Viviane Dalles

Photo Essay : - The Arch, France, 2010 ongoing

A Society within the Society,

Gandhi’s Philosophy established in the Larzac*

France, 2010 - ongoing

In the early 30s, Lanza Del Vasto, a Sicilian poet and philosopher, decided to go to India in order to seek a new form of Society. In 1937, he was faithfully introduced to Gandhi who became his mentor. From this important period of his life, Lanza Del Vasto had the goal to set up a micro society in which the Non-violence and the Desobedience concepts advocated by the Father of the Indian Nation, would underpin a new way of Life.

In 1948, Gandhi was assassinated in India by Nathuram Godse, an activist. Lanza Del Vasto, back in France, created the ARCH community.

The Arch community settled in the South of France at the border between the Herault and Aveyron s departments in La Borie Noble, a big farm in ruins. In this hilly country, cut off from the modern world, Lanza Del Vasto and a group of people eager to attempt a new way of life renoved the farm and started organizing a micro society. Since then, the Arch Community concept has spread through not just France but also in Germany, in Spain, in Italy and in South America.

The Arch community doesn’t stick to some stereotypes witnessed in the late 60s, assimilated with a hippy attitude and utopic ideas about the World, they denote with a strong engagement writing in History: the Sermon of the 103, launched by Lanza Del Vasto to protect the Larzac when the governement was about to extend the military camp in the 70s, their support to the Palestinian cause or the volunteers reapers of GMO in 2003 on Jean-Baptiste Libouban’s initiative.

In 2013, the Arch Community still exists and is still following Lanza Del Vasto’s philosophy:

Work in community, self-sufficiency in food, respect of the environment, tolerance on religious and politicals point of view, refuse any dependance from the Society (such as the Active Solidarity Income - RSA- in France), exclusion of any form of fanatism and sectarism.

In summury, a micro society within the Society.

*The Larzac is a limestone karst plateau in the south of the Massif Central, France, situated between Millau (Aveyron) and Lodève (Hérault).

Reflexions on a portrait of Gandhi, of women sewing traditional mat in the meditation room.
  
Catarina, going to feed the hens.
  
Yurec
     
  
Catarina working in the garden, her favourite place…
  
Marie André washes clothe of her family every Tuesday at the wash house no matter the season. For her it doesn’t mean being “out of touch” but keep simple and essential contact with the different naturals elements such as Water, Stone, Wood and Fire reflecting a poet way to work.
  
Priscillia, playing banjo during nap time.
     
  
The Arch community is located in a remote valley, in the Herault region.
  
A priest giving a mass at Catarina and Yurec s house.
  
Priscillia is washing the vegetables for lunch. Everything a different person is in charge of the cooking.
     
  
Straw collection. Everyone is welcome to share in the daily life of the community. They are given shelter and food and in return, people participate in the community works.
  
Jean Leboeuf, Pilgrim of the Arch community, has been part of it for the last 40 years.
  
Straw collection. Everyone is welcome to share in the daily life of the community. They are given shelter and food and in return, people participate in the community works.
     
  
Every evening, at dawn, the community gather around a fire to pray. Although all people within the community are Christians,  people from others religions can join them.
  
Candles at night. There is no electricity except in the common rooms such as the kitchen or the meditation room.