Updated: Apr 1
I haven't written for myself in ages. Inspiration hits you in random places.
But it somehow makes sense. I cannot take credit for that last bit. That was shared by Lotte, one of the 25 attendees of the European Creative Hub Network workshop week at Anceu Coliving at the end of March 2023.
IT'S NOT SOMETHING YOU TELL, IT IS SOMETHING YOU EXPERIENCE
Anceu Coliving is one of those places you hear about a lot if you are working, like me, in the Coliving for Digital Nomads world. One of those places people talk about with so much passion and love that you can't help but wonder: is this real?
They opened three years ago in a tiny rural village of Galicia.
Today, they have a maximum stay of 10 weeks because people simply do not want to leave. What started as a coliving & coworking space has turned into an incubator for change and positive impact on the village and the area. From art residencies to English classes, forest, and memory preservation, Anceu Coliving runs so many programs at once it is hard to keep up.
It takes a village they say. Well at Anceu, it took Agus and Afri...and Se...and Rosa...and a couple of dogs.
2 days after coming back from Anceu, I am back in the world of deadlines and social media infinity pools and I am putting pressure on myself to finish this article as quickly as possible. Then I look up and watch the rain fall down, and I am reminded of my conversation with Tertulia Forest coliving founder, Francesco... about the power of following nature's rhythm instead of rushing ahead.
It got me thinking of the rhythm of that week. I have been to many retreats before. Days filled with workshops, activities, and meals. So what was it that made it so special?
A setting and space that allowed for many small changes of scenery and encouraged us to enjoy the present moment (sitting out in the sun when it was shining, cozying up by the fire when it was raining).
Impeccable facilitation that was both guiding and freeing, structured and flexible.
Daily energizers that never felt out of place and moments for connections that called on our creativity and sense of team.
A leadership that never took itself too seriously, did more than it told, and never feared to delegate, empowering each and every one of us to do what we love to do most: care.
GIVERS AND NO TAKERS
I remember reading Give & Take by Adam Grant a few years ago. A pretty awesome read. But what happens when you put givers and carers together in one space for a week? Something quite special.
At the end of these 5 days, we were looking at each other in awe. Not too sure of what had just happened, but with hearts filled with joy and eyes filled with tears. It happened. I felt a glimpse of it. I saw the spark of the match. That spark I have been searching for and researching for the past 5 years. That incredible feeling of belonging, a sense of community combined with a sense of purpose and healthy challenge that allows you to feel growth at an exponential rate.
As we hug and write each other notes, we hope with all our hearts this feeling won't fade. But we are all experienced enough in Community building to know, change is the only constant. Nevertheless, we go back to each of our hubs, all over Europe, trusting that WhatsApp and regular updates will be enough to rekindle the flame the day we meet again.
THE IMPACT OF IMPACT
When I left the UK and headed for Spain a week before, I was feeling depleted.
Emotionally and energetically.
I was exhausted after almost three intense months of taking over a venue and running a popup coliving while still working with most of my clients. The honeymoon period had been short-lived. Facing the British winter, the never-ending list of things to fix in a 19th century Mill, and the overwhelming feeling that I had to care for everyone at once had taken a toll on me.
After 5 days of talks, shared meals and dances, laughter and challenges, playing dinosaurs, petting dogs and sheep, building legos and new friendships, after nights of singing at the top of our lungs, listening to forgotten stories, and creating new narratives with local elders, testing ideas and rediscovering our own boundaries... I come home exhausted and hopeful.
More importantly, I come home incredibly inspired by what Anceu's team has been able to accomplish in less than 3 years. By the incredible impact it has had on the village, and I am eager to put into practice the many ideas I jotted down during our workshops.
We are not alone. We have what it takes, each other.