In the Fall of 2008 we spent over two months visiting communities in western Europe. This website documents the emails we wrote and photos we took, focusing on 7 different communities in 5 countries.
The communities movement in Europe is strong and enjoys a much more respected and prominent role in European society than in the US. If you're familiar with communities in the US you will notice lots of similarities with European communities. There are also some distinct differences that set them apart.
Squatting is an integral part of European culture, and under some circumstances is legal and protected. It is also much more common to find old warehouses or industrial buildings that have been abandoned. These can often be squatted or purchased for cheap, and tend to be ideal for shared living with minor remodeling. The culture gap between communities and the mainstream tends to be far smaller than in the US. Additionally, people across the political and social spectrum still share a much stronger sense of cultural and national pride than in the US (especially during international soccer tournaments).
Our European communities tour followed a tour of communities in the US, primarily on the west coast with a detour to Austin, TX. We've learned a lot over this last year of travel, but one thing has become especially clear. Namely that Communities, including social networks that incorporate some kind of economic support system, are in a unique position to support a more comfortable and peaceful transition to a post-carbon, environmentally-destabilized world. They are developing needed skills, both technical and social: like how to grow a garden and how to work out conflict non-violently. What these European communities and a few examples in the US have taught us is that we need stop doubting ourselves, marginalizing ourselves, and isolating ourselves.
As we continue to settle into our new lives in Charlottesville, VA the stories and images of all these amazing places and people reverberate through us. We set out to help build community in this area with an incredible source of inspiration from which to draw.
*****See it live and in person!! We'll be doing a series of show 'n' tells around central Virginia, featuring the stories and images on this site plus more. If you're interested in hosting one email us at karmakas(att)gmail(dott)com or peacewithinchaos(att)gmail(dott)com