July 29, 2009 Tamera, Portugal
Another member of the Beyond Boundaries team mentioned to me yesterday that if I don’t update my blog at least semi-regularly, people will stop following it. It occurs to me that I haven’t updated it for quite some time… and I realize also that by failing to update this story regularly, it becomes increasingly daunting and impossible to say all that needs to be said when I do update. I will try to do better. That said, I’ve always used it as a rule of thumb when my loved ones go traveling that to not hear from them is a good sign: generally, it tends to mean that they are engaged in their experience and probably having a great time... so good that there’s no time left to write home about it. : )
I’d say this is at least partially true for me. I wouldn’t say that it’s all “so good”, but I would certainly say that it’s full, demanding, busy, rich, incredible, and is asking much of me in terms of showing up.
We are now in southern Portugal, at a truly amazing place called Tamera, an experimental “Global Peace Village.” It’s hot and dry. There are hills covered in brown grass and cork oak trees everywhere – reminiscent of some parts of northern California.
But, I cannot get going too far down the road of describing Tamera without filling-in the missing portion of this blog: Ojai. We were there for 9 days, and not once did I find the right time or space to update this blog.
view from beneath the "teaching tree" at The Ojai Foundation
Our time at The Ojai Foundation was rich. The ingredients consisted of numerous opportunities to sit in council with each other and the greater TOF community, a yearly gathering of council leaders, service work on the land, swimming in the creeks and the ocean, preparations for leaving the country, and the chance to meet, work with, and learn from 2 different members of the local Chumash community (indigenous to that part of California) who are both leading different (but equally exciting) projects in the area. An additional ingredient for me was the gift and challenge of spending my final 9 days in the country with my sweetheart, Laura, who is part of the residential staff at the Ojai Foundation. So, the time in Ojai wasn't easy, but it was great. It was full of work and play and depth, and within it there was very little space or inclination to run to the blog and write home.
Working to the clear the land for a Chumash Cultural Center in Malibu. This piece of land marks the first occurrence of land being given back to native peoples in Ventura County.
If you want to know more about any of the people or projects we worked with while at Ojai, please email me personally or comment here and I will include a deeper elaboration. Also, if you're curious about The Ojai Foundation itself; its history and mission, check out my previous blog entry to get a link the website. It is place of deep significance in the life of Gigi (and likewise she is deeply significant in the life of the Foundation), and thus it is also deeply significant to the vision of Beyond Boundaries.
Now... Tamera, Tamera...
Thirty years ago a group of free-thinking, radical Germans who were in search of solutions and a new way to be in the world moved out to the Black Forrest together. There, they began the age-old experiment of community living, searching especially for how to re-create trust, and authenticity after being raised in a modern culture that seemed to have forgotten these attributes of the human experience. Tamera's story is long, leading circuitously to this 320 acre piece of land here in Southern Portugal. I think the best way to truly learn about the work of this place is to visit their web site, read the books written by the founders, or -- of course -- come here.
Just as the story of this "Global Peace Village" didn't begin here, it also does not end here. I met my first members of the Tameran Community last year at the Bioneers Conference in California. At that same time, delegates from Tamera were making peace pilgrimages in crisis areas such as Columbia and the West Bank. The primary work of Tamera is peace, and the methods by which this all-important topic is explored are deep, revolutionary, incredibly personal, necessarily global, and wide in scope.
I can say without hesitation that my short time here (11 days now) has exposed me to some of the most important and radical learning I have yet encountered in my life. The community here is comprised of around 100 individuals (permanently living) plus another 50 to 100 guests and students at any given time. There are core philosophies and practices within the community, not based in any religion, but on cultivating a humanitarian search for peace. There is permaculture in action, and some incredibly innovative sustainable living technology at work. There is music, activity, work to be done, a peace research university, an international population, and the ongoing experiment of what it means to create a "Healing Biotope" on the planet. Without delving too deeply into the philosophy, the main premise is that all war begins with the human beings, and that outer wars will never cease while we continue to perpetuate a system of violent thought and action within ourselves as well. The idea is for the individual to begin by healing and transforming the structures of violence he/she carries within, and then to also move into the world as an outer peace worker.
My feeble synopsis of the deep communitarian, spiritual, and political work being done here should by no means be taken too seriously. There is SO MUCH more to say about this, and most of it I don't yet understand. I hesitate to mention anything about the teachings and philosophies of this peace work at all because it is so exhaustive, yet to write about Tamera and say nothing about the core foundations of their work would be an injustice to this place as well as my own experience of being here thus far. Suffice to say that I am moved and deeply stirred by the thoroughness and depth of experience that has gone into the teachings of Tamera, and I look forward to learning as much as I can while I'm here.
I also realize that blog posts can only be so long if I am to keep my reader's attention. So, I think I will end now, and post again about Tamera again soon.
Two days ago we began the yearly "Summer University". There are more people here now than any other time of year, coming together for 10 days from all over the world to dive head-long into critical questions of peace and the creation of a sustainable future without war. The people are incredible, the teachings profound, and the experience completely consuming. There are visitors from the heart of some of the world's most tragic crisis places, as well as representatives from some 20 or more countries, all seeking answers to the question of inner and outer peace among human beings.
As things are quite dynamic here at this point, I will probably not update this again until the Summer University is over.
I hope you all are well, and finding your own sense of peace, wherever you are,
(Because photos take a long time to load here, I will include some pictures of Tamera in my next post).