We spent years wishing for a place to think, discuss, create and play in the middle of the mountains. Now we have it: our escòla in Ariège, in the quietest and hippiest part of the French Pyrenees, where it’s only a mild exaggeration that you might encounter more bears than tourists.
The dream is to become the ideal mixture of a science lab, an artist residency, an eco-conscious commune and a base camp for the alpine-minded. The reality is getting there slowly.
1) We are not a business, we are an "association" (a nonprofit) and our activity does not generate income, hence we cannot offer wages for your help. We are however very happy to host and feed our helpers, take them on hikes and invite them to attend whichever activities may take place here.
2) We try to have people come for 2 weeks max as a baseline. If everything goes well for both sides and it doesn't prevent other people from coming, we can always think about extending later!
3) Our activity just started in November 2020, so if you come in '21, you will see the early stages of our project, where we still try to figure out how to make it all work!
4) COVID INFO: We are currently asking everyone to be vaccinated for everyone's safety.
**** Who are we? ****
We are Yuval, Matthieu, Jeff, Azenor and Ben from France, Israel and other exotic locales.
All of us are scientists or interested in science, gravitating around ecology, math and the human mind.
We also care about much more: climbing mountains, playing music and games, writing books and songs and programs, cooking and gardening, and everything in-between.
When our activity starts, we will also regularly have guests – scientists and creators – coming to stay with us and work individually or in groups. What we ask of them is to share some of their knowledge by teaching, giving seminars, etc. and all our helpers are very welcome to benefit from this as well.
**** Who are we looking for? ****
This is a big project (a very large house, a small house, and a fair bit of land), and all kinds of helping hands are welcome. If you like the mountains, or you are intrigued by our weird concept, or both, feel free to reach out to us.
A big plus – though not a requirement – is your interest in taking part in the intellectual or artistic aspects of the project.
In particular, we believe that, of all creative activities, science remains too isolated from society at large. If you can write or play music on your spare time, why couldn’t you advance human knowledge a little? So if you feel like discovering your inner scientist, or you just think it’s fun to live with a bunch of people who want to learn and create stuff together, we hope this can be the place for you.
**** How to get here? ****
You can land at Toulouse airport (many international flights & domestic flights from Paris). From the Toulouse train station, you can take an hourly regional train (90 minutes, 10 or 18 euros). We will come pick you up at the station in Tarascon-sur-Ariège, 5 minutes away from the house (or Foix if necessary).
**** Other details ****
Researchers and creators will be working and living here, and groups may come for retreats and seminars. The one and only rule we have is: all fun is welcome, as long as it does not interfere with our central and unique activity. There are many great communal living spaces around in the Pyrenees, while there is only one science collective (that we know of!)
Aide avec des éco-projets
Bricolage et projets de construction
Aide à la maison
If you would like to learn, discuss or teach ecology, mathematics, physics, anthropology, linguistics or cognitive science, we have people staying or passing through the escòla who are mostly too humble to claim to be international experts (or are they?).
If you are looking for hikes, climbs, paragliding, we’ll have people doing that practically every sunny day. You can jam with us, paint with us, or pester us to learn a bunch of languages including Hebrew and a bit of Sanskrit.
WARNING: As stated above, we are a nonprofit and not making any income, so we cannot offer wages, but we have lots of other perks for helpers.
We have 1.2 hectares of land, including a vegetable garden, bushes, fruit trees, etc. that await your green thumbs and your motivation.
-- Handiwork and maintaining the center
Chopping wood, helping with painting, cleaning, and generally fixing stuff. No large work is planned at the moment (masonry, carpentry, etc.), but if you have special skills in that domain, do let us know!
-- Making the center more eco-friendly
We are quite conscious of ecological issues – some of us even research them – so our electricity comes from a renewable provider, we burn local wood for heating, make compost and so on. But there’s still a lot to be done: grey water reuse, producing a larger fraction of our own food, etc.
-- Making the center more beautiful and interesting
We welcome creative input! We can make plans together and build a zen garden, a pond, a trellis, or all sorts of indoor decorations, because there’s nothing nicer than a beautiful environment for thinking about the universe and life in general.
As noted above, we would also enjoy it very much if you felt free to participate not only in the material aspects of the project, but also in our scientific and/or artistic endeavors.
The center comprises three main spaces (in total, a dozen rooms can be used for accommodation)
* The Workshop: the central meeting and working space with a bunch of extra rooms.
* The Base camp: a communal living space for up to 5-6 residents
* The Hermitage: a small independent house for up to 2-3 guests
Helpers will be fed! Food is vegetarian (though we won’t object to you eating meat) and generally communal, rotating cooks.
Other perks include:
* A large garden with vegetables & fruit trees, sloping down to a river
* A saltwater swimming pool
* A gym area next to the pool for sport-ish activities, yoga, climbing practice, etc.
**** The area ****
The escòla is located in Surba, Ariège:
* 5 minutes away from civilization (Tarascon-sur-Ariège)
* 15 minutes away from Foix, with its cultural activity and castle
* 10-30 minutes away from ski slopes, prehistoric caves, and some of the best climbing spots in Ariège and the Pyrenees
* 1h away from Toulouse, Carcassonne, Andorra and a whole bunch of Cathar castles
Trains run to Tarascon-sur-Ariège and Foix from Toulouse (or Andorra), and we will pick you up when needed or lend you a bike, as well as inviting you to join on hikes and other adventures.
**** Expectations ****
As noted above, this remains first and foremost a place for science. Researchers will be coming from far away to work on their projects and exchange with us, and other activities should not interfere with that. But as long as this first objective is preserved, our second objective is leading a fun life in the mountains. You are very welcome to contribute to these two aims however you wish!
Accès Internet limité
Nous avons des animaux
Nous sommes fumeurs
We have DSL and wifi, as our own work also requires a reliable connection. There are plans for optic fiber in the area within a year or two.
Animals are generally welcome as long as they can coexist with the standing biodiversity: we host scientists, a cat, an occasional mare and a rotating cast of wild birds, squirrels and the occasional errant boar in our garden. If your pets make it difficult for any of these species (especially the scientists) to survive, we may not be able to accept them.
Plus de 2
Maximum 3 hours a day, 5 days a week
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