in terms of isolation is that we need to shop for food, since getting deliveries from nearby supermarkets is impossible; but we’re using small shops and farm shops or local farmers as much as possible to keep away from crowds of people. We’ll have fruit and veg of our own by late spring and over the summer, but of course we don’t have that now, and we will never be self-sufficient in food.
We aren’t receiving visitors, and we have suspended what we call our “potential new member” process for three people who had started it, a couple and a single woman. We are planning to stay in touch with them occasionally by Zoom, but we won’t be able to fully resume what can be a lengthy process, culminating in a six-month trial period, unless the epidemic recedes and we feel it’s safe.
Apart from all that, life is pretty good, and the garden and grounds are getting more attention than they have in a while. Many of us are still working full-time or part-time from home, and filling time doesn’t seem to be a problem, except perhaps for the teenagers here. We are discovering what games can be played while maintaining social distancing; for example, we’re about to have a “pub quiz” using Zoom, and we can use our table tennis and pool tables as long as just two people are playing. With the weather getting better, we can play boules or croquet outside and still keep two metres apart from everyone else.
Of course, we’re only a couple of weeks into full lockdown, not enough time for people to feel too claustrophobic as yet, and having eight acres of grounds to wander in (mostly woodland) helps. It remains to be seen what strains might become apparent if this goes on for months.
Darvell Bruderhof (UK)
It is worth reading how the Bruderhof communities, which are spread all over the world, are reacting to the pandemic – very calmly and cooperatively:
Pendragon Community (UK)
There are 7 of us living here at the moment, 2 of them have children who are shared with a parent who doesn’t live here and those two children also visit and are considered to be within our family meaning that our family extends into their other homes, too, from the point of view of contagion. We have spare capacity and have invited several vulnerable people to join us on the basis that they Quarantine in an area of the house where they can stay completely isolated, cook their own food etc. Not all of them have been able to come, sometimes because they don’t think their child would be able to Quarantine effectively.
Life for us community dwellers is indeed good, we have plenty of good food and large communal meals, we are company for one another, the children play together, we often all play games together in the evening. Some of us actually prefer it like this, because they find normal community life stressful with people coming and going all the time, or because it gives them an excuse to have uninterrupted quality time with their child, etc. But it will be good when we again start to be able to have activities involving the wider community, however far that may be away at the moment.
Unusually our community is on the edge of a small town so it’s normally a place used by lots of other people as well as the residents.
Some of the people here are WWOOFers who happened to be here when the pandemic struck. Work continues on preparing and planting the vegetable garden and maintaining the grounds, we do yoga in the morning but there is less to do generally. Financially there is very little income at the moment but we have reserves. There is no testing for the virus currently available in the UK other than for very few people in hospitals so we assume no one in our ‘family’ has had the virus. I am 67, the oldest, and hoping not to get infected in this crisis phase of the epidemic here and I think everyone is being sensible. Some people think there may be a positive outcome from this situation, like the more socially responsible attitude that followed World War 2, and a relaxation of our murderous assault on our planet, but I will be surprised, generally I think the pain this is causing is likely to make people even less considerate when they are able to get back to ‘normal’, and in the UK we have an entrenched right wing government for the next 5 years, cut off from our European neighbours.
The Drive Housing Co-op (UK)
We’ve been quite lucky here at The Drive Housing Cooperative. Having a pre-built community within the confines of our house has made isolation a lot easier, and living intentionally means that we already had a lot of the communication structures in place – making the difficult conversations that this pandemic entails that much easier, since we’re already figured to think about how our actions impact on our immediate and broader community. We’ve some really great community initiatives set up as part of the mutual aid network, some of which our members are already supporting (grocery and pre-made meals for the vulnerable and sheilding, etc.) and we’ve set up a little mask-making workshop – our sewing machines have never known so much love! Since we already share an evening meal together as standard, it’s meant that we now just have everyone still present joining every night. We have had two members go back to support family, but are having them zoom-in for meetings and gatherings when we can, too.
We already had a discussion set aside for taking on new members scheduled, and we have decided to open up to take on one more (filling all the available rooms) and are now in the process of thinking about how we can make this happen! We’re hoping to host some virtual socials soon, and have video-dinners for those interested, and hopefully host some webinar-style online meetings for people interested in what we’re about. Cooperative principle 6 need not be defeated by social distancing!
Isle of Erraid Community (UK)
We are finding life on Erraid continues much in the same way, as we already lead an isolated existence in a remote location. We have a full community and a long term guest unable to return to his home. Two members ‘self-isolated’ for a fortnight on their return from elsewhere, and now we are closed to new arrivals. We are well stocked and gardens are being planted out with this season’s vegetables.
Many of us feel enormous gratitude for this extended family where living is supported by daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms. Of course, no guests means no income, but we can ride this out for a while. Daily sharings and meals grown, cooked and eaten together reinforce the benefits of community living.
As an island off an island, we are also engaging outside our Erraid family to offer support to the local island community. For example, we are donating eggs, of which we have an abundance, to local children for their Easter celebrations.
We live one day at a time, however, and count our blessings to be here, now.
Threshold Cohousing Community (UK)
We do consider ourselves fortunate to live in community, especially as here at the Threshold Centre we have a large communal lawn between the houses plus 1 acre of rented land where we grow fruit and vegetables. We have been gathering on the lawn (at safe distance!) every morning since ‘lockdown’, to share how we are feeling, ask if anybody needs shopping or help of any kind, and often hold a meditation, sing or practise Qi Gong. Only 2 of us are still working, so the rest of us have plenty of time to work in the garden or just sit on the lawn and socialise – again always at safe distance. We also live in the country, so have plenty of open space to walk in (with or without dogs) without getting into the car.
Disadvantages are that we no longer have our twice weekly shared meals or our daily meditation in the meditation room in the communal farmhouse, and even our monthly business meeting has turned into a “non-meeting” in the garden. The farmhouse has been designated the family home of the 3 residents who rent rooms, and thus other community members are excluded. We have had to cancel all our events, some of which bring the community a small income, as well as enabling interested visitors to come and check us out. Fortunately we have no vacancies at present, so this is not a pressing issue…! We do have to be extremely careful when handling surfaces in the shared laundry, freezers, door handles, field gates, etc., and I think we all have a secret fear of being ‘the one’ who brings the virus into the community, especially as we do have 2 or 3 residents who may be considered very vulnerable. On the plus side, life is generally more relaxed and there seems to be more of a feeling of community, so that sometimes the world ‘outside’ seems quite surreal.
Valley of Peace (Portugal)
We’re still open. The reason is, we have a roommate who can see the aura and he is deciding at the moment if and whom we accept.
In Portugal a state of emergency was declared at the end of March, schools and most shops, bars, restaurants, many workplaces are closed. We have almost completely isolated ourselves from the outside world – also out of consideration for our surrounding, rather elderly population – and we expect the possibility that our entire guest season will be cancelled. Hardly anybody here is afraid of the virus, but some people have other fears, because of course nobody knows how it will turn out. So it’s good to have each other and be able to rely on each other.
As a community we live in a great privilege. We also see the Corona crisis as an opportunity: for us as a community, for everyone personally and for our global network – an opportunity to deepen. How will we as humanity and as a community get out of this crisis? Hopefully with a deep change.
Many are not so privileged: Our global friends from the slums of Kenya and Brazil, from the Middle East, Mexico, the Philippines and Colombia live under severe restrictions and real threat. Now their knowledge of social cohesion, of confidence building and of regional self-sufficiency could make a real difference for their region. The many years of working with us and learning together is now paying off for them. The impending global economic crash could also lead to a real global new start: Now it is a matter of community building in the regions, of supporting farmers, of their own self-sufficiency in water, energy and food, of living as neighbours – even if they cannot meet directly at present.
So we have reorganized our lives, go to the gardens instead of preparing seminars and networking trips, do spiritual and human depth work, we also enjoy being alone, have a team for the upcoming decisions around Corona, broadcast a live video almost daily and send newsletters and letters again and again to support other communities and people and give them courage. Because the fear virus seems to us to be more dangerous than anything else. Trust in each other is the most important anti-virus.
There is also a newsletter on the subject:
A project in the Algarve (Portugal)
In the Algarve in southern Portugal, we have taken in some people, 4 Germans and 2 Franco-Swiss, who were stranded on campsites in Portugal and didn’t know what to do, as they had nowhere to stay.
2 Germans were able to organize a return flight to Germany at short notice, the others will probably stay for one to two months and contribute… most probably they would not have arrived without “Corona”, because our project did not appeal to them very much. But now we make a virtue out of necessity, and lo and behold, in the end it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
In the Gascogne in the south of France some former inhabitants have settled in an old farmhouse. The day before yesterday, we “picked up” a 65-year-old French pensioner on the street here and took him to us at short notice.
The man who had already been on foot for a week with 25 kg of luggage on his back had 400 km to go and since there is no more public transport available he is going “home” on foot. It is here in France strictly forbidden to take hitchhikers, but we see things differently…
Lived solidarity must be allowed/must overcome a calculable risk.
After one day and one night of rest, hot shower and strengthened by some strong meals, accompanied by good conversations and of course a hug, he has continued his journey on foot. That was also a valuable human contact that would not have happened without the “crisis”.
By the way, all of us, including children, friends and close acquaintances have already got the infection behind us in the first week (mildly symptomatic as over 80% of the population). Therefore we are now immunized and do not pose a danger of infection for anyone.
I go to work every day (with special permission because of system-relevant activity), and we also visit our neighbours and close friends (despite the ban on contact). We feel who is well connected and who we can expect to be connected to even in times of crisis, and who not.
Living in the country in a small village where we know each other certainly helps.
AutarcaMatricultura (La Palma/Spain)
We at AutarcaMatricultura continue exactly as before, we nourish, integrate, protect the living, care for the weak and compensate. Our children can now finally stay at home legally, now and then they have to do some homework, otherwise they are with us and do with us what we do. Now there is much more time to play. That is nice for everyone.
The neighbourhood help is a bit more difficult, because only one or two of them are allowed on the public street at a time, but it works.
For our bonds with the region, we see that our years of intensive commitment to the transition to a resilient economy in the region is now, in this time of emergency, showing the first visible fruits… We are happy and encourage us to keep on working on the topics: “Unconditional Basic Income”, “Land for everyone” and “Planting trees and building ecosystems for independence and health as well as abundance for all living beings, now and for the future”.
Ecopolis Tiberkul (Russia)
Our community is located in a remote corner of southern Siberia, but is subject to similar orders by the Russian authorities as are customary in Germany, but only since March 28 on an experimental basis until April 5.
Since there are no communal living facilities in our community where several people live under one roof, the restrictions only affect our meetings and communal work.
Visitors from abroad are placed in a 2-week domestic quarantine at the request of the authorities. Afterwards medical examination.
There is no known case of illness in our region, as far as I know. So far, serenity. . .
One community near Berlin (Germany)
As a smaller, on average rather elderly community (11 adults, 4 children, 4 persons over 65 years) with several persons at increased risk of dying from corona, we have decided to continue to allow the few children to have individual external contacts while protecting the elderly as much as possible. This means that the crack goes right through our community. The older and the younger have separated as far as possible. The common room and the canteen kitchen are no longer used by the two families with children and are reserved for the older ones.
So the older ones come into contact with the younger ones and the children only sporadically outside in the yard or very rarely in the evening at the fire (sitting on opposite sides). Of course we support each other: The younger ones do most of the shopping for the older ones, if something has to be bought from the city (otherwise order it at the wholesale) – and the older ones cook for the families. Since the younger ones are extremely busy at home studying or working and looking after the children at the same time, their participation in the plenary session and in community activities (cleaning up the yard, working on construction sites) is very limited. New sub-communities are emerging in the yard: the older ones are moving closer together and we, the parents and the children, have also moved closer together. We cook and eat lunch together every day, take turns in child care – we now have our own “Waldkita” for 4-5 children – and exchange thoughts, feelings and now and then a hug – rare and very precious, touch outside the circle of our own nuclear family.
As beautiful as I find it, how we support each other, as sad I find it, not being able to be together with the older ones anymore. Unfortunately, the communication does not shift to other channels, it simply does not take place anymore or only very selectively. I cannot imagine at the moment that this will last longer than 19 April; and yet I suspect that we will have to maintain this separation for a long time to come – what will this do to us as a former intergenerational community? And spun further, because I experience our community again and again as a reflection of the processes of society as a whole – what will this do to our society, that we are forced to shut ourselves off from each other for such a long time?
Our elders have decided not to see their children and grandchildren for the time being. And so we have also put the process of getting to know each other for several families on hold. However, I now doubt whether this decision is correct. At least we younger ones, who partly work, shop and look after children anyway (also single children who do not live with us), could take the “risk” and continue the process – slower maybe, but still: continue.
Ganesha Farm Linde (Germany)
Here Erika and Justus are reporting from the voluntary quarantine in the Ganesha-Hof in Linde (should grow to a community in the next months, at the moment only the mentioned two people live there, MW) Of course there are no usual community meetings at the moment. We also assume that if the corona measures loosen up a bit, we old people will be isolated even more voluntarily or involuntarily.
With concern we are currently looking at prohibitions. Why do we not think about how we can still meet each other with sufficient security, what will the future secure workplace look like. A great many small entrepreneurs will lose their livelihood; is that not a strategy? We are no longer allowed to travel to the Ostprignitz-Ruppin district 10 km away and use our cabin boat there. We would not meet a single person using our boat. a differentiated approach is missing everywhere.
A community near Magdeburg (Germany)
We live here with five adults and four children and are here like a quarantine unit. So for the time being, everyday life doesn’t change that much.
The four children now spend a lot of time together here, more than usual because they are (otherwise) all in different schools and kindergartens. For the parents the working day changes, because they are partly released from their job or work reduced, others continue to work in the regular office or in the home office.
Already in the pre-Corona period, there were journeymen travelling to the construction site of the community near Vitopia who wanted to continue their journey on another continent. They have now stayed with us on the construction site which is very helpful for the progress of the construction work.
The café at Vitopia is closed, short-time work allowance has been applied for and we hope for support payments for the loss of income.
We are happy to live close to nature and to get out of the house every now and then to get away from the daily routine.
One of the problems with us is that we live, so to speak, at least partly in two objects that are located kilometres apart.
In fact, here in Saxony at the moment there is a politically desired arbitrary regime by the police on the basis of a largely vague emergency ordinance.
The Minister of the Interior refused to make regulations from the general disposition more precise. There had been confusion as to what distance would fall under the “environment of the living area”, where one was allowed to do sports and go for walks. One did not want to create a “crisis bureaucracy”, Wöller said. Such guidelines were “not necessary and not practicable”.
we see ourselves as a space in which people can live who reject pharmaceutical target logic. There is no pressure on individuals to reject it (even in real life, not just on paper), but we demand that everyone respect those who belong to the group mentioned in the first sentence.
In fact, we have now experienced that a roommate prefers to stay somewhere else until the situation has changed again. Also in this respect the situation has an impact on our community life.
A community in Saxony (Germany)
Corona and life in community:
Joy of life is the best immunization
To bring about healing where something has fallen out of order
Like everywhere else, the increasingly crisis-ridden conditions in recent weeks have provoked a wide variety of reactions in our community: Should we stock up now? Isn’t all of this a bit of an exaggeration? How is that supposed to work, retreat within the community?
The feelings ranged from greater anxiety to complete freedom from fear to impulses of resistance against the regulations of the authorities. A really intensive exchange helped to calm the temper. In a large group we took a lot of time to share all our hopes and fears with each other and then to perceive what each individual needs in order to remain as relaxed as possible in these times.
What crystallized as common ground was on the one hand the premise that everyone is responsible for themselves and at the same time, in this personal responsibility, takes consideration of the other person in the community – without judgments or even accusations. Secondly: Lived joie de vivre is the best immunization.
And so we continue our community life with offers for working together in the open air, with song afternoons (healing mantras!), healing circles, meditation, Feldenkrais, yoga, etc. in all attentiveness. Yes, we are now even more trying to bring healing impulses into the world. There is a lot of approval for creating a kind of healing field, a field of health, love and care in meditation and thought.
What is created here alone by the greater peace and quiet of the place for a wonderful field is best reflected by the children: they have never been able to play together so wonderfully without interruption, literally for days. (At the moment they are playing “we go to school” across all ages…)
We continue to cook for each other and have agreed to help ourselves to the buffet in silence. Whoever wants to, both meditative and filled with good thoughts. It goes without saying that this is preceded by an intensive hand washing. At shopping services you can order what you would like to have brought from the city. The most gifted seamstress of us sews protective masks, of which especially those who work out of town make use.
We clean our common areas, according to our agreement, with biological and self-produced cleaning agents and disinfectants (if only because our reet bed system does not “digest” the usual chemical disinfectants). All community members are strongly recommended to follow this principle in their private rooms as well. A currently empty apartment has been reserved for a possible quarantine case to isolate the person concerned – fortunately, everyone is still healthy.
We try to hold meetings in the open air. Whoever withdraws should be reliably informed about the events that took place without him. When greeting and saying goodbye to each other, all kinds of new creative rituals have been developed in the meantime, which can also be done without direct contact!
We have not been welcoming public guests since about mid-March, and we also cancelled guided tours and information days. Everybody is allowed to receive guests in private, but they are not allowed to stay in the public areas – but this hardly happens.
In the last few weeks it was a real opening for us to read the following in our principles, written at the end of the 20th century, with which the founders could not have been wiser:
“This community and this place serve the healing and the realization of a loving, trusting coexistence of all being. We want to bring healing where something has fallen out of order and include ourselves and other people, animals and plants, all beings and elements and our planet earth.
Saor Thoil Clan (Germany)
we are isolated anyway and have almost no physical contact with the outside world. All supply and infrastructure systems function autonomously.
Furthermore, I would like to point out that there are still the short ways of immunization, namely the extraction of serum from already infected persons whose immune system has been defeated by the virus, from which an antiserum could already be extracted. The only reason this is not being done is because the system wants to show once again how insanely great its overpriced pharmaceutical hocus-pocus is. The prices of the HIV preparations, some of which are used to fight this sniffles, which in most fatal cases is a co-indication, speak volumes. Also the intentional spreading of the virus, as well as massive disinformation and panic can be assumed again.
We therefore consider the “crisis” management of the systemic people to be the usual irresponsible power- and profit-driven gloomy actionism for which they are known. Basically, we have our own protocols for ABC threats, and use the same ones in this case as well due to their higher effectiveness.
It should also be said that we as a clan owe no allegiance to foreign politicians and their laws – a system of elections and written law is an offence against nature, and its regular attempts to use the suffering and fear of the many to further its totalitarian tendencies can only be described as perverted.
Kooperative Dürnau (Germany)
We cook for everybody, then the food is driven to the different houses where we eat together in groups. So we only refrained from gathering in front of the dining house to demonstrate our willingness to the village. Whether the whole cooperative should actually be considered a “household” is probably not to be clarified within a useful period of time.
We will continue the joint child care, I have agreed to take care of a child of school age and now teach every morning.
For our guests, we make sure that they do not come from the “risk areas” that the state of BaWü names on the website. In case of need we will sign an internship contract with the guests.
Our operations are running without significant changes. The nursery is asking the customers for distance and in sales we can currently only offer small quantities of hand and surface disinfectants because Sonett cannot keep up with the production.
Surprising are the increased requests for visits and employment. In the last weeks there were six inquiries, which is unusually high for us and surprisingly three of them were doctors…
Nature Community (Germany)
What a privilege it is to feel secure and held in the arms of the extended family of our community in such a time of external crisis.
Runa: “I am very grateful that I live in community. For us almost nothing changes in social contact with each other and that is a huge gift. Especially in this time it becomes clear how meaningful and necessary it is to build communities”.
It is a given time to cultivate group coherence and thereby deal creatively with the crisis instead of jumping on the bandwagon of fear.
Karin: ” I think it’s great that I can open the door and stand in nature and enjoy its abundance without restrictions.”
Carina: “In times of crisis like these, I see a tremendous value in being carried and sustained by my community. It is not natural to experience more connection instead of isolation”
For us it is clear: We use this gift, for ourselves and for change!
Gerheart “A great opportunity to stop and build together a changed world that will not be the same as before Corona. Being connected in a decentralized way and getting by with less. Give the planet and ourselves creative recreation time.”
The strict regulations in Bavaria do not allow visits to our house and we follow these regulations. We ourselves also only move away from the NC premises in urgent cases. It is important to us here to have a high degree of self-responsibility and that the process is made transparent in the circle.
After 4 years of building up the project with a lot of dynamism, this is felt by many to be beneficial.
We protect our older and vulnerable members, if they want to do so themselves. Some of them withdraw completely into their bungalow, others are fully involved.
We feel like a family and do not keep a safe distance from each other. For members returning from trips, we first refrain from physical contact and keep a reasonable distance for a few days.
We have set up a hygiene station at our stone monument underneath the restaurant terrace and everyone is required to wash their hands thoroughly after they have been to the village, for example while shopping. Before meals we also wash our hands thoroughly, we get our food in silence from the buffet.
Community Sulzbrunn (Germany)
We in Sulzbrunn interpret the initial restrictions as meaning that we are one big family, even if we live in several houses. This means that the children play together and we meet in everyday life with the distance that everyone wants to keep to themselves. When we eat together (which is usually only twice a week and at (now cancelled) seminars), there is officially food to go, which is distributed by the kitchen. Where everybody sits down to eat (dining hall, with what distance…) is up to you. Larger rounds (formal meeting and social rooms) take place with a distance of 1.5 meters, so that also those who wish to have this distance can participate. Because there are some people in our community who see themselves or their relatives as a risk group and therefore want to be careful. An elderly couple, who spent two weeks in self-chosen isolation, has now moved into a holiday apartment, as they do not feel safe in the community with this loose handling.
We have a good handful of people who still work outside every day. The large remainder leave Sulzbrunn only for occasional shopping. The basic supply runs through our village shop.
Conclusion: Compared to most of the people outside we are privileged.
A community far in the west of Germany
We are a community of currently 15 adults and 6 children. The Corona consciousness came rather slow with us, only gradually seeping into our community. Three weeks ago, we decided with a heavy heart to cancel a public singing at the beginning of spring and, “of course”, to celebrate the evening internally anyway, but a week ago we found ourselves discussing how to show ourselves to the outside world – our community is located in the middle of the village – and how to deal with visitors. Yes, outwardly we also keep the rules, only go for a walk in pairs and do not show ourselves as a large group at the boundary of the property near the sandbox. Internally, however, we continue to live our community life as before. There is a common lunch, we have our group meetings, yoga takes place, we have our cinema evenings, we work together in the garden and the children wander from apartment to apartment, always looking for new ideas and relationships. The only difference is that there is nobody from the outside with us. This means that all our public cultural events, but also our info days and group meetings with people from the surrounding area are cancelled.
For some of us the Corona virus is purely abstract, because here in life so little is noticeable. Others who work outside feel, when they come home, with relief the looseness and relaxation that prevails here, in contrast to many situations at work. But after the first few weeks the question arises here too: “Can we do that? Just live on like this, enjoy our island here?” The question: “Is everyone allowed to visit as much and as often as he/she wants to?”, ignites a long discussion. Is it egoistic or solidary to want to bring your grandchildren here to let them participate in the beautiful island life or is it egoistic or solidary to isolate and isolate yourself because many people have to do it the same way?
Of course, the attitude towards this in our community is as diverse as we are different. From ‘preferably no visit at all’ to ‘family reunions at Easter’, everything is ok, everything is included. So no uniform regulation could be found, we agreed on the sentence: “Everyone checks for himself whether it is really necessary to get the visit and then decides for himself.
The situation is so new for each of us that we are all constantly in the process of finding an opinion or a point of view. Some also want to consciously persevere in not knowing in order to listen to the deeper meaning and change that all this brings with it. And everyone approaches the topic in their own way, whether through a lot of information from radio and the net, in conversations with people on the spot or far away, or by tracing dreams and images that come from within.
But we all agree that we have it good here: we live together and not alone, we support each other and can share worries and fears, we live in the country and can go for long and extensive walks and all enjoy the particularly clear air and the overwhelming starry sky at night. And we wish these experiences to as many people as possible, because we know: In reality we are one big family – the human family.
Nachbarschaftlich Wohnen in Dormagen (Germany)
At the beginning we felt quite a bit of uncertainty in our group. Some members had great fears, others much less. We held two meetings on the property (with appropriate distance) where everyone could express their concerns. In the meantime we have stopped all meetings or moved them to the internet, we meet regularly via Zoom. What is interesting here: Our by now very constructive culture of conversation obviously has to be practiced “anew”, but in the meantime it also works virtually. Of course, we have also cancelled Info-Cafés and generally limited visits from outside. Currently there are no free apartments, so the question of choosing new roommates does not arise with us.
The situation was especially difficult for the families with children, who met several times (but then always via Zoom). The result: we have two groups: Parents with school-age children form one group and those with pre-school children form one group. There are fixed “garden times” during which the respective families spend time outdoors. Very cautious parents who do not participate here have their own “starting times”. There are no agreements with the authorities, but we have not been approached here yet.
Apart from that, the mutual support runs as usual: With the necessary distance we help each other when needed, buy groceries for each other, have built up a small stock of things (toilet paper and flour) that can be accessed by everyone – there the community works well even in these times.
All in all the life is on the one hand calmer, more contemplative, many are in the home office or have cancelled their holidays, others have more time than usual. But I also notice that on topics that have always been difficult and the discussion has been heated, the differences of opinion become even more obvious and the skin is thinner – a little camp fever maybe?
Wagenburg Bambule (Trailer Community, Germany)
Our community normally meets every 2 weeks for a plenary session, which has been suspended for the time being. New visits are unfortunately not welcome at the moment.
Within the community, we only deal with people with whom we already had family-like contact with before Corona. Cooking together is not common here, and before Corona it was no different.
Neighbours with whom I had no close contact before, for example, I would not invite to my home now. We only meet outside and keep our distance. Without panic, but with responsibility for the situation.
A community in the Black Forest (Germany)
Our last info meeting was so meager, 10 were registered, 2 came because the school in Furtwangen was already closed due to an infection.
So we thought about bringing the people together online. It should go on. We took advantage of “Teamspeak”. Here we meet once a week on Thursday evening at 6 pm (…). This is also an opportunity for people to make contact with our community if they come from other federal states. All questions are answered as far as possible and there’s also very funny conversations, which is very pleasant in the time of very negative information and moods at home. So we can exchange information easily and safely.
In fact, here at Giegelhof we are privileged in contrast to many other people. We have a large garden in which we can move around and we use the time to create and prepare the vegetable garden. The regulations hardly affect us at all, individual people continue to come to the farm in order to not go crazy in their homes. We notice that we receive requests for visits especially from friends and acquaintances from the city. Many would even like to live here in times of crisis; a farm probably gives a feeling of health and food security.
Shortly before the situation became really serious, a single mother and her son, who have no permanent residence, found their way here. Normally they live in a converted bus. With the closure of the campsites, the mother decided to look for a permanent place to stay until “normality” returned.
Apparently, the Chinese word for crisis contains the terms danger and opportunity. We try to see the chance and go repeatedly with friends in the exchange about the system. We discuss what needs to change and how to make ourselves a little more independent of this fragile capital system that prevails. What is really important? How do we want to live in the future? In which direction must our resilience go? Who can we provide for, e.g. through a larger potato field and more chickens. Because food prices will rise and not everything will always be available (we actually approve of that).
We also see the chance that people will become more humble again, realize that you can’t buy happiness, that a walk in the forest is more beautiful than a walk in the supermarket and think about what is really important in life, namely the positive exchange with people, animals and nature. That cohesion is especially important now.
That is why we also vehemently criticize the incitement to denunciation, in the packaging of “vigilance”.
Nature is already recovering now, after this short time in which man is being slowed down. We hope that the minds and hearts of people can also recover, now that for many people the life they are used to is taking a little break.
Farm community Gruebisalm (Switzerland):
We are currently 12 people here and live with very little outside contact. What do we do in the community? What can each individual do?
One can become anxious to hysterical or simply trivialize the whole thing… both are somehow the same. We are neither, but we are careful and take it seriously.
Our groceries are delivered to us… that reduces the contacts. The agrotourism we run is closed for the time being. We have enough work on the organic farm and in the vegetable garden to prepare for spring. That helps us a lot.
We can work very concentrated and have less distraction than before. That is a good experience.
We eat a lot of vegetables and fruits and strengthen our immune system.
We do not fool ourselves. If the virus reaches us, then the infected person would have to stay in the room and take care of himself as much as possible
We would then give the food, vitamins zinc and C, D3. Then daily hot baths or go to the small sauna. Because 40 °C make it uncomfortable for the virus. If someone gets a fever, don’s try to get their temperature down immediately. Fever is very hard on the virus… etc. etc. We know that the vast majority of people can survive it.
1.5 meter distance is not easy to keep. Within the community we do not do that. If someone comes to us for an important reason then keeping distance is right.
The virus is not evil. It makes us humble. It does something no politician could do, like keep the planes on the ground. While all we talked about was flight shame.
We have the advantage of not being locked in an apartment. We can take care of our farm, our animals, the garden with even more attention than before. Somehow we have become more conscious.
And we are grateful not to be affected until now.
Kirschblüte (“cherry blossom”) Community (Switzerland)
In our community we have no uniform external approach to the Covid-19 virus, except that major events, plenary meetings, seminars and groups have had to be cancelled and we are limited in many ways by the measures taken by the government.
We are about 120 adults and about 80 children who live in five quarters of a village of 1000 souls in single-family houses or apartment buildings. Many of us continue to live very freely, in close contact with roommates, neighbours (cherry blossoms), friends and adult daughters and sons and their families. When this closeness and freedom is spread outside of our houses, it is sometimes a little difficult with the rest of the village population, some of whom lock themselves up rigorously in their houses, no longer let their children play outside and forbid them any contact with each other or with us.
We have some in our community who now teach home schooling, work in the home office or are completely free, and thus have more space and time to cultivate our large vegetable and permaculture field. There we have to pay attention to the distances and group sizes, as the field is located on the main road in the middle of the village.
But there are also some people living in the cherry blossom who belong to the risk or even high risk group in terms of age or state of health. We protect these people and also the people who do not belong to the community with the distance rules. Many of these elderly or sick people avoid physical contact outside their homes at the moment. Even people who work in the health care sector naturally observe the official guidelines and recommendations conscientiously in order to avoid carrying the virus into old people’s homes, hospitals and nursing homes.
We are aware that we are very privileged with our life in the countryside: we hardly have to restrict our children and young people in their contacts and freedom of movement. We can go on foot to the (deserted) woods, to the river and to the fields. We can meet our friends and continue our projects in smaller groups.
Most of us are not directly affected financially and those who are do not have to develop existential fears, as they are surrounded and held by friends. What concerns us much more are the spiritual issues around Corona: what does it do to us psychologically and consciously, what do we learn, what could we learn, what for do we awaken even more deeply? What is the invitation that life just gives us? What is it like among us with the taboo of death, with vulnerability, finiteness, loss of control, fear, search for security?
And then there is the preoccupation, the compassion with the world: a great pain about the unemployed day labourers in India, the refugees in Lesbos, on the Syrian-Turkish border, in Congo, etc., the people in the slums of the big cities of Asia, South America, Africa. The imprisoned, overburdened families in cramped apartments, where violence and despair are on the rise, existences are threatened or have already collapsed all over the world. Every day more than 100,000 people worldwide starve to death (even without Corona), and now there will be even more. For these people, not a fraction of the effort (financial, economic, media, friendshipwise etc.) that we are now making in our countries – because we suddenly feel vulnerable and fear that it could affect us or our neighbours – will be done. This makes us sad!
Besides all the pain, the questioning and the personal challenges of each individual, we enjoy the greater silence (our village is located in the flight path of a small regional airport), the empty streets and the time we have for family and friends.
And we use all our collective power of heart and head to go through the “Magic Dream” (i.e. in the energy body) to all those people in need, to help them. As “silent witnesses” we try to bring love, compassion, energy, comfort, courage, strength, solidarity and silence.
Solidarity and discipline
It went quiet in the Giesserei (“foundry”):
– The common rooms are closed. Only the most popular meeting place, the Pantoffelbar (“Slipper Bar”), may be used as a home office by a maximum of 2 people at once.
– The guest rooms are no longer rented out so that they can be used as quarantine rooms or serve as evasion for those affected.
– All events are cancelled.
– Meetings are held in small groups only. The board meets via video conference.
But: The foundry is alive!
Long before the general lockdown, young people had already offered their services to go shopping. Thanks to apps, this works perfectly, even for young families. On our digital bulletin board, the Forum, services and opinions are actively exchanged. Even the non-IT-affine residents* are not forgotten: Phone and paper are still functioning communication carriers.
Thanks to the architecture of the settlement with its continuous balconies, which are partly also vertically structured, conversations with the direct neighbours on the right, left, bottom and top are possible.
Sometimes accompanied by guitar or bassoon, sometimes without, residents sing every evening at 6 p.m. from the balconies going to the inner courtyard. And children’s voices can be heard from the inner courtyard at any time – for small groups the playground is a popular field of movement. The nursery is open, as the emergency law allow it.
Members who perform similar tasks in normal operation perform special hygiene measures in areas accessible to the public. For example, in the stairwells the handrails, door handles and lifts are disinfected daily.
We are still coping well with everyday life now – nobody knows what will come later.
* We have stopped eating together – since the beginning of the pandemic. Since most of us are now at home, we can all cook for ourselves.
* Three to four adults and the corresponding children have joined together to form so-called Corona families. This means that only these people meet regularly and only these children play together.
* We do not use the common rooms anymore – all life takes place outside. Fortunately the weather is nice enough for that. Discussion rounds in the inner courtyard with 2 m distance, walks for two with 2 m distance and spontaneous chats in the grassland, maximum 5 people with appropriate distance.
* There is an active exchange, shopping and help program, which is controlled by Telegram and works very well. However, the mobile phone is an indispensable component in this lockdown!
* The older ones stay at home – the younger ones shop.
* Club meetings run via Zoom and the first meeting was surprisingly well attended.
* Since we have a huge grassland that merges into the forest, there is enough space and freedom of movement for everyone. The playgrounds are used at different times, which is something the Corona families agree on with each other. We have nothing to do with the authorities here, but we keep each other informed about new developments.
We are coping quite well with the situation – community is an enormous support here and we are all very grateful for it. We move (even) closer together and appreciate these special weeks and especially the peace and quiet outside (no planes, little traffic).