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A ZEGG Visitor's Journal

The following is a portion of the journal kept by Patricia Diehl during her visit to ZEGG in July of 1996.

Today we did window frames as well as windows. As we stood on the sill of a second floor window, I talked some with Johanna, the leader of this group. She has been living here, off and on, since 1990. What is important to her about ZEGG is the freedom to do the things she wants. She does layout for the ZEGG magazine as well as work on other projects.

We had no 6:00 meeting or 8:30 forum today. Instead, in the afternoon we drew names (a "Lady Luck" as we call it) and met our partners at 5:30 for a half hour or more before dinner. I drew Achim and we had a good, long conversation through dinner. He speaks very good English, and after a while shared his "story" with me. It is quite convoluted and I will not repeat it here. It seems what he is seeking here at ZEGG is to learn to be in his power -- to not come across as a clown but to follow through with what he begins.

While painting rows of windows in the afternoon, I had a conversation with Robert (actually, I thought he was Peter -- how embarrassing -- I am having trouble picking up the names and connecting them with faces). Robert is from Vienna and has been to ZEGG a number of times. He is a therapist but wants to work in an atmosphere that is focused on people growing rather than getting to "normal." His therapy includes a number of techniques that include mind and body. He is also working on his own issues of responsibility in relationship. He seems to collect partners. He is fun-loving and good looking and an outrageous dancer. Robert will probably become a "permanent guest" at ZEGG and begin a "project" here.

Reinert is also from Vienna. He and Robert live together with others in a "men's project." He is -- of all things -- a fundamentalist evangelical minister and wants to incorporate principles of responsible free love into his ministry. A European Michael Aluna counterpart, perhaps.

After browsing through the books, all of course in German, I went on down to the terrace by the restaurant to get a cup of coffee and write. Jan joined me on the terrace. He is from the Netherlands but currently lives in Berlin. He and Sabina are Sannysin and have been to Oregon, as well as to India. Jan is currently unemployed -- also a problem in Germany. But it may be somewhat less traumatic here than in the U.S., since unemployment compensation apparently continues as long as needed. Later, I wandered back to catch the tail end of a volleyball game and have dinner.

In the evening we gathered and did Virbistu using a number of interesting questions and phrases. Afterward I talked for awhile with my last partner, Robin. He is currently a permanent guest and is doing a solar project with Jon Russell. Life at ZEGG suits him and gives him n atmosphere in which he can look inward and pay attention to his own centering while at the same time taking part in manifesting a project -- a difficult feat in the "normal" world.

Windows, windows and more windows. I found that Geli speaks more English than I had thought. She came to ZEGG because she is seeing a man who is involved with this program. She was skeptical about these ideas but is finding her experience here to be good.

Also asked Anton, who lives in Berlin, why he comes back. His reply was that it is "because of the free love, very simple." Anton will be starting a new job with UNICEF later this summer -- one that does not require his background in mathematics. Unemployment is a definite problem in Europe.

Talked with Sabina this morning. She is here with her ten year old son. He wants to stay and live here at ZEGG. She is now becoming involved enough with the community that this may be possible, if she can find the money. She can't move here because she must work but feels it will be a better situation for her son. She stays now with him at the Kinderhaus and she can continue to do that on weekends and do some work there. Sabina works caring for mentally retarded and/or unbalanced people. She likes it and the people enjoy having her come because she is not a "professional" and can be more like a friend.

Went up on the scaffolding to paint the outside of the high and wide stairwell window. Had a good conversation up there with Robert. He would like to come to ZEGG to do some of his "therapy" work but feels they are not much interested. He is interested in working in a context of growth and change rather than a "getting back to 'normal'" model. He has a way of working that includes several approaches and includes mind and body. Also he wants to work on deepening a relationship with a woman rather than having parallel "lives" with multiple relationships.

The Pied Piper (I can't remember his name offhand, but he is from "Hamlin town in Brunswick") comes to ZEGG to find himself -- who he is and how he is in the world really.

Later I met Svaha and we talked for awhile. Her interests in ZEGG are community and also the role of sexuality. She seems to have a vision beyond herself and a sense of purpose.

Shared coffee with Frank on the terrace of the Restaurant. He has just com from spending time at Tamera. Asked about why he was at ZEGG and about differences in his experience here and at Tamera. He shares the vision of a non-violent world but has some reservations about the emphasis on open sexuality -- especially in our group at ZEGG. At Tamera he was much influenced and impressed by Dieter Duhm, and even more so by Sabina Lichtenfeld. He felt the processes were different -- less theatrical and confrontive, more like council circle. Sexuality was more taken as a part of life and less pointedly emphasized. The group is much smaller, about 12. Conditions are more primitive with emphasis on achieving sustainability -- transforming a desert which has been created by abuse of the land -- not a natural desert. More of a spiritual connection here. Sabina puts strong emphasis on dreams and sometimes functions as an oracle. He had a strong sense of earth-based spirituality here and found it resonated probably more than ZEGG has.

Talked with a woman about what brings her to ZEGG (can't remember her name). She said that when a ZEGG presentation came to Muenster she went and could not believe that other people thought like her. She met with others in Muenster and comes to ZEGG often.

Had coffee with Roland at the Dorf Kneipe. He is at ZEGG re-evaluating what he wants to do now with his life. It is a personal journey. He has been associated with ZEGG in some way since the beginning of the experiment at Schwann, although he has never lived there. Sara Volmer is his sister.

Cooking duty today from 4:00 to 7:00 with Loren. Chopping vegetables is fun when done in a group. The woman cooking (didn't write down her name) is a friend of Evelyn's and learned about ZEGG through her. They work together for the equivalent of Planned Parenthood and are much involved with mothers and children's projects.

At breakfast I sat and talked with Alfred. He is from the Austrian Alps. He works on construction projects -- large ones, like bridges and dams -- all over the world. He supervises some particular process. Currently he is working on a project in Germany. He has traveled most of the world, including the Far East and South America, but has never been to the United States. It was surprisingly easy to start a conversation (notoriously a difficulty for me). He had smiled and said hello a few times but never talked. Alfred is pretty shy himself -- I had noticed he was usually sitting with other men. He has never been to ZEGG before. He heard a bout it working on a project in Germany and decided to come along with a friend.

At 6:30 I met Kastor for coffee at the Dorf Kneipe. Had a great interview about the workings of ZEGG as well as insights about creating community. He feels that at Swann they were creating the vision and the tools for community in that intense time of preparation. At ZEGG they have (now) created community. He sees community as an organism. At first they were individual cells that began sharing information (e.g. at Swann). As the information became assimilated they became first a simple organism, and now an organism with developing organs to carry out specific functions. They are an organism doing the work to manifest the vision -- primarily a teaching and information gathering community. They are a creating organism. Internal organs include a publishing organ, political salon, financial organ, "housekeeping" organ, technical (new science, technology), health aspect, music, organ, art function. The working organs (other than financial and housekeeping) depend pretty much on individual bent of members. And projects definitely begin with individuals. Someone can come to a plenum and say, "I want to do a painting action in the San Diego Cafe," e.g. "This, this and this needs to be done. Who will help with the project?" Others are then free to volunteer their energy. The same procedure is used for kitchen duty, but in this case nothing else moves until volunteers come forth. And that brings me to "Plenum." This is a meeting of everyone (or almost) that comes together at least twice a week, often three time, and during Summer Camp, every day. It is the decision-making body at ZEGG. Here reports are made on what has happened as well as plans for what is coming up. This includes collective and individual actions. As far as I can tell, the "chair" of this meeting moves; it is not always the same. I didn't get the "plan" for this, however. Plenum is the "tonal" arm at ZEGG. In addition Forum meets at least once a week for each of the permanent groups: the core group (about 25 people), the "permanent guests," returning guests and others (25-30 in these groups). If there are special issues, Forum may be called more often. Also, groups may hold Forum together.

The major projects, i.e. community-wide projects, are: Summer Camp, where everyone virtually is involved; work groups, community courses and weekend experiences. The weekend experiences are primarily people returning to get to know each other well. There are many frequent visitors -- many, for instance from various city groups, who consider ZEGG sort of a home away from home. And their children as well.

I asked Kastor, as I did many people, what keeps him here. His answer was his relationship (with Brigitta) and the vision: of a non-violent world and of creating community.

He talked about the evolution of community at ZEGG. The people who first came (80 or so) were not all from Swann. At first many were not taking responsibility and there was quite a bit of chaos. The core is now taking responsibility in various areas and virtually everyone takes part in more than one organ or project, so there is much cross fertilization. One indication of the stability of the community is that the first baby has been born -- and others are considering having children. So that now growth is happening internally. Newcomers are let in very slowly. The core needs to retain energy for its own community -- they do not want to spread themselves too thin. They have found, also, that people who have been let in too quickly (sometimes there is an instant rapport) have also left rather quickly. There seems to be a need for time to integrate into the working and the realities of the community as well as the vision. The status of guest and "permanent guest," who have their own interactions, allow for more flexibility in coming and going from the community and for a gradual familiarity to develop.

I asked about the Women's Field. I did not feel a strong sense of that or a strong impetus to teach it. Kastor felt there was a rhythm of a strong field moving to more feeling and expressing of individuality and back. Right now there seems to be an emphasis on individuality.

There also seems to be a rhythm to sexual contact. It is often intense or even frenzied at first, then there may be a pairing with one intensely, then opening, perhaps a period of celibacy. Kastor feels there may be a natural tendency to partnering, with a rhythm of more open sexual contact. They do not broadcast this viewpoint, however. I guess each one will find his/her own rhythm. It's all an experiment, isn't it?

After the meeting I had a conversation with Ina, who leads the Women's Group. I asked her what is important for her here at ZEGG. She answered: complexity, and free love. Free love alone is not enough -- there needs to be a larger vision. Before she came to ZEGG she had a busy life with one meeting here, one there: political, women's group, etc. They did not produce strong friendships -- too fragmented. ZEGG helps her integrate her life. I asked whether she thought there was a strong Women's Field. She asked what I meant. I clarified: is there a strong resonance among the women here? She said, "Strong women, yes, and I believe there is resonance." (I wonder about empathy?) I told her that it feels to me that emotions are discounted. The perspective, even in the Women's Group, seems very mental. She believes that vision is most important. Then you can deal with emotions. It puts emotions in a context. And there are tools for dealing with emotions, such as Forum.

Went to the Women's Group discussion on thesis 23, Soft Power. Not as satisfying as some discussions. Yanni translated for me. Afterward I asked her what brought her to ZEGG and what keeps her here. She was a political activist in the north. She began to see that there seemed to be no new creations, no positive solutions. Their actions seemed to be geared to working against the system. In the same period a love relationship ended and she wanted new solutions for this. these two factors brought her here six years ago.

Just before we (Miaya, Loren and I) left for Berlin, I had a chance to sit and talk with Petra. She has been involved with ZEGG since 1992. Two years ago she moved here to be with the garden all year round. She always thought, even when young, that love should be this way, not reserved for one. She stays because it is never boring here; there is always something going on. And, of course, the Garden.

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