To be honest, I had never really been interested in economy … I studied social work and pedagogics at some point of my life; I have always enjoyed to be around people and to exchange about things that really matter in our personal lives. Economy is for others, I’ve always thought. For people who do “this kind of economic thinking”. To tell you about how I found out that I was wrong I need to go back in time a little and start with my time of conscious traveling.
Think about your week. Did you spend time with a good friend? Get a chance to stare out the window or look up at the clouds and let your mind wander? Did you share a meal with somebody you love? Was there an opportunity to learn something new, express your creativity or play with a child? – from: Economics and the art of living by Inez Aponte
When I left my tight jobs that used to keep me busy – which is now already more than three years ago! – I needed months and months to reconnect to myself. To know again what I actually wanted in life. I went through all kinds of emotions during those months and on that journey. It was on the precious grounds of my first Wwoof-host, at 4 Linden on the outskirts of Aachen, Germany when I noticed that the Transition Town movement I had only briefly heard about before, touched my heart with what it stands for. It was a random night when we watched the film In Transition 2.0 and I knew what I was striving for.
At 4 Linden we were a quite big international group of people, volunteering in exchange of food and accomodation and everybody staying on Andreas’ property had her/his personal reasons for doing something different with their lives at that point of time. We were living in community, eating what the harvest and an organic market in town offered us twice a week (food that had been excluded from sale), taking care of the animals living with us, working on personal projects each of us was striving for to start and a lot more … Our days were busy.
Where I started from …
I had been living and working in Frankfurt before for two years. Half time job as a coordinator, additional freelance jobs in leading educational seminars, sharing a house with some awesome folks I actually wanted to spend more time with, being part of a capoeira group … and then Occupy Frankfurt suddenly popped up when the financial crisis showed us all that something is going really wrong in our system. All of the sudden there was a campsite in the heart of the city, surrounded by bank towers and people came together who might never have come together otherwise – sharing food, ideas and more, demonstrating and showing solidarity. The Spanish indignados with their way of organising their protest movements were the example people in Frankfurt followed. I tried to be everywhere and had the feeling to be nowhere.
The journey I started, leaving that life behind, I dedicated to the question of how I wanted to live. Yes, quite a luxury. None the less I knew what I had to do; I needed a change. The feeling that I would want to live being part of community was already there. But I was kind of afraid. I didn’t really know what it actually means; so I needed to find out – and that took me to the road.
… and where it took me
During one year of conscious traveling I visited and stayed in 5 very different projects in Germany and Spain. I met people who inspired me, touched my soul and showed me that not everything can be planned in life. Then I was tired, I had felt so many intense emotions that I needed a place to back out to think and write. This way I came to Bonn by the way. Doing some jobs every now and then allowed me to keep going the way I was going. For sure I did not want to start doing anything that didn’t feel right. Neither I wanted to get sucked up by everyday life and rush again. I was quite anxious about that. I had decided to stay in Bonn and now wanted to be part of a community. This way I got in touch with Bonn as a Transition Town (Bonn im Wandel).
Exactely one year ago we organised an event in Bonn and had guests from the Totnes REconomy Project, which is part of Transition Town Totnes in England, the place of birth of the Transition Town movement. The activists Jay Tompt and Inez Aponte held a workshop for us that was about “The well and good project – inspiring active citizenship for a new economic and social paradigm”. At the time, we had already developed first ideas for Vagamunda and those days, that Jay and Inez spent with us talking about what economy actually is, hit the nail on the head.
We learned that “in its origin the word economics meant to manage the home, from the word oikos which gives us ecos meaning home (as in ecology) and nomos which means to manage.” (Inez Aponte) So, economy actually means “the art of living”. It’s about our needs; about how we organise ourselves within community to meet our needs. Competition, exploitation as well as power struggles don’t have anything to do with this objective which can be reached much better by being solidary among each other.
Let’s create that network that strives for such a solidary economy – conscious of what life is actually about and of which actions we should carry out to fulfill it, giving the necessary support to each other. Conscious traveling can change your life.