Noise requests and nomadic hospitality

Somehow the amount of 'noise' requests is increasing. With this I refer to the general couchsurfers, people who are looking for a place to sleep and are not genuinely interested in living in a community like ours. You can read this from their profile for example and the lack of information they provide.

I always wondered what to do with that. If there is space we can always say: yeah sure, come, bewelcome. We know that we have enough balance in the house to integrate these people, turn them into hosts themselves and give a life-learning/ changing experience. But is this always worth it? Maybe it is better to keep the house more quiet (at times) so people can also have the space to be focusing on the work they do, be more involved in the projects we aim at developing. As such we also would have more (guaranteed) crash-space available for the sudden hitchhiker or traveling through friend for example.

At the same time, I think we should be more restrictive also. The purpose of the house is not to host the couchsurfer-type, but to be living together. And the type of people we want to live with and offer the possibility to stay in the house are rather persons who are nomadic, who have something interesting to add to the community (be it in terms of arts, coding, design, circus, etc) or who we can expect that they want to stay part of the network of friends. We want to learn from each other...

I heard some interesting suggestions at She-Berlin about this too, some new ideas even. I wonder what others (experienced hosts, current hosts, people who haven't been here yet) have to say.


robino's picture

discussion about the hosting requests

Following the discussion about the hosting requests I think we can sum up the conclusions as such:

  • To make the culture more transparent and to make expectations clear and visible.
  • To make the guide to the house more clear and accessible. It is already here but I will make it more prominent and encourage more people to edit it. A new printed version should include more articles and also photos. We can use the tag 'guide' to include articles and such
  • Criteria are difficult to define but I see there is an agreement to stay open for different types of people while the strong focus on nomadic hospitality remains. I will try to make a list of criteria of hosting-priorities based on past-experiences

Anything else that has gone unnoticed?

valentina's picture

short version

Maybe, once updated, we want to create a short version of the guidelines that could be integrated with the hosting request submission.

One more thing:
once we review the requesting page, how about making visible the projects we have (dumpster diving, bike repair, vegan cooking, lightfoot post, urban gardening) and ask for submission of interest/participation? maybe we could live some space for people to state if they have projects they wanna share with Casa and use this as a way to encourage people in being participative. What do you think about this?

Jass's picture

Will be updating this tonight

Will be updating this tonight and in the near future..;) Will post updates..

valentina's picture


see if you also have friends/experienced hosts where to re-direct people that we cannot host due to space reasons but we do still want to include. Involve these hosts in the discussion.
I believe we already do this with some extent.

atopia's picture

out of the box

Defining criteria also means putting people into boxes. I'd rather say: make the Casa culture more transparent and defined, make expectations clear and visible. This way, possible hosts know what to expect and can state more clearly where they see themselves in the Casa collective.

This being done, just pick people according to what the current hosts feel like. Do we wanna integrate a tourist couple today? Recognizing The Right People™ by some randomly made-up criteria is... superficial. Amylin uses a non-free computer, so what? I was a carnivore when I first got to the casa. The Belgian couple in March weren't the usual techno nomad people either.
Keep it on an individual level, see what the (current) Casa collective can share and who they want in to grow. Keeping the noise out will come naturally.

Curious George J.'s picture

seconded, atopia...

Totally agreed. Transparent culture with clear, visible expectations is the way to go. Perhaps these expectations should be separated, too, into the more permanent (e.g. no meat) and the "experimental" or "cultural" (cultural customs?).

Now how to do this? It has already been done to some extent, in the form of that document that hangs on the hallway wall. That was my first real, cohesive view of what "Casa Culture" currently is, so most of my post below will focus on that document. However, if anyone can think of better ways to "make a culture's expectations clear and visible," than a document, bring 'em on!

A few criticisms about this document:
- until I expressed repeated interest in what the "rules" of the place were, was told there were no rules, and asked about "guidelines" or anything else, I had no idea this document existed. This is not making the cultural expectations "visible," as atopia suggests. (Is there a reason not to share the document, by the way?)
- it was not clear whether the ideas in this document were static/permanent or changeable
- if they were changeable, how would one go about affecting positive change? (note that short-term tourists wouldn't bother to do so)
- one positive note - the document already includes justifications and reasons for many of its ideas. These should be fleshed out a bit, so that people understand *why* the culture is the way it is.

I wish I had suggested solutions to my own criticisms, but alas. Here are a few suggestions:
+ make the document "required reading," for anyone who stays at the Casa, whether they are host material or not. This makes it "visible."
+ it should be made clear that this document is a work in progress, a constantly changing and shifting ethos. This makes it documentation of/by/for the community, as it is presently.
+ Someone (Robin? A group? Everyone?) should review and critique suggested changes to the culture document. [In a way that's what happens here at (e.g. this thread), but it all gets jumbled together with fashion show photos and cooking recipes and never distilled into a cohesive document.] So perhaps the core culture document should stay about the same length, such that someone can read it even if they are only staying a short while. Then there can be addenda, appendices, etc. with more details and "motivations" spelled out.
+ Specifically, during review of additions or deletions, motivations and justifications would have to be clear, or the document wouldn't be changed. This keeps the culture "clear."

Thoughts? Responses? Please don't be gentle...

gutuAter's picture

Premises & Promises

Of course it is not always worth it. But beware the high risk of turning the place into an Olympus of mega-cool people instead, of nomadic gods & goddesses and their friends. I think the place is a huge potential to positively influence exactly that kind of people that you might initially want to keep away. Think of someone that doesn't think he/she's *cool* enough to join the club, but in fact it's all about lack of self-confidence. I think the most important thing is making sure that the premises are clear (what the place is, what you expect from guests, etc.) and that people have the right potential to be positively influenced by the Casa.

valentina's picture


I agree that the premises should be clear so that we can match expectations.
Maybe there are people asking to stay at casa but not really interested in community living, in dumpster diving, cooking, cleaning etc... Maybe they just want a cool place to crash after spending time sightseeing Amsterdam. I believe that other CS hosts would be happy to give them a place to sleep.

However, I think that explaining some basic elements of casa can be considered as part of our aim of transparency; somehow saying what we expect (for example: voluntary participation it term of house maintenance, some sort of presence in the house, dumpster diving etc) also can be useful to magically attract the right people.

I agree we should not create a closed house, where people coming in are all the same (same values, same habits, same friends, etc), but I also think we cannot open the door for everybody: there is no space and there are people who needs more than others (a long distance cyclist more than a I-am-coming-to-check-out-coffee-shops tourist for example).

What I suggest is:
- open the discussion between hosts of the casa upon "criteria" to host. They exist, let's make them clear;
- create some sort of priorities that able to include last minute CS requests and tourists that want to stay for more than 3 days (if they don't have time to spend with us, how can they be reached by positive influence?);
- find partners/friends/allies that can host some of the people that we cannot host due to lack of space/overpopulation and include them in the debate about criteria: who would they prefer to host? Long or short term guests? Nomads, travelers, tourists?;
- create new bases: see if people who need a place would be happy to go on the East for example... Are Adan, Shaun and the others able to host?
- Let it go, and follow the flow of things: balance will come eventually :)

valentina's picture

Radical honesty

I think we have to be honest here. We do have criteria to have people in. and I do not think there is anything wrong with it as far as we admit it with ourselves. we want people ecology friendly, people who needs us, who travel with alternative sustainable means, who needs a place to rest and who are good host (able to take care of the home as it was their and of the others as they were their family members).

The space at Casa is small, and I believe that it is an added value rather than a limit: people needs to interact. But having a small space also means that we need to find the right balance between ppl that can grow from the experinece and ppl that helps others to grow. facilitators... water and sun for seeds planted there.

therefore, look at the home: how does people feel? do they need space? Do they have the right energy for more people to come in even as tourists? what's about carring more responsabolities and effort for un-experinced neo casa hosts?

My suggestions is that ppl from the casa have an informal talk about the requests and then they decide how they feel about new coming hosts, keeping in mind general criteria for new entry. we might forget, but we still do filter people depending on the how sustainable their enrty is for the eco-casa-system.

hugs and love.

lindseyb7's picture

My schnekel (2 shekels)

I think it's important to offer people who are not professional nomads, etc. REALLY, more important in some ways than catering to people who are. IMHO, to maintain trust networks is important, but to spread them even more so. I think some of my most rewarding experiences have been when I was REALLY able to affect someone just by letting them see who I was. Restoring trust, showing trust and allowing myself to trust others.

I still remember the moment Robino called me when I was with my mom in A*dam and kindly offered us a place to stay... it wasn't the beginning of my journey, but it did kick start me into new directions. I posted some post on last minute couch requests in A*dam and Robino responded=)

I know it's difficult to deal with people coming in and out constantly, and if you don't want it, roommate situations and collectives, are perfectly OK too. But definitely different than an open-style housing arrangement. Perhaps redefining could be a good thing! (Though I have to say, there will never be anything more perfect than the Robino works and pays for everything set-up...)

I know it's nice to have people working on projects, doing arts, etc., but I think it's really important not to be elitist about it, nor to put too much pressure on people to feel "productive." Someone who might outwardly do a lot of "productive" things, might be inwardly not doing anything and vice versa.

For me, being @ casarobino, was something that it might not be to someone else. I really enjoy cooking for others, cleaning, talking and listening. And at the end of my visit, I left with nothing "tangible." "Nothing."

OK, I do admit, I have made a movie about my first European hitchhiking experience. I am also working on a book. I've written lots of poetry. I take pictures. But there is something negative about having to outwardly define myself as an artist and a productive one at that in order to justify my presence. It makes me feel uncomfortable.

Anyways, for my own house I have informal hosting rules, which is to go with my gut. Though overwhelmingly, the people I have hosted did not send me a couch request=) They just ended up here because "they were supposed to end up here." Which gets to my main point - what is your gut instinct telling you to do?

helicopter's picture

ignore 'em

I spent a ton of time at pv berlin talking with daan, lucian, and the viking about the importance of filtering. Having the right kind of people is absolutely crucial. Anyone will pretend to be interested in the casa if they think it's a free place to stay. Sometimes it might be hard to tell, but the no-brainers are the ones who don't even say much about the casa when they request.

If things are really feeling stagnant, maybe pick one person who's more promising than average and see if you can coax them on and develop something. But in general, default off.