Tamera is an eco-village, a love research centre and a sustainable community in the Alentejo region of Portugal, embedded in an 134 hectare (330 acre) sized semi-natural landscape. It is a test field of a possible future society and a great social experiment.
Tamera is real utopia, and I investigated on site on their solutions for a sustainable environmental friendly and peaceful living.
After passing the main entrance, the prominent three-lanced metal landmark and symbol of Tamera appears next to Lake Number 1. We’re inside Tamera, „the original source“ as it is said to mean in an ancient not closer defined language.
Being curious and explorative
First, I wanted to get to know the place. The infrastructure is still makeshift and underdeveloped, but those buildings, that are there, are representative. For an extended village tour go on reading here.
At 1 p.m. lunch was served. A lovely Belgian family invited me to sit with them. Like in the eco-village Sieben Linden in Germany, the buffet is opened with a food circle: People stand in a circle and one of the kitchen team speaks some words of gratitude and appreciation. I love this tradition and many times, I had tears of joy in my eyes for how simple and beautiful one can spread a touch of grace. It is custom to look for people first to share a table with, and then serve food for all. The food is regional, saisonal, vegan and tasty, and gave us power for our daily tasks.
Working the land in the golden autumn
The „Golden Autumn“ is the last possibility of the year for guests to join Tamera (middle of November). It is a mixture of work and education. Monday morning we all met in front of the Global Campus to choose our working groups:
- Dog shelter assistance with a veterinarian
- Kitchen assistance with a vegan cook
- Doing restoration tasks and gardening at the Solar Village
- Harvesting and gardening at various places
- Forest work: planting and felling trees, doing tree-cutting, building „seed-bombs“
I decided to work with the gardening group on the permaculture landscape. Our main tasks were doing bed preparation for next spring, harvesting biomass from the lake, harvesting plants, taking care of the raised beds and working on the compost toilets. Robert, our energetic team leader, explained when to use a broadfork, hoe, shovel or spade and how to use these tools most energy-efficiently.
Our first task was to take out sea weed from the lake and had two reasons: primary as an experiment if the sea grass would work for the biomass processor and secondly, because it started to overgrow the lake. So we harvested or better ripped out the sea weed with three metre long rakes, standing with our rubber-boots knee-deep in the water. After this back-breaking work, it was very enjoyable to harvest red and delicious sweet pepper, to weigh it and neatly register the 20 kilos in a journal.
We then digged into the earth at the sunchoke field (also called topinambur) and ended up with several boxes of fresh and crispy lumps.
After spending more time working the land, I realised that it was not chaos and uncontrolled plant growth but an elaborated permaculture system. When I was wandering around in the vast gardens I spotting pomegranate trees, orange trees, eatable or medical herbs and I found lettuce and vegetables in the „Valley Garden“ along the lake side.
The mindset of the gardener
They do not seed plants, just to get food, but every gardener bears in mind the symbiosis of plants, insects, bees, birds and even wild boars, of a healthy soil, a functioning water cycle and the gardener him- or herself. For them every work step is a spiritual act, a way to get in touch with nature, the soil and the animal kingdom. It is a meditative act to reconnect with the forces of the universe (but still it is hard physical work).
The compost-toilet challenge
The idea of dry-toilets is clear – they save immense amounts of water and furthermore produce fertile humus. But when it came down to dig into human excrements I more than once swore to myself never to promote these kind of dry-toilet systems again. As in Tamera, a lot of „black gold“ is produced, they experiment with various types of compost-toilets and the type we worked on is the one which changes into perfect and well smelling earth quickest. Also compost worms or effective micro-organisms do a good job. Interestingly enough though, these toilets hold not only poo, but also the potential for discussions ;-D but for now let’s change the topic.
What do an olive harvest, peace celebrations and Donald Trump have in common?
The Global Grace Day 2016! The most beautiful day I spent in Tamera was, believe it or not, the day when Donald Trump became president of the U.S.A. Many where shocked and discussing vividly, what his presidency would mean for the future of the world, but many also saw it as a chance, as a meaningful moment in the history of humanity to get moving bottom up, every you, every me.
The Global Grace Day
We started the day with a gathering at the stone-circle on top of the hill. It’s one of the energy places of Tamera and a place for community gatherings and celebrations. The 9th of November stands under the name of global peace and is probably the most important festivity day in Tamera throughout the year. The Global Grace Day dates back to 2005, when Sabine Lichtenfels* and 40 Palestinian, Israeli and international pilgrims held a peace meditation in front of the wall in the city of Baqa al Garbya in the north of Israel.
Da(The)re to connect
During the Global Grace Day, residents and guests were sharing a common activity: the olive harvest! We laid out nets under the trees, put up ladders and chose our team and tree. Like every work, the olive harvest too started with a circle and with input from the organiser, in this case Silvano from the Solar Village team. He invited us to be in contact with the tree, with ourselves and the people around us while working. Like all the Tamerians that I had met, he radiated some kind of centeredness and of love for what he was doing. Everybody in Tamera seemed to do exactly, what he or she was gifted with. We calmly, gently and peacefully picked olives and had a good time until we were interrupted by a softly sounding gong. Silvano invited us to share a quiet time in peace, which would take part not only in Tamera, but in several places around the world at the exact same time. It was a very touching community moment. While we sat there in the grass or stood under a tree and meditated for peace, a very special aura covered the whole place and deeply touched the core of my being. Here I was at the healing biotope, aware of its great potential for global peace.
That day, the community harvested about 2.000 kilos of olives, which were brought to the nearby (traditional) mill for soon to be returned on our tables as fresh and healthy olive oil.
What would Tamera be without FREE LOVE?
You do good to differentiate between the guests, that come to Tamera, each one with his or her own idea and the permanent residents. Whereas the guests enjoy and discover the playground, community members deal with love and human relationships in depth, with all its shades of trust, hope, lust, disappointment, jealousy and sexual desire.
Free love & sexuality
Sunday, 10 o’clock. The topic of the weekly Matinée in the Aula was the „transformation of love“. A gorgeous lady invited Dieter Duhm, the initiator and co-founder of Tamera on stage.
Dieter Duhm originally was a leading character in the student movement of ’68, sociologist, psychoanalyst and art historian, who soon shifted from left dogmatism to a more thorough humane alternative, and with that from theory to practice. 1978 he initiated a three-year long social experiment with 40 participants in the Black Forest in Germany questioning the meaning and aim of human existence on planet Earth. Concepts of „free love“, „spiritual ecology“ arose.
The core of free love is trust and honesty
Love can, so Dieter Duhm, only be developed in all its depth when sexuality is not bound on one person. It would be a lie to claim being free from attraction to another person than ones partner. It was funny listening to the old Mister talking about sexuality so open.
„It is important to talk about all the hidden desires and erotic dreams – and to live them. The reason why people have an affair, notional or real, is, because their desires can’t be lived. Lots of hatred arises from unrequited love.“
It is essential, to find an „authentic answer to the question of how the wild sexual desire of human beings can be compatible with the longing for the one big love“, which can be done by being honest to each other and working on the love-topics like trust, lust, disappointment, jealousy and sexual desire.
„Never touch, if your heart is not open.“ is a leading sentence for the Tamerians on their journey to eroticism and sexuality.
Ending global war starts with the person next to you
„There will be no peace on earth, as long as there is war in love“, is one of the core revelations of the peace research. „The human society lives in a collective lovesickness.“ that has to be healed. Many traumas result from disappointed love. Patriarchy left deep wounds within women and men alike. Overcoming patriarchy, overthinking gender roles is a major task in peace work.
We should break free from the chains, that we have put around ourselves, and live love in all its shades – without hurting anyone, I interpreted. This sounds simple. But is it?
The power of Tamera
I explored Tamera’s uncountable facets yet just touched the tip of the iceberg. I had entered a (great) social experiment without being aware of its extent. I visited Tamera to check wether or not it met my high expectations of an eco-village*, if it offers the „must haves“ of a new age society. Taking into account its little imperfections, it does and on top of that it invites to discover the growing seed of a cultural (r)evolution.
more Information about the village on www.tamera.org
Comments on Tamera
“There is an old system which does not want to die and there is a new system which cannot be born yet. Through projects like Tamera it could finally happen to be that the old system can pass away and allow the new one to emerge.”
–Martin Almada, human rights lawyer, Alternative Nobel Prize laureate, Paraguay
“Tamera for me is an example of what the world should be. It is a place to learn what it truly means to be a human being; it is a place to discover the power that lies within each one of us; it is a place to truly be what we all seek.
As a Palestinian activist I am proud by the fact that Tamera does not isolate itself and run away from the problems of the world but is dedicated to healing the pain that we have become so used to. […] The community’s involvement in Palestine, Israel, Colombia, India, and in many other places is for me a true light of hope for a better future for all of humanity.”
–Sami Awad, nonviolence activist, director of the Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem, Palestine
Enjoy the view!