Mark Boyle is better known as the Moneyless man. He lived over three years without earning or spending a penny. Now he has co-founded a community smallholding with free workshops, free education and free booze!
Based in Ireland, An Teach Saor, Gaellic for 'the free house', is a permaculture and gift-based smallholding.
The passion? Free food, free education, free shindigs, free thinking, free accommodation - even free booze!
Being the moneyless man, Mark and his team set about creating a free community space where people from all backgrounds (including you!) can meet, attend free workshops and courses, eat and drink, dance and perform music, play table tennis and pool, relax and take some time out, share skills and stories, all without a single penny changing hands. The smallholding and 'free pub' is even built from local, natural and recycled materials!
But the reality is that some materials, though recycled, are not free and others, like electrical cables have to be installed to a high standard to ensure the safety of the people using the pub. Mark therefore spent a week with Crowdfunder's MD Phil Geraghty at Schumacher College, Devon with the aim of learning the most suitable path for funding the project.
"We decided to try crowdfunding the project, wanting the smallholding to be a place where, if it were meant to be, it would be created by the people, for the people," says Mark. "If people don't share our passion for creating free spaces, then its time had not yet come. But if they also got as excited about it as we do, together we could create something that would serve people and planet for decades to come."
And the response was one that they could not have ever imagined!
Having been featured in everything from The Sunday Times, the Guardian and RTÉ News to Permaculture magazine and Positive News, not only did they successfully raise the funds required to build The Happy Pig - through the generosity of those who really got behind the campaign - they were invaded by an army of volunteers who came to learn how to create inexpensive buildings from local, natural materials like straw bales and cob.
Thanks to the supporters through crowdfunding, The Happy Pig has been transformed from an old pig shed into a shell for the free pub! All of which cost 11% of a conventional build. (See lead image.)
The Happy Pig before renovation.
A work in progress.
This time, they are fundraising (www.crowdfunder.co.uk/happypig) for the interiors - flooring and insulation, woodburner and boiler, plumbing, internal doors, bunk beds, fitting the kitchen and bar, the dorm room, the teacher's bedroom and the bathroom. The time they spend on it is a labour of love and given freely (on top of six months of their time). An Teach Saor have also donated about £3,000 themselves so far, so every penny you donate goes towards the build.
Once the interiors are finished - which they cautiously expect to be early autumn - they have some very exciting plans for the place.
"We want The Happy Pig, within the context of the whole project here, to become a place where people can freely explore wild food, forest gardening, gift economics, art, free education, home-brewing, music and language, philosophy, beekeeping, circus shenanigans, herbalism, perennials, natural building, no-dig annual vegetable production, writing, coppicing, storytelling, bushcraft, off-grid living and much more," says Mark.
"We want to bring some of the world's best teachers, thinkers and speakers here, so that everyone can get involved in the ecological, social, commmunity and spiritual issues concerning us. Based on a permaculture demonstration site, visitors can also discover how they can "close the loop" in everything they do, and help us explore how we can merge all of this into a more holistic and healthier culture. We need YOU in order to make this happen."
So if this idea excites or inspires you and you want to support it, these guys greatly appreciate all contributions towards it, however small or big.
And remember: as well as playing a huge role in making this project happen, and the fact you'll be able to come and visit here and attend events (or just a little break) entirely for free once it's done. Mark has lined up many fantastic new rewards to choose from!
– A one-day writing workshop with Man Booker Prize longlisted author Paul Kingsnorth
– A one-day wild and natural dye, pigment for paint and wild-crafted paintbrush workshop with Fergus the Forager
– A weekend for you and up to 10 friends at The Happy Pig, here at An Teach Saor
– An invite to a permaculture feast, and the launch party!
– Personalised copies of his forthcoming book (out August 2015), Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi, and/or The Moneyless Man and The Moneyless Manifesto
– Hula-hooping workshops, native trees planted, tours of An Teach Saor, your own home-brew ...
For more information and to support the project visit: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/happypig
His latest book Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi is out now for a special price of £8.20
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