Banana Mountain was initially planned as a short term informal project; a way to extend a piece of theoretical research into co-creation in facilitated groups of children while enjoying spending time with and offering opportunities to young people and families we knew and loved.
The process proved incredibly joyful and rich with potential. Something very special was happening here which was worth nurturing. Instead of returning to full time research and travel as planned, Luke and Nilda agreed to the group’s request to continue the project and see where the process of co-creation would lead.
The following months were pure magic. Incredible projects emerged from free interactions between members of the group and the site. Structures - physical and social - were constructed, tested, deconstructed and reconstructed. A collective culture and identity took form. Bit by bit a group of connected but separate individuals became a dynamic living community.
The time of Corona has been challenging. As a private extracurricular group we have been subject to the rules for private gatherings which change unpredictably. What a community needs more than anything is to be together. Since March 2020 this has often been impossible. This could easily have been the end of Banana Mountain.
It is testament to the strength of our project that after over a year of severe restrictions and long periods of time apart our community is more unified than ever. While Covid-19 has often kept us separate, it has also brought us closer together and clarified our future plans. In a time of crisis and uncertainty, the absolute necessity of projects like ours is clearer than ever.
Since late 2020 we have been working hard to build a secure, sustainable co-created school which can support young people of Las Alpujarras for many years to come. This is no easy task, but with our combined energy and experience, assistance from friends and collaborators near and far, and a forward thinking town hall explicitly supportive of well constructed alternatives to mainstream school, we feel confident of success.
Until now we have had neither the legal capacity nor the infrastructure and resources necessary to take responsibility for the education of young people. The small things we have been able to do - offer space, time, and support for play and community life - have proved astonishingly rich. As we work towards creating our school, which will be so much richer, the knowledge of how much was created from so little sustains, nourishes and inspires us to keep working to create more.