Monday, November 10, 2008

Tandem Experiences

yes, that's our ride

Moving on to the last community of my trip – Holland seems somehow appropriate, like a kind of lively farewell. Arrival at Obdam was somewhat indefinate due to some schedule mix-up. I was lucky enough to talk to a man who lived over the train station, and was familiar with De Nieuw Proef. He graciously gave me a ride. Yet another example of how fortunate I’ve been on this trip, relying on the kindness of strangers. And another testament to the good will of humans in general.

De Nieuw Proef main house

greenhouse, gardens and orchard beyond

De Nieuw Proef is a rather exciting young community, having only started 5 years ago, they have made great headway into their project, fully renovating a a traditional dutch stolpboerderij (a kind of farmhouse) into 8 apartments. They have also made great progress with their farming and gardening projects – lots of effort and success.

It was a pleasure to be there in terms of the meals we had. Everyone seemed to be quite inclined towards food and culinary concerns – and there were many feasts during my 12 days living there. Also had a chance to travel over to the nearby town of Hoorn, which had great character due to the shifting, water affected ground conditions, buildings leaning many different directions, and interesting connected waterways and irrigation systems. Also went there to hear some music from a band that one of the community members was involved in – quite a fun combination of people at the community. Various ages and interests.

Had a nice time thinking about their debate/performance space, and experimenting with an individual interview approach to developing the design ideas. Also got going on an exciting sauna design. Overall, it felt like a very civil community they were building – lots of friendliness and emphasis on living a good quality of life, based on the basics. In fact, it felt in a way, closer to life in the states than the other places I’ve visited – more typical in household amenities, and more people having standard jobs, while still living collectively and enjoying the benefits of pooled resources. A very practical kind of collectivism. This has been a key thought in my developing ideas about collective living – that in order for it to be a more widespread option, it needs to be thought of in pragmatic terms instead of, or at least as a higher priority than, utopian ideals. That the benefits of living collectively are quite simple and really normal to how we are as social animals – it helps us live better lives on many levels.

Next stop Copenhagen, where I’ll spend some time doing normal tourist things before heading back to Boston to spend some time digesting all of these various experiences. I’m eager to see what I can make of all of them, how I can turn them into a direction for my career and my potential skill use.

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