Social media sucks. It wastes all our time and cheapens our interactions. It addicts our kids and ruins our attention spans. And even more serious things like controlling the public discourse through censorship and giving bigots an easy way to spew their ideas. (OK, I see the contradiction there, I don’t want censorship, but do we have to make it so damn easy for the assholes?) So yeah, social media is problematic.
But then sometimes it results in this:
People travelling together from all over the country, taking a chance on meeting what’s essentially a big group of strangers.
People who’ve met online, chatted and shared and questioned and sometimes argued, meeting in real life, finally.
People bringing Facebook connections to life in the real world, connections based on common values of trust, compassion, and finding harmony with and on our planet.
A parenting group. One of the thousands (millions, who knows) on Facebook. The group isn’t part of an official organization in any way, just a chat group. But then it becomes more than that. People from the group find ways to get together in real life when they can. Smaller local gatherings for those who are lucky enough to live near each other, and a larger gathering during the summer. This past summer one of the families in the group said hey, we’ve got room for lots of people up here, come to us!
So we did!
And let me tell you about this place! The Hjertefølger family lives here. (Hjertefølger means “Heart Follower” in Norwegian.) It’s on an island called Sandhornøya which you reach by taking a ferry from the city of Bodø. This is Northern Norway, the land of the Midnight Sun, and the Polar Night. The house is built with a material called cob and the whole house is inside a big glass dome. A shining transparent igloo which creates a warm and tranquil space inside. They don’t just have a greenhouse for their garden, they live inside one, nurturing and growing plants and children and dreams all in one big magical jumble.
As you can imagine, the house and the family have drawn lots of interest from the media both in Norway and internationally. You can read about them here (in English) and also here (in Norwegian). You can also read about their house and ideas here on their own blog (Norwegian) and there’s a lovely short documentary film about them you can watch here. They run retreats and do workshops on permaculture and vegan food and cob-building, so you can go to one of those if you’re in the neighborhood. I would if I was!
And for four days I did get to be there. For four days we got to hang out and recharge in one of the most peaceful, gorgeous places on Earth. Thirty or so families, at least twice that number of children, and the whole experience was amazingly harmonious and conflict-free. I mean, 60 kids running around camping and playing, you might expect chaos. But there was none. Instead there was fellowship and community and respect and good spirits. For a few days we got to experience what it would be like to live in that mythical village we all hear it takes to raise a child. Well, mythical for me at least, and for so many of us. Yes, we have caring people around us who help take care of our kids, but our society is so compartmentalized and institutionalized, there are too many distancing and isolating elements for a real village feeling to develop in most of the neighborhoods here where we live now. But for four days we got to be there, and feel how it could be. I’m so grateful I got the chance to be part of it!
So much of what social media gives us is negative. More input, more stress, more stuff, more greed. We don’t need that, but we do need more of this. More community. More magic. More coming together. Peace and love and rainbows. I call more of this to my life. I will build more of this into my life, through a web of internet connections or in a real-life village somewhere someday. We start small, gather and share, and then, we fix the world!
Well, a girl can dream anyway.