As we look for ways of bringing in revenue to the house, the question has risen, what is SHE? Are we referring to the act of being hospitable as being sustainable? (Meaning, we are hospitable for an enduring amount of time) Or, is it in the context of environmental issues? Since the current situation is not sustainable financially, it is not the former definition. And in the environmental context, there are much more things we could do differently. Among those briefly brainstormed include producing less trash (opting out of trash bags, avoiding plastic containers, etc). And dare it be said, the boycotting of Albert Heijn? (unless absolutely necessary)
Mr. Heijn and his economies of scale cannot be very good for the world...

For now, I am not comfortable advocating SHE and her values, especially before introducing the existence of donation box to a room full of people. Until I have a better idea of what SHE means, I will refer to her as being a relative term.
Relatively Sustainable Hospitality Exchange.

And now friends, here is where we the discussion recommences. How can SHE be better manifested in the Casa?


rene's picture



sarah's picture

Monthly events?

I think I understand better SHE and the Casa... it's nice that there is space for them to evolve.

Valentina's idea of asking for people to bring specific things instead of money is a great idea.

I also really like the idea of having dinner earlier to make space and time for other activities together.

Concerning finances, we were talking with Laura about how money could be raised. What about organizing some kind of monthly event which aim would be to raise money for rent & bills? Like for instance organizing a "Sunday brunch" with a contribution or maybe a sports event or some communal party with simple home-made games like the ones you would see during a school's fun fair (these can be really fun with a little bit of irony). This way we could keep the money issue away from Thursday dinners and maybe get to know better the neighbourhood at the same time. There even seem to be a communal local next to the house. Maybe it can be used for such an event?
I have seen a collective in Dublin that created a space for a shared vegetable garden with the neighbours and twice a year they organized such events directly on the street nearby. People would bring something they cooked, their music intruments or games and simply spent time together, shared their ideas with neighbours and passer-by. At the same time, they were selling seeds from the vegetable garden, organised funny lotteries etc.

I also was in an association at school for which we organized some dinners to fundraise for specific projects. And I remember a couscous dinner during which more money was raised than by selling cakes twice a day during a year... that was slightly more fun to do!

of course, this kind of events take a lot of time to organize. But it could be interesting to start very small and see what happens... even just by playing a bit of music outside on a sunny afternoon!

It really feels great when you know the people next to whom you live. Like the day we made a cake for the neighbours downstairs the Casa... it was really uplifting to see their reaction when they understood the cake was for them. And nice also to see them bring us cookies a few days later!

Then, in term of space and people at the Casa, I also think it's nicer when it's not too crowded. Would it be possible to have a list of people who'd be willing to host people from the Casa when it's too busy or when someone feel they need an early sleep? I'm going to have my own place soon and I'd be happy to host when it's needed. (I can probably host 1 or 2 maximum, because it's really tiny)

In any case, I have to say it has been a great discovery for me to see a space such as la Casa. It's spirit is ever-changing and growing and spreading... now that it has been released, I think it's going to grow out of control ;)
(and I hope it will stay open to not-yet hitch hikers and not-yet travellers!)

merci Casa Robino!

narnua's picture

Hackerspaces and Money: Five Approaches

Some food for thought @ hackerspaces.org - even though hackerspaces in general don't practice hospitality as we understand it, in my mind casa IS a hackerspace (hacking taken widely, as anything people create: art, clothes, computer programs, music, videos...). Issues of communal space management are probably also universal enough to learn from each other.


pgalaxy's picture

In reading this interesting

In reading this interesting thread I feel compelled to apologise for having bought coffee from the slave trade, and other stuff from the dreaded Albert Heijn.
(Okay, I had bought some good coffee too from the UK)
I wonder, is there a map of local shops with opening times very visible in the casa? what about giving newcomers a crash course in sustainability when they arrive? I remember when I arrived in Germany (many years ago) the local taught me to rinsing out the plastic containers before placing them in the recycling bin, and that was new to me. Pointers to the local shops would be good, and yes, using up what s in the house is good, I did not want to use the existing supplies this is why I thought it was good to buy stuff. The bycicle repairs workshop would be good, but also handyperson services are generally in great demnand, help for pensioners and old people, wash their curtains for ten euros, clean their cellar or loft or windows, do some shopping or pet sitting or something. reading with interest how you find solutions.

sarah's picture

kiwi experiments

I'm totally pro boycotting Mr Albert Heijn unless imperative (or absolute craving!).

Buying local/organic really makes sense too. Maybe keeping a bit more track of what's in the fridge/cupboard could help? Like, for instance, looking at the different ingredients that are already available and look up if we can find an interesting way of using them even before going and buy something? (let's forget about the "kiwi jam", though ;) ) or using the left overs to make a different dish: you can put almost anything in a tart or an omelette, for instance.

Also, other existing sources of dumpster diving like university cafeterias, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, snack bars, bakeries, etc could perhaps help avoiding the till.

But it's true that to make these things work, it's probably important to agree on clear values first. I'm not too sure of what SHE exactly means either, to be honest!

atopia's picture



atopia's picture

One Advice, Space

My perceived mission of the Casa is to create / reclaim space for people to pursue their individual goals and projects.
Thus, for me the pop term "sustainable" means two things: most of all, a lot nomad space for a long time. As opposed to the usual restrictions on CS hospex for instance.
But I believe that sustainability also means that we make as little compromises as possible to our environmental and social goals, e.g. as opposed to a lot of the wonderful squats out there.
I agree with Davide that we should work towards a more defined culture of the place, even with small issues like conserving energy or plastic backs.
And I also think that we will have to work hard on redefining the Casa culture so it can sustain itself also on a financial level. So we somewhat a new level of sustainability is forced on us by the fact that we mostly squatted Robins place and it truly needs to become a place of its own now.

I experienced both sorts of restrictions on my current journey so I'm glad I can have a place like the Casa and I'm convinced we can make it financially sustainable.

dcarpano's picture

Good point.

I believe we must begin by chagning the way we eat.

All food that is not dumpter dove must be bought local/organic. Things such as coffee should only be purchsed fair trade. If today everyone changed the way they ate tomorrow the world would be a better place.

stove's picture

Glad this was brought up

As I was thinking about it, but have a few more pressing issues to deal with before I leave. My base question is, what is the MISSION/GOAL(s) of Casa Robino? How can everyone here, both those long-term and short-term, contribute to those goals?

robino's picture

sustainable hospitality.

Thanks Laura for bringing this up. I think it is important to keep on discussing this and to exchange our ideas and experiences, from close and also from far-away.

SHE as in sustainable hospitality exchange for me foremost is a concept to work with. What it actually means is something different for many people and there is no such thing as an one-dimensional answer to what it is, especially since it can mean many different things to different people.

For me it refers at first to sustainability in terms of hospitality, in terms of how a house works and the relationship between 'hosts' and 'guests' (on the personal level). There are many hosts out there who do a lot of hosting, but have not found a way this is also sustainable for them on a personal level. Some of these hosts have resolved this issue by not hosting so much, while others resolved this issue by hosting a lot and giving a lot, but still have not really found a way to empower their 'guests' in terms of household for example and participation in general.

In case of casarobino I think we solved this issue in a very clear way, by empowering people from the first moment they come in. But this could not have been possible without a very simple key element: guests who become hosts and people who stay long-term (so that there would not be just one host). There are basically three levels of people who come over in the house, those who visit (or stay short-term), those who stay mid-term, and those who stay long-term (or people who keep coming back). The dynamics between these three levels are essential and it is very important to keep this going.

Most places only have people who stay short-term, but we have opted for a combination of the different levels. This has also been key to be so successful in terms of sustainability. We have done this by giving space to full-time travelers and people who come to live in Amsterdam for a while (to study, to work). Whereas the first type of people can stay as long as they want, the second type of people cannot take the space for too long, as they are holding up space for the first type (the full-time travelers) and other people like themselves who want to find some space to relax before they can find something else. (The only reason why some people stayed longer than they needed, was because of the balance they bring in the house. And in my opinion there has been too many people in the house for a too long time, but apparantly it is needed?)

So if Matt asks me about the goal of the house (and the future), than I must answer that I don't really know. The goal/ mission of the house has for sure moved on a lot since we started and is per defition very dynamic. Is it just sustainable hospitality or is it more? Is it a space for social experimentation for so-called neo-nomadic people? Is it an incurbator for 'new' social ideas that can be spread and shared freely? Or is it something easier: to help creating ways of living that make us feel happy, together?

And then the future. At the moment I think things are cool, but we need to move on for sure. On the one hand I would like more/ deeper focus on learning/teaching/sharing, and have more sessions on project-orientated goals. I would like to have more theme-weeks/days and more people who come to stay for a certain period to work together for example, while also sharing a house together. I also would like to have focus on getting people to the house who would like to teach/learn how it is to live in a place like this and not just the people who think it is cool.

On the other hand though things still are as they always have been: in an experimental phase; we let the house define itself. And somehow I really like the experiment that is taking place right now also, how all current hosts and visitors use the house to its fullest by finding out new ways of doing stuff, by using it as a space to connect with other people and by learning how to share and live together, while at the same time be wonderfully hospitable to anyone who sets foot through the door. As an experiment this is a great thing which enlightened many people (including me) and empowered lots in terms of understanding what is possible within our own realm of changing the circumstances in which we live our lives (ie 'the world'). In that sense for example I really see the goal of the house rather in terms of creating sustainable forms of living together, with a special focus on traveler's/ nomadic culture.

Anyway, as also maybe a way forward, what would be nice to do is a new offline brainstorm of what people think is sustainable in the house and what isn't. Personally I think mostly in terms of hospitality though. For me this means for example, creating space by giving space, sharing the household-tasks, taking care of eachother, loving, hugging, caring, a quiet place to sleep for people who need it, intimacy, integrating every newcomer, taking initiative, ego-transparancy, etc. Take a look at the SHE-map in the kitchen-disco that Dante and I did last year for more terms. And if you would make a new tag-map, you could maybe even make a list of things that go well, what the house did/ means to you, and things that need improvement.

In terms of finances, I think we are on a good track by experimenting with new ways of helping each other, and we have enough time to come up with a system that works. Personally I do not think we have to pass the donation box around. We invite these people to come and eat, right? But maybe the current people in the house think differently. What could be an alternative to this though is a donation box with things written on it (a piece of paper maybe?) with information why people might consider donating, so you don't have to explain it and people don't have to feel bad about it. You just pass it around, from one person to the next, and you keep on passing it, until people feel it is enough.

In terms of environmental issues, I think we are doing very well. First of all, we are a vegetarian house (which reduces your carbon footprint amazingly) and we use 'green' or sustainable energy-sources. Secondly most of us travel lightly, and thirdly, we live from trash. Of course, we could recycle more, stop using toiletpaper, recycle better, use less less water (catching rainwater for plants, shower less and wash dishes intelligently), boycot the super-markets and go to the local farm and food-coop for our food. But overall it seems to me a pretty good track-record (and it is also good to not be perfect maybe, as this might turn into a negative thing in terms of dogmatically telling people how to do things).

All in all I am happy this issue has been brought up. I guess it is an indication that people have been talking more about it lately, which is a very good thing for our mutual understanding of what the fuck is this place all about, and how can we use models like this in order to create more sustainable housing situations for people like us (ah, maybe that is our goal?).

valentina's picture

I love this post because it

I love this post because it brings up a lot of reflections I had meanwhile living in the Casa, and even more, now that I am well far away.

I also personally conceive the idea of sustainable hospitality on a double level:

-sustainable in terms of environment (and here we do great but I agree with Laura and Sara that things should be bought locally and that money saved skipping the waste should be invested in better products)

-sustainable in term of personal relations and in the concept of space.
Here for space I mean several things
* space in physical terms (quality rather than quantity, not too many people so that the space is enough for everybody and is pleasant to live in)
*space in personal relations (no expectations, no lies, honesty with others and with yourself, promote space for discussions, give the space to others to comment and say what they think, space for self-expression on artistic, philosophical, emotional level, space for our neighbors to live their own space without be bothered by us...)
* space for personal individual development ( space as an intimate location: introspection, meditation etc.)

In general terms, I agree that a balance between short stay and long stay is necessary and healthy to the Casa as a whole and I don't think people should take the place for granted. It is nomadic right? It is temporary. it needs to move to be able to breath and change its colors.

In relation to what people can do with the Casa, what it means, what can be used for, I do believe it should be a place for sharing and mutual growth.
This includes sharing of skills, experiences, workshops etc. I think that eating together is an important part of Casa's life but it cannot reduce the activities connected to running the space. Cooking, cleaning and sharing meals is great but it should not be an obstacle in terms of time and effort to experiment other models and to invest energy in other activities.
What's about trying to have dinner earlier for example? So that there is more time for other things afterward (including some good rides around Amsterdam by bike).

Also, I think it would be good to have short events (2-3 days) where people interested in a specific topic or in sharing specific skills could use the Casa as a base to do so. This is something I would like to experiment in my house here (even if I live w 2 more people and reply it in a small space is rather difficult) : selecting hosts according to what I want to share/learn/exchange. I think that having some kind of focus and knowing what we want to learn and having a direction is also important and that intense experience sharing days are needed (thing about : learning?teaching how to repair bikes, guerrilla gardening, composting, art of recycling, photography, creating a blog etc...).

In terms of finances, I personally think that who can should give. With this I mean that who works ( and relatively also who studies) and stay for longer than one month, should feel to contribute in more relevant way to others to the financial sustain of the Casa. This essentially because who works or study have already foreseen to spend money on accommodation and the fact that there is Casa should not be felt as place where you can save money. Casa is never for us: always for the others. Casa is the place that you want to find everywhere, one day, when you will not able to afford anything. As far as you have, you should give. It is about mutual care and help. If I can afford to stay in another room elsewhere and I decide to stay at Casa, it is because I believe in the concept of it, so that I can spend what I would have spent somewhere else there. At the same time, contributing economically does not include any special privilege: everybody should be equally participant in terms of sharing responsibilities (especially in maintaining the house- cleaning and cooking) and spaces (no ownership over a room/bike should be allowed if not dictated by reasonable necessities - of course if someone works and has to get up, will deserve a better sleeping place than others).

Please, do not take what I am say in a personal level and do not take it literally: this was my personal approach and it is my personal believe, it does not involve any form of judgment.

At the same time, I don't think the donation box works well during Thursday dinners: I would rather see frequent visitors more involved in dumpster diving, washing dishes, bringing wine/beers/food goods that could limit expenses.
Make a list of things you need to buy and you would like them to bring:
soya milk, honey, far trade coffee, toilet paper, eco-washing soap, cheese, eggs, bread etc. everything you cannot dumpster dive and it is common use should be listed somewhere visible in the Zula and if short- mid term hosts, friends or visitors offer to bring something you can ask for one of these things.

Plus, a transparent donation system should be implemented on the website, or at least, a list of these common/frequent use goods should be always visible here. maybe we can get rid of BIKE STATUS (rarely updated) and WEATHER CONDITIONS...

We need more Casa bases around to grow. Let's experiment sustainable ways so that I can copy the results ehehehe...

Love you all (past, present and future Casa's people)