Piedralaves, December 11
The four day encounter in Piedralaves is almost over. It has become an overwhelming success. Indeed, there were too many people present. If we were half as many, things would have been much easier to handle. But everything worked out without any trouble, and all the merit of it goes to the excellent (self)organisation of this place.
The countryside has proved to be an great environment for this type of projects, because practically everybody who comes here has something to do with the movement. In the cities, on the squares and in the squats, you will always be a magnet for drunks, thieves, addicts etc., and you will have to spend a lot of energy in trying to cope with that in a human way. Energy which could have been spent on many different things.
In Piedralaves this energy was spent on workshops ranging from yoga, ‘collective consciousness’, eco structures and rural repopulation, to woodcraft and tantric sex (“behind the log cabin”).
People are making connections here, and when the evening falls, they drink, they sing, and they have fun. Yesterday we held a stupendous collective jam session in the dark, where the positive vibe of this place spontaneously turned into rhythm.
Apart from the spiritual side, people here in Piedralaves focussed mainly on the rural side of the revolution. One of the important aspects of this is the institution of a seed bank. A place where countless ancient varieties of seeds are stored and protected for use by organic farmers. A place which is a practical necessity in a country where only few varieties of fruits and vegetables are actually planted and where genetic engineering is a common practice.
The practical side of the revolution is taking shape in various Cooperativas Integrales. Many of these are still in the planning phase. The idea of an integrated cooperative is that a group of people get together and put up a project at the margin of society where they can be completely autonomous on all counts. Food production, artisanal industry, health and education services, currency, housing etc.
Cooperatives of this type are being prepared in Madrid, Valencia, Euskadi, the Rioja, Extremadura and Catalonia. The Catalan Cooperative is probably the most advanced at this point, although it doesn’t seem to be fully operational yet.
On the urban side of the revolution, one of the issues that was brought to the general attention was that of ‘time banking’. This idea has existed for a couple of decades. It comes down to a simple exchange of services, which can be particularly useful in a social environment. For example, you commit an hour of your time to baby sitting, or to taking care of the elderly, or to giving language classes and instead of being paid in regular currency, you can deposit a ‘time dollar’ in the time bank. With this social currency you can buy an hour’s worth of time of someone else. Maybe someone who can help you paint your house, or mow your lawn or whatever. The idea behind it is that there is no difference in value between different types of work. An hour of your labour is worth an hour of someone else’s labour. It cannot be exchanged against regular currency, and it isn’t subject to inflation.
So, dear people, let no-one tell you that there are no valid alternatives to modern day capitalism. There are. As many as you like. What you have to do is find the right people with whom to put them into practice. And this is what I felt here in Piedralaves, above all: a desire to get to know each other, and to build up something new, together.