Building a monastery the ninth century way

I found the following story fascinating. A group of historians, architects, “technologists” and volunteers are building a monastery in Germany using only the tools and techniques that would have been available in the ninth century. It’s going to take them about forty years. Details in an article in Der Spiegel (in English).

The main point is to discover more about what life is going to be like, but I think it gives a couple of helpful thoughts on sustainability as well. One is that these kinds of experiment as to what may or may not be possible in a sustainable future are helpful to do. Probably (and hopefully) we aren’t going to drop back into mediaeval technology, and we should at least have more modern ideas available to us. But we’re almost certainly going to have to do more hands-on work, and many of us who currently enjoy sitting behind desks in the warm aren’t necessarily going to have that luxury. People like Transition and others are trying it, of course.

The other is that it renews the sense of slowness, time and future planning which we seem to have largely lost. We expect things to happen almost immediately: the idea that we start a project that may not even complete in our lifetime is alien to us. But actually this is precisely one of the problems with taking action on climate change. We won’t see most of the consequences of today’s actions for years or decades, so they don’t impinge on us. A longer sense of time can only help.


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