First Work Action at ISSA

Today was a particularly weird but fun and productive day.

After days and days of a terrible heatwave – another sign from the future of the impending climate collapse – that was affecting every possible aspect of our day-to-day life, including sleep (temperatures around 30°C during the night), we finally went up to our hills.

It was six in the morning, but the sun was already up there, waiting for us to heat us up. “You fucking idiot, can this be true?” – my inner voice hit me around 7:30 when my phone fell into the traditional Dalmatian cistern (“gustirna”) behind the house. It was – to be completely honest – a long-awaited sense of liberation but at the same time, I ruined our collective plan for our first day of actual work.

Instead of making the most out of the early morning before the heat became unbearable to actually do something concrete, we now had to handle, not only my unexpected “reset” (losing all my data, contacts), but also the fact that the bloody lithium battery might poison our water tank.

So, while Saša was working around and inside the stone house, Predrag and I had to return to Komiža to get the ladder, hoping at the same time it will fit through the narrow opening of the “gustirna”. We returned an hour later ready to find the phone in the complete darkness of the water-filled cistern. I climbed into the dark space and tried but, alas, failed again, so Predrag went in and finally recovered the phone. The phone no longer works, but we finally could.

Saša working on our first “suhozid” (dry stone wall)

First, we started by cleaning up the old stone house, which included removing broken roofing tiles and a few centimetres of soil with roots, probably created by decades of slow decay or rather, nature’s return to the abandoned remnants of human life. The last time humans used this object and cultivated this land in the hills was, according to the family that used the land, some 50-60 years ago.

Before we decided to start with the house, we considered cleaning up some of the terraces on the land in order to set up tents – we wanted to be able to oversleep and work from first thing in the morning, but we realized very quickly that the most practical first step was to clean the house and simply start from here.

Everything built on the Adriatic islands has been built mindfully – behind everything there is a reason. And even though a couple of centuries have passed, that reason most likely still holds true. The position of the house towards the wind, the stone wall without windows, the shadows of the tree in front of the house.

In the next few days, we will continue our work on the stone house, remove the broken roof, cover it temporarily with a tarp, clean the house, and its immediate surroundings further. At the same time, we will need time to map the terrain and zone it, first to find the best place for tents that can be used for those working in the hills and then for a permaculture garden, compost, the compost toilet system and so on.

Here’s what it looks after the first day of work action: