Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wooden Boats

Meridiana Main House

It was a lovely time with Thorsten and Kora at Meridiana. They have many interesting ideas forming, and it seemed like the timing was very good for my involvement and help. They’re doing a fair amount to generate a sustainable settlement with their guest house and personal home, and are working hard to establish fertile grounds for ecological settlement on Kumlinge, Åland.

We had many nice meals together, and I was able to help construct a storage closet with the additions of some places for shelves/spice racks. Felt good to be engaged in physical work and construction. Went around the island by bicycle and foot and even had the chance to go out sailing in their smaller wooden boat.

It was also a lot of fun to help with design ideas for their winter garden. Fortuitous to find some tangible design connections to boat building and ecology. They were great to work through ideas with, and I think we arrived at a solution that made use of lots of good thinking from all of us. Also was very interesting to meet with their neighbors and develop some broader coordination about the overall vision for the area. We developed some very interesting ideas and toured around the immediate vicinity, looking at places with good potential for future ecological houses. Also arrived at the idea that it would be a good to start with some smaller bungalows that could be used by people who are considering moving there or need a place to live while they build their own.

Sailing with Thorsten and Kora

Visioning and Design Session with neighbors

This has led me to think about many ideas, including the possibility of developing various types of design/build courses to create these bungalows, and perhaps other projects in the eco-village. Also has gotten me thinking about ideal settings for community. The strengths of Meridiana relate to the connection to nature and the island feeling, as well as small scale agricultural potential and interesting local community. Their challenge will be to find people who are interested in living away from the city in a more self-sustained manner. I think they can manage, and it gets me thinking about how you generate interest in communal settlement in general. It suggests a rather large step aside from the normal living situation. I think efforts need to be made to associate community arrangements with more “normal” living situations. This may suggest working disassociate it from the perception of counter culture, or rebellion, as in the communal movements of the 70s. This is of course in the interest of spreading community options more broadly. In the case of Meridiana, I think they will do well to make use of their interest in nature and holistic medicine to develop interest. Although I also think tapping into the local interests in maritime tradition and perhaps art and natural retreat could also go a long way.

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