# 17 - Make Yourself (Damanhur pt. 2)


"So, we all just... tried - all together, cooperating and bringing out the best in each other," explained Formica Coriandola, founder of Damanhur's laboratory of art and a prolific artist and researcher herself. She took me under her wing during my stay with the community. She smiled as she spoke, as she always smiled when she spoke, warm and present. She was talking about the building of the temple, but also about the building of the community.

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MAKE YOURSELF - Damanhur pt. 2

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Today, Damanhur is a federation of ecological and spiritual communities in Northern Italy - 15 kilometers of eco-housing, organic agriculture and artistic creations, draped over the gorgeous green valley of Valchiusella, Piedmont. Over 40 years in the making, this collective community of 600 people have created its own culture, spiritual philosophy, currency, technology and styles of art, music and dance in an effort to foster human potential and a symbiotic relationship with the natural world. Having received the United Nations Award for Sustainable Communities in 2005, Damanhur serves as a hope-giving social, economic and ecological model for peaceful societies everywhere.

Valchiusella

Thousands of visitors come each year for seminars, retreats and full courses through Damanhur University. Courses include sustainable living, community building, and alternative methods for healing, personal growth and wellness. And if you're into the esoteric, you've hit the jackpot: courses in dreaming, alchemy, esoteric physics and even magic.

Damanhur's experimental science research is turning heads as well, including an innovative approach to understanding the capacity of plants to communicate with their surroundings, including people.

"This is how we are living in Damanhur. We are self-made in everything," Formica and I now strolled through the paths of Damjl, the central territory of Damanhur, surrounded by columns and hand-carved statues. "We believe that we can create impossible dreams, such as the temple, together."

The Damanhurian philosophy of community is that the well of human values and cultivable skill is deeper than we can realize on our own. "We are always educated (in the world) to not trust our potential," Formica explained. "If you're not a good singer, or if you don't know how to draw, you may be shy to try. But when you create a field of trust in a community, the trust of the others allows you to create something that by yourself you would never have done."

Formica is a prime example. She was an electrician with no artistic background when she arrived 33 years ago. "I started trusting my own potential," she said. "I can really do a lot of things that I never supposed." During our tour of the temple, she casually pointed out her stained-glass work. I was blown away: huge, intricate ceilings and doors that rivaled stained-glass pieces I've seen in fine-arts museums and famous churches. I told her so - she just laughed. "You can learn!"