For the last five years, I've dropped out of mainstream thinking and values and corresponding mode of operation (or at least I see it like this). Each year I wrote reporting notes (in Russian) with things done, people and places discovered, knowledge/skills acquired and directions and ideas for the next season.
1. 2015/2016 Yaroslavl region - one of Russia's State's cradles. Grand-grand parents' lands and contemporary Orthodox communities there. Reconnection with Russian history in the context of local real stories and my kin's history - behind the official plot that we were taught in school and other state-guided narratives. Orthodox's miracles and XIX century's peasant studies.
The adventure supported by newly acquired hitchhiking skills and my tutoring abilities to help local children with their studies (Math&English). My professional shift (upshift) from working with university students to school age kids was stimulated by Vladimir Martyshin. Vladimir and his family are the first generation of the post-soviet back-to-the-landers. He started as a farmer, but has become a village's school head soon. Vladimir's kindness and humaneness are things that I remember as guiding principle to live and to create. Here is just published video about his views and the school he nurtured.
One another insight is that adopted kids is a really normal practice. It's not easy, but part of today's culture. Thanks to Dmitry Morozov, Maria and Anton Kuzmins and their colleagues/neighbours in the orphan village 'Orion' (video by BBC and my report).
A one-year trip that resonates in me with Boris Grebenshchikov's 'Russian Album' (Russkiy al'bom).
The season's report is here.
2. 2016/2017 Pskov region, Belorussia, Latvia. Ecovillages and Kin's domains. It has opened Russian history in the neighboring countries' context. Physical and mental resurrection in 'Chistoe Nebo' ecovillage. Ecovillages and kin's domains the way to live. Gardening, building, and wild nature being experiences. Living among the forests on the countries' border and between National reserves in really rural homesteads (you have to walk a lot to your closest neighbors) is even better than in the 'just countryside'.
3. 2017/2018 Soviet Union's South: Crimea, Kaukasus. Mountains, the sea, and the subtropics. Domesticated animals and less domesticated people. Ecovillages, new farmers, and kin's domains. Eating persimmons and pecans right from the trees. Other climate and other cultures.
While gardening and making friends there, I've got the internal feeling that the planet Earth is a one being and there's no my land and soil and someone's other land and soil. Putting seeds in one place, harvesting in the other - it's part of the nature cycle. And that the friends are everywhere - it's just about to be open and to notice them.
The Rainbow gathering (Russian edition) made me start to think (but not to feel yet) that there's even no border between lands, there's no border (or 'No Boundary' thanks to K. Wilber) between people and even between everything.
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Observations through these 3 years made me interested in the real situation with the ecological state of the world. So the next two seasons I've invested to understand what's going on with the Anthropocene's effect on the biosphere.
4. 2018/2019 Russian North-West.
The summer was about the first experience with 'fire-free' and 'people-free' days being in the forest on the Ladoga's lakeshore. It's just a comfortable and healing 'single camping' (not extreme experiments).
The Autumn is in Arkhangelsk region. Been sleeping in October in a hayloft just above goats (I milked them every day) and a horse. The whole winter in Karelia in Kostamuksha Natural Reserve (Russian North-West just on the border with Finland). Nature protection institutions and climate science. Finno-Ugric languages' sounds and rhythms (now I understand why J. R. R. Tolkien was so involved with it).
I've 'met' a 'colleague of mine' - Elias Lönnrot. A Finnish physician and philologist, he collected and published the epos of past times ('Kalevala') while my field trips bring me the sprouts of possible biocentric future epos and the corresponding values' space. Exact places' reports and analytical notes are published as separate blog posts, two overview articles are part of GEN Russia Annual Newsletters (2019 and 2020). The first one I've translated to English: Ecovillages, Kin’s Domains, and New Farmers: 25 Years of the Modern ‘Back to the Land’ Movement in Russia/CIS.
As the global and Russian situation with people (including myself) unconsciously using nature and too young nature/organic centric agriculture (permaculture) in Russia I shifted my re-search focus on Scandinavia.
Here is the season's report.
5. 2019/2020 Finland, Sweden, and back to Karelia. Organic and biodynamic farms and Folk Schools. European Ecovillage Network and European Rainbow Gathering (these communities have intersections). Boreal biomes and landscapes. Reindeers and Saami culture.
I've met new farmers and even new peasants (and worked a little close by) who are vegetarians in such a north climate where agriculture (especially vegetables, fruits, and crops) is considered (in Russia) as of 'high-risk enterprise'. They are self-sufficient, healthy, and thoughtful. Their kids and grandkids are healthy and smart. One of these new peasants - Lasse Nordlund, a half-German/half-Finnish/Swedish former Software Engineer wrote a 'Foundations of Our Lives' book on his personal experience (the book's Finnish version is extended with chapters written by Maria Dorf, Lasse's wife).
But as even peasant lifestyle is somewhat based on significantly advanced technologies my interest grows to indigenous people and their world view and hunting-gathering practices.
Just before COVID 'self-isolation' had been announced in Russia I came to a Ladoga lake's north shore village (population - 1800) where I've bought an apartment in a duplex (semi-detached house) or 'paritalo' in Finnish with a piece of land for gardening, sauna and summer kitchen (4 chimneys in total). I see this place and space as a living lab for 'back to the land' experiments and to host friends and guests while continuing field trips into the wilder nature and less populated landscapes with original forests.
No report for this season yet.
After these experiences I find myself on the three planes or coordinate systems:
a. Current social context and 'business almost as usual'.
b. Humans' biosphere fast degradation. Forest clear-cuts, biodiversity loss, drinkable water shortage, weather changes (not just warming). No hope and:
- Titanic's (ecological crisis) and
- Babel Tower (technology risks as civilizational ego and fears grow)
as metaphors that correspond to my view on what's going on. In Russia, this agenda is so marginalized as the key proponent is a 'new peasant' German Sterligov whose radical views and actions disturb the 'contemporary tolerance level'. In ecovillages and academic society's 'layers', I've met only a tiny group of people - 'On the edge' community and Regional Network for Sustainable Rural Development with the 'Climat, Education and Youth' project. In Europe and Scandinavia, I see more awareness and actions (e.g. Deep Adaptation forum, GEN Europe and ECOLISE activities, and University-based events).
In Russian there is an interview with Alexander Karpov on what are the reasons of the crisis's denial and a vision of possible future for us and next generations (IMHO, it's the most optimistic scenario). I had luck learning from him some of my moderator's skills.
c. Search for internal wholeness and 'reach simplicity'. Deeper contact with my own body and the 'inner cosmos', finding 'qi' or 'prana' or whatever word it means. As now I'm sure that 'qi' skills are not only about self-healing. Even gardening requires it. Feeling 'own' qi allows interaction with other 'qi' streams in organisms and landscapes ('external cosmos'). This mastership allows the next level in reducing personal consumption impact on nature and dependence on big social institutions (e.g. healthcare, schools, money) and everyday things (simpler cloth and tools). While having a more intact connection with wild nature - wolves and dolphins, trees and birds, tomatoes and bees, waters, and stones.
'B' and 'C' planes look like two projections of the same process. Advances in 'C' provide more sustainability and survivability for situations in 'B'. While forgetting 'A' (or just trying to escape it) - is to bury a head in the sand.
So, what's next?
I. Europe's South-East (small countries and nature diversity) as some of the countries are Slavic language group - it's also a linguistic and anthropology research for Slavic roots and sub-collective unconsciousness. And what it is to be (in) a small country? I've looked at this region for the last 4 years - now there are exact people and places to come and ideas to verify.
- Nara Petrovich (simple living) and Marko Pogačnik (understanding earth live) in Slovenia;
- organizations that are not only about ecology but with wider scopes: GAIA Kosovo in Kosovo and Impact Hub in Romania.
- Ecovillage Zaježka in Slovakia.
- Serbia, Albania - still unclear. Georgia and Armenia - maybe.