The Floating City
Teglholm (see end of my last post), is difficult to leave.
The size, location and, um, decor of the place had convinced me it was a squat. But no, this project is funded by the municipality. The project is called The Floating City and the plan is to build just that. What does this mean? What are the plans like? When will it be built? By who and out of what? Nobody seems to know, but they have funding, tools, a workshop and a bloody great big space to build it in. They also have buckets full of enthusiasm. What could go wrong?
The Floating City is like some kind of “accidental community”. The most truly open project I have come across. Whoever is here is a part of it. No questions, no expectations. It falls down in other ways – one person does most of the cooking and cleaning, three people (with conflicting opinions) do most of the building. They have three months left in this space before they need to find a new one, but act as though there is unlimited time and money. But still, it’s very open. The people are lovely and their enthusiasm is so contagious we are enticed into staying still longer. Just one night becomes a month at Teglholm and I start to doubt whether we will ever leave. Now when people ask when we are leaving and I say “tomorrow”, they just laugh. But I mean it. We will leave tomorrow. Really!
Reasons For Not Leaving Yet, Part One: The People
Jim, of course, was my friend all along. He has been my adventuring companion on numerous occasions and was a regular fixture on my sofa back home. Now he sleeps on a mattress opposite ours. I smile to see him meditating and I will never tire of his guitar playing.
We gave Linus a lift to Malmö, but only since returning to Copenhagen have I fully appreciated her genius. Another of my favourite Floating City musicians, no kitchen task is a chore with Linus there to serenade you. He’s full of interesting thoughts on gender, communication and language and she looks stunning in a dress.
Grainne does most of the cooking and cleaning. I haven’t worked out yet whether she has a mad passion for it or is over-compensating for a lack of welding and angle-grinding experience. She has single-handedly brought structure to chaos: labelled sponges for different kinds of spillage hang from a tiny washing-line above the sink. Small cardboard rectangles politely declare everything from which recycling goes where to where to put your gloves in the kitchen.
Grainne lives with Brian in a bigger, more impressive looking van parked near to our smaller, more modest one inside the hangar here at Teglholm. They are from Ireland and new to traveling this way too. They are also having difficulty leaving. Brian is a sweety. He has taught us about 12 volt batteries and gave us a basket of electrical bits we might need for the van. We now have light!
Rob has also stayed on much longer than expected. Initially his frequent (unconscious) sexism rubbed me up the wrong way, but we have grown quite close. It’s been something of a trade-off. He taught me electrics, I taught him yoga, he taught me angle-grinding, I taught him circus rope-climbing, he taught me welding, I got him thinking about gender… now he is my early morning yoga-buddy and yet another of my favourite Teglholm musicians.
Oh god, there are so many others. How can I write about them all? Red Martin I already mentioned as it was his super-friendly welcome that first made us want to stay. Black Martin (he wears a lot of black, the other wears a lot of red) and Jenny who we hope to see again; Monne and Sinni and Ask and Arild, all with their own loveable, huggable ways; Casey’s big hair, poker-face and non-violent communication. The list goes on…
Reasons For Not Leaving Yet, Part Two: Standard of Living
Rarely have I eaten so well. The food here is amazing and 95% of it is dumpstered/skipped. A typical breakfast: Banana porridge, two different kinds of smoothie, pancakes, coffe, herbal tea, fresh fruit salad and yoghurt. Dinners have involved pies, pasta, soups, stews, risotto, stir-fry and plenty of roast veg. It’s rare to have only one dish and there’s always plenty left even after the hungriest faces have been stuffed. Vegan cakes are baked often. Bananas are so plentiful they are used for everything – need something thickening? Sweetening? Bulking out? Binding? Stick a banana in! Living so well almost exclusively from bins is very inspiring. I have been skipping in England for a while, but mostly as a way to supplement my diet, and usually for bread. Now I am inspired to switch to a mostly vegan-freegan diet, with occasionally bought food. We usually buy oats, coffee and basics like pasta, rice and lentils – although I have seen all of those things skipped from time to time.
We have internet, a yoga/meditation space, a cinema room, a workshop full of tools, a hangar, five rabbits and a room full of mattresses. What more could anyone want?
Reasons For Not Leaving Yet, Part Three: Distractions
There is an emerging culture of giving ad-hoc workshops on anything and everything people might know about. Brian and Rob gave a workshop on electrics, then followed up by teaching us to build a bicycle-powered-washing-machine (a failure, sadly, but great fun); Rob also taught us welding and angle grinding; Grainne and Jim have both led vegan cake-baking sessions; Casey did a workshop on non-violent communication; I taught a bit of yoga and Pete gave a talk on Ontological Anarchism. A writers group formed. I explained how to give a “critical sandwich” and suggested a technique. Creativity ensued. We meet every couple of days, always sure this time will be our last. We are leaving tomorrow.
With our new skills we decided to build a woodburner for the van. This has proved to be an almighty distraction and has taken a lot of our time. Days spent in the workshop with barely any light. More on this next post.
After two days straight in the workshop I need a break. I cycle into town and visit one of my favourite writing places: Folks House or The Poetic Bureau. Other days I go somewhere closer, a cafe named Bertolletti, or a cycle round a nearby self-built area with a library, park and horses. For the first couple of weeks I went to the weekly yoga class and folks kitchen at The Youth House, or to the bath-house (sauna) in Christiana, but because we are always leaving “tomorrow” I never have much time.
Other people also have projects. Rob is designing windmills. Monne and Sini are making a skate-ramp-bar-tower-climbing frame with some kids from her school. Casey is making an igloo. Ole is always making something, but nobody ever knows what it is.
Some of The Floating City itself is also coming together. The hangar is filling up with huge poles and giant tanks, along with other random objects donated and picked up from scrap-yards. They are having a Building Festival 8th-14th February. WE WILL BE GONE BY THEN!