Peter Wullen interviews mIEKAL aND & Lyx Ish

I would like some more information on the actual state of affairs in Dreamtime Village so I hope to make the article a bit more up to date.

        It's always pretty quiet here in the winter; some people are off to warmer climates. Those of us left here are quite busy planning, organizing, cleaning, writing, making contacts on the web & elsewise, especially to find new people to move here as interns or residents. We are working on setting visitor & resident policies, creating a community land trust & a food/shelter cooperative. It seems like a crucial time to get around to things we have been talking about for too long: putting out another newsletter, finishing a Dreamtime brochure, writing grants, publishing the Xexoxial Editions manuscripts that have been waiting, purging the physical facilities of unused junk, etc. Also, spring is on the way so we're planning summer events, and ordering & starting seeds.
        The permaculture design of all the grounds has really begun to take shape over the last couple years; for example, the vision of picking berries, nuts & other fruits we've planted on various dt properties becomes more real every year. A greenhouse is currently being built at the Beaver house, & another is in store "up on the hill". Our buildings are coming along slowly especially for lack of funding & labor, but there is movment forward. And the network of DT friends and supporters continues to flourish.
        Dreamtime is still the kind of place about which people say, "Wow, what incredible potential!" As we slowly but surely evolve, we're still raw, ripe, and ready for capable & committed individuals or families to come here be part of the manifestation of this fabulous potential. There's TONS of work to do here requiring both skilled and grunt labor, and much joy the fruits of that labor can offer to those who allow themselves to feel part of things or who are the type of people whose work is a labor of love.
        Those of us already committed to the project learn lessons & get our shit together a little more every year. We realize it takes a long time for something as ambitious as this project to gel, & we wait patiently for each stage to bud & blossom.

How deeply are you influenced by Hakim Bey's thinking. Did he actually get involved in the making of Dreamtime Village?

        We had been in touch with Hakim since the mid-80s & had had some very enlightening conversations with him about experiments in community & what he later came to call Temporary Autonomous Zones. When we gained access to the properties & were visioning which direction to plunge into, Hakim was most helpful in lending his experiences of what works & what doesnt. I believe that besides his obvious historical & cultural expertise, he also had lived in a community in the past. I think we were very attracted to his approach because the other model which is current among most of the communities that we knew of was not culturally interesting to us & a lot of communities dont embrace experimental & avant garde media, performance, artistic anarchy, noise, hypermedia etc. He was also very generous in the first couple years of starting up the Dreamtime project.

I didn't really understand how you linked permaculture with hypermedia?

        First of all, we use hypermedia in a way that precedes the current fascination with computer hypermedia. We have been using the term for many years to replace the word "Art", to stand for the intricate & immaculate processes by which all media, whether it be sculpture, basketweaving, or computerworks, are inter-related. "Hyper" in its root form means beyond, so we think of hypermedia as beyond all distinctions of separate media. By analogue, that is what is happening with media in the 90s, as all creative processes become realizable in a digital form, the possibilities of morphing & recombining form & content is infinite. This notion of hypermedia perfectly complements permaculture design practices where one is always working creatively to generate abundance from diversity & edges. So whether one is making a goat pen or a music concert, the same principles of design can apply.

Why does it cost so much money to stay in Dreamtime Village?

        Are you talking about visiting or residing? "So much money" is a subjective term. Residents put in about $200/month; visitors $7/day. About 25% of this goes towards food, the rest covers all our general expenses - taxes, utilities, maintenance, etc. Many communities charge 5 or even 10 times more than we ask, to visit, or to reside. People here get not only a place to stay & great food to eat but access to a plethora of resources: a woodshop, craft shop, pottery shop; two libraries/reading rooms full of reference books on appropriate technology, utopian communities, permaculture, organic gardening, art, poetry, politics, etc.; computer with scanner, laser printer & web access; dance floor; basketball court, archives of experimental visual/verbal literature & independently produced zines & other creations, gardens, orchards, 70 acres of woods & wetlands, opportunity to meet a variety of interesting people visiting or residing here, etc.

Can you explain the term 'sustainability'? I translated it with the Dutch term for 'durability' or 'permanence' but it probably means much more?

        Durability has a similar feeling & is appropriate. Words like "sustainability" & "eco-village" are models to design towards. I know of very few living projects that are in actuality truly sustainable unless they are completely cut off from the larger world. I think what is important about the notion is that our generation is living on a planet whose resources have been crashing since the atom was split & industrialization destroyed the concept of wilderness. There are many ways to model efforts in a sustainable pattern, they are different for every situation because you are weighing different factors like impact, energy, outcome along side of what is practical in the moment. We have inherited a bunch of 100-year old buildings that are very run down. We have very little money to buy new windows & roofs, so we cannot realistically turn our community into a solar/wind powered paradise without a tremendous amount of capital. We can reduce our consumption of energy, dumpster-dive materials, fix things from already exisiting materials, & grow grow grow food, medicine, materials for making things, psychotropics & consider wealth to be what we do have access to rather than what we dont have.

I read somewhere that 'slackers' have to stay away from the annual Dreamtime Corroboree. Why is that?

        I would define a 'slacker' as one who sucks energy from their surroundings without giving much of anything back. We can neither afford to nor have any desire to support such a relationship with visitors here. At worst, having such people here is a pain in the ass & a drain on our existence, at best it's simply unsustainable.

It seems that you try to function as a small legal economic unity in the bigger economy of the US: you pay taxes, mortgage, etc. Is that the kind of 'substruction' PM was writing about?

        We have no choice as to whether we pay taxes, etc. The government would quickly find us & we'd be in , how you say, "hot shit". Our approach is really the opposite, to play by all those rules & fronts as much as possible, so that our existence is not questioned for those reasons. We focus mainly on trying to survive elegantly in a very poor rural area where there are no real jobs, culture, & very few public resources. So bit by bit we are trying to provide all of that.

Dreamtime Village has to grow organically by itself. How do you see that?

        There are 2 Dreamtimes. One is the physical place with the buildings, people & land that are here. That one is easy to describe. The other Dreamtime is the virtual community made up of all the people who have lived, visited, helped out, invested time, energy, & money. 100s of people. Each Dreamtime has a symbiotic relationship to the other. There can be no forced growth, or avoiding of the natural rises & falls of the creation of any organism. We have struggled from the 1st day to make a home that is a village in a very rural area. And our mission is to create a culture that is our own, not the culture created by corporations & governments. The biggest struggle, strangely enough, is that of communicating simple wants, ideas, & beliefs to others. A lot of people who come here have very little experience with working with other people, of placing group visions above personal agendas & communicating openly & honestly. The more we focus on direct contact & simple exchanges the more our project is enhanced.

Can you give me information about other similar experiments in the States or in the world?

        To be quite honest, our community is not really like most of the other communities that are open to the public. I know of one place, called Wise Acres which is in Oregon that has a lot of interesting things going on, as well as a real focus on tree planting & bringing back wilderness. And of course there are probably many many informal communities where the kind of free spirited approach to living is embraced, but Im not aware of them myself. There is a publication called the Intentional Communities Directory which has information about most all of the ones that I am aware of. They have an online presence as well.

Peter Wullen is a Dutch journalist. This interview was conducted via email in early February 1998.