I give and receive gifts was the answer of the guy who gave us a ride when we asked him what he does. His sign - Driving to Berlin today and have room for more - was posted on the door on our way out of Club99 and he took us right to the doorstep of Roddahn's open-school. We avoided the autobahn and drove through back-roads lined with plum and apple trees from old times. We crossed a river with a ferry that uses the downstream alone to move from one side to the another!
Roddahn is a small village about an hour (by train) west from Berlin. Though it is former Eastern Germany, it didn't seem as soviet affected as Marth (for example) and with the help of settlers from the west they have their own open-school, and more eco-awareness. The house next door to ours, was a modern strawbale house (under the radar) plastered with earth, and had solar heating and electric systems.
Our new home consisted of two families, each with two children (aged 3 to 17), two single men, and one other guest. The links were made in 1992 around different interests, from sharing capital to building with mud. Since then some people joined and left yet all and only the original members are still there - they know each other so well they don't even need the usual conflict-resolving meetings.
Around the place and inside the buildings there were various functioning examples of eco-friendly building-techniques and systems with an emphasis on different methods of earth/clay building, insulation with natural/recycled materials, and sewage. Besides being practical and ecologically correct, the buildings were renovated with a touch of creativity (In the picture - the psychotherapy practice). An old small building in the back has been renovated with clay-balls and a living-roof into a lovely outdoor shower (sorry, missed this picture) with an array of self-made solar panels. We brought all the dishwashing water from there since it would get above 40 degrees and maintain this temperature for a few days even though it was quite cold and gray. All of the gray-water (from showers, laundry, sinks, and urine) are purified through a reed bed and they had the nicest inside sawdust composting toilets.
Members share all income and capital which comes from their shop (selling eco-friendly products from paints to insulation to composting toilets), seminars and workshops, a psychotherapy practice, a mobile movie theater for kids, and a regional cinema club - once a month showing a selected movie in their small theater (real cinema, not video).
The generation gap between our hosts and us was barely felt, and they were very accommodating and patient, always finding a time to talk to us in their busy days. They let us help them in the garden, in the kitchen, and with the construction. Being apple and plum season, we went one day to shake some trees and collect fruit from the ground. The next day we pressed apple juice and here are all the steps in the process:
They were renovating the roof of one of the buildings and had a lot of hemp-bales (from a hemp farm not too far) to be 'fluffed-up' into a big pile before using it as insulation. OfeK and Elisa installed it afterwards:
Unfortunately, half way through our stay, Erika got a bad throat virus and was in bed most of the time, but with the caring attention of our hosts, rest, and a few extended days, she survived and we moved on to Berlin.
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