Marinaleda is The Village Against The World
Dan Hancox Discovers the Utopian Village of Marinaleda
An 'Intentional Community' in Southern Spain
We are all looking for Utopia and now I believe I know where it is!
I spent a wonderful holiday in Andalusia last year - thanks to kind friends with a beautiful holiday home complex there so when I heard about Marinaleda, The Village Against The World, a communist (I prefer the word 'communal) village that has been called a Utopia, my attention was all there. I wanted to know more about the small, village community which began to strive towards a more egalitarian society after the fall of General Franco's regime.
Where is Marinaleda?
Marinaleda is situated about sixty miles away from Seville on the plane of the Sierra Sur.
What is the Village of Marinaleda Really Like?
Marinaleda, with its 2,700 inhabitants, has identified itself as a social-democratic and cooperative municipality but what is it really like? Dan Hancox is the author of the book speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Programme 'Thinking Allowed' he describes this village as a pretty typical southern Spanish village - on the surface. White walls glistening in the sunshine, and orange trees lining the streets - but then you might begin to notice the street names, called after 19th century Spanish heroes of anarchism, Che Guevara street, Plaza Salvador Allende, and the 20 foot high portrait of Che Guevara on the sports stadium.
Indeed, they do have a sports stadium and a swimming pool and a nature park - the village is well-endowed with all the things a community could wish for.
What is 'Red Sunday'?
Once you have community amenities, these have to be looked after and every month one Sunday is allocated for communal work. Each person works according to their skills and ability - called Red Sunday.
The Village Works
After the fall of Franco the villages began a campaign to win back the land around the village from the ruling nobles and a communal farm of 12,000 ha was set up which is worked collectively - everyone paid the same and everyone kept in work - quite something is a Spain which today has 35% unemployment! Wages are higher than other villages around thanks to the ethos of economic justice and collective democracy.
The villagers also work together to build houses collectively. The work is unpaid but workers are rewarded with a practically mortgage-free house.
Juan Manuel Snchez Gordillo - The Mayor of Marinaleda
The charismatic, bearded Juan Manuel Snchez Gordillo has been the Mayor of Marinaleda for over 30 years and he was there at the beginning. He describes himself as a communist but not 'of the hammer and sickle' variety.
He thinks that instead of man serving the economy, the economy should be at the service of man.
Can Others Follow in The Footsteps of Marinaleda?
There have been other communal communities but this community sticks to traditions of Spanish culture and life - in other words it's not 'alternative' in that sense. so why don't others follow in their footsteps? Because setting up such a community is hard work.
Will it survive? Does it depend on Mayor Juan Manuel Snchez Gordillo? Will this Utopian village can survive? Does the reality match the dream? Read The Village Against The World to find out.
Utopias, Ecovillages and Intentional Communities
Marinaleda is not the only ideal village. All over the world people are setting up Utopian villages, or 'Intentional Communities' in order to find a better way of life. Whilst some are being forced to consider a communal way of live because of reduced employment, pension and benefits in a world of soaring prices, others are 'living the dream' in eco-villages and alternative communities, sharing the burdens of life and escaping the rat-race while trying to live more gently on the planet earth.
Have a look at some of these books to find out more about a better way of living.
This book covers typical American utopian communities such as the Shaker, New Harmony, and Oneida settlements - amongst others.
With ever escalating pension ages, cost of living and energy prices people are beginning to turn back to the Land and to look at the urban communes and sustainable cooperatives of the 60's and 70's. Is this the way forward?
If you're all fired up and ready for the communal way of living then this book offers you a practical step-by-step guide on how to do just that and tell you how to set up an intentional community.
Marinaleda Terra de Todos - the Land of Utopia
Listen to people talking about what it's like living in Marinaleda.