Would you like to make a difference for yourself and for the wider community ?

(Concerning finances, see below)

Join our 2017, Summer Workshops !

Come together with a vibrant, committed group of people, in a beautiful place, surrounded by pristine mountains, lakes, springs and forests.

More and more people are looking for ways to combine personal development with social activism and community building as a means of promoting peaceful transition to a new and hopefully more just economy based on sharing and caring. But what exactly does this transition entail, and what skills can we develop to promote it? How does “personal development” empower us to counter powerful, socially engendered beliefs that shape our collective consciousness and prevent us from actually making transformations happen?

This summer, we are heading to the hills of Valle d’Antrona in Italy where we will do volunteer work and hold workshops aimed at developing our personal skills and insights while building and restoring a beautiful ancient village that is gradually developing into a vibrant community.

This summer there will be at least two opportunities to work in Zonca:

In April we will begin “polishing the land”, meaning there will be a lot of work clearing gardens, cutting hay, clearing paths and caring for gardens. This is regular work that we do every year and it paves the way for two phases of volunteer work:

  • From 1st of May to 15th of May you are welcome to join our team repairing stone walls that have subsided over the winter months.
  • From 12th of June to 26th of June we will be repairing walls and starting to construct stone roofs.

This work involves carrying and shifting heavy stone. But you will not be working alone ; we do everything as a team, you are not expected to lift heavy materials on your own.

Last year September we had a team of 15 volunteers from all around the world. Women and children participated and the work was not too heavy for anyone. Plus, there are always people who really get into it! You do need to be in reasonably good physical health. Also, the weather can be rainy and cold, in which case we either take a break or change the way we work.

Given the amount of care lavished on the teams by everyone in Zonca, including incredible meals and time-out in the evenings playing music or sitting by the fire, this is definitely an experience I will be returning to over and over. Don’t miss out!

Work & Building experience!

Working with stone to construct walls and roofs is valuable experience for those intending to do their own building as well as for those of you who would like to gain some expertise and do this type of construction professionally. There is work for those who are good at it! Since the earthquakes in Italy there is plenty of work in reconstruction. In addition, the type of houses and walls in Zonca can also be found throughout Spain and Portugal (and many other rural areas around the world). You will gain valuable experience.

Activities:

Participants will be expected to spend about 3-4 hours a day working. More is welcome. Don’t come if you just want to loaf about. Since we work as a team, there are always more hands than we need for the really heavy work so there will also be other activities including:

  • Gardening
  • Clearing paths
  • Cutting hay and wood
  • Preparing food
  • Doing shopping
  • Washing dishes

Extracurricular activities may include any of the following:

  • Music, singing
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Edible wild plant gathering
  • Talking stick circles
  • Presentations
  • Storytelling
  • Singing
  • Nature hikes
  • Art
  • Cooking
  • Anything else you feel like contributing

Conditions for our presence in Zonca & Bordo:

In addition to volunteer work in support of the workshop itself such as cooking, shopping, gardening, chopping wood and cleaning, there will also be some work in aid of the village such as clearing paths, gardening, cutting grass, gathering hay, repairing walls and possibly doing some building / repair work. These activities, approximating 1.5 to 3 hours per day depending on our enthusiasm, will be coordinated by the locals who have extensive knowledge of what is needed. (So you can either help constructing walls and roofs or do something lighter so that others can do the heavy work).

A Long-Term plan:

The present event is intended as a starting point for a long-term project in Zonca that could involve acquiring (buying) a property (house & land) in Zonca. This property could be communally owned and managed. In this propensity it could provide a small financial basis for the further development of the village and activities there. The property could be rented to lodgers and groups seeking a nice quiet place for workshops and could also be available on a sort of time-share basis. Think of it this way: many of us will never have the opportunity to own a house and holidays can be prohibitively expensive. Buying into a project like this by investing money, time and effort provides an ideal opportunity for those of us interested in alternative lifestyles, permaculture, nature and health. Check out the other pages on this site to learn more.

Our summer workshops provide an ideal opportunity to get to know Zonca and its surroundings and to reflect on the possibilities already present.

What to do if you are interested in participating:

Please let us know whether you are interested in participating in these workshops as soon as possible so we can proceed to delegate tasks for organizing the events. Workshops will be free to attend, but we expect visitors to contribute something toward food and lodging.

Prospective Dates:

1st of May – 15th of May and 12th of June – 26th of June 2017. There is always the possibility of extending your stay on an individual basis.

Contribution

If you plan to join us please consider offering a financial contribution towards room and board. It is best to make arrangements with your hosts. Ideally prior to arriving. Please do not wait till the end of your stay to discuss financial arrangements. Approximately €15.- euro a day is fair if you can afford it. This is not unreasonable considering the work that goes into collecting wood, maintaining the houses and preparing meals.

As a long time visitor and contributor to Zonca I early on decided to contribute financially in whatever way I could to this project. Once you have actually visited this community you will know that people in Zonca really go out of their way to make you feel at home and to arrange for your comfort, make meals, organise activities, show you around etc. This is only possible due to their hard work. In addition, there are few opportunities to make any money in the vicinity. Your contributions are very welcome and make it possible to maintain the properties and maintain a presence on the mountain the year round. Also, €15.- euro a day is far less than you would be spending in most other holiday locations if you have to pay for food and accommodation.

Travel expenses

You are responsible for your own travel expenses. If you have made arrangements you can get a pick up from the train or bus stations. There are regular bus services to Seppiana from Villadossola and Dommodossala. Information about travel is available below.

Other Important information:

If you plan to participate you should consider taking out travel insurance. Organisers do not accept liability for accidents during your stay and throughout the workshops. And although we really take care to avoid accidents, injuries can result when working with heavy materials etc.

Zonca lies at an altitude of 550 meters and the village and surrounding areas lie on steep slopes. The village has been derelict for a long time and many walls are unstable. We will of course take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of all participants however risks cannot be eliminated entirely and you need to be adequately covered by insurance for everything from common colds to falls on paths, tick bites, bee stings, snake or scorpion bites and stings (in fifteen years I do not recall a single case), rock falls, tree falls, work related accidents, burns from fires or cooking etc.

Also, please keep in mind that the road and the path to the village are quite a strenuous uphill climb of about 45 minutes. You can take as long as you like, and there is a lift to bring heavy backpacks and other goods up to the village.

Getting there:

By Train: To get to Zonca travellers can use the train system. I checked out prices and estimated that getting to Zonca from The Hague, Netherlands, by rail would cost something close to €170,-. This involves taking a train right through to Brig in Switzerland and then a local train to Domodossala where pick up can be arranged.

By Road: there is easy access to Zonca through Domodossala, following road signs to Valle de Antrona and ending at the village of Seppiana. From Seppiana there is either a steep road all the way to a parking place 50 meters from Zonca or a path, behind the Church, leading to Zonca (45 minute walk and its steep).

Food: Vegetarian / organic, where possible from the gardens

Children Children are welcome, however if you plan to bring one or more child, please make sure that you understand that separate arrangements will have to be made for childcare during ceremonies and workshops. Childcare is not included in the package, however we are open to suggestions concerning activities that children can participate in and in which they are central, e.g. nature walks, sitting by the fire, music and story telling etc. Zonca is a particularly beautiful place for children, however it is also a ruin where there are unstable walls, steep drops etc. that require vigilance from an adult.

What to bring

  • Sleeping bag, blankets and sheets
  • Tent and Mattress (if camping)
  • Swimming gear and towels
  • Torch (absolutely essential at night)
  • Song texts (copies if introducing your own music/song)
  • Comfortable clothing for Hap Ki Do, meditation/yoga
  • Warm sweater
  • Rain wear including boots
  • Work gloves
  • Hiking shoes
  • Camera