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Abrazo House

Books & writing

Two books and a selection of published articles, poems and other writing, by the creators of Abrazo House

Abrazo House: learning in nature

By Robert Alcock & Almudena Garrido, 2016. 50pp. In English and Spanish.

Tells the story of the first ten years of Abrazo House, from vision to reality.

The Island that Never Was: An English castaway in Bilbao

By Robert Alcock, 2015. 80pp. In English, Spanish and Basque.


The Island that Never Was is a memoir of 15 years in the dream life of a neighbourhood that remains unknown territory, even for many residents of Bilbao. The book contains diverse characters including Berthold Brecht and Zaha Hadid, lizards and kingfishers, Gargantua and the beast with a thousand eyes, squatters and graffiti artists, speculators and creatives. It’s also the story of some alternative futures—consensual, habitable, green, sustainable—dreamt up by the residents, when faced with an official future projected from without. It’s an act of memory in the face of the bulldozers, an attempt to tell a few small truths in the era of the big lie.

A story you need to read and enjoy… a fascinating and heartening tale of the power we have but spend so much time convincing ourselves actually lies elsewhere” — Rob Hopkins, Transition Network

Fascinating… reminds us once again that everywhere – every district, every estate, every village, every town – has its story … and that what makes a community is worth fighting to protect.” — Paul Scraton, Elsewhere: a Journal of Place

Poems, Fiction, Drama

by Robert Alcock

Rebellious Elements: Script. An interactive theatre piece about the climate crisis, for young people. It deals with the stories we live by, often without even realising it; and asks: can we change the outcome of these stories, and if so, how? 

Four young people are involved—some intentionally, others by chance—in a mass protest/ demonstration, which is brutally suppressed by the police. All four escape to a warehouse where they meet an enigmatic storyteller who tells them four traditional folk tales, each relevant in some way to their (and our) predicament. But can they control how the stories are resolved, or are they caught in the storyteller’s web?

Rebellious Elements: Audio excerpt (21min) from the radio play version directed by Rebecca Kilbey and featuring members of the Edinburgh Community Adult Drama Class. Released in November 2020 after live rehearsals and performance were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Bereaved: a poem with 87 artworks from the 87 Beavers art-action, an exhibition of beaver artwork to commemorate the 87 “protected” beavers killed under license from the Scottish Government, during May-December 2019. “Bereft, bereaved, the river grieves her eager lover, her healer, her sculptor.” Written July 2020.

Down the Waterslide. A darkly humorous tale about the pandemic. “You picture Mother Nature sitting at her cluttered desk typing up the letter, tutting to herself in frustration: what kind of irresponsible morons are they, anyway? Can’t they see their so-called civilisation is trashing the place?” For Dark Mountain blog, March 2020.

Windfall plums: a few words about haiku. An essay with nine original haiku. Published in Dark Mountain 10, autumn 2016. Last summer, out of the blue, I started writing haiku again.”

On our way to the revolution. Poem about (and read at) the 15M assembly in Bilbao, may 2011. Published in Dark Mountain 3, summer 2012. “When we got to the revolution there were so many people, we couldn’t find it…”


by Robert Alcock

Hearts of Oak: Towards a deep recipe for acorn bread.  For many thousands of years, wherever oaks grew, acorns (‘oak-corns’) were a staple food for people. Balanophagy, the eating of acorns, can be seen across a wide range of cultures since earliest prehistory.” Article for Dark Mountain blog, October 2020.
Choose Oil / Choose Life. Some thoughts on art, direct action and addiction, based on the famous “Choose Life” speech from Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. “At this point, there are no easy choices. Scotland is both user and pusher, the biggest oil producer in Europe; and kicking the oil habit will be no easier and no prettier than coming off heroin.” Article for XR Writers Rebel, October 2020.
A Pinch of Salt: Where next for Extinction Rebellion in the UK?.“It seems to me that XR-UK themselves are in need of a lighthouse. They urgently need to get their bearings before they end up on the rocks.”

 A Salute to the School Strikers from an Extinction Rebellion activist and father. “If anyone had told me back then that we’d be in this predicament now, I think I would have done less studying and more protesting.” For Bella Caledonia, February 2019.
Of Sun, Rain, and Anti-Utilitarianism. A review of Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era, Routledge (2015) Ed. Giacomo D’Alisa, Federico Demaria & Giorgos Kallis, for the Dark Mountain blog. “…precious few political figures dare admit openly that the sacred cow of GDP needs to be slaughtered as quickly as possible. And little wonder, when the alternatives to ‘growth for the masses’ are almost invariably presented as dark, apocalyptic, and deeply unappealing.”
A calendar / mandala celebrating natural cycles. “Since I couldn’t find any round calendar designs that I liked, I decided to go ahead and make my own…” Article presenting a design for a round calendar.
Thin blue line: Sea level rise and the new intertidal city. “The intertidal city will play host to a different project: a cultural transformation of the relationship between human beings and the sea.” Essay published in Dark Mountain, autumn 2014.
Build your dream house with no mortgage. “If you want decent housing without mortgaging your life away, you may need to consider radical alternatives.” Article published in Permaculture magazine 80, summer 2014.
Land and freedom: Low impact building in the “other” Spain. “A growing neo-ruralist movement is repopulating this “other” Spain…” Article published in The Land magazine issue 16, summer 2014.