Originally from Galicia, Agustin lived abroad and enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle for many years, working for the creative software laboratory, Eleven Yellow.
it is worth checking out Eleven Yellow's webpage, for when you read their mission statement, It somehow helps you better understand Agustin's vision for Anceu:
We are capitalists about how we make money and collectivists about what to do with it. When something works, most of the resources are used to keep the lab afloat. Most people that joined ElevenYellow have never left.
When he came back after years of exploring the world and living with his teammates, he realized, "everyone had left Home".
Indeed, many rural villages in his region and many others in Spain and Europe are losing their younger inhabitants to the cities and their so-called better opportunities.
Inspired by Edu Sadikovic, founder of Sende, and richer of his shared living experience with his team, he started elaborating a plan that would bring social and economic life back to his small corner of the world.
He set out to find a property that could not just become his house but the temporary home of nomads, remote workers, artists, and other rural hackers like him, wanting to live together, in nature, and give back to the local community.
YOU CAN NOT DO IT ALONE
Find Your Team
In just three short years (including a year of pandemic) Agustin and his team have accomplished so much. 'The secret is in the Team' says Agustin humbly.
Finding the right people to share your dream and make it a reality day after day alongside you is not easy, but once you do find them, you can accomplish pretty much anything.
Find Your Influencers
You can come up with the best idea in the world, a village has its own ecosystem and intricate social rules. Learn them, respect them, and understand who are the people who will be your greatest ambassadors. As Agustin says, you will have to call them up at first, but eventually, they will be the ones calling you.
Add some animals and a lot of nature
After all, if we leave the city for more rural areas, it is also to enjoy what we cannot get there: the fresh air, the greenery, and the company of sheep, cows, chickens, whoever your area is home to.
WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR HANDS YOU MAY RECEIVE HUGS
You will be surprised how willing to help people actually are, especially when you make generosity your currency.
From mentoring children, teaching English and tech skills, running creative hot chocolate sessions and Entre Culturas potlucks with the villagers, renovating the village shared space, running writing workshops, cleaning up the forest, and encapsulating stories of lost trails and villages... the residents at Anceu have shared, given and received so much they all seem to want to come back for more. Indeed, Anceu Coliving is one of the rare coliving spaces stating a maximum stay!
Try and see what works
Or as Agustin puts it: Throw shit onto the wall and see what sticks. We come up with ideas all the time, some work out, some don't. it is that easy. We just try them out. If no one shows up, maybe it's not the right time, the right format, or the right crowd.
Do not hesitate to knock on doors
Our society has slowly but surely broken our social links. We do not dare to offer help and even less to ask for it anymore. But if you do, you will be surprised how willing to take part in something people actually are, especially when you make generosity your currency.
Put your Heart into it
To avoid burning out, Agustin's advice is to make sure to work on projects that interest you and that you are ready and excited to drive for the long run.
After finally very little trial and error, it became clear that for Anceu, the focus would be on projects related to Art and tech.
THINK GLOBAL ACT LOCAL
It is not because you are small and remote that you can not receive external help. It is all about knowing where and how to ask.
The European Union runs several programs such as Erasmus + for sponsored Community managers for example. The 3 main supports Agustin mentioned are:
The European Creative Hub Network
ECHN is a peer-led network with a mission to enhance the creative, economic, and social impact of hubs around Europe and neighboring countries. It has been a great support not just through sponsoring workshops and training programs, but also a very beneficial source of knowledge and networking with other hubs in Europe, from coliving to makers and coworking spaces.
The WordPress Foundation is a charity with the mission to democratize and protect open-source software. Thanks to Agustin's work, the foundation and WordPress community support Anceu in running hackathons and tech courses for locals.
Back to the source (Geeky pun intended). Agustin's company has been very supportive of his 'side hustle' ;-) and sponsored several projects through the Rural Hackers School., dedicated to fostering innovation and creativity at the intersection of technology, rural living, and art.
Thank you so much Agustin for such an inspiring webinar that made all of us reflect on how coliving can be the economic muscle that allows more social projects to see the light of day.