Some thoughts from Alan Dearling
My colleague in Germany has recently released a film. I’ve known him for many years in connection with eco-villages and the ‘Eurotopia’ directory of international networks of intentional communities. This in turn relates to the ‘Diggers and Dreamers’ in the UK. Michael Würfel asked me to take a look at the film and share some thoughts, which I’m more than happy to do. There’s a strong element of the ‘Good Life’ in the film. A back to nature ethos. Small is beautiful. Communalism. A return to living in tribes, perhaps.
The 80-minute film is beautifully shot and features the pioneers, residents and eco-communards of the Sieben Linden community in Northern Germany. Michael told me: “I now stream the film on my own website with subtitles in English, Spanish, French and Italian. It costs Euro 6.90 to stream”:
Since 1997, the eco-village has expanded on the site of a derelict farm, which has been developed with many changes. A new forest area, permaculture, a communal kitchen and social areas, composting toilets, straw-bale homes and adapted trailers (live-in adapted wagons). It adopts a self-governing, communal approach to life and everyone is expected to engage and participate. For some this is idyllic.
Some work from home, some go away for work, and some work inside the eco-village. For a few residents it can become just too intense and stressful. The film shows the fun side of life, everyday-life experiences, alongside the struggles, conflicts, challenges and even a new baby! For some it is shown to be, “Very exhausting to live here”. For others, they say they are “Never bored”, “Develop new passions”, but sustainability in a community means dealing with the practicalities and realities of governance – including issues about diversity, tolerance, individualism and, “What is Normal Life?”
It’s full of questions. Questions about what sort of life-style we want? What choices about where we live and with whom? It shares examples of straw-bale house building, communal activities ranging from cooking and eating, sustainability and gardening, an egg-hunt, through to a fun-run, music-making, climbing – essentially the nuts and bolts of ‘working, living and loving’. Living closer to nature and your ideals can be sorely tested, and relationships can become very intense indeed.
It’s frequently a beautiful film to watch. So, a big thumbs up to Michael for his skills in film-making. The English sub-titles are a bit fast and sometimes flash on and off. But it doesn’t hinder the enjoyment. If you are interested in communal rural living, it is highly recommended.