Kailash youth residency
Kripa (26, born in Auroville) and Jean-Francois (32, born in France), are both trained social workers and counselors, and Mark (30, born in the Netherlands), have instigated an interesting project stemming from the strong urging of some of Auroville's youth. They tell you here about the experiment.
The Kailash project was born on the 22nd September 1998 when a group of Auroville teenagers were dreaming of having a place to live on their own, away from their parents, to learn how to be responsible for their own actions and lives. They came over to our house, and asked us to help them make this dream into a reality. Ever since then, we've been working very hard to make it happen, and today, a bit more than two years later, the second floor of their dreamed home is about to be completed.
Kailash is to be a residency for Aurovilian youth from the age of 14 to 21. It can host up to sixteen people, as there will be twelve single rooms and two double rooms. The entire ground floor is collective space (kitchen, dining, TV/video, study and library room), and the two top floors are individual rooms with a small terrace, but with common bathrooms and toilets.
The condition for living in Kailash is to be involved in an educational process in Auroville, meaning either through work, at school or in an apprenticeship. This will not just be a place for the youth to 'hang out'; on the contrary, it will be a place for them to live in, to make it their home, to work out agreements among themselves, to organise their own lives. There will be no adults living on the spot, but there will be adults daily involved, very much alert and responsible for the project in its entirety (youth, building, work, and continuity).
With the financial help of friends who saw the value of this experiment, we were able to start (who knows, maybe the youth will find THE formula for living together in harmony? We laid the foundation stone on the 28th of February 2000, and had an Open Day in the building for the community at large on 28th February 2001. From the original ten dreaming teenagers, six are still with us, having taken part in all the different stages of the process - the planning, the lobbying and the fundraising, while also participating in the construction process itself. More kids have joined, others are interested and follow the development from a close distance. Next season the kids will move in.
No imposed or meaningless rules
What is original or experimental in this project? Well, there is no precedent for such a residency in Auroville, as yet! The approach to the work and the collaboration with the youth in this place, where no adults are actually living, are quite experimental, even for Auroville. The adults working in Kailash have the responsibility not to impose any rules or arrangements without explanation and/or agreement with the kids. They are to be only facilitators, indirectly channeling and 'steering' the collective life of this youthful community. This is done so as to make it possible for the teenagers to have an opportunity to integrate the meaning and relation of cause and effect between things, and to learn the consequences of what they put forward. They don't just simply accept or refuse an outside 'imposed and meaningless' rule, but are enabled to make their own 'meaningful' rules regarding their personal lives in a collective context.
Space for research in living
There should be space for research and experimentation amongst these young participants, a space to juggle from personal/inner to collective/outward experiencing. That's why the building has been designed in a way that permits both individual and collective aspects of the being to be fulfilled. This is also the reason why it is crucial that there won't be adults around during all 24 hours of the day. In a group that varies from 14 to 21 years of age, a sort of family set-up may emerge, where the older ones have responsibility towards the younger.
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