Tamera, a peace-oriented ecovillage in Portugal, garnered an “Honorable Mention” (#3 of 150 proposals) in the 2012 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. Tamera was started in 1995, but it was only the latest evolution of a conscious series of community experiments starting in 1978 and some of those experiments still continue as well (e.g., ZEGG in Germany). It is now home to about 200 people and hosts a number of interesting projects, including the solar powered village, peace research center, and global campus founded by Dieter Duhm and Sabine Lichtenfels (we learned about Tamera through Mandy and Ryan from withinreachmovie.com). This pdf covers the basics of the village, but this article, generously translated by a friend of a friend, is the most helpful I have read. There are also very cool videos available, including this good overview but below is a recent 12-minute video that is worth watching first. There is also an excellent (and beautiful) book in English on the community, “Tamera: A Model for the Future” by Leila Dregger.
Tamera’s solar village is a living model community of about 50 people within Tamera that focuses on democratic, decentralized, low-tech (mostly), generalizable solutions to sustainable living in four main areas: water, energy, food, and community. It is designed to enable energy independence in the areas of electrical, mechanical, cooking, heating, and cooling while maximizing organic food production in a small space. This effort is particularly important because it combines these physical technologies in a synergistic way with social technologies developed over the last 30 years or so by founders of Tamera. The goal is to test the technologies until they are ready for use in crisis areas, such as areas of Africa, South America, and the Middle East.
Physical technological systems, invented by Jürgen Kleinwächter, and marketed by Sun Orbit (previously marketed under the name Sunvention), include a greenhouse (#1 on picture to the left), with optical focusing and solar cells as well as heat transfer and storage to a closed-loop oil system (#2) at a temperature of 150 degrees C which can be used to generate heat for all forms of cooking (boiling, roasting, baking, deep-fat frying) at one or more locations in the village. The oil can also be used to power the heart of the system, a low-temperature Stirling engine (#3, see also the Sun Pulse water system) that uses air as its working gas to generate electricity (1.5 kW output). The entire system can generate heat and cooling. The video below is a good overview of the integrated components of this synergistic system.
Water can be pumped from 60 m deep, using a Stirling engine that uses thermal solar energy (not photovoltaic) for heat and the water being pumped for cooling. The water is disinfected with UV technology.
This video provides a short tour of the solar village technologies and how they work together in closed loops (see this article on solar research from Tamera).
Here is an illustration of the same systems operating for a house rather than a village.
Sepp Holzer (a permaculture designer working at large scales) helped the community create a lake which not only increased the village’s ability to grow fruit trees and other food, attracts wildlife, provides for cooling and recreation, but also changed the nature of water systems on the land as evidenced by the appearance of a 4-season spring that developed a year after the completion of the lake.
They have used a simple adobe building that can be used in most areas of the world, has solar arrays on top, is constructed easily, and can serve as a unit of a modular system.
A recent post discusses a new micro-biogas machine that was built in 2 days, produces 2 hours of gas for cooking for every bucket of kitchen scraps, some cow dung, and stomach bacteria, and produces liquid fertilizer as a by-product. They also talk about using a garbage disposal combined with dishwater as inputs.
To me, however, the most exciting aspect of Tamera is the synergy of these physical technologies with the social technologies they have developed…maybe that’s partly because I’m a psychologist? ; )
“A model for the future needs not only new technology and a healthy ecology, but also people who are able to use these tools in a meaningful way. It needs people who have learned how to stay together even during conflicts, solving them in non-violent and creative ways and remaining committed to solidarity even in difficult times. Community knowledge is the foundation of social sustainability.” (Tamera: A Model for the Future, p. 104)
Physical technology is synergized with the social technology of community, a major focus for Tamera for decades for developing living communities of “truth and trust”. Because folks at Tamera noticed that many communities fail due to an inability to handle conflict, the community work has been evolving new ways of living together for years with a focus on inner work. This work is reflected in the creation of societal structures that promote peace through a deep and daily knowledge of the lost art of living together.
Of course, education is necessary to evolve a culture in these ways. The Monte Cerro Peace Education program starts in May each year and can include 3 years of study in ecology (including food, water, permaculture), solar energy, community knowledge and inner and outer peacework, theory of global healing, spirituality, art, and music. It starts with a 4-week overview course on Ecovillage Design Education (EDE). This course has a relatively standard curriculum and is taught by different locations (overview). It basic knowledge about how to develop Peace Villages by focusing on four areas: Social, Economic, Ecological, & Worldview. At Tamera, of course, this information is illustrated through Tamera. The courses are also offered in modular form so long-term residence is not required. This work is extended through Tamera’s Global Campus, a network of projects unified by the theme of creating complete, liveable peace models. “These models are being created around the world and will provide profound education in all areas of life: community knowledge, sustainable technologies, permaculture, conflict resolution, water, peaceful dialogue, and spiritual praxis” (citation here). A recent summary of the Summer University of 2011, titled “The Global Community 2011“, reports that “The principles of the Global Campus are rooted in the perception that simple and effective solutions can be found on a local level and applied worldwide. From this emerged the vision for a global network of education centres that all focus on the same basic goals: promoting regional autonomy in food, water and energy supply, a harmonious relationship with nature and social sustainability. What is now being built in Tamera is its first base.” The areas of study include technology, ecology, social systems in service to the world. Installed at Tamera is a Technology Transfer Training (TTT) center.
Here’s a video of some folks in Maui reporting on their trip to Tamera in 2011.
Also, there’s an interview we did with Robert Griffin who visited Tamera, lives at Hummingbird Community, and is very involved with the community movement.
Here is a video offering a summary of the Summer University held at Tamera in August, 2012.
Here is a video, mostly in Portuguese, about Tamera.