“No one travels quite so high as he who knows not where he is going.”
Oliver Cromwell

EdgeRyders – Living on the Edge

n

My short excursion to Rosia Montana this summer gave birth to something new. I met there a young man who attended both the cooking rocket stove workshop and one of the yoga sessions. I remembered he attended both but I did not know anything about him, nor his name … until he contacted me sometime after the event. His name is Andrei and according to his twitter profile he was from Strasbourg and was associated with a community called Edgeryders. Hinted by the German Strasbourg I assumed Edgeryders was a German name of a physical community in which he lived and tried to read it accordingly “ed-gar-eeders” or something. It was only on my 2nd or 3rd visit that somehow I figured out it was to be read as “Edge Riders”.

I then found and immersed myself in EdgeRyders. Browsing the website does not clarify what EdgeRyders is and I am not inclined to try explaining it. I resonated deeply with the name (given where my life has taken me). Once inside I felt a strong pull. When I joined the site I started receiving update messages letting me know about activities taking place inside it. I found myself flooded by inviting information with a growing number of open browser tabs I wanted to spend more time in.

A strong signal came when I discovered that Noemi, one of the prominent voices and founders of EdgeRyders, is from Cluj. On my next visit to the city we met face to face, Andreea was there too. After the meeting Andreea and I shared our fascination that there are young people, like Noemi, who begin their adult life with understanding and values that we, Andreea and I, have had discover via a long and tiring journey of escaping from the truths we were handed when we headed out into life. We don’t experience such connection often so when we did with a complete stranger we felt a surge of hope for the world we live in.

It seems that EdgeRyders have a tradition of meeting face-to-face once a year. This year the event is called Living on the Edge 3 and is happening in Italy and I will be joining them. That I am going, and the ease with which I decided to go, is still a surprise to me.

I have been living in retreat for over 2 years. Yet inside my retreat I have been awakening to something new. I think it started with Cutia Taranului – a community supported agriculture project we created – where, having decided to retreat from society, I found myself at the heart of a social project. Though, on further consideration, I think it started when the myth of “self-sustainability” crashed in my  consciousness. I have not lived, in this lifetime, with a sense of community and I now believe that community is key to sustainability and yet I have no idea what community is or can be. When I moved out to Bhudeva I wanted to be left alone, now I want to be left together.

Actually, the decision to go to Italy reflected to me how much I have retreated. I got a surprising wave of direct and indirect feedback of congratulations and happiness that I am “stepping out of my cave”. A friend asked me in recent weeks if I am happy … and I answered that I am not. He then asked me if I can recall when I was last happy and what makes me happy … and I could … with surprising ease. I am happy when I teach Yoga. I was happy when I was working with Shahar. I gave up both before moving to Romania and put even more distance between myself and those activities upon moving out to Bhudeva.

So joining EdgeRyders in Italy is not only me coming out of retreat but also a first attempt to partake in community and a shot at happiness. I will be giving Yoga sessions in the mornings (four sessions which will hopefully give enough time to build up something of depth and substance). I’ll also be facilitating a session on design focusing on the EdgeRyders online presence with a hope of opening a path for me to express my creative energies in a new context.

The event will take place in a small city called Matera. This will be my longest stay in a city in 18 months. I have found much comfort from this video of Matera:

 

Posted in About, Myself | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

The War on Consciousness- Graham Hancock

n

This is the 2nd talk that I mentioned was censured from TED a while back. It amuses me that I am rarely anymore drawn to TED talks and even more rarely interested or touched by those I view. But when it came to these two censured talks I was 2 for 2.

In this talk Graham Hancock offers a valuable question about consciousness altering drugs. He suggests that such drugs are responsible for our becoming symbolic creatures (a precious claim that deserves much more elaboration). He suggests that by removing them from our lives and culture we have introduced a spiritual detachment which is the source of so much self inflicted destruction and suffering.

It it a very passionate talk, at times to passionate … which earned even more of my respect. It makes a less fluent talk that it could be and required more effort from me … an effort I was happy to put in.

As I watched it a 3rd time in preparation for this post – another train of thought appeared in my consciousness. I have not had access to consciousness enhancing drugs. I have spent a good portion of my life living in detachment and consciously unaware of it. I have spent another good portion being aware of the sense of detachment  – a period which has brought me to this point in time where I am making an effort to see beyond detachment. It may be true that by using consciousness enhancing drugs this transition I am currently in may have been different, maybe more fluent, maybe more joyful, maybe easier.

However I do believe (not a firm belief because I have no way to compliment it with experience) that maybe as a species, we have, by removing such drugs from our life-menu, created circumstances which require us to find alternative paths of enhancing our consciousness. Maybe in another 40,000 years another creature of consciousness will look back at us, as Graham Hancock has at our ancestors, and point out this crazy and disruptive time as when new paths of consciousness were discovered that led to further evolution beyond the symbolic-story-tellers that we currently are?

The War on Consciousness- Graham Hancock at TEDxWhitechapel from Ben S on Vimeo.

 

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Nordic Everyman Rights

n

A good example of commons in practice taken from How Nordic Europe Is Guarding the Commons”:

“Nordic Everyman Rights, as they are called, means that everyone in most Scandinavian and Baltic countries is guaranteed access to nature’s bounty. Even on privately owned land, a person may legally set up camp for one night, pick wild foods, gather dry twigs for fire, fish with bait, then walk, ski or cycle across the land – as long as s/he does not encroach on a person’s yard or privacy.

… In stark contrast, most other countries enforce strict property laws that exclude others from the freedom to roam or gather on private land that they do not own.

Land ownership exists, of course, in the Nordic countries but it does not come with exclusive usage rights, and this is the crucial difference. The alternative “Nordic way” engenders a sense of collective responsibility toward the land based on communal attitudes about the Earth, relying on notions of stewardship as opposed to control of nature. In places where everyone has a right to travel freely, it also means that owners can’t hide their destructive practices behind locked barriers.”

 

Posted in AltEco, Intake, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

The Blue Economy

n

I came across this great introduction to the Blue Economy via Michel Bauwens and the P2P Foundation. I hadn’t heard of this before.

Reading it felt like someone took pemraculture thinking and applied it with great relevance and detail to industry/business/economy. In some ways it feels even more mature then other permaculture domains which I have found to be abstract and out of touch. Here I am finding specifity, simplicity, relevancy and applicability.

It is a mouth-watering colllection of applicable, sustainably abundant ideas that can be used to shape and inspire future businesses. I still experience the financing entry barrier … though it is on a much more accessible scale.

Much more information at BlueEconomy.eu

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Visiting Bucharest to See Sting

n

I started writing this post shortly after am arriving back home from spending a weekend in Bucharest with Andreea to see Sting in concert. This was at the end of July … a delay caused by a combination of lack of motivation to write, business and internet connectivity issues.

Travelling

We travelled there and back by bus – it’s an 8.5-9 hour journey (with a 15 minute and 30 minute break). The other options are by a night train (with sleeping carriages) – and it’s twice as expensive as a bus and approximately the same journey time (sometimes longer). And then there are flights which cost more then twice the price of a train but are super comfortable – an hour and we could be there.

On the journey there we sat behind the driver – Andreea’s preferred place where she can see the road which makes the drive easier for her (prevents slight sickness). It also meant we had a spectacular view to the driver’s horrific driving. I am convinced that if the bus had a pointed metal triangle sticking out the front … the driver would have gone full Mad Max on many other cars. There were quite a few near accidents … but it is a “normal” thing in Romania. Even if the driver is OK (which was the case on the way back) the oncoming traffic always includes people willing to overtake traffic in crazy places … inviting plenty of almost accidents.

The horrific driving on the way there was “nicely” complemented by the horrific pop-music the driver chose for entertainment. The music was accompanied by video-clips (small TV above the driver). It seemed that as we progressed in the journey the girls clothing got skimpier and indeed just before we stopped about half-way in Velcea there was video clip with two naked girls in bed playing lesbian. There was something extremely primitve – biological in the music and images – pure sex (biological reproduction) peppered with bullshit social ideas (many of which seem to take place on luxurious yachts). However I could also see in it feminine power and control. Who knows.

Our Dogs

Liviu arrived at Bhudeva shortly after we set out on the road to Bucharest. He calles us on the phone with the most hillarious question, he gave the dogs food (as in put in their plates in front of them) but they wouldn’t touch it. Since our dogs roam free all day the only consistent practice of discipline we adhere to is feeding. They are not allowed and will not touch their food until they are given permission. You can place it before them and walk away and they won’t touch it. They need to be given explicit permission to eat. I was amused to learn that the discipline holds firm even in the presence of a stranger who does not know about our habits and agreements :)

Corn

This is the time of year where corn has peaked and is now maturing. Romania is covered in corn (at least those parts we met on the road). I would guess 95% percent of fields are corn.

As I watched these I thought of a theme that I believe has been presented in numerous sci-fi films (including one I recently saw: Oblivion). It is the theme of a race (either ourselves or aliens) sucking life energy out of the planet. I thought of this as I gazed upon the fields of corn … it isn’t science as fiction … it is exactly what is happening with the fields of corn. Corn is a crop that consumes a lot of energy and soil fertility (I was surprised to learn that each giant corn plant produces 2 or maybe 3 ears of corn at most!). It’s a staple crop for both animals and people … and it sucks life out of soil … especially as a vast monoculture that is grown year after year.

Religion & Intellect

I’m allergic to religion. Romania is a very religious country (mostly flavors of Christianity). One common expression of Religion in Romania is people making the cross gesture when passing churches or “on the road crosses”. You can see this in the city when people are walking and on buses. It is an instinct and is repeated everytime a religious person is awake and aware of a passion religious location. It creeps me out most when I see it in young adults or kids.

When I saw this on the way I thought about indoctrination – a more generic term for faith-based-education (that I believe encompasses religion). I asked myself what was my indoctrination as I was brought up in life and maybe still has a grip on me. The answer came quickly: mind/thought/intellect. I am definitely still working on balancing this one out in my life.

Oltea & Andrei

We were warmly welcomed to the home of Oltea & Andrei. They live in a central place close to one of the main squares in Bucharest in a spacious apartment in a cozy small building (compared to the typical mamoth blocks that dominate Bucharest and many other Romanian cities).

Oltea visited Bhudeva during our first winter here. There was an immediate connection that continued between her and Andreea. I felt immediately embraced and protected when we entered their apartment. Oltea had cooked up a warm vegetable dish which was nourishing and grounding and much appreciated.

Oltea was a changed person since I first (and briefly) saw her. I had plenty of pleasant conversations with Andrei discovering many shared visions and values. He is definitely on my short but growing list of good men. Unfortunately we did not get to meet their children who were away with their grandparents (which is also why they had space for us).

Electric Induction Cooking

In their apartment I experienced for the first time an electric-induction cooking surface (I am used to gas cookers). I was really impressed. I don’t know how energy efficient in terms of electricity consumption – but in terms of output it seems to be very efficient … things are heated very fast on it  and there is much less dissipated heat than I am used to with gas cooking. Using it was a great pleasure – it heats things very fast, there is a high resolution of control over heat levels (each cooker can be set on a level from 1 to 9), it has a keep-warm mode, it shuts off automatically, it is super easy to clean and it is very esthetic.

If it is efficient I would love to have something like it in our future home. I can generate electricity … I can’t generate cooking gas (well I probably can but it would be complicated) … and I would be happy not to have gas flowing into the house.

Modern Life

Being in the apartment reminded me of the potential comforts of modern city life. I was even slightly tempted … but not really. It is a life that is highly dependent on a constant flow of money, and a relatively expensive one at that … and I am not in the least bit tempted to become dependent on money again. I am happy to forgo many of the comforts for the safety I experience living away from money.

Bucharest

Bucharest was horrible for me. It is very dense, very crowded, very noisy, very busy … there isn’t a moment of silence in it. The contrast between it and Bhudeva is too much for me. I felt attacked and oppressed. I was sheltered in Oltea & Andrei’s home (which is much more than its walls). I was somehat sheltered in a tea-house I spent a few hours at. But otherwise I only wanted to hide from the city. The climate was also unpleasant … hot and humid indoors and out … that is compared to Bhudeva climate where it can be hot but dry outside but pleasantly cool indoors.

There is tons of information coming from infinite directions. I suppose you could get used to it … by practicing being it and learning to filter and ignore a lot of the information which bombarded me. But I am not sure I would want to go through that kind of training … it feels like a process of desensitization … a skill of ignoring rather than connecting.

When we came to Romania I thought it would be great … that I would be able to enjoy more rock concerts living in Europe. But having done it … I don’t expect I’ll be doing it again soon.

Sting

The venue was dull … a large parking lot at what I believe is some kind of convention center kind of place. We got there just when the first opening act ended and Mike and the Mechanics came on … and were really surprising. A tight and good energy band that gave a nice set of their own songs and a few Genesis hits. Really got the place into a good atmosphere.

Sting came on 20 minutes earlier then planned. It was the last concert of this leg of the tour … so maybe they wanted to get it done and go home. He and his band were fantastic. This was the same core musicians I had seen playing with him when I first saw him in Israel almost 20 years ago. It was a great concert. It made up for the 2nd time I saw him (also in Israel) in a lifeless performance. Though it didn’t live up to the my impression of the first performance … though I don’t know if that is possible. The first performance was an album tour so it had more specifity and wholeness to it while this concert was more like a greatest hits. There were one or two times where I felt moved … the rest of the time I was enjoying the music.

5 minutes after the concert ended a drenching rain came pouring down. We were able to find shelter and wait it out. Then there was a mess with taxis getting home (apparently there are taxis in Bucharest that charge almost 3 times then typical rate that most taxis in Bucharest charge … so beware!).

 

 

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