Why we are together?

Before we go into detail it may be good to drop a few words about why we have chosen the life in a community and what is the common "thing" that brings and holds us here at Svanholm together.

People don't move into the Svanholm Collective out of a motivation to join a specific ideology. Sure, we have common goals, but it's not a common political or religious/spiritual basis that connects us.

The basis was formed by common ideals concerning ecology, income-sharing, communal living and, finally, "selvforvaltning". This Danish word is hard to translate to English. It's rooted in modern Danish culture, and is used in the development of educational and management ideas. It represents the idea of stimulating people, pupils, and workers to be more involved in decision-making and feel responsible for the outcome. "Self-government" is the English word we thought would be the closest.

Even though the Danish word "selvforvaltning" did not yet exist at that time, it was there as an underlying concept. We wanted a direct influence on decisions that concerned our own lives. We wanted to do as we pleased and do some of those things that simply can't be done" because "it's absolutely unrealistic" and "besides, there's no money in it". We think this "selvforvaltning", this maximizing our influence on decisions concerning our own lives, should never be put into practice at the expense of others. Nor should it be at the expense of nature. Ideally, we should manage our use of resources so, that we don't use more than we give - that's the goal we're working towards. Sustainability, both on an environmental level and on a human scale.

But there also other challenges than ecology and self-government.

Respect

The fact that we live so intensely together and know each other in almost all aspects of life can result in gossip. But fortunately, this usually has clear positive overtones of accept of each other. This might partly be because of our common economy. We share a lot, have a lot in common with each other and have chosen the same direction. Pushing each other into the dumps only means having to hoist each other up again.

In most cases accepting one another comes automatically when the varnish gets scraped off bit by bit.

Different needs and capacities

Of course there are limits to this accept or it can take some struggle to reach this accept. It's not only a matter of being able to like each other in spite of different habits, but being able to accept the fact that our needs and capacities are different is at least as important at Svanholm.

We learn to respect Margrete as a wonderful person even though she tends to take her working hours rather lightly and managed to arrange herself an exceptionally big room too. It doesn't make sense to go around checking up on each other and criticizing each other. It's undignified and doesn't lead anywhere.