I usually value encounters based on how overrated sleeping is. And this retreat has been one where sleeping was worth very little.
I had never been to an event where the participants were people who lead organizations and movements that seek to create a home for others. Each and every participant owned co-livings and/or co-working spaces scattered throughout Europe, with a desire to generate impact in their communities.
This naturally created an atmosphere of care, empathy, and vulnerability, three key elements that a home for me should have. Thank you Morgane from Selgars, for making me reflect on what a home means to me. And thank you, Fabienne from Alpiness Coliving, for reminding us how human and transformative it can be to ask the person next to us: "Shall we have a coffee?"
If you add to this that the people who led this event are extra-ordinary individuals who have been committed for years to generating connections between the urban and rural worlds and who open the doors of their village-home wide open for us to reflect together on better questions and co-create a new reality, you can imagine. A true spectacle.
Thank you, Africa, Agus, Se, Rosa, Nacho and the whole heart-warming team of Anceu Coliving in Galicia (Spain) for generating this unique space and hosting and leading so genuinely and abundantly. It is so inspiring, respect.
Key thank you as well to the European Creative Hub Netowork (ECHN) who led and funded this insightful workshop. Amazed by your unconditional support to creative hubs all over Europe, adelante.
I admit I am shocked by the amount of learnings I got. In fact, there are so many that I forgot my notepad, jacket and a water bottle there, but I know they are in the best hands :)
Here are my Top 3.
1. It's never too late to connect with your tribe.
5 days together at this retreat brought me better questions than the entire previous year. The reality is that daily life can be overwhelming. We live between the long list of pending tasks and the endless queue of possibilities, and we often pay attention to what is urgent but not important.
This encounter reminded me of how important it is to be close to people and projects that vibrate at the same frequency and have similar ingredients. We all have challenges in finding our clients, meeting the expectations of their stays, and deepening our impact on the communities where we are.
Sister organizations (especially when they are such brilliant and generous people) are the best resource to find better questions, help you find the right direction/format, and compose better music and food. I'm sorry if it sounds obvious, but one forgets this in daily life. I'm eager to share the journey with all of you!
2. Remember what makes you different.
When you're on the dance floor and you've fought 1000 times with your project, it's easy to forget what makes it different, and you end up thinking that everyone does the same thing in the same way. But that's not the case.
If there's a world that is not a commodity, it's the world of co-livings. Few initiatives and businesses have as much imprint from the people who lead them as in the co-living sector. After all, it's their home, and it's wonderful the form and colors it can take.
From the natural and regenerative approach of Tertulia Co-living, to the Mediterranean community approach of Sun & Co, the comfort and good vibes of Chateau Co-living, the specialty coffee and cozy ambience of Vine 21, the collaborative and inspiring environment of Burgas Coliving, the peace driven approach of Sonta Coliving or the rooted spirit of Quintada Quinhas.
This experience has been very valuable to me in getting up on the balcony and remembering the essence of Rooral: to build a bridge between the urban and rural based on well-being and regeneration. Let's strengthen that North star moving forward.
3. We need to raise the tide.
I was surprised to learn that many coliving managers have the same people as clients. That is, many clients jump from one place to another. In the case of Rooral, I don't think there is any client who has gone to another coliving.
This makes me reflect that although the coliving format is growing by leaps and bounds, it is still a niche, and the vast majority of people who can work remotely have not explored it yet.
Hence this question:
"What initiatives and changes can we lead to raise the tide and lift all boats?"
Because if there is one thing that is clear to me: in this polarized and unstable times, the need to feel connected, unlearn, and make this life more compassionate and meaningful to live is urgent. And I don't know a better place than the colivings of all these wonderful souls to do it.
With love and optimism,
Juan Barbed - Rooral Co-founder