temporary dwellers / away from topolove
Writing from the terrace of a beautifully renovated flower shop/bar in the middle of Tokyo, I am once again away from the village. Perhaps this is the farthest I have ever been. Since I am alone in the land of the rising sun, amidst all the great experiences, I still find time to reflect and immerse myself in my own thoughts, dreams, and findings. I reflect on relationships, friendships, collectives, jobs, all the concerns that trouble me in everyday life, things I like, secret and not-so-secret dreams and desires. I contemplate what makes me happy, what pushes me out of my comfort zone, and what truly doesn't serve me well. These contemplations happen on busy trains, while eating soba noodles or wandering around a beautiful moss garden. I carry my thoughts with me – of course, sometimes the connection is not very good, but they are always there. That's why, even though I'm 10,000 km away, I clearly feel where I belong.
With a gentle breeze after a pretty hot day and a time difference of seven hours, my concerns seem somewhat milder. My main worry is the typhoon that is expected to arrive tomorrow. The distance has also narrowed my social circle. However, it's not as if I've left my life thousands of miles away. I haven't forgotten about everyone.
A few days ago, we had our weekly Robida reunion to work on the upcoming 9th issue of the magazine. Others decided to meet in the morning, which conveniently fit my schedule in Japan. Vida said, "Show us something that proves you're in Tokyo, because you could easily be in Ljubljana." Either way, away from the village.
When you scroll through the Robida website, my name tag mostly indicates that I'm not in Topolove. So today, I will reflect a bit on being away and still participating, on being a temporary dweller and still belonging.
Since we made dwelling in Topolove one of the main (or perhaps even the main) objectives of the collective, and I contributed with one thick thesis on the topic, the question of honesty towards the idea has haunted me continuously. Even though the concept of the temporary dweller has become a significant topic of discussion, living the life of a nomad while advocating for hyperlocal initiatives has never been easy.
Dwelling is primarily the establishment of a relationship between a human being and the environment. This relationship is formed through identification or a sense of belonging to a particular place.
Hence, the dwelling community is not necessarily limited to people who permanently reside in the place, but also includes those who have an affection for the place and dedicate care to it. It includes those who keep returning, those who spend every holiday in a specific place, those who create for the place, those who are inspired by the place, and those who experience it as a safe shelter, waiting for them like family. The set of relations between people dwelling in a place and people visiting or returning is bound by time, not rushed, but in a slow, spiraling manner. The community is built on values such as reciprocity, collaboration, support, and care.
We can all consider ourselves lucky, as Topolove takes care of its temporary dwellers. We always feel welcome, not just us, but also our ideas. Every year, visitors and artists on residencies add another layer to the community of dwellers. Sometimes I check these name tags, and most of the time, there is at least one temporary dweller based in the village. Recently, Lu was there for a few weeks on a radio residency, and right now, Franca is working on a new issue of the magazine.
Not only do visits, whether short and sweet or longer and more profound, matter, but also internet connection enables us, out-of-the-village-dwellers, to feel closer. Our online working sessions are very regular, with moments of relaxed chiacchierata, but mostly, they are very efficient. We have successfully completed many beautiful projects in this way, but let's be honest. No online meeting can replace an aperitivo where ideas are flowing freely, and no short visit can replace slowly waking up while observing seasonal changes in the landscape.
I am incredibly proud of all the permanent residents of the village. I am not like them, I don't face the same challenges or enjoy the same privileges. However, to conclude, I still feel the familiar spirit, even on the other side of the world. Topolove is a strong place.
Since language has been quite an obstacle in connecting with my Japanese peers, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts, interviews, and other available media to get to know the place I am currently in better. Alongside learning about Japanese traditional architecture and gardens, I have come across stories of people moving back to remote villages, caring for their heritage, renovating old structures, bringing new life, and, most importantly, strengthening their sense of belonging. Believe it or not, I am intrigued.
look at us in Ljubljana, just a day before the departure.
Some nice things happening these days:
💮 Today, from 16.00 on in Topolove there is the last event to close this summer, Živa Pot! Read more here
💮 Soon the list of contributors for Robida magazine will be published – finally, after many months of work Robida 9 soil ~ suolo ~ prst is coming to life!
💮 Elena is in Sardinia at Fotosintesi - Arte sostenibile residency (Sant'Antioco) to present Robida's work and guide a workshop to the photographers in residency there! Today, at 21.30 she will give a talk about Robida, if some of you dear readers, is in the area!
💮 Vida is soon joining Climate Care festival at Floating
University Berlin where she helped Rosario Talevi, Gilly Karjevsky and Jeanne Astrup-Chauvaux in the curatorial work! She will also guide a reading in Wednesday, 23.09 titled Wild Tongues.