In May this year, Mike and I took part in a week’s introduction to Sieben Linden. We spent a week living and working in Sieben Linden, Germany, with an international group of approximately 15 other people between the ages of 15 and 30.
Sieben Linden is a self-sufficient and sustainable community of about 200 inhabitants. The community was launched in 1999, and is without a common ideology, philosophy, or religion. Instead, the community is interested in integration, and the developing and testing of solutions to some of the pressing questions we all face, in the 21st century. Sieben Linden is a self-described ‘social microcosm’, meaning the diversity of the community reflects the diversity of the natural world, and what’s more, the larger, human, community. The communal project is a legal entity – land and infrastructure belong to the inhabitants of the community, each member is a shareholder of a co-operative.
Sieben Linden, as a whole, is also dedicated to the reduction of their environmental impact. The community is made up of numerous natural-built buildings, to even include the communal buildings, which are used for shared vegan/vegetarian meals, movie screenings, celebrations and meetings. The majority of the buildings are made out of straw-bales, others, mud, and timber. The community is powered and heated by solar energy, and other sustainable energy sources.
Most of the food at Sieben Linden is grown in three hectares of organic gardens, and Sieben Linden is actively enhancing the populated area, together with the surrounding forests, by preserving and creating diverse habitats for flora and fauna.
Each day of our week at Sieben Linden was broken up into a number of sessions – we would begin the day at 8am, or perhaps 7am, if we wished to participate in yoga, and breakfasted under a tent canopy in the outside kitchen, on orange petal and herbal teas, nut butters, tofu, bread dense with sunflower and linseeds and baked in the Sieben Linden bakeries, apples, and a selection of spreads; cashew and turmeric, aubergine, sun tomato, all made and sold at Sieben Linden.
The group would then separate off into their own tasks – some would prepare lunch, some would participate in projects fixing up and improving the youth area of Sieben Linden (for example, Mike floored an outdoors shower with decorative stones), and some would work in the garden, which had just begun gearing up for the new spring.
The day would break at 1pm, when a lunch would be served. I helped to prepare lunch daily, selecting fruits and vegetables from the huge store kitchen, shelves laden with wooden boxes of wild salads, potatoes, carrots, fennel, and onions.
We lunched on pastas, apple and rhubarb cakes, oat cookies, stewed vegetables, hummus, and walnut pestos.
Once lunch was finished, the afternoon would be spent participating in a number of arranged activities, each unique to the day and offering their own perspective on life at Sieben Linden. One day, we journied our into the forest that surrounded Sieben Linden, with the forester in charge of transforming what had been a struggling pine monoculture, into a rich, diverse ecosystem. Another day, afternoon, we enjoyed an educational and relaxing few hours learning about Reiki. In the evenings, we would eat a light dinner, and then sit around the campfire, perhaps, baking breads or eating bananas wrapped in tin foil, or we’d watch a documentary or show a photo presentation. The days were entertaining, and our hosts, volunteers on a one year programme at Sieben Linden, were attentive, and welcoming.
We were lucky to have spent a week at Sieben Linden. We had purchased the last two tickets for the over-subscribed course (at 40 euros each), only after another couple had pulled out, freeing two spaces for those first on the waiting list. We’d sped our way across Europe, from Romania, to make it on time. The week was thoroughly enjoyable, inspiring, set in a dreamlike location, and the group of people participating on the course were diverse, inquisitive and friendly – interested in the creation of a better life not only for themselves and their families, but for society as whole. Sieben Linden is a fantastic example of a sustainable community flourishing. We won’t forget our experiences there any time soon.
The full flickr set from our stay at Sieben Linden.
The Sieben Linden website.