|ZEGG Community; possibly interesting to co-housing||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: BARANSKI (BARANSKIVEAMF1.NL.NUWC.NAVY.MIL)|
|Date: Tue, 22 Mar 94 08:19 CST|
From: <somebody> OK, time for me to jump in (and, incidentally, make up for my system's stupid remailing of essentially all news it received to Triples and a few other lists -- as I said, that won't happen again), I'll talk a bit about my view of ZEGG. This is all highly personal; please take this with a largish dose of liberally added IMHOs. ZEGG is Zentrum fuer experimentelle Gesellschaftsgestaltung (Center for experimental community structuring, or whatever). They're now located in Belzig, 80 km south of Berlin, in a large former Stasi area. I've been there in May 1993 and in Dec 1993, for a week each. It's not really easy to say who and what ZEGG is. Basically, they're trying to build a new way to structure a community. A few years ago, a few people got together for a few years to look into why so many communities were/are failing and how to prevent that, the result was called "Project Meiga" (the Meiga part doesn't seem to stand for anything except that it sounds good ;-) and the ZEGG is an outgrowth of this. The basic idea is that problems (with yourself, with others, whatever) which you carry around in your head but don't share with the group build up, people don't communicate, and eventually the whole structure breaks down because nobody dares talk about what s/he thinks lest s/he offend anybody. The old "will she still love me after I tell her I really hate the way she planted the tulips yesterday" problem, on all levels. So the point is to create ways and spaces for the community members to feel safe in talking about these problems -- again, on all levels; there are probably more sensible examples but at one in the morning I can't think of any -- without being offended or whatever. In the traditional monogamous relationship, the "accusation" about the tulips all too often is countered with an accusation about leaving the toilet seat up, and the really important problems, like why the tulips got planted that way, don't get talked about. Thus, it's very important to have a "safe" space where the person with the problem can say what's on their mind without fear of stepping on anybody's toes, and without fear of alienating anybody. This really works (with a minimum of structuring, more about that some other time) just because everybody knows that they're not there to get their toes stepped on, they're there to either talk about their own problem or to listen attentively and non-judgementally to somebody else talking about theirs. They had a few false starts. Most important, they were trying to fix the problem of community life via the problem of sexual/emotional freedom, because this is the area where people have most hangups and insecurities. Needless to say this didn't quite work and the strong focus on sex and "free love" alienated many people. In the last half year or so however they seem to have realized that if you "simply" build a community where people can meet each other and talk to each other openly, without fear or insecurity, the sexual freedom / "free love" stuff just happens by itself if you're so inclined. At the second time I was there, they had about 150 visitors who split up in five groups to 30 people each. (The groups had different focus -- one for newcomers, one for people under 25, ... I'm 27, by the way.) The general theme was community work, what do we want to do in the next year, what's the problem WRT our personal/emotional/whatever growth that we want to overcome, that sort of thing. You might think that thirty people, thrown randomly together for a few days, would have a hard time getting anywhere. Wrong. This "building safe spaces" trick really works. At the end of the second day we all went to their new sauna (nominally, an about-ten-people box; we managed to seat 24 without anybody feeling claustrophobic); the next day we had a rebirthing event. This consisted of almost all thirty piling up into a happy mess of oily nude people who, when sufficiently slippery all over, build a long "birth canal", and three others got to be the babies and worm their way through. Neat. Don't do this with strangers. And, don't get the wrong impression, this had a lot to do with intimacy and sharing, and was not at all sexual. OK, OK, it was impossible not to notice that people come in two genders, but the focus wasn't on feeling each other up (and down and up and down and...). Anyway, and somewhat more relevant to Triples, the focus is on communication. (As if that was a surprise to anybody.) The sex/free love aspect is still there, of course -- in particular, I noticed the nightly ZEGG dance/disco event. It's pretty obvious that many people, of both genders, go there because they want to get laid, and _still_ everybody has genuine fun. The contrast between a bar or disco in the "normal" world is so great that I'm not going to "normal" discos anymore. Not when I want to meet new people, anyway. In May I met a woman at the ZEGG. Just talked. ;-) I saw her again in December. Wow. I didn't know you could ever _be_ that close to somebody, much less in five days... More next time; it's now 02:00 and I'd rather fall asleep in bed than onto my keyboard. ;-) Oh yes, one more thing: Their main way to build a safe space they call "forum". Everybody sits in a circle and listens, while one person steps into the middle and says (or acts out, or whatever) what his/her current problem is -- one of the problems, anyway ;-) -- and (important) where s/he thinks the problem comes from and/or how it might be solved. Somebody with a bit of experience with the was the forum works is the moderator and tries to keep your thoughts focused, steer you into the right direction, whatever. (There are many ways to do this "correctly".) Everybody else is in a receptive state of mind and just listens. When you're done, you get applause, and then somebody else steps in, either with some thought on what you've just said or done or, if nobody wants to do that, with something unrelated. This can be rather difficult; especially getting up and stepping into that middle and having everybody look at you expectantly is _hard_ the first few times you do it. And, of course, there are some kinds of problem where a forum isn't the right way to find a solution. But on the whole, the idea works. -- Kissing is the most enjoyable way to get somebody to shut up. Jim.
ZEGG Community; possibly interesting to co-housing BARANSKI, March 22 1994
- Re: ZEGG Community; possibly interesting to co-housing Kieran Roe, March 26 1994
- Re: ZEGG Community; possibly interesting to co-housing Stephen Hawthorne, March 26 1994
- Re: ZEGG Community; possibly interesting to co-housing BARANSKI, March 28 1994
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