Can Decreix

A place to practice degrowth started by members of Research & Degrowth.

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8 years that we have developed Can Decreix, a place for degrowth in practice at the border between France and Spain, between sea and Pyrenees. Many meetings took place here, 5 times the summer school, a French national meeting on degrowth, Growl, Beyond our Backyard, many workshops, so many visitors came here!

During 8 years we have been all the way for degrowth in a local living experiment. Trying to put forward the different values behind degrowth in practical terms too. We know very well that degrowth is a systemic change, that involves political action at large scales too, but also at local scale.

Living degrowth now means envisioning another reality. We cannot experiment global changes, but we can experience a bit of what needs to be done at large scales, as some of the issues that we find at small scale will be found at larger scale too.

The experience of Can Decreix is not about about fitting into a new rigid framework, the framework we propose precisely enables to rethink regularly options for degrowth in practice in the given local context, by integrating feedbacks of how to take care even better of each others, ourselves, as well as the surrounding and global environments. So if you come to Can Decreix, be ready to experiment something new.

Living permanently are Alexandra and François.

What are key practices of Can Decreix, which make it a special place? Let us mention a few.

  • We cook with solar ovens in summer
  • Stoves in winter serve to cook and heat the rooms in the same time, they are fuelled by renewable means: with wood that would otherwise be wasted or burned outside, and we avoid heating for nothing the sleeping rooms.
  • We live without a car by choice, even the work of the vines are done without petrol. Instead we use and support the intense use of train and bicycles. We made a deliberate choice to be close to a countryside train station.
  • We actually eat or compost all our food.
  • We radically and preventively avoid the pollution of water, whether by soaps, toilets, detergents, cosmetics, food rests, chemicals etc. and have established systematic irrigation with greywater.
  • We avoid the use of toxic products and favour local ingredients, whether in construction, for cleaning, for agriculture, for cooking…
  • We make cleaning products with plants, ash, clay, or sand.
  • We recover and use rainwater.
  • We primarily take care, repair, reuse all the quality objects that we use.
  • We systematically use recycled materials from elsewhere, and recycle or compost our own waste, in a vision of reuse cascades. We renovate existing buildings rather than contributing to new urbanizations.
  • We compile and document our discoveries, and inform ourselves about previous experiences: we do not reinvent the wheel every time.
  • We make extensive use of local wild plants, developing many recipes, including food preservation, for food, medicine, construction etc.
  • We develop an intense knowledge of the local beyond the property boundaries whether it is about linking with the inhabitants of Cerbère or exploring the surrounding nature.
  • We put forward dance, music, singing, contact as important ingredients of frugal innovation.
  • We experience a lot about horizontal organization and governance. We think emotions are expressions of deep necessities and all of them have their positive sides.
  • We dare to assert our ideas without closing ourselves, explaining our point of view simply and we like to listen and get feedback to improve the care of each others and of our surroundings and global environments.

But more than the simple sum of all this we combine, we live it, we develop a different way of life, it is a kind of degrowth system adapting to changing conditions.