Sympoiesis Residencies: Being at home in troubled times


Life Itself is gathering groups and communities interested in radically committing, together, to be in kinship with our troubled world. We will respond to chaos together, with artistic and spiritual practice that includes deep attention to humble activities like breathing, cleaning and food. 

Under the banner of Sympoiesis, we are running a series of residencies and retreats that are a spiritual cooking-together of various ingredients: people, practices, workshops, art, community life and actual cooking. The ingredients are drawn by the opening of a space, a vacuum to be filled by people and practices too spiritual for politics, too “political” for the monasteries. The idea that life can be divorced from spirit is at the heart of our trouble. Let’s sit with this great trouble without giving into the narrowing impulse to “save the world.”

Each residency is a month long, the first starting in mid October 2021. Residencies combine both an activating frame of collective practices with the space for you to continue your daily work – a key aspect is learning how we can integrate community and practice, collective and private, absolute and relative in our daily life.

Key Information

  • What? Experiential collective residencies.These are an opportunity to explore the practices and social technologies we need to transform our reactivity and learn to work and live together.
  • How? Residencies combine both an activating frame of collective practices with the space for you to continue your daily work – a key aspect is learning how we can integrate community and practice with our daily life. Each residency is oriented around a key theme or question. See below for the detail of each residency.
  • Where? The Life Itself Praxis Hub, Bergerac, France (10km from Plum Village)
  • When? October 2021 to June 2022 
  • Who (is coming and can come)? We are open to all who wish to engage: system-thinkers, spiritual ecologists, bodhisattvas, change makers, symbiotic entrepreneurs, poets, painters, ecodharmists, people ready to just be with what comes, good and bad. 
  • How can I participate? Please apply online using the form below.
  • How much does it cost? Approx €350-550 per month / per person for room plus €210 for food (€7/day). Couples can share rooms at a substantially reduced rate. Financial assistance may be available.
  • More questions? See the FAQs below.


Communities interested to gather in the Bergerac Praxis Hub are invited to contact us for the rest of the schedule. 

  • Sympoiesis #1: Daily Collective Practices 15 Oct – 14 Nov
  • Sympoiesis #2: Contemplative Activism 15 Nov – 15 Dec 
  • Sympoiesis #3: Patterning Conscious Community 7 Jan – 5 Feb
  • Conscious Food Retreat: Culture Broth #1 10 Feb- 13 Feb
  • Sympoiesis #4: Collective Intelligence 15 Feb – 14 Mar 
  • Sympoiesis #5: Making Eco-Spirituality Accessible 24 Mar – 23 Apr
  • Conscious Food Workshop/Integration 25 April – 4 May      
  • Sympoiesis #6: Open for curation 15 May – 15 June 

Sympoiesis #1: Daily Collective Practices 15 Oct – 14 Nov 2021

Sympoiesis #2: Contemplative Activism- writing residency- 15 Nov – 15 Dec 2021

  • Question: what contemplation could bring to the current complexity of our time? 
  • Curation community: Contemplative Activism subgroup of Life Itself 
  • Guardians of the practice: Liam Kavanagh and Naresh Grandjiande 
  • Language: English 
  • Participation: Open application
  • More info about this residency: Sympoiesis #2: Contemplative activism – writing Residency

Sympoiesis #3: Patterning Conscious Community 4 Jan – 4 Feb 2022

  • Question: What are the patterns and practices to cultivate conscious community?
  • Curation community: Cultural Catalyst Network + Life Itself
  • Facilitators: Karl Steyaert & Rufus Pollock
  • Language: English
  • Participation: Open application
  • More info about this residency: Cultivating Conscious Community Residency – Jan 2022

Conscious Food Retreat: Culture Broth #1 – 10 Feb – 13 Feb 2022

  • Question: How do we seed new narratives through fermentation? 
  • Curation community: Life Itself  
  • Facilitator: Valerie Duvauchelle
  • Language: English and French
  • Participation: Open registration
  • More info about this residency: Conscious Food Retreat

Sympoiesis #4: L’intelligence collective – 15 Feb – 14 Mar 2022

  • Question: Quelles pratiques offre l’intelligence collective au service de la transition ? 
  • Curation communityMIC (maisons de l’intelligence collective )  
  • Hosts: Coomics (membres de la coopérative ) 
  • Language: français
  • Participation: ouvert à tou(te)s sur une partie de la résidence
  • Plus d’information sur cette résidence: l’intelligence collective au service de la transition

Sympoiesis #5: Making Eco-Spirituality Accessible – 24 Mar – 23 Apr 2022

Conscious Food Workshop / Integration- 25 Apr – 4 May 2022

  • Question: How to nourish community today for tomorrow?
  • Curation community: La cuisine de la bienveillance + Life Itself
  • Facilitators: Valérie Duvauchelle
  • Language: English and French
  • Participation: Open application
  • More info about this residency: Conscious Food Workshop

Apply Now

Sympoieisis*, “making together”. 

This concept, proposed by Donna Haraway, seemed appropriate at a time when, despite our best intentions, any attempt to do things together often leads to conflict. Whether in our personal relationships, our workplaces or in the most beautiful intentional community projects, violence, injustice and power dynamics inevitably come to the fore. 

Stuck in our perceptions, we are often the victim of the one we oppress, unable to get out of our crossed projections. 

So the question is how to deal with this dynamic which is part of our collective trauma and which is rooted in a culture of polarisation of which we are only the mirror? How do we get out of the paradigm of good and evil, of failure and success in order to stop feeding the injustice, violence and oppression in this world?

Rather than hope for a different future we start adapting deeply now, remaking the future sympoietically. We are being-with what is coming.,We create a frame of togetherness to adjust to the trouble.

 *A term that Donna Harraway developed in her book Staying with the Trouble which means: “interfacing between different viewpoints (and in fact disciplines of science) to establish a principle of collaboration (synergy) by which the expertise of either standpoint can be combined, and enhanced, to bring out new understanding.”

Why Sympoiesis residencies

We know that many of us are interested in the transition, the state of the world. In our own ways, each of us is sensitive to it and wants to contribute to it.

However, we see that whatever good intentions, either in our personal, work or community life our automatic mechanisms seem to bring us back to suffering, injustice and oppression.

It is becoming clear that we need collective bodies (communities, sangha etc) to transform those mechanisms through collective practices and new social technologies.

Life Itself is organizing a series of experiential (and experimental) collective residencies under the title of Sympoiesis where we can explore what practices and social technologies we need to transform our mechanisms and heal together.

Each residency will run for a month with the first starting in mid October 2021. Residencies combine both an activating frame of collective practices ( sitting, cooking, cleaning as the MVP) with the space for you to continue your daily work.

Common principles ( please read carefully):

  • Radical responsibility: being aware of one’s own needs but also those of the group.
  • Be aware that living together today is also learning to deal with powerlessness, difficulties, reactivities and that these residences are not made to cure, to support but to explore what one does in the difficulty precisely. Therefore we do not recommend these residencies to people who are emotionally fragile or in need of psychological support.
  • Understand that The Bergerac Hub is also a sanctuary for acknowledging the death of our food and asks residents not to bring in any product from animal life during their stay. This is not a claim to moral rights (one can go and enjoy delicious cheeses or other in town ) but simply the desire for a space of recognition honoring the sacrifice of all the lives taken for our food today. However if you have a medical condition which requires such food please share with us before.
  • Conscious Food is fully integrated in our vision and we are working to share a guidance that will help the collective body to be fully nourished ( in preparation is a pragmatical presentation about transformative cooking and eating practices )
  • Be aware of the 7 euro budget/day and not expect extravagant ingredients, gourmet sobriety is our ambition.
  • Take care to fully clean your room before departure. additional 20 euros will be asked in case you could not.
  • Please take in consideration the presence of a cat named Beauté who adopted the house 6 months ago. She does not sleep here neither go inside all house but rest in fire room during the day.
  • Please follow recommendations for our compost (only raw).
  • If possible, respond to Life itself’s request to collect echoes of what everyone has experienced during this time in residence in order to feed the Praxis Hub’s research on what defines a resilient community. A psychometric questionnaire designed with theInstitute of Personal Development Goals will also be offered to each of the participants who will have to answer this same questionnaire if they wish to do so at the beginning and at the end of the residency.

About Life Itself

Life Itself is a multidisciplinary network of pragmatic utopians. We are committed to practical action for a radically wiser, weller world. We create hubs, start businesses, do research and engage in activism to pioneer a wiser culture.

We are especially interested in investigating what is community today, creating centres of communal living, offering residencies and engaging in contemplative activism. We have hubs in Berlin, Bergerac and London. In the pipeline is the creation of a cooperative real estate investment fund (forecast 2022) and the renovation of a residential complex a few minutes from Plum Village the largest zen monastery in Europe.

About the Praxis Hub

The Bergerac Praxis Hub of Life itself is a new center devoted to the development and deepening of practices for psycho-spiritual response to our cultural situation: 

Emphasis will be put on those that embrace the difficult task of transforming our habitual ways of being and thinking, not by arguing with each other but engaging with ourselves and our conditioning, playfully, critically, experimentally. We can create new being together. We might call it a space for spiritual practices with political implications.  

The Hub is a residence at the service of change agents. A laboratory to test and develop collective practices that can support our capacity to be together in this time of complexity, both individually and collectively.

The Hub is an experiential place that seeks to highlight the activation process resulting from community. A proposal that aims to bring out another way of thinking and living in the world by questioning the relationship between the intimate and the collective along the question of identity.

Each month a group of residents will be invited to explore a question and will be asked to produce a text in order to share the fruit of their experience (open source). Each group will be able to draw on the research of the previous group to weave a collective tapestry in the realm of contemplative and social technologies.



Image Credits: Christelle Enault