Het Kloosterbos: Meeting Ground for Hospitality


Permaculture’s seed: questioning the sense and sanity of the civilised Australian agricultural food system (David Holmgren1(Permaculture One: A Perennial Agriculture forHuman Settlements. David Holmgren & Bill Mollison. 1978. In 2011, David provides more insight … Continue reading). The answer of permaculture (= permanent agriculture = the enduring domestication of nature) is still agriculture, albeit pre-industrial.2Permaculture One: A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements. Bill Mollison & David Holmgren. 1978. “1.0 Introductory Comment. … Continue reading

The outcome is inevitably the same: the ultimate collapse of human mental health. This is because it doesn’t address the root mental pathology that resulted in the concept of agriculture: civilisation. This led me to look for the deeper questions of the mental health of humanity, as individuals and collectively.

One answer lies in the liberation of people and their companion creatures. Het Kloosterbos is a place and process of liberation: feral design, rewilding by design, graceful collapse. 

Het Kloosterbos is a feral meeting ground, practising freedom, equality and hospitality. Being free, equal and hospitable takes practice after 10 millennia of civilisation. Making mistakes is inevitable, but that is how we learn together to find a new common meeting ground in diversity. 

Heart of the Matter:
Universal Transcendence 

At the heart of it all is the realisation that models, principles and design are arbitrary abstractions, tools of domestication. They also provide us with the tools to notice freedom by contrast. Letting go of the preconceptions and accepting the wonder and abundance of reality are what liberates us. Feral design can lead us there. You can also skip the design, innovations and arduous pathways of political and environmental activism and just let go of civilised life. Go with the flow. Be one. Be all. 

Life is Transformation 

Life is the ongoing process of transformation of ambient matter driven by ambient energy. In other words: life is all about food and feeding. You transform other beings into you and vice versa. Death is transformation. Feeding is transformation. Food is beings in transformation. 
Real Life is not a competition. The concept of competition with its implied concepts of winners and losers, and gains, losses and profits is an arbitrary and fictional invention of civilisation. The rest of nature just doesn’t work that way. In transformation nothing is lost, just changed.


The base state of being for humans if to be free, equal and hospitable.
The base state of being for civilisation is control through competitive segregation and coercive control. In this in-sane scenario, nature is considered inferior and subservient to the whims of human superiors. Once on the path of separating superior from inferior, we separate humans from nature and inferior humans from superior humans in a fractal hierarchy. There is an inevitable causal connection with the advent of agriculture: a phenomenon where a community of people settled in one place, where they could grow carbohydrate rich domesticated crops and feed domesticated animals for food. “Growing” food enables a few people to feed many more then by foraging, while you can accumulate and store food for later. Here lie the seeds for the separation of humans from nature, the segregation of producers from consumers and the concept of profit: producing more than the producer needs to feed themselves. “Everything that follows, is a result of what you see here3I, Robot. Asimov. 1950. There is only one outcome: civilisation. It makes everybody unhappy. Reclaiming our humanity and its mental health, requires reclaiming our innate freedom, equality and hospitality. 

Meeting Ground Het Kloosterbos: 
Pleisterplaats (way station) for Mobile Lifestyles

Let go of having a house (domus, domicile), a permanent address. Go where the food is and move on with the seasons, as any sensible being does. Choosing the feral path is choosing a mobile lifestyle. To facilitate mobile lifestyles and to restore nature’s capacity for hospitality, I propose a network of way stations, pleisterplaatsen, meeting grounds for travellers. 

Het Kloosterbos is conceived as one of those places. A marginal space, between the city and the relative wilderness of rural Brabant. A place abandoned by its “owners”, designated with unprofitable zoning (social use, not residential, commercial or agricultural, not a nature reserve). Now it is a place of learning (to rewild), biodiverse restoration and climate adaptation. Now it is a place where you can imagine leaving civilisation and having a brief moment of sanity, of being a free human in free nature. A meeting ground of free, equal and hospitable life. 

This article was first published in Meeting Grounds – Reader Four: The Community Garden. Amy Gowen (ed). June 2021. Onomatopee. Eindhoven.

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