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Christina and her dog enjoying sunset. Christina was born in Bembibre, the nearest village to Matavenero. She moved to Matavenero in 1991, after meeting the people of Matavenero on a market in Bembibre. Christina is the head of the communal garden and owns the grocery store.

A drawing of early Matavenero in the 90s, when the pioneers lived in teepees and tents.

Antoni grew up in a nearby Spanish city. 6 years ago he decided to move to Matavenero and bought this house from its former owner.

The house where Jürn lives

Jürn is a German who joined the village in 1996. He walked across different European countries before stumbling upon Matavenero.

Leoni has been born in Matavenero in 1992 and has lived there ever since. Her three months old baby is already a third generation of children to appear.

House of Leoni

Nicolas getting ready for a hot water shower, which works on solar energy

Dani is 28 years old and grew up in Barcelona. He moved to Matavenero four years ago to find a place where he could work peacefully on his drawings and paintings. He recently became a published artist.

The communal sauna was one of the first constructions being built in Matavenero. It was mainly built to beat the cold winter blues.

Uli, one of the German people who founded the village back in 1989.

Uli's House

Clara was born in Vienna, Austria, and moved to Matavenero 10 years ago to live with Uli.

Nicolas lived in Valencia, before moving to Matavenero only 10 months ago. All new residents are expected to spend at least one year living in Matavenero before being eligible to stay in the community. Nicolas is a bird enthusiast and spends every morning observing birds.

This house belongs to three sixteen-year-old punks, in which they sleep and make acoustic punk music.

Stack of toys from a Danish family living in Matavenero

Cleo, 14 years old, was born in Matavenero and is the only girl her age in Matavenero.

The path to Poibueno, Matavenero's sister eco-village, down in the valley below.

Story: Last spring I travelled to an eco-village called Matavenero in Léon, an isolated mountainous region in northwest Spain. Just getting there involved a challenging three-hour hike through dense forest – there are no roads leading to the settlement, so travelling in a motorised vehicle is impossible.

Matavenero was abandoned in the late Sixties when villagers went in search of work in urban centres. But in 1989 an international mix of independently minded people who wanted to live simply in harmony with nature began to repopulate the area.

The community has grown to attract people from all over Europe and today there are approximately 60 inhabitants (including a dozen children) most of whom are German, Spanish, French and Danish.

Matavenero’s residents have chosen to settle in the eco-village for varied reasons, but they all share a common vision. These are people who have shied away from the hustle of modern efficiency and consumption in order to exist in a self-sufficient and environmentally conscious manner.

The utopic vision of Matavenero might seem unrealistic to some. But when documenting the everyday lives of the villagers, I found I couldn’t feel anything but admiration for their persistence and commitment to transforming their values into reality.

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