A safe space in nature to play and connect
In the middle of the woods, on the borders of a tiny 1000 year old village lies a field surrounded by tall trees, an old apprentice home waiting for its wake up kiss, garages being turned into tiny accommodation rooms and an old multi-storage condo about to be redesigned.
OPEN FOR ENTHUSIASTIC FOLKS WHO:
– look for a project to truly set up and create from scratch
– want to move to the Unterspreewald full time in the very near future
– are experienced in being self-employed, bring their own work and see the potential to develop this large 19000 sqm areal together and make a living out of it
– understand that projects in the countryside are not a cheap way of living, but a demanding, incredibly exciting opportunity to create new models of living – that require extensive financial contribution for the pioneers to have a stake in it all
– share a curiosity about human connection, relationship models, learning from the physical body and mind
– love to play, explore and experiment in nature together
CONNECTION & DIVERSITIY
Longing for nature, health and community in a safe place?
Being aware of isolation and a loss of purpose and perspective in these times, we long to create a diverse community that is alive, engaging, professionally and socially supportive.
A place that nourishes, inspires & touches.
Where people are eager to learn: from self development to community building, practical tools to sustainable solutions. Where tolerance and connection are what we practice persistently – knowing that it’s hard sometimes.
Our challenging times call for change.
And: here is an organic farmland village that eagerly invites new people.
Various buildings with a massive garden and bordering forests are waiting to be developed.
Fresh produce from the local farmer is at your doorstep.
The river Spree connects you to Berlin and the mystic Spreewald.
And you: a community of skilled, innovative thinkers and doers tackle the problems of our future.
Together in and with the village of Pretschen we long to shape new, sustainable models of living.
What will you create when there is space?
When you live embedded in the forest and there is an organic farmer providing you with freshest ingredients?
When there is water to paddle on endlessly?
When there are motivated, skilled people around you striving to make a difference?
What workshops do you wish to give? What new formats or businesses can you invent? What poetry will you write when there is time, nature and less pressure?
What if your actions have a direct impact on an entire village?
THE APPRENTICE HOME
various large seminar style spaces, the former group kitchen, various sized rooms, a large basement level with old sanitary facilities for groups.
Ideas for use could be: living, co-working, workshops, cafe, restaurant, ateliers, wellness area (Japanese bath anyone?).
THE APARTMENT BLOCK
Right next to the apprentice home is an old fashioned GDR style apartment block with perspectively 10 apartment units (currently 18 units). Three of them are already fully refurbished, so there is the opportunity to have a warm space to sleep, shower, cook and put your stuff while investigating how to develop this whole area of 19000 sqm together.
GARAGES, GARDENS, TREES
A very large, representative green space in front of the apprentice building invites you to dream of tables, chairs and people eating ice cream outside in summer. Walk over to the ping-pong tables next to that, through a patch of wild, large trees around the building to the back side where a huge garden stretches all the way to endless forests starting right at the end of the plot. An old row of garages on the very right side of the property could be turned into economic minimal tiny apartments for visitors.
INFRASTRUCTURE OF A 1000 YEAR OLD VILLAGE
As a nice contrast to the 1000 year old village, a crew of young, fun Berliners also just moved across the street to test out country life.
A beautiful walk from our Lehrlingsheim framed by trees takes us over a tiny bridge. This Spreewald area is famous for its many little rivers and streams making it an area for kayaking, swimming and fishing.
Passing the old manor house, where Sascha Philipp from Landgut Pretschen lives (the organic farmer and main employer of the region) we get to the more lively part of the village.
Bakery, restaurant, farm shop (very nice organic selection of whatever you could wish for), Kita, church, bus stop, Thai massage and alternative practitioner. There is always work at the organic farm (should you want to). When it comes to schools there is a school bus for primary school (5 min), for a secondary school the school takes about 1 hour. Classic countryside. Here is also where we hope to come up with more innovative formats for schools in the future.
Oh yes and horses!
All in walking distance.
PROJECT & VILLAGE LOCATION
Our project site is located a little off the Pretschen-centre.
Pretschen sits on the border of the Spreewald meaning: get a canoe and prepare to get magical. The village itself has endless organic farmland to one side (come here if you want to see tons of butterflies in summer) and endless forests on the other side. A walk in the deep woods is quite an experience. The loudest sound is probably your breath. Our plot touches the one end of the deep forest.
There are beautiful lakes nearby (bike ride distance). We are located on a European hiking and bike path. Loads of trees, small and larger Spree river branches – what else do you need?
HOW TO GET THERE
Brandenburg state surrounds Berlin like a doughnut. Pretschen – our village – is located south-east of the capital’s centre. By car from Berlin it takes about 1 – 1,5 hours depending on your starting point. By train – there is room for improvement. We compiled a detailed HOW TO GET THERE GUIDE just for you.
Uleshka is currently the main initiator behind this project. She shares her excitement to team up with equally motivated people to really make it happen. Creating a strong team of initiators is her biggest goal.
Uleshka is a creative maker and communicator. She is also a member of the network Zukunftsorte (which connects and supports innovative, impactful locations in the countryside). The apprentice home came to her from two sides, so she considers this somewhat of a sparkling calling.
Ryotaro is a Japanese-Italian artist gone serial entrepreneur. His topics – also in Pretschen -are sustainable infrastructure, energy and mobility concepts (in addition to supporting us with all of his other entrepreneurial expertise). Ryo’s multicultural background makes him a mediator between different countries, cultures and interests.
Further supporters of the project are Irmela Schautz (illustrator), Anna Niestroj (artist & teacher), Andreas Polzer (architect), Katarina Altrogge (lawyer), Anna Nat (performance artist), Sören Mund (entrepreneur & passionate cook). And you are welcome to join.
Land and property are scarce goods and therefore expensive. Usually too expensive for affordable housing and social or cultural projects. The Edith Maryon foundation works to remove land from speculation so that we or others can use it in a socially responsible manner. In Pretschen all farm land, the large courtyard with the former distillery, carpentry, market hall etc. and our forest settlement with the apprentice home belong to the Edith Maryon foundation, managed by Terra Libra GmbH. This means the land will be given to us after our testing period for a veeery long lease for hereditary building, but it can never be sold by us to others (to keep their promise that land is for active people, not investors).
So far all villagers we met are very kind, open minded and curious. They are truly interested in having new people come and make a difference. Sascha Philipp is a key player in the village. With his organic farm Landgut Pretschen he is also the largest employer in the area. Ilka Paulick, a Pretschen original, works for Märkische Heide, the municipality doing culture, tourism, official stuff. She is very driven and keen to support us. The people in the farm shop and bakery are super friendly. Fantastic neighbors are across the street: in a smaller building belonging to the foundation resides a colorful crew from Berlin including Paul, who is also our key go-to-person with all matters concerning the Edith Maryon foundation.
We seek people who share the same vision and are not afraid to take responsibility. Who are
makers and doers, putting things into practice. We opt for diverse nationalities and skin colors, all sexual orientations & relationship models. Since tolerance is key to us – vegans and carnivore are equally welcome. Being self connected and self aware is a definite plus.
Spirituality is your own thing (or not), but we welcome folks, who reflect upon themselves and are interested in self-development. There will be children – so whatever happens on the land needs to be children-compatible in the shared spaces. Feel free to build interesting private spaces of course.
Professionals and folks experienced in these areas are warmly advised to apply:
– gastronomers & food nerds
– builders / carpenters / designers
– architects / staticians
– social entrepreneurs
– accountants & funding application professionals
– people managing guests / booking / billing / service
– sustainability experts thinking smart city / smart village
– wild researchers with interesting testing needs (nature, rural area, communities)
– good communicators and facilitators
– anyone with a creative mindset and maker spirit
HOW TO APPLY:
Please send us your thoughts / images / videos / drawings / Excel sheets…
– What is your motivation to live in a village and in a co-creation project?
– What does community mean to you?
– What can you bring into a project like this?
– What are your biggest obstacles or concerns?
Some networks that we are closely connected to:
Netzwerk Zukunftsorte – providing impact and knowledge for rural life of the future
Kreativorte Brandenburg – innovative places in and around Brandenburg
Rural Shakers – international rural projects
Greenbox – Innovative-sustainable energy, mobility and infrastructure concepts
A² Accelerator – sustainability and smart city solutions
Atelier Fanelsa – architecture Berlin / Brandenburg
NION – internationale netzwerk for new models of living
The WYE – internationales production and event agency
Studio BlinkBlink – artist collective
Wertewandel – process development
Kreative Lausitz – sustainable change through creativity and culture in Lusatia
Networks or platforms that we love and/or are somewhat connected to:
Fabmobil – digitalization and mobile maker lab by bus
milch & moos – hiking & culinary in Brandenburg
wecyclebrandenburg – cycling excursions for city escapees in Brandenburg
Coconat – rural coworking and workation
Coworkland – Rural Coworking Network
Hütten und Paläste – awesome architects
Studio Amore – think and design office for spatial transformation
UHU – massage, body & mind, healing space
GayBrandenburg – diverse Brandenburg
Jumen – human rights and inclusion
Social Impact – agency for social innovation
Our local Project-Neighbors:
Kulturverein Neu am See
Life Long Learning
Building on the history of the apprentice home, this project stands for learning in all areas of
of life. This means openness, curiosity, testing, applying knowledge, failure and life long learning.
The village development’s mission is sustainability. We wish to build on their existing knowledge, bring in our own expertise and develop the best solution participatory.
We wish to connect people, stories and possibilities. We do this through transparency & participation. Empathy & tolerance. Local & global understanding. Working & living.
Learning & Teaching. Outside & inside. Fun & sincerity. Nature & culture. Privacy & community.
No “too weird”. No “too normal”. For us, diversity mainly means openness and allowing people to be themselves. This isn’t always easy, since we are all conditioned in one way or another. We aim at building an inclusive, safe space that invites as many diverse backgrounds and models of living as we can gather.
Nature: silence, forest, water, fire and air. Getting in touch with these primal elements inspires to come to oneself more consciously. To connect to the senses, the body and get involved in life in a natural way.
We already know this world. Let’s build another one. A new, safe space where benevolence is the standard. Where forgiveness and asking for help is considered strong. Where we got each other’s backs.
Visiting the project is obviously a must, so please check out the next dates. Once you visited: check your intuition. Could this be for you? Being organised and determined to a certain degree will be very helpful (transport is currently not so great, but there is room to stay longer and internet). Having a remote or flexible job helps. Entrepreneurial thinking, too. Get connected: to yourself and others. Learn about non-violent-communication. Probably sociocracy and other decision making processes. Be prepared to invest time and money. If none of this shocks you:
please feel very welcome to enjoy all this value that is waiting here for you.
SET UP AND TIMELINE
In 2021 we started a 2 year testing phase with the Edith Maryon foundation. Every 6 months we get together and check if we are still on the same page. There are milestones such as setting up a legal form for the group, documenting our process, getting the right building permits or collaborating with the village and research students. All things that we are about to do anyway. Once completing these 2 years, we will have the opportunity to sign a truly long hereditary building lease that will allow us to build and create the way we envision to. This setup is great for many reasons: the foundaion is by our side, supporting and guiding the process with their expertise (while still granting us enough space), the freedom to experiment without too much of a risk in the beginning and the outlook to get a 19000 sqm piece of precious land for a very fair amount.
PROCESS & FINANCES
A group of initiators forms and uses the apartment block to spend time on site, develop the concept, business ideas etc. (preferably moving there).
Costs: Operating costs plus rent for fully furbished apartment (300 Euro for 3 rooms / kitchen / bath) and/or costs for renovation of vacant apartment.
We understand that building a strong, powerful group that is sustainable (and fun) doesn’t happen over night. It usually takes some help. For that we wish to invest into a coach / mediation process. A money deposit between 2000 – 4000 Euros is to be expected from very early on.
Finding the right people and working out a concept together is the key in the first phase. There are multiple options of how to renovate the apartment building depending on the number of active members and their motives and model of use.
The group seems stable enough to get more concrete. Architects and us go into deeper planning and we need to invest into the apartment building (fire regulations, accessibility, sustainable energy…). Our approach of how much to invest should be determined.
Also – for an overall holistic concept we need to set up a bullet proof business plan in addition to the overall architectural / structural planning. A legal form for the group, possibly an operating company of some sort… We certainly need investment to make it happen. Depending on the number of the core group members the money deposit will differ. The apprentice home alone will certainly need 1,5M Euros (rather low budget), the garages – depending what we do with them – another handful. Should you have difficulties in dealing with numbers and imagining costs upfront – please be advised that looking at finances will be crucial for the success of the project. Also: having someone in our group who is good in the German “Förderanträge” – applying for financial support – would be hugely beneficial, since there is a lot of state and Europan funding possibilities due to the location of the project (close to the Lusatia that currently goes through a huge structural change). We will look at this together, but money will be needed in one form or another. The sooner we start building, the sooner we can create opportunities for us to make money that fuels further interesting developments of project and property (e.g. renting out the garages as mini apartments for guests).
All legal regulations and permits are safe. Planning done. Once the property is officially in our hands (thank you, Edith Maryon foundation) and our loan taken out, we can start building. YAY!
Depending on how the land-laws change, we may be able to not just re-use our buildings, but also start building new objects. That is not really in our hands, but the process to be able to do so is already rolling. If so, a big vision could look like this:
APARTMENT BUILDING: Long term residents and mid-term residents living here. Income through rent.
LEHRLINGSHEIM: Events, cafe/restaurant/bar, seminar spaces, workshops, wellness area downstairs, possibly long-term, mid-term and short-term stay.
GARAGES: turned into mini-apartments for overnight-guests and visitors (bikers, hikers, tourists, event guests).
OPEN FIELD & FOREST AREA: tiny-houses for a retreat-experience and / or smaller houses for long-term-living-project-people, who like to have more distance / privacy from the busy Lehrlingsheim and guests.
what building permits we get and when, there could be more individual houses further away from the main buildings in the woods: from tiny houses for special guests to smaller individual buildings for long-term residents.
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READY MADE PROJECT
A project and a community are a journey. They are built and crafted over time. It is the work and the experiences that unite us and make us bond. People who can only commit very loosely to the project (for all valid reasons) are also welcome – but at a later point in the process. There will be spaces for people wanting to rent what is there with less responsibilities, but the ones being there from the start will be the decision makers and shapers of this future. So – at this stage of the project, we need people who rock. Rock solid.
AVOIDING EFFORT ATTITUDE
Life-long-learning means effort, since the brain prefers to be lazy. We also love breaks: to sit by the fire, have a relaxing massage exchange workshop, soak in a hot tub or chill during “village cinema”. But we have a vision that motivates the hell out of us, so we want to do it. Not wanting to see work (or hoping that somebody else will pick up the slack) will slow us down and add a foul flavor to something sweet. So – if learning and doing don’t excite you per se — no hard feelings.
Parties are great, sitting by the fire and watching shooting stars are great, too. Feel free to celebrate this in any way you like, but please be aware that there are other people around you, particularly children, who should be considered and treated in a conscious, respectful manner.
US AND THEM
Aiming to be inclusive is a big task and much easier said than done. There will most likely be failure and hurt feelings – simply because we are all humans. What we can do, however, is to be benevolent: towards ourselves, the “whatever other” within the community, but also towards the people in the village. Not everyone will love us and we must not love everyone in return. But – we can be open minded and greet everyone with a respectful “hello” and replace the judgement with surprise, with an opportunity for connection.
WHERE TO MEET NEXT
..we are probably hiding in the woods picking mushrooms right now… give us a call if you wish to visit Uyuni.
+49 176 70165278