Staying at Gaija up near Ahtari, Finland brought many things into perspective. They have been starting their community for the past 2.5 years, and are moving along reasonably well. The people involved have rotated with about 4 of the 10-12 people remaining from the original startup. What made my experience there particularly interesting was the apparent complete lack of formal rules regarding how much or what kind of work each person there does. They basically have the agreement that if you see something that needs to be done, do it. Ask for help if you need it. But there’s nothing that you have to do.
So at first this seems like a recipe for lost efficiencies, and perhaps frictions between people who work a lot and people who aren’t working. But as I lived there more, it seemed that inequalities in work didn’t seem to be much on the minds of the people involved. Things were getting done, and although it was the case that the burden seemed to be on the backs of about half of the group, everyone was contributing in some way. Additionally, the people involved all had the impetus placed on their own shoulders, so it seemed like it made people more aware of what needed to be done, and more dynamic in terms of taking initiative and problem solving. I’ll be curious to see if this continues, and how they will manage what seem to be inevitable conflicts that will arise between people at close quarters. Still it was very interesting as a way of living.
Gaija main building
Aside from these structural interests, the people there were really interesting and friendly. A nice combination of no nonsense practicality, hard edges, and soft fantacies. I especially enjoyed being involved with potato harvesting, and very much enjoyed the various conversations that developed, along with sharing of music and making use of their excellent kitchen.
Spent time helping with the harvest, making food, cleaning up, gathering berries, helping with animals a bit, and doing some deep cleaning here and there. Had some very nice saunas and a great memory standing in the shallows of the lake at sunset with swans flying across the horizon.
Leaving there with some new ideas about structure in community arrangements, or more specifically, with a higher tolerance level of low amounts of structure. I think people have some amount of built-in social structure, and this works well even without formal structure. Although I think some amount of common formal structure is a good idea, I am thinking it can be much less than I had formerly imagined. Next stop, Suderbyn at Gotland. Went through Uppsala with a quick visit to Petra and family, as I was delayed in my travels and need to take care of a few errands as well. Excited to see what they’re developing at Suderbyn. They seem very enthusiastic and I’m looking forward to being involved.
Path to sauna and lake