#YearOfCommunity - Your questions: Which communities can we visit and how?
Every community has its own rules connected to visits and experiencing community life. To visit Arterra you have the following options:
1. Visit a community member as a friend - you can stay in their apartment or, if available, get your own room for up to two weeks without additional cost.
2. Participate in open doors events, which are organised 3-4 times a year in different formats. Some of them last one day, some for a weekend, some a week. During this time you can learn about the community and contribute to its daily tasks, paying for your accommodation and food.
3. Participate in educational events - Arterra organise various events, training, workshops, which you can join as a participant.
a. Once a year Arterra recruits volunteers, aged between 18 and 30, to take part in the European Solidarity Corps program. Some volunteers work in the garden, some at the GEN (Global Ecovillage Network) office and they usually stay for around 8 months. The program is funded by the European Union.
b. A volunteering week is organized once a year for anyone willing to join, regardless of age. People can come and volunteer in exchange for their stay.
c. From time to time Arterra may accept people in different formats, for example we visited them as part of another European program, but it's not so easy.
Why is it not that easy?
Well, we feel now how overwhelming it can be with unknown people constantly around. There are many who want to visit communities and Arterra is happy to show its way - it is the core part of its mission -, but it can very easily become hard to handle, when there are new people coming all the time. Although we ourselves experienced rejection the first time we asked Arterra to come through the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program, we totally understand that visits need to be filter and limited, not because people are not good enough to come - they do - but because it's really difficult to keep a sense of community and a safe house when there are new faces coming and going again and again. After all, it's our home and we want to feel comfortable there.
In the case of other communities usually it is inversely dependent on their size and stage of development. Visiting well established communities is quite difficult and expensive. Here are few alternative ways you can try:
1. ESC (European Solidarity Corps) - as in Arterra, many communities welcome European volunteers for a period of a few months funded by the EU.
2. Training Courses and Youth Exchanges - many communities work within the Erasmus+ program and from time to time they organise Youth Exchanges (for people 18-30 years old) and Training Courses (with no age limit). They are usually a few days' events, covered by the EU. You can look for them on Salto or directly on the website, instagram or Fanpage of the community you are interested in.
3. Workaway/WWOOFing - some communities look for volunteers through informal volunteering platforms. In this case it's an exchange between volunteers and the hosting place. Read here for more info.
4. Events - communities often organise events which allow people to visit their place and participate in interesting educational activities. Check the website of the community you are interested in to see what they offer.
6. GEN Europe Gathering - once a year, in summer, there is a European gathering of people living in communities or interested in the topic. A great moment to learn more about the movement and get to know different communities and people. You may even identify the one you want to visit or join and find a possible way in. More information about the Gathering you can find here.
And if none of the options is possible for you but you still want to visit a community... be creative. In our case we firstly got a grant from the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, which we finally used to live and work with Siolta Chroi and Development Perspectives (wonderful adventure that continues till today through our collaboration) and then a job shadowing program to explore the topic of sociocracy and with this one we convinced Arterra to let us in. It took two years, but we managed.
Do you have any questions or more suggestions about visiting an intentional community? Share it in the comments! <3