Hello dear reader! Lukas is reporting from Latvia:
A festival was recommended to us, a gathering of different eco-communities in Mazirbe at the seaside. Sounds not bad, we thought at spontaneaosly rearranged our schedule. This detour fitted very well, because we anyways wanted to cycle more. We were on a biketour after all!
We arrived thursday evening. All of us were very happy to meet again Stas from Radi Vidi Pats. He helped out to organize this festival. Then 2 men arrived, of whose one of us welcomed us effusivly with “Hello brothers and sisters!” and intimate hugs without being asked. Then he held a half-hour-long monologe about his live and latvian history. Quickly, I had enough of that, also I was not interested in amber-crumbs, and I left to built up my tent.
We helped out with the preperations. To attach a huge tarp to a huge dome and to cook. We fed the hippies with our supermarket-trash. The festival began with a singing-bowl-and-gong-performance. For me that was to shallow. What for me was especially terrible was the lightening: those LED-spots with non-stop fluently changing color. So that every few seconds the athmosphere changed completly and I could not get into it. Later at some point in the night, when we went to bed, these things were still running, brightening up the dome with their kitchy artificial light, although nobody was awake anymore. We then took the liberty to just plug off the electricity.
The day after, we had a circle plan the next days. We wanted to have it in front of the kitchen-shelter in the grass. When finally everyone arrived, someone from the orga-team of the festival came to the circle, asking whether some guys could help to carry benches out of the shelter. We said, that it’s not really good now and why she needs especially guys. “Because we have to carry heavy things.” Ok, some of us got up to help. Mainly women. Then the person really said: “No, we need the men!” Our group was oubviously already pretty upset and I asked whether she was serious. The aswer was something like, that women are ment to give birth to children and not to carry heavy things.
After the oh-so-weak women and one man had carried out the furniture, we moved our meeting to the campside and as new main point we had “gender issues” on our agenda. We agreed, that such a situation should not come up again in any case. What could we do against the sexism on the festival? We decided to talk to the Orga-Team and tell them about our values. For sure, we didn’t want to be asked for tasks devided by gender. And we also didn’t want to continously called “Hey guys”. A time slot was offered to give an introduction to the biketour and we decided, to transform it a little bit and focus on gender roles, sexism and the values of the biketour. Therefor, we created an open value-board, where everyone could add things.
The workshop was quiet good in my opinion. We had a discussion about exactly these values: What if women also want to do these “men-tasks”? If you asked in a mixed group not for the men, it would be inpolite to them, they said. And what if the men don’t want to carry around haevy things all the time? Hmm, I think there was no answer on this one. Men just do want to do things like that! Interesting was, that “tradition” was added to our open value-board. What is not at all part of our values. It is important for them to keep the local habits, food, songs and clothings. One argument was, that earlier, people where living much more in harmony with the nature, than they do it now. In Latvia, this maintenance of traditions seems to be a subcultural movement, in opposition to germany for example; here furthermore conservative people care about traditions.
We also went picking mushrooms sometimes. As we came back, loaded heavily, we were taught to only collect the youngest and smallest mushrooms because they are the less wormy. We again mainly picked bigger ones. While cutting it turned out, that those also were rarely infected. Those few worm-holes where irrelevant in our opinion. Also other things turned out, when we ment that you can’t rule out by 100% to eat a worm. The following converstion with the cook and his wife was more or less like that:
“Luckily, we are not in China, here.”, the cook said.
“What, why China?”
“Because they eat dogs in China.”
“Where is the problem to eat dogs, when you also eat pigs and cows?”
“Dogs are not there for being eaten.”
“Why not? Dogs might be quiet delicious.”
“Its the dogs role to guard, always. The role of other animals is to be eaten. And the role of a tiger for example, is to hunt.”
“Aha. And what is the role of the human animal?”
“I know where you want to me to go in that discussion, I know your point but I have my convictions.”
The vegan food, that he made for all of us (on our rocketstove, without it, it would have been pretty difficult…) was really delicious. And his dog was also very sweet.
We saw these rainbow-hippies, who welcomed us in the very beginning, many times driving around in their fat BMW. From the festival to the beach, not even 500 meters. At some point, also a group on loudly roaring motorbikes arrived, so did our host from Cita Abra (we were there 2 weeks before). Motorbikes are for me pretty much the opposite of eco-communities. The last day, there was a weird sales stall for cleaning things and household appliances. Plastic-trash and chemical shit. No idea how that was related to the rest of the event…
For me it is much worse, to pretend to live in harmony with nature and environment, and then only do it in a small part of your daily life. For example, they all for sure have a big nice garden. But then to still consume all that other shit is just completely insincere.
In that point, I prefer the simple people from the countryside, who have never heard something about permaculture, but are living considerably more environmentally friendly than these pseudo-hippies. The shops in small villages never sell veggies, everybody grows that in their own garden. The water comes from the well, the shit goes to the earth-closet. These places partly almost remembered me of some anarchist projects, with their self-built colorful painted shelters, the land full of material and trash-art.
We had fun anyways!
as a head-torch-band:
and at the strange performance, a youth-brass-band was marching to the beach:
Thanks for this frank article! Sounds even worse than the worst experiences from the first half of the tour. But at least you get some overview about the values (or lack of them) of subcultures in different countries… It would be nice to read more about the poor villagers with colourful houses. :)
(Hallo! Würde gern etwas von Tartu-Tallinn posten. Kann aber beim besten Willen den “post-Tag” nicht ausmachen. Das ganze Menu fehlt auf dem Dashboard, obwohl eingeloggt.??) Weiss jemand gerade, woran das liegen kann? Danke!r.)