Our community is nothing without the volunteers in it. Gracious in their colourful variety of skills, cut out from an uncertain universe, they have a found a family here one that lets them burn with heavenly brightness. This is Stef and he is amazing!
What else is there besides the amazing pizzas, waffles, dances and beautifully decorated people on Friday night? It may not be visible at nighttime, but every weekday there is plenty of gardening going on in the hills of Tojeiro. A team of greenfingered people is working hard to create better soil for growing nutritious vegetables that can feed residents during the week and also decorate the pizzas of the hungry Friday visitors.
The gardening is partly done along the principles of permaculture. This term was coined by Bill Mollison and derives from the words permanent agriculture. In his book he defines it as ‘the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems’. This basically comes down to that people who are providing their own food, mimick natural conditions as much as possible while doing so. This is quite a challenge in the dry climate of Portugal, but with the right philosophy and action a lot of sustainable change is possible!
Currently, the steep slope up front of the land of Tojeiro is being transformed into an oasis for herbs and vegetables. What is needed to allow vegetables to gain a high nutritious value is organic, rich soil that contains a lot of micro-organisms. In order to achieve this, we have created plant beds that are built with the technique of sheet mulching. Mike, resident of Tojeiro since june 2017, initiated this idea and explains that sheet mulching consists of various layers of organic matter that we find on and around the farm, like animal faeces, compost, grass cuttings, straw, dry leaves and cardboard. By covering the beds in this way, an ideal mix of carbons, nitrogens and other minerals is formed, much like the fertile soil in forests. If you’re keen on learning more about sheet mulching, have a look here.
In order to sustain the natural balance of this particular ecosystem that we live in here, we are exploring ways to make the garden an attractive place for small predator animals like lizards, frogs and snakes. These animals are needed to get rid of the smaller animals that are destroying crops, like bugs and slugs. In this way, a natural balance among the species is maintained and the veggies are kept in tact and can grow to their full potential.
Another issue that is being tackled right now is the watering of the plants. In summer, when temperatures can rise to 36 degrees Celsius and beyond, a lot of hours go in to watering the beds with hoses. It usually takes six to seven people watering the beds twice a day for one hour. In order to reduce the time spent watering, this spring we will experiment with flood irrigation. The idea is to overflow the pond that is up the hill every day. We will be digging swales that will meander down the hill toward the entrance. These will carry the water along all the beds. The water in the pond is used by fish, geese, chickens and plants which means that a lot of valuable nutrients are added. These will also contribute to the creation of better soil.
Sheet mulching beds have the capacity to retain a high humidity. On one side of each bed swales have been dug, which are filled with dead wood and smaller organic matter. This means that the water that soaks into the beds from the swales is kept there by the organic matter. The theory is that the beds stay humid enough like this, so that we only need to flood each swale once a week.
The water comes into the bed from below, which encourages the roots of the vegatebles to grow deeper into the soil. This results in stronger plants and prevents the water that would usually be on the top surface of the bed from evaporating. This significantly reduces the amount of water used as well as is in need of less manpower. With this system we only need to turn on a couple of taps every day instead of walking along all the beds and water them by hand. We can well use those hands for other wonderful projects in the hills. Like for example the wood terraces that are built alongside of the hills in Tojeiro. This prevents the slope from crumbling and provides space for some plants to grow. The next coming up garden project is the building of a bath house with a hot shower fuelled by a hot compost system. This house of fresh- and wellness will be accompanied by several compost toilets. How fresh the Tojeirians will be in the hills!
In the beginning of this year, a group of German Wandergesellen started woofing at Tojeiro. Looking like craftsmen from a centuries ago, wearing beautiful traditional tailored suits. The tradition of Wandergesellen or Journeymen has existed for over 800 years and today still 600-800 people are practicing it. Wandergesellen or Journeymen are freshly graduated craftsmen in all possible categories travelling and working around the world.
The travel and work period lasts for a minimum of three years and one day. The one day is added because the period spent travelling should be longer than the duration of the apprenticeship as a craftsman. In order to become a master of a specific craft, it was necessary to undertake this journey, as a way to expand the knowledge and broaden the mind. Until now, this is still the main reason for going on the three-year-travels.
During the time spent travelling and working, the Wandergesellen are not allowed to come in their hometown or 50 km around there. Also, it is expected that they do not spend money on travelling and accomodation. This rule came into play because the Wandergesellen ought to get in contact with the local people and their way of life and culture. This particular way of travelling paves the way for many interesting and remarkable encounters and adventures.
This awesome tradition dates back to medieval times and used to exist all over Europe. Nowadays, the journeyman years are still practiced in German-speaking countries and France. There they are called Les Compagnons.
The specific Wandergesellen that found the land of Tojeiro are two carpenters called Pit and Jonny and a stonemason named Luis. They started building an amazing clay house up the first hill, of course not without the support by a team of Tojeirians, usually a group of 5-7 people. Niko, Lylah and Inge are often there because they feel the vibe up there. The location is wonderful, overlooking the valley and standing in direct communication distance from the kitchen. It is amazing how the sound travels so easily over the wide gardens.
Going up the Eastern hill, a little clay house appears from behind a bush. Its shape is modest and it would not be impossible that a hobbit family would leave the house any time. The wooden frame of the building was already there, made by former Tojeirians. The structure for the roof was made out of branches, gathered in the woods surrounding the valley. To keep it waterproof, plastic material has been recycled to create a stirdy roof.
The walls were built from chopped branches as well and later on got woven with willow branches. After the third week, the willow surfaces were all filled with a mixture of straw and clay, creating a solid wall that keeps the warmth inside and makes sure the room is cool in summer. The clay is mined from the hill behind the house, then put through a huge siv made out of chicken fencing, in order to get the stones out. Then the smooth mass is mixed with water. The stamping of the clay happens with bare feet and is a loved job by many. Massaging the clay between the toes is an awesome experience!
In one of the corners of the cottage, a natural stone wall was built. It forms the basis of the stove heater that will be put there. The windows up front are big and through them a wonderful view of the garden and mountains can be seen. At the backside of the house, bottles in different colours are used in the wall. They create lovely light patterns on the solidly wooden floor, created by Pit. Luis built a cute staircase that creates an inviting entrance. In the future, this will be a perfect room for small gatherings, meditation sessions, sharing circles and ecstatic dance.
All the used materials are collected from the Tojeiro land, except for the wood that is being used for the floor. That needs to be solid and flat, for it may be used as a yoga space in the future. In between the work, some coffee and tea is made on the self-made oven dug out of the grove. Some stones, water, straw, clay, wood, bottles, a couple of Wandergesellen, tools and loving hands is all it takes!
over the hills and in the valley
ambition is fading
whilst wading in ponds of momentalities
stimulating highs and leather lows
the grinding sound of pebbles
under my feet
meshing old patterns of habit
with waves of desire
singularities morphing into one
over the hills and in the valley
As part of my role on the Public Relations team I’ve charged myself (that’s what we do here, we “charge” ourselves with tasks – a kind of self-imposed tyranny) the task of getting us a stronger online presence. I’ve concentrated upon Trip Advisor and getting the reviews up. Last week they stood at 5. Shocking frankly. 5 reviews for a pizza party that has been giving thousands of people the highlight of their trip/weekend for years. Thousands and yet only 5 reviews!
OK, the youth (18-35, the majority demographic here in Tojeiro), it appears, don’t use Trip Advisor. When asked during the pilot study, and a couple of qualitative interviews, as psychologists call them, it seems they prefer Facebook. No surprises there I suppose. However, and not wishing to promote a particular travel information site, Trip Advisor has huge reach for other demographics, especially that of parents looking for trips and activities and others like myself who use it to find cheap, quality restaurants and places to enjoy a locally priced glass of wine, or find out the best museums. It’s useful because it is based upon user experience and their reviews.
However by yesterday Fridayhappiness on TA was up to the tottering heights of 11 reviews and up to 11th place in the tourist utopia that is Monchique. Yes, we are the 11th most popular restaurant in Monchique out of 34. (A place, according to Wikipedia, with a population of 6045.) 11th place despite having a Pizza Party that goes on the 16 hours, has two rocking dance stages, three bars, one shop and two paramedics and attracts thousands people from all over Portugal and a very popular attraction for tourists, ravers and backpackers. To put this into perspective one our leading Trip Advisor competitors, 86 reviews, have “tomato salad, French fries, chicken, piri piri and omelette” as their enticement.
How did this monumental leap up 6 reviews and 2 table places, to 11, happen? Well I started by plugging it as helping Rudi’s business – that didn’t help – in fact one interview participant said he/she didn’t give a damn about the business, only the community. How the two are separated under the fiscal demands of capitalism I don’t see but yet I can understand the sentiment. The appeal to peoples sense of fairness and emotion didn’t work with only 2 reviews added. So the next day, contrary to all the written and unwritten rules of review writing everywhere, a free beer was offered to every review written (favourable, or potentially unfavourable, it must be noted) and I laid back and waited for all of the 40 plus Tojeiro community members to roll up to the bar to claim a free Sagres or Radler and so my job would be done.
Well, how many reviews, with that free drink incentive, were written in the next 48 hours? Answer: none. At this point I conducted a few qualitative interviews and some of the opinions above came to light including the hassle of having to download the app to be able to write a review. Some also expressed the view that writing reviews was not their “thing” or they felt it was somehow unethical to write a review while working here or they could only write it after they had left and had had the experience – although I felt like asking how they would respond to a family member asking for a favourable review for a new restaurant they were opening despite being 4000 km away. Would they say, “No mum, I can only give you a business helping review after I’ve actually eaten at your new place, sorry mum, how’s dad?” Different sort if family I suppose.
Anyway at this point, and feeling somewhat deflated to the point that I felt it could be my character that was putting the village people off helping the business that sustains us, I remembered that the mercurial social science duo Tversky and Kahneman had researched this very matter. Their work, amongst others, has developed into Anchor Theory. Here, the agent decides which of two rewards they would prefer to participate in an research project. Funnily they found that participants would choose the higher reward but with less certainty in winning; the odds were 100% for the lesser reward, say €5, but only 10% for winning €40, more participants would risk the certainty of €5 for the one-in-ten chance of €40 (this is my example because I haven’t got their research to hand.
When anchored to the plea for the business the enthuiasm , the internal drive was next to nothing. When the reward was a beer the uptake WAS nothing! So not a big enough incentive but the free drink and/or helping the business acted as the anchor whereupon 10 Drink lottery looked like a good cost (time and hassle spent wriring review) -benefit. The lottery to win a 10 drink card suddenly saw reviews increase by 100%, including more that had been taken down by Trip Adviser – set ’em up again folks to get in next week’s draw. The incentive suddenly became attractive but had all the reviews remained and a few more posted the odds of winning (it turned out we all had a 20% chance of winning, nice) would have decreased to the point where the rational mind would choose the one free beer over the lottery. Participants didn’t know how many would participate, and didn’t ask and weren’t interested. They just believed, despite not knowing or wanting to know the odds, that they would win. I would postulate many played a small movie, in their heads, of them going up to the stage to collect the drink card. This was enough internal motivation for there to be a dramatic increase, in percentage terms at least, in participation.
Next week hopefully they’ll be more than 5 reviews as people take the opportunity to win a drink.
The competition is open to all and everybody and a drinks card is waiting for the weekly winner with Rudi at reception should you not be here to receive it. Leave an honest review on Trip Adviser and pick it up, should you win – it’s worth €12.
Miranda won it last night and winners will be posted on here after the Party Night Draw.
Hopefully we will start to get over 10 reviews a week at which point the rational mind should have chosen the free beer, but don’t let anyone tell you that the homo sapien is a rational being, the evidence suggests otherwise.
Please help the business and community by leaving reviews on all social media instruments. If the pilot goes well for Trip Advisor we will be expanding more cards to Facebook and Google draws so all who between now and then will be included in the draw should it happen.
In recent years I’ve been interested in power and how it operates in groups that aim towards a non-hierarchy, non -authoritarian coexistence. From the outset I imagined that achieving this in community life would be easy, right? Given the fact that people would share this common end it would be a relatively straightforward process towards anarchist bliss. Alas.
I also had a chance to observe community action whilst studying an ethnography module at university. The Occupy Movement was the target. I interview a leader of my nearest Occupy group and asked him how power was distributed. He more or less confirmed my idea that certain individuals were in receipt of more power than others. For practical reason, of course.
I noticed that while participating in General Assemblies (group meetings, open to all, including undercover police) and auxiliary meetings that the same people would organise and lead debate, even encouraging select others up the informal hierarchical ladder to a position of relative group security, respect and validation. The same people calling for revolutionary change were adopting control and command techniques that was surely part of the problem to begin with and klin the process of creating a new class for themselves.
Or were they? Is not the case that those with the talents for organising a disparate group of people (and a mighty mixed bunch they were too, revolutionaries were in the minority, by a long way) should act for the greater good of the community by taking master of the running, the bureaucracy if you like, of the community? Especially if they’ve had experience organizing social movements? For efficiency sake the answer is always Yes. These leaders, probably the same people who started the Occupy protest, should be conferred with the authority to direct the movement as left to the wily dictates of novices the group is likely to disintegrate before it has ever started. But then that authority confers power and it is very addictive.
Organise, lead, security, respect and validation: all positive attributes we would surely wish to have in a community. It’s better for your health. Fact. Conversely the opposites: being commanded, lack of input, insecurity, disdain and invalidation make you feel bad and is bad for your health; social rejection and physical pain share the same part of the brain, the anterior cingulate cortex (Eisenburger & Lieberman, 2004). Because it is pain it can be medicated with painkillers (Dewall et al, 2010). The power to grant and confer group acceptance to others is a very effective tool in its own right.
Who hasn’t known, for example, an influential group member use this power to confer privilege to their own personal benefit? Nicest accommodation, access to vehicles and the kitchen and privileged internet use, hot showers on cold days when “doing office work”. And who doesn’t find this power attractive? It can, and does, bring with it strong sexual advantage – the abuse of which is often times most published: Bill Clinton, David Mellor, Paddy Pantsdown and just about every US politician. But it’s easy to forget that sex can, and ideally, be fun for both parties, so I hope all involved got something out of it apart from the cheque for exclusive rights and a soiled item of clothing.
Association with the powerful can bring reflected glory and rapid assent within a group hierarchy. But are the drives for group acceptance just another form of group security and should another more powerful group come along, would not we, then seek their approval in order to maintain something of our own privilege? Possibly, especially if doing otherwise would mean extermination or group invalidation. Difficult decisions but our brains make the decisions somewhat easier in that they’ve evolved from centuries of battling with these choices and the result is our non conscious conditioning towards power, or more concisely those who wield it. Sometimes we want to share our genes with these individuals in the hope of that privilege for ourselves and our offspring. A life advantage indeed.
That’s why politicians wear ties and suits, that’s why authority figures wear uniforms and stand under flags; they want you to associate them with the still greater power of The State: to whom all shall bow, and then in the name of the greatest good they want you to serve them so they can serve others. Social constructs are created to reinforce the idea of subservience and service to an arbitrary “Greater Good” – the ideology.
A long leap from community organiser in a hippy farm to world leader, right? No, not really, the psychological pressures and pulls are just the same. The same dynamics operate but only on a smaller less innocuous level – although abuse at any level is still abuse.
So why this concentration upon power, hierarchy and ideology? Why because after a month if being here I’ve noticed my voice has more influence, slightly more. I am becoming a confederate pushed along by the hidden hand of social inclusion. People listen to me when I speak, not something that happened often upon my initiation. I’m being accepted by some of the long term residents who may feel slightly less queasy that their power is diminished by a potential competitor who may become a potential asset. And i came second in a talent contest last week; unfairly behind Jess but thankfully before Diana. Basically, so many, as usual, have left that the gaps have to be filled: the best sleeping spots, the better jobs and The Interesting Story Teller at the bar – although I can only be sure I’ve got the first two.
But isn’t this natural? Shouldn’t she who has been there the longest have the greatest amount of power, respect and validation? From a practical perspective of course they should, they know where everything is and how it all works (;-)) and the people who know how to fix it if it doesn’t (;-)). They have Experience – often underrated in the opinion of my dotage – and experience makes life easier, happier and more pleasurable. Being an experienced swimmer in a deep pool is more enjoyable than being a complete novice, same with skateboarding down a steep hill and climbing a mountain. And people are also attracted to happy people. Powerful, experienced, happy people are very attractive indeed. And being perceived as attractive is a very strong drive in us because it involves higher status which continues the virtuous cycle. Bliss.
But at what cost? Yes, there is a downside. A few. The first that springs to mind is the danger of unwarranted inflation of sense of self and importance to the group. We are all expendable and all are, and will be, replaced. Nobody is indispensable. And a fall from grace and favour can be a highly traumatic life event; tread very carefully. The second is the sense of attachment, one of the highest forms of spiritual wisdom is non-attachment, the Buddhists swear blind about it and just about every faith warns of becoming attached to the world and its pleasures: they are but illusions paving the way to arrogance, sloth and sin.
Who among us has lived in what Sartre would call Bad Faith? It’s where we define ourselves in terms of the role we play in society: I’m a teacher/nurse/fireman/psychologist/bricklayer/etc. and then acting in the ways and manner of that profession or occupation despite it being at odds with our nature and how we really feel? It may fatally distract us from our path? Thirdly and related, and one of may favourite quotes, it’s by Lord Acton:
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
If you’re not a sociopath already you’ll almost always become one.
That’s why anarchists try to examine power and its effects. And then try to minimise the damage it can do when concentrated down to a select few; a few who often make the decisions others are far more experienced and skilled to make. A good leader is self-reflective, always acting with the knowledge she doesn’t know but acts on contingency, and importantly knows they are not irreplaceable. But a great leader, in the compassionate, wisest and healthiest sense, is the leader who doesn’t want to be a leader but has it bestowed upon them by virtue of their experience and insight. They do exist. I’ve met one or two and they act as a kind of group elder who others go to to resolve disputes and drive new ideas. But they are the sort of person who yearns for the quiet life.
To resist the temptation of power and influence is difficult and that is why anarchist theory arrows towards the group participating in decision making. It minimizes the individual for the good of the group. Perhaps electing one time representitives to represent the group at conference. It’s also good for the individual as they are protected from the corruption of power.
So if you see me talking “above my station”, taking advantage or doing stuff that stinks of privilege talk me down. Help me.
Remind me I’m disposable.
I am reading a book about the evolution of mental health treatment in Britain and Ireland, here’s a quote I wanted to share:
It is commonly agreed that the most deplorable spectacle which society presents, is that of a receptacle for the insane. In pauper asylums we see chains and strait-waistcoats, – three or four halfnaked creatures thrust into a chamber filled with straw, to exasperate each other with their clamour and attempts at violence; or else gibbering in idleness, or moping in solitude. In private asylums, where the rich patients are supposed to be well taken care of in proportion to the quantity of money expended on their account, there is as much idleness, moping, raving, exasperating infliction, and destitution of sympathy, though the horror is attempted to be veiled by a more decent arrangement of externals. Must these things be? I have lately been backwards and forwards at the Hanwell Asylum for the reception of the pauper lunatics of the county of Middlesex. On entering the gate, I met a patient going to his garden work with his tools in his hand, and passed three others breaking clods with their forks, and keeping near each other for the sake of being sociable. Further on, were three women rolling the grass in company; one of whom, – a merry creature, who clapped her hands at the sight of visitors, had been chained to her bed for seven years before she was brought hither, but is likely to give little further trouble, henceforth, than that of finding her enough to do. A very little suffices for the happiness of one on whom seven years of gratuitous misery have been inflicted; – a promise from Mrs Ellis to shake hands with her when she has washed her hands, – a summons to assist in carrying in dinner, – a permission to help to beautify the garden, are enough. Further on, is another in a quieter state of content, always calling to mind the strawberries and cream Mrs Ellis set before the inmates on the lawn last year, and persuading herself that the strawberries could not grow, nor the garden get on without her, and fiddle-faddling in the sunshine to her own satisfaction and that of her guardians. This woman had been in a strait-waistcoat for ten years before she was sent to Hanwell. In a shed in this garden, sit three or four patients cutting potatoes for seed, singing and amusing each other; while Thomas, – a mild, contented looking patient, passes by with Mrs Ellis’s clogs, which he stoops to tie on with all possible politeness; finding it much pleasanter, as Dr Ellis says, ‘to wait on a lady than be chained in a cell’.”
(from “Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots: A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland”by Kathryn Burtinshaw, John R F Burt)
You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
Blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
Hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
Thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil-Scott Heron
We’re having a debate at Tojeiro: Should we have a television?
On one side of the argument is position the television dumbs down the cultural life of the farm: if you’re watching television you’re not playing music, chatting, being creative, praying/meditating/yogaing, reading and that old favourite working. All-in-all you’re sucking in outside culture and memes and not engaging in proactive community life of the immediate environment. A strong position indeed and of the main drivers for coming here in the first place: surely to get away from the evils of modern life and TV is slap-bang in the middle of contemporary culture.
On the other side exists the idea that movies/cartoons/documentaries/news/ sport is good for community life, who doesn’t enjoy watching the famous Glasgow Celtic playing Kilmarnock in the SLP on Saturday morning? OK, it’s only me, and I watch it on my phone all by myself, but a large part the community will watch GoT, especially if one the community has a role in it – which one did. And many enjoy a film after the Friday Night travails, just gouching out.
There is the further point that if the TV is removed community dwellers will just end up atomised, huddled individually around their laptops/tablets/mobiles (guilty!) hid away in their caravans and tents. Modern life may suck but there are just some parts we just can’t and won’t do without – notice there is no debate about having the internet. There’s something different about the television.
The superb band, The Disposable Heroes of Hipocracy (no relation) have a track called Television: The Drug of The Nation. They’ve got a great video that accompanies it, and there’s the hypocrisy: the band use television (it was pre-Youtube) to promote their anti-television polemic. How else did they get their message across without hard-hitting visual images? For the visual is very important for our species.
But let’s not get carried away in this love of the cathode ray, or LED 55″ for the moment, who among us has ever preferred the film over the book – there may be a few examples (Shawshank Redemption – although I haven’t read it), but not many, a book may take effort and time but it brings a deeper satisfaction than any tear jerker or disaster film ever can. Or does it? Breaking Bad, The Book? Doesn’t quite have the same feel. Television surely can bring satisfaction and real emotion to the individual and the group as they share in the excitement of Celtic v Kilmarnock or going through the human drama of a major breaking news story (a near by fire certainly gets the adrenaline flooding here) or laughing at Rick & Morty as a Monday night treat.
But does a hippy community want and need this external input? Would we not be better off playing guitar, making candles or discussing Kant? Probably. Definitely. But do we want to? Probably not. Not all the time at least.
There is also the point that we are what we consume and the ruling class having been dominating the working-class (do you have to work to avoid being thrown out on the street after a couple of months of nonpayment of rent/mortgage? You’re working-class) through dissemination of their ideas of hierarchy, consumption and control for centuries and television has been an extremely effective vehicle. The tempo of Television makes it difficult to maintain and employ a critique of what we are visually and aurally consuming and thus we can become passive receptors for sexism, racism, homophobia and inequality. For who owns the TV stations? Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers, Michael Bloomberg, all good friends of Trump. Do they want you talking about inequality? No. Do they want you talking about scandal, tragedies (to others) and the rich and amous? Sure they do.
But Television is only a receptor and transmitter of visual and aural data and not all such data is corrupt, many a scientist was inspired by David “Population Control” Attenborough or Patrick Moore (a most benevolent person I have good reason to believe). Many have been introduced to great art and literature and fascinating ideas through watching TV. Is watching a YouTube video on TV watching television? Is watching a video on a laptop just another way of consuming the control methods of oligarchy?
Perhaps in conclusion the television should stay but have more competition to it. Have it that people just don’t want to watch TV and let it gather dust until the next movie night or wet winter day when another game of cards just won’t cut the mustard. Or maybe just turn it on and play Call of Duty for half an hour when nobody else is around. Or maybe just get rid of it and wait until you return to “civilization”.
Television has caused a dilemma in the community because it causes a dilemma in the individual. I am disinterested and that’s why I can’t make an argument for or against it; they are both strong points and as with many things we just have to live with tension. Unless the TV’s owner decides to sell it.
It’s just another First-World Problem I suppose; the problem of the privileged, for not everyone has 55″ they can argue about.
(Comments and feedback are welcome. Please follow us on Facebook and leave a review on Trip Advisor.)
One of our long-termers, Maarten, has a background in web development and is using his highly-trained skills to build a new domain whose title explains its its purpose – hippylife.eu. He hopes it will grow into an encyclopedic assortment of articles, videos, ideas and tools to help lead an alternative lifestyle in the age of late-stage capitalism.
Maarten is encouraging people to contribute material to his site in the hope of assisting people who are struggling to break free from the chains of their wage slavery. He hopes to highlight the many positives that dropping out can bring.
Maarten has spent time floating around after leaving his homeland and escaping the stresses of modern life. He has found happiness, contentment and a purpose that late-stage capitalism was never able provide. He wishes by this electronic means to share his experiences with others, but he also hopes others will contribute. Contact him on Facebook or send a message via the website if you wish to be a contributor or help generate ideas. It could be the start of something special.
Bob Black wrote an essay some years ago (link here) called The Abolition of Work. What a dream, eh? Imagine, if you will, a different world, a world without alarm clocks, commutes, and the discipline of bosses and set hours. Imagine in its place a world where work is play. Where toil becomes pleasure it is no longer toil.
Tojeiro offers something like this vision, here you can take over a task that you want to do and make it yours, or create your own. Sure the first couple of weeks can be testing as you seek your place and adjust into the ever dynamic flow of the community – people come and go all the time, other lives or pressures pull them in and then away again. And sure you’ll need to purchase a drinks card (€8 for ten items, bargain) and buy your smokes if you want to enjoy more than the excellent food, a place to sleep and incredible social life. But you’ll volunteer for a task and do it to the best of your ability, I suppose. You’ll change a few times and then you’ll find a task, or create one that feels more like play, and you’ll learn new skills and see the fruit of your labour and this turns into something else than the drudgery most of us know as work. As the task becomes fulfilling and playful it’ll become something you want to do rather than being forced to do.
There is always time for a smoke, a chat, a rest from the relentless heat, early cool beers. Time for marathon book reads, yippee! Long lunches and easy Saturdays and Sundays. Lounging on hammocks. And long siesta’s. Ummm.
Then there’s Friday Night Pizza and the place becomes, in part a business. Here you can play your part in making pizza, serving the bar or doing the tech. Loads of jobs, find your place, fit in and flow. Tiring but stimulating. And no bosses, maybe a odd raised voice if someone is carrying stress, for here is not perfect and a lot of healing is going on or slacking from what they promised to do; as most of us do from time to time, or just plain forgetfulness or error. And why don’t we do it? Probably because we’ve not found the place where toil becomes playful. And when we play we become patient and patience is something I’ve been working upon.
While Tojeiro is not a utopia of joyful exuberance all the time and some tasks are work but the point is the ratio between those jobs we don’t like doing and those we do is certainly narrowed to a significant degree and in some points it becomes just play. Capitalism doesn’t like play without profit and this experience is very rare under the extreme profit model that share listed companies are legally compelled to perform (the interests of shareholders always comes first). If you have a job that you can describe as play you are very lucky indeed. They do exist.
At the end of the month you’ll not get the €200 after all the taxes. bills and debt, but you will get a sense of belonging in a world that promotes play and diminishes discipline. Is that an exchange worth paying? If the model here reflects it it certainly seems to be catching on as people all over the world pop in to add their uniqueness in greater numbers.
Turn off, tune in and drop out. Who knows you may even end up writing blogs.
Animals make up the community of Tojeiro, but only by permission – don’t bring yours without asking first. We’ve got one sheep, we’ve got 3 goats, 3 geese, numerous chickens and cats and currently 4 dogs and a further few who hop in from the local environs, but today we’ll concentrate just upon the dogs. They are in order of seniority, Salem, possibly 5, 6 or 7, who is the longest permanent of the community. His owners couldn’t get him back in the car, he like others didn’t want to go so he stayed – another victim of the beauty and easy living of the Tojeiro Community. He has the rather unpleasant habit of lying under the feet of Woofers and nipping them when they tread, always accidentally, on him. So always watch where you step.
Mikey, coming in at 5 has the nominal ownership – for does not the dog also own its human – of Tommylein. He was a rescue dog, the family that owned him went back to New Zealand and left him behind, possibly because of anger management issues. He is a Half-Rhodesian Ridgeback – he got a high ridge on his back and tiger stripes. Tommylein has tempered his temper and apart from odd scraps with Salem – they have a uneasy truce coming together with pack instinct against the common enemy, usually Bob, an outsider – is now a gentle soul.
Paula is 7 and a half, born on 12th January, 2010. Paula joined Tom for a life journey only 5 weeks after birth. She could possibly be an Austrian Schnauzer but if you’re Italian she could be Italian. She is a beautiful reflection of the kind and easy character of her owner and the two of them stroll around in a laid-back symbiosis of contentment and hippy rectitude.
And Minnie, 6, and my dog. She’s a Plummer Terrier, a Jack Russell bred for ratting. She is English and has a passport and is travelling with me on my bike. Poor Minnie was the runt of the litter and I think still suffers post traumatic stress, a result of bullying from the rest of the litter when a pup I reckon. She avoids other dogs and suffers sparation anxiety when away from me. Often finding she’s the smallest whichever group she’s in. But she has two characters, Jeckle and Hyde personas, a split personality trait. One moment she is cool and composed but frightened of other dogs and always refusing a fight, which she’d lose, with a cat willing to stand its ground. The other side of her is a playful character who when provoked by a ball or a stick will not let up for hour upon restless hour with a high pitched bark that insists, “Throw the stick/ball for me continually until I’m bored/too tired” and that goes right through you, seriously annoying after only 10 secs she can keep it up for as long as she likes. Best advice, ignore her long enough and she goes away.
There is an easy tension between the dogs and between them and the humans. Salem is the Alpha of the group but Mikey is big powerful and young. Paula is gentle and unassuming and Minnie stays away from them but they all bring their character and life story to the community and increase the joy of many of the woofers. They are a positive addition to our community life.
If you’re thinking about bringing your dog please ask first.