Amalurra, Basque for 'mother earth', was formed from a meditation group with life-coach Irene Goikolea over 20 years ago. Wanting to take their practice further, they bought an old seminary and oriented their lives around making it beautiful and offering hospitality. Fast forward to now, and there are several gleaming buildings, including a hotel, hostel, spa, cafe, restaurant, many spaces for meetings and workshops, a sweat-lodge next to a stream and extensive gardens. Every niche resonates with aesthetic abundance and the community has many friends and even two satellite communities elsewhere in Spain. In their pursuit of spiritual wealth, the villagers have created very tangible wealth, which is all the more valuable for being shared. Amalurra introduced Permaculture in their agenda some years ago, but now it is expanding this practice supported by the RIE (Iberian Network of Ecovillages). Amalurra joined the Global Ecovillage Network 2 years ago.
Almost all of member-adults have careers in the global economy; money earned is their own, but they pay a substantial rent to their cooperative. Many members brought significant capital to the project - the land and building are wholly owned, but that means when people go while cash levels are low, the difference must be made up by the bank. So the village is feeling pressure now to increase the hotel occupancy rate! This chimes with the general desire for growth, but what what was a hobby is now a necessity.
Many local and regional organisations use the site for cultural and spiritual activities and they have experimented with creating their own activities, mostly with the young, although they have not opened up to WWOOFers. But they want to reach out to northern Europe where the Euro debt implosion has yet to be felt. They want to grow grain, and produce fruit and veg for guests as well as themselves. regardless of the imperatives of debt, Amalurra wants to expand in order to manifest its idea heaven on earth and share it.
The hotel and conference centre are a business wholly owned by the cooperative, yet rather than supporting the cooperative, the business barely breaks even and members volunteer substantial hours in gardening, running the restaurant, cleaning the hotel rooms, and everything. This is not the failed attempt to get a business off the ground, but a commitment to collective participation and a belief in the ennobling function of work. Think of it as a karma yoga ashram. I know that taking joy and meaning from work you choose is an achievement and a blessing, and I see that visitors can feel that difference. Now that sales is the most needed job, it looks like a experienced outsider will be needed.
I would like to see some of the villagers quitting their jobs outside and building up the village from the inside, as full time employees rather than as volunteers.
We are happy for your visit in our Community Amalurra (in Basque Country, north of Spain - www.amalurra.org -).
Your recommendations have been available and helpfull for us. An opinión from the outside always is good idea to revise at daily aspects of a community.
Thank you and good luck with your projects. We keep in touch.
See you! :)
In response to the idea of a CC across eco-villages please consider going much wider than that - all the permaculture projects, all the design courses, Gaia University, Diploma pathways, internships and so on, world-wide, could benefit ...
Are you working with a client group?
Gaia U is be up for participating in the development of this .
Thanks Andrew, I'm working with the blessing of GEN precisely because it is a network which might be coherent enough to sustain a trading network. With institutions like a university its not always clear what the economic link might be with a resilient community; and the permaculture movement is very messy and hard to organise amongst. Once such a network has a pulse there is nothing to stop it expanding where the trust and the will exist.
We're two journalists from France and Switzerland, we currently on the road to Spain.
Our projets is making report about good initiatives and third place in Spain and Portugal.
Despite the crisis people innovate, create and try to invent new economic way.
You can check out our projects in French here :
Almalurra is an example we would like to cover, althought I'm glad to have found your paper, it shows the limits of the village and the economic pressure.
We would like to come soon, making interview and report. We're looking for couchsurfing in the village. It'll be a way to promote the village. We're alson ready to help Almalurra's people for a fews days.
Could you help us ?