I think it was the Architectural Philosopher Christopher Alexander who said that what matters are not the physical structures of a community, but what happens in between. That life happens in between what exists cannot be truer than life in the Lynedoch EcoVillage. As the country erupts in rage over the rape and brutal gutting of a working-class girl in Bredasdorp and the murder of a supermodel allegedly by her super-rich boyfriend Oscar Pistorius, I overhear the things in between in Lynedoch. This morning over breakfast I could hear the children in the crèche singing the national anthem in ways only children can sing it – that high pitched full-throated repetition of words whose history and meaning escapes them. Later I overhear outside a conversation between two mothers – one is a white Afrikaner and her son is the first white kid to attend the Lynedoch Primary School.
Yes, it was tricky at first, but it has all calmed down now. After all, it would have been difficult at any other school. Then in the early evening, there is a knock on the door – Lelo has brought his baby brother who only recently learned a few words over to play: ‘He’s been asking to come over to your place to play, so I brought him.’ Lelo leaves, ‘Babbi’ stays for an hour and plays with the toys Eve keeps for the village children when they come to play. That evening Wilber drops round – he is so excited, he has been offered an internship with a film company. I know that this small fragile break would not have been possible without years of support provided by this village – the life skills, role models and bits and pieces of financial support helped him go to film skills and provided the network link he needs for what will be his life break. Add all this together, multiply it by the possibilities, and a future opens up that can work. But it is only possible when the bridges are built, and these bridges cannot be built if everyone continues to live apart. How much we underestimate the extra-ordinary benefits of connectedness, of cooperation, of just everyday human decency. How much we just take it for granted in the Lynedoch EcoVillage, and so we should.