On the banks of the RIVE

Hanging out at the RIVE gathering, watching the other shore.

In Italian, le rive are the banks of a river or stream.  The liminal space. I’ve almost certainly mentioned how much we believe in the power of this transitional space, but it bears repeating.  We find transitional spaces in small moments in our daily lives as well as in the era of global changes we’re experiencing, what some call The Great Turning. They challenge us, they keep us authentic, the feed us with new ideas and dead salmon.

I’m sure some of this was intentionally evoked in the acronym for the Italian Ecovillage Network, la Rete Italiana di Villaggi Ecologici, or RIVE.  We attended our first RIVE meeting to network with other communitarians in Italy last September. We keep coming back to that shore. As we struggle with isolation, the collective insanity of global politics, and discouragement, the stream of the intentional living community keeps calling to us. The event in September was for new projects and new ideas, offering support from established communities. Fede and I arrived fresh off the Helping the Helpers Training, which was such an enormous amount of work for an uncertain idealistic cause, and, sure enough, there are tons of folks out there that do that idealistic things regularly!


A thermocompost system at Tempo di Vivere, using composting material to create hot water for up to 18 months!

Something that still really sticks with me from that event was the first evening gathering, which was a fish bowl discussion. People in the center all represented community living projects that had recently failed or were in some state of crisis. They cried, they grieved, they were angry and they were really really real. An improbable but truly powerful way to begin a “new projects” gathering!  Folks shared so authentically, so emotionally, about their hurt and heartbreak and enduring hope.  Out of decay comes heat!

And so it has been.  I started a contract at the beginning of February for the Europe section of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN Europe) promoting their annual conference. (RIVE is a national member of this international ecovillage coalition.)  It is now a longer term, daily opportunity to take a step away from the farm here, and all the dynamics I find so hard with inlaws and isolation and cultural hegemony.  This is a whole new spring of really fascinating people all over Europe who are living into a new way of being with each other, and actually many of them live between cultures as I do. (Boy do I relish just speaking in English, and Spanish…and Turkish!)  I just got the chance to travel to Spain to meet my new colleagues for a Board and staff meeting.  From moments reflecting on life all the way back to Deadwood to seeing the energy of optimism made manifest today in spectacular communitarian projects, I felt held.  Federica and I have also returned to the Tempo di Vivereplace where the RIVE gathering took place, the Ecovillage Tempo di Vivere (or “Time to Live”) to take a course on “disemployment,” or preparing oneself to be fully human outside of conventional systems of work.

Before Fede and I left Olympia we took a business plan writing course.  We kinda knew we were going to leave but didn’t know what all would be happening here when we wrote the plan, so we based it on our past experience and the kind of things we wanted to do as consultants apart from any physical confinements. Almost 2 years later I, at least, find myself doing exactly the things I said I would be doing in that plan as a consultant! I think Fede is also finding a lot in the work she has continued to do with Tempo di Vivere, where she is now on a 3 part course.
Grace is all around us, and I do believe our intentions are the hand on the door.  It’s that liminal space that we can choose to leave closed or open up and jump in.

This is the labyrinth (with temple in the background) of the Basque Amalurra community outside Bilbao, an Ecovillage inspired by the feminine divine. Evan spent several amazing days here.