We (Custom Camps) recently finished running the week long, 430 person Dweb Camp 2022. This gathering of technologists took place in Navarro CA, in the ancient Redwood forests. We got a beautiful note from one of the participants who flew in from Europe:
When we were driving out of Camp Navarro, after the last bus full of volunteers had been gone, a new feeling filled me. To the right and the left of the road, the redwood trees grow high to the sky, their trunks converging in an illusional gathering, their tops actually touching each other.
Although they seem separate, we’ve learnt that the forest is connected and trees, plants, and mushrooms share information underground. I felt connected too, deeply, not only to the ground and the trees, but to the people, animals, and things. For some minutes, I had a very deep feeling of shared and decentralized existence while looking at the forest and remembering what had just ended.
It amazed me and proposed an abyss. A new consciousness requires new ways of loving, living, and sharing. How does it feel? How do I retain the wonder, take care of it, and make it grow?
To spend a week in the redwood forest was special. The landscape is gorgeous but it was much more than it. Around 300 people came to share and live together. Different countries, languages, cultures, everyone opening her spirit to be touched, to connect and learn. Many layers of the community were settled with magical ease. How does it happen? How is that achieved? (Wendy said she’ll tell me someday…).
A group of people, volunteers, built and unbuilt the infrastructure; another group maintained the wheel spinning for all, taking care of the food, the cleaning, and all the basic tasks usually invisible to the eyes of privilege.
There were a lot of resources, good infrastructure, and no money to exchange. Ideal combination for peaceful and fruitful encounters? The dynamics led us to share the meals and conversations in impossible ways, with people with whom otherwise some of us would never share because we can’t afford it or just because our daily life circles don’t touch each other.
Many of us accepted exercises that usually are not part of our character or culture but we went into the game, we bet our existence for a week, and walked inside the scenario.
There is an idea in the arts, in cinema and theater, that helps to explain why some plays, movies, or scenes work and others don’t. The goal is not about reality or fidelity in representation, but about internal coherence and credibility. If the different elements of fiction make sense in a context, if we create a world where every character, object, and attitude fit, where nobody and nothing seems to have joined a place that doesn’t belong, then the fiction becomes powerful.
I feel something like that happened in DWeb Camp. It was not fiction but it was, in a sense. Full of people willing to create a fairer world, who work to imagine and build an nonexistent (or pre-existent) reality where money accumulation is not the engine, and selling “goods” is not the goal. Gathering together people who come from contexts of scarcity, where sharing is a must, a way to survive, and people with absurd amounts of money willing to redistribute some and learn. Bringing together different superpowers, the community achieved a powerful scene that will remain in our hearts and impulse (propel?) projects, friendships, love, and ideas. It was fiction, I believe, but fiction alters outside reality and spirits, that’s its biggest force.
Let’s keep growing through gathering. Let’s decentralize the music. May redistribution replace accumulation. With their collectivism and autonomy, may trains and bikes replace cars.
Thank you all.
Just thought I would share some of what I have been up to!