I live in Bilbao, a 350.000 people town in the Spanish Basque Country. When I speak out my voice for the need of communities to reorientate the development path, people think I am an idealist –or, rather, a Martian. The days spent in Cloughjordan (19th-22nd January 2012) were not only a confirmation that idealist are the ones who think that their selfish is sustainable, but a source of multidimensional inspiration.
One can hardly even imagine having so many enlightening experiences on community living in just 2.5 days. With Davie Philips I could share TEDs, documents, guides, sentences, and other forms of knowledge on community approaches, mainly Focused on Education. Further, he was an unbeatable guide to all my intensive time in The Village. In the train station in Dublin we met Chris Chapman, an authority on social transformational processes, who offered me a copy of ‘Walk Out Walk About: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now’, before getting the train to Cloughjordan. Professor Peadar Kirby was my host in Cloughjordan’s ecovillage. It was a real pleasure to hold so enriching conversations with him about Resilience, Politics and Ethics during a long Thursday’s dinner and Friday’s breakfast, with their long after-sessions, in which also Sarah Fleming (networker and specialist on Sustainable Food) added her views. In John Jopling’s, before lunch, we had a talk on Gaian democracy and ‘moneytocracy’, with its reflection on the power of the media and the depreciation of labour. He also offered me a copy of ‘Fleeing Vesuvius: Overcoming the Risks of economic and environmental collapse’, several authors of which live in The Village. Ross Rabette and Michael Newham are working on a very similar project to mine, on how to make community economically approaches, so we could exchange valuable views and knowledge during a full afternoon and evening that was followed by a community dinner that Martial Arts specialist Patrick O’Connor’s family offered to all the above and their families, plusBen Whelan (co-founder of Sustainable Ireland Cooperative) and Bruce Darrell (specialist in resilient food supply), in his self-built house. On Saturday we woke up late, made exercise for a couple of hours (moving some furniture from Oonagh Roantree’s house in Clouhjordan outside the village to a new one inside), and were conversing for a long time with two Irish journalist. I think their report is this nice one. The rest of the day, long lovely talks with Davie and Sarah. At night, Bruce offered to all the men above except Pedar a self-made pasta dinner and lot’s of beer, including Pat’s self-brewed (too much good!): lots of laughs and cute thoughts, some of which on the topic “the new men, another revolution pending” (no single word on football or women, can you believe?!) 😉
Every detail is thought and measured in terms of sustainability in The Village: energy and water, houses, farming, drainage, the community forest, transport, other permaculture aspects…; but that’s not totally new. People feel a strong sense of belonging to the community and get involved in its live; but neither this is new. There are plans for a centre for education on sustainable living and a green enterprises development hub, which, added to the above, is the start of something really new. What makes of The Village a probably unique case is the shared eagerness to contribute to the global cause by researching, building useful knowledge, spreading their message and becoming a case study either as a new development or in particular aspects for existing ones. An excellent place to set a ‘Community Valley’; there is talent, leadership, land, formation and recognition about an initiative that has much to tell if our future is to be by choice. There should be money for this, the only ingredient left.