Walking full circle to Datsjapark
Once more in an intentional community. How a wanderer is growing mobile roots.Photograph by Hay Kranen.
A year ago I returned from Mongolia to a living room filled with friends and family. Jos had organised a surprise party where I was hugged and loved until my feet, skin, eyes and heart were all in Delft again.
My life at home was so comfortable that I could have fit right back in. Enjoying our intentional community, going through the same routines as a struggling freelance designer, building a life with Jos if we could.
Except that we could not. What I had learned on the road was so fresh that it would not withstand the violence of comfort. In that living room with loved ones I knew I needed to change the circumstances, I just did not see how.
Without Jos there was no need of a house. I could be heart broken anywhere. I could be lonely anywhere. I could see my friends anywhere in the Netherlands. I could work around the country, but I felt I could not grow and learn about nomadic life in a rented appartment. So I called my dear friend Everdien and my uncle Bert and within a few minutes I was offered a home and an address.
After four months of separation Jos and I enjoyed a last week of each other’s company. Two weeks after returning to Delft I moved my personal stuff to Everdien’s home in Zaltbommel, registered at my uncle’s boat in Amsterdam and walked to a friends couch to prepare for ‘Living like a nomad in Amsterdam North’. The project for Rhizomatic would not let me drag my feet along. I took up an axe, buckled my Mongolian winter coat and prepared for the uncertainty of the street.
I’ve worn a lot of coats since. With my goats I was an attraction. At friends I was a guest. With Everdien’s family I was a friend of the family. This summer I was a lonesome nomad living at campsite het Vliegenbos. I am usually seen as some sort of artist, but in my new caravan at Datsjapark I am me. I found the right mix of private space and communal mess to be an integrated individual.
Two times in Mongolia I have felt this space before: while being sick and alone in a desert hotel, and at Ooltsee and Ooltseeburen’s family farm. The circumstances were limiting in both situations. In the hotel room I was at peace with who I was while not being able to do much. At the family I was at peace with much of what I was able to do. Even though the first was less complicated, the latter seems more interesting. Because between the distractions of frustration, uncertainty and miscommunication of a foreign family I stumbled over my own path. It wasn’t a solitary line untouched by others, but it constantly joined and separated with those around me.
Past year I have spent half the time on paths of others and half on a lonesome road briefly crossing those I met. Somewhere between summer holiday and campsite I realised it was time to go back to Ooltsee’s farm: stand on my own feet while committing to a community.
Datsjapark is not like Centraal Wonen Delft: a solid intentional community with a few rules you no longer notice. It is a messy reality of a bunch of free spirits. Or at least spirits who want to be free. But we are stuck with local legislation, with financial limits and for better or worse with each other’s dreams. This fall some people are leaving with heavy hearts and a bunch of new people are entering as we start a mini village of mobile offices. The contours of Datsjapark are being drawn and I hope there is plenty of space for all of us. If not horizontally, then vertically. And if not, we can always go on. The lease for Datsjapark is given until 2020. I said to be here for a year, but my path is flowing. From the base of my uncle’s boat I floate on the currents and sail with the wind. We’ll see what happens. I am excited to find out.