It has been already a month since I came back from Torri Superiore. However, it feels like it happened yesterday. The reason why I went there is because I had the chance to be involved in an Erasmus+ Training Course organized by “Yes to Sustainability” and I wanted to learn skills and tools to better deal with challenges in my community in Ananda Gaorii.
The Training “Young Leaders for Sustainability” took place in a restored ecovillage from thirteen century, located in the region of Ventimiglia, very close to France and the Mediterranean sea. Torri Superiore is nowadays a rural hostel and a hosting organization for courses. It is actually a beautiful piece of art composed of many stones and labyrinths with over 160 rooms.
As this was training for sustainability, for me it was very important to travel by land, as I usually do, in order to keep my footprint low. Despites all the restrictions and regulations due to Covid19, over 20 people from 10 different nationalities managed to come to the village. And the landscape was astonishing. I could not believe it!! From my terrace, there was a view of the valley, the town, olive orchards in terraces and the river. Yes, exactly, a river!! I was just arrived, met my roomie and after a few words exchanged, we looked at each other and decided to go for swimming! Man, why don´t we swim in the river? And yeah, we did so every morning until the end. Very refreshing!
Let´s come back to the topic!! I did not come just to swim. During the seven days, there were workshops, many tools presented, evening activities, walk & talks in nature, discussions with the local villagers, celebrations, lot of fun and gained new friends. Sometimes I am wondering why there are no such activities for youth happening in Denmark. One day, we will make it happen!
I was particularly excited to listen to Lucilla, one of the local women that lived in the community since the very beginning. She was facilitating meetings teaching as skills on communication, leadership, conflict resolution and entrepreneurship.
The first day we set up the culture of the group and the space, took decisions together, taking in account everyone´s opinions, concerns and against. Further, we were introduced to a few tools like: Fishbowl, Deep Listening, Rank Privilege and World Café.
Author: Victoria Schou, landscape architect. Denmark
The medieval village of Torri Superiore is a small jewel of popular architecture located at the foothill of the Ligurian Alps, a few kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea and the French border, close to the coastal town of Ventimiglia. Originating in the thirteen century, the village is structured in three main bodies with more than 160 rooms, all connected by an intricate fabric of stairways.
Its complex structure has often been compared to a fortress or a labyrinth, perched on the mountainside. The village has been entirely restored and is now open to ecotourism, for courses, meetings and programs of environmental education, and offers an accommodation for stays and vacations. It is perfect for people interested in getting to know Ecovillage Life and looking for a holiday in a natural environment full of suggestions. This was the place, where the training for ‘Young Leaders for Sustainability’ took place.
This training course was made for current and aspirant youth workers to learn tools to work with young people in ecovillages and sustainable projects. Participants from Italy, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Slovenia, France, Finland, Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands came with the motivation to become young leaders and developing their leadership skills.
The first days we had an introduction to group facilitation and we explored ourselves in relation to the group and different leadership styles. We have been introduced to different tools to work with groups of young people, especially related to life in ecovillages. After having had these theoretical lessons we got to put our new skills into practice during sessions of groupwork, where the goal was to facilitate a workshop ourselves. The participants had many fun and interesting inputs on what to facilitate a workshop on and how to structure it. We split in five groups with , and the topics of the workshops ended up being: ‘The Jounrey from Fear to Love’, ‘Finding your Personal Gift’, ‘Shadow Work’, ‘Menstruation’ and ‘Lunch’. These topics were prepared as workshops for sharing knowledge and experience from one participant to the other. During one and a half day of groupwork, the workshops were discussed, prepared and refined, so that we were able to hold space for each other.
Tools for holding space
Sociocratic methods of decision making were used to create a safe room for everybody to be in. The first day measures for Covid19 was discussed in the group, where everyone could share their thoughts and feelings on the topic. Some of us were so touched in their heart by restrictions and the urgency, that we were crying and shouting. This is the truth we live in and we see it better to express our feelings, than to suppress.
Together we are going through the process of accept, holding space, letting everyone be heard. While we wear a mask, when we speak, sanitize our hands after touching and keep distance of each other. We are living together, sharing our inner thoughts and feelings, when there is no room for touching or embracing.
We have learned skills in communication, facilitation, leadership and entrepeneurship during this training for sustainability. Lucilla is the local Italian woman living in Torri Superiore, taking part of the training as a co-facilitator. She is experienced in facilitating meetings in a positive and efficient manner to serve the association or organization to the best.
Jasper Keus from Finland has expressed himself about what the training has helped him to understand:
“For me the experience was very eye-opening. I found people with willpower and knowledge for solutions to the world crisis and ways to make them more possible. I found hope. Now I can connect with people who I know have made an effort to understand each other and themselves. People who are capable of facing conflicts and accepting our differences. It’s making us capable to work together.
We lived together for a whole week. It was special to share our backgrounds and experiences while using the tools we were gaining from the training.
I’ve learned a lot with leading and facilitating a group and I will definitely put these things into practice. I’m willing to learn more and go deeper into the art of leadership.”
Conflict management and communication
One of the main components of the teaching was how to handle conflict and communicate in a group, but also with your peer people. Communication at the basis is about how we exchange information with each other. Our values and our personality are recognized through communication, which can happen through three channels: verbal, para-verbal and non-verbal. If there is a duality in any of these three, there will be a miscommunication.
When a conflict arises, it will cause an emotional reaction between the people involved in the conflict. These feelings will be disagreement and discomfort. The discontent is rooted in the fact that there are two arguments going against each other, which is what the conflict arises from. Two different expectations of what was needed and requested creates the disagreement. This situation can create discomfort and our feelings will be hurt, sad, angry or disappointed. As a facilitator it is important to be able to recognize and distinguish what disagreement evokes emotions and analyze the situation from a more objective point of view. In this way a resolution to the conflict can be found when both parts are heard and understood from the basis of this understanding.
A big part of the learning was as Jasper expresses not only done in the formal training sessions, but also during lunch and at the jam after dinner. In this way we got to know each other and create new relations across Europe. I personally feel the courage and wonder of what we can do as a group. We have the common mindset that we want the change to happen through personal effort. If we all do a little in our place in the world, together we can change the world. I have learnt to step up in front of a crowd and tell the story I want to live.
A new Permaculture Project is growing up in Kisumu City in West Kenya.
By Steven Odhiambo
We are the first ones in the city to grow vegetables in containers and recycled cement bags! Our wish is to have a small piece of land, though.
Tunaweza is a Swahili word that means “we are able or we can do it“.
We are young people from Kenya living in the city of Kisumu, and due to the experience, knowledge and the need of permaculture, we managed to come up with our own project. We realized that living in the city is not much interesting if someone does not have a good job or any sources of income. We are living in an economy that is too high to match our income. Almost 80 % of the youths and women lack jobs in Kisumu City so their only option is to live from hand to mouth.
During July 2020 we decided to start up a small scale model of a permaculture project, which we refer as city permaculture, to show how to provide simple solutions in sustainable living, better food of high nutrition value, medicinal and economic value, diet diversity, transfer of skills and knowledge, empowerment, educational and learning tools, and also reduction of land degradation.
Our mission is to work with communities and people living under poor conditions and struggle every day to feed themselves and their families. We want to give knowledge, skills, and practice in integrated sustainable agriculture through social interaction and workshops following permaculture design approach and hopefully we all succeed to build up a sustainable life.
History/ background Before we started Tunaweza Permaculture Project, most of us were in Vijana Wetu Permaculture Project. Since we met with our Danish friends in 2011, we were so much involved in youth´s development programs such as skills and talents, businesses venture and schooling. Three years ago, we got introduced into permaculture work by Tove Bang, friend and founder of Vijana Wetu Youth Project.
Together we learned about using ecological principles and systems thinking to improve relations between people and the planet through permaculture work and education.
Permaculture ideology caught our attention and most of us realized that it could improve our living standards in the most sustainable way and giving back to the Mother Nature.
We got deeply involved in working with the community through permaculture introduction workshops, soil erosion control and soil building workshops, doing food forest, gardening practice, building home energy conservation ovens through the help of Permaculture tutors Evans Odula and professor Omwoma from Badilisha Permaculture Project in Rusinga Kenya, home solar energy use from Mkopa solar company, Kenya and also basket weaving.
´Introduction to permaculture´ workshop
Vijana Wetu Permaculture ground work
In addition, we also identified that as we do our own natural food, we could also learn about natural medicine. We managed to visit one of the experienced experts in our region called Pastor George from REEP Kenya in the village of Kajulu in Kisumu, Kenya. We planned for many trips of learning sessions and also organized a workshop, which became so successful, besides that we also managed to send two of our youths to take a certificate course by ANAMED (Action for Natural Medicine in the tropics).
Through training, facilitation, demonstration gardens, role modeling, and counseling for sustainable living women and youths in rural areas of Asembo have empowered themselves by establishing their own kitchen gardens, made their own energy saving ovens/jiko, installed home solar systems, and making and selling baskets.These ventures have made trained women and youths to be self-reliant and accomplish what they could not have done if they were not involved in permaculture activities.
Tunaweza Permaculture Project – Team members
Our team members of the Tunaweza Permaculture Project are young strong youths, who can still work by their hands. They are skilled and multitalented in different areas.
We have Zedee, who is a student in Kisumu polytechnic, studying civil engineering and he has so much knowledge and interest in medicinal plants.
He is head of medicinal plants department in Tunaweza Permaculture Project.
We have Steve, who is a travel agent, but now focused to develop Tunaweza Permaculture Project, and he also wants to be a permaculture PDC teacher.
He is curently Tunaweza Permaculture Project operation manager.
We then have Vicky Boy, who is a bussines man, hairdresser, actor and a musician. He is incharge of the social welfare and entertainment department in the project.
Lately we have Nancy Wereh, who is a business lady and would wish to be a nurse if she gets the oportunity to join a nursing school. She is the woman represantative in the project and now she has started up with her own women group for developments.
To do a difference in the city – it´s a challenge!
It´s quite different to work in the city, and one of the biggest challenges we face currently is that it´s too expensive to own or to rent a parcel of land to really build up a demonstration farm. Recently we had a tough situation to even fence a very small piece of land, which is necessary because of loose cattle and chicken. We were offered the land by the landlady to do our demonstration garden. The problem was due to the fact that there were so many complaints laid down that the land belongs to the Estate Cooperation Society. It was meant for parking, thus the authority to do so from the landlady did not matter. This really disorganized our plans, but that’s not where we opted to get stuck.
Sometimes the biggest obstacles are to take the first steps, and we know that believing in ourselves, that ´we can do it´ as our project name suggests, is our biggest motivation. One of the important things, permaculture has taught us, is to work with the little available resources, and also to find solutions out of our problems. Our simple answer has been to use our own back yard and balcony garden and still make a difference.
In Tunaweza City Permaculture Project, 1st face, we have decided to promote healthy living by designing a kitchen vegetable garden. This is going to act as a model farm for demonstration to show city dwellers to replicate the same idea.
Our main reason for this 1st face project is to:
-promote healthy eating of natural vegetables, fruits and herbs from one´s own garden. 98 % of the population living in Kisumu are either buying greens from the groceries, supermarkets or open air markets. Most of these products are chemically grown and packed thus leads to so many people eating unhealthy foods which causes health problems.
– cheap and readily available food-kitchen gardens will help city dwellers to save so much money as they get their vegetables easily from their doorstep or balconies.
– clean air circulation around city houses. Cities are full of companies generating much waste products which sometimes are burned in open air thus producing much of air pollution and CO2. This creates unhealthy air circulation in the horizon that leads to health problems, so we want to encourage the city dwellers to do more gardens, because the fact remains that the greener the surrounding the fresher the air.
– practicing garden will also help the city dwellers to stay grounded to the nature.
– aesthetic matter- plants makes your home more green and beautiful thus makes you feel peaceful and more relaxed.
Through research we found out that there are those vegetables that are mostly consumed among the city dwellers like kales, spinach, carrots, cucumber, pepper, chili and cabbage, and our wider plan is to grow various varieties of indigenous vegetables too that serves as food and at the same time medicinal plants.
Container gardening – the practice of growing plants in portable objects like carry bags and pots of different sizes to grow plants.
Vertical gardening – maximizing the space by growing plants upwards using support systems like walls, fences, trellis and build structures.
Four main reasons for the two layout methods
– we have limited space.
– our budget is limited, and we can´t afford the budget for much equipments.
– prevent waste, due to the fact that we live in a rented house.
– we can increase accessibility by bringing the plants off the ground for watering, manuring and even harvesting.
Steve, Zedee and Nancy at the land claimed to be a parking space
House verandah space for gardening – before starting up Backyard
Our vegetables a few weeks after transplant
First harvesting stage
1st face obstacles
Doing city permaculture or urban gardens can be an amazing experience but still there are problems that as a famer you will have to tackle.
– Permits – if your garden is in the city you need permit for tilling the land, putting up a fence or just putting your plant containers in a rented space to avoid problems with the landlords or neighbors.
– Human elements – it’s a good idea to talk to your neighbors before putting up a front yard or backyard garden and don’t assume that they will always be helpful and supportive of the efforts you make .They might be the ones that will first interfere with your project as they allow kids or their animals (chicken) to run into your garden.
– Sun protection – we are so much subjected to sunscald and radiant heat due to plenty concrete floor of the verandah and the big house. When the surfaces heat of through the day then water in the containers dry up so fast thus affecting the plants.
– Contaminated soil – soil in the city is too contaminated and most of the time we have been pricked by needles and also find so much plastic waste.
– Water supply – we realized that our water bill has risen to ksh 3,500 from the normal ksh 1300, and this is too expensive and we wish to use rain water if perhaps we shall install rain water gutters and pipe to a small water tank .
1st face results
For us it is very useful to understand why food gardens succeed, and why it might fail. It means we can be more intelligent about planning and rolling out other similar projects in future.
From the little success we achieve by doing our first face, we would love to encourage people to do city permaculture and to know how to design home gardens, because we have just started to harvest healthy fresh produce. We believe that a family of four can be fed all-year round of a piece of soil the size of a door, if done right with the right resources.
We have learned that putting a little investment in the right seeds and work process can lead to more yield that can enable us to earn some extra cash if we sell the produce hence we will have a sense of purpose and pride too.
We already started to learn much in gardening skills, composting and soil preparation, as well as the value of eating our own harvest.
In our next face we will love to incorporate much of medicinal plants and mix different varieties of vegetables, as we elaborate the steps of soil building and the use of container and vertical gardening.
Permakultur Danmark har tilmeldt sig opfordringen til handling for BAE.
BAE står for Biodiversity Action Europe og er en gruppe af unge der startede om at diskutere omkring biodiversitetstrategien i slutningen af 2019. Nu kommer de med en forslag til EU Kommission og skal høres.
Permakultur Danmark er altid op til at støtte noget godt.
CALL FOR ACTION:
Biodiversity is life; it is essential to the lives of current and future generations. BAE believes humankind can still learn to stop the over exploitation of nature which is leading to our own extinction. We greatly appreciate the EU’s launch of the EU Green Deal and the ways it is taking shape through the Biodiversity Strategy, Farm 2 Fork strategy, Circular Economy Action Plan, and others, but their success depends on their implementation.
We want these well-written intentions to leave behind a truly sustainable legacy. We call for transformative change, not for economic deals. When? Right now! We invite you, the reader, to stand behind this call for action, and support our movement, to urge the EU to commit to what is long overdue: Empower people to live in harmony with nature.
Our Call for Action urges the European Union to fundamentally address the biodiversity crisis in three specific ways: Engage with science and environmental agreements, Enforce existing laws and regulations, and Enable society to reshape its relationship with nature.
The European Union has failed to achieve significant progress towards its headline target of halting biodiversity loss and ecosystem services by 2020. The science is clear. With more than 1,000,000 species at risk of extinction, the world as we know it faces an existential threat. Yet, the solutions to reverse the biodiversity crisis are, and have been since long, right in front of us. We need to grasp this opportunity to address key sustainable pathways, to create a more compassionate and just society, as no prosperous future can be built on the crumbling foundation that is the biodiversity crisis. We believe the EU can make a lasting positive impact on you to engage with:
Best-available scientific and socioeconomic evidence on the urgent biodiversity crisis, its impacts and mitigating measures;
Global and regional multilateral environmental agreements, their processes and their respective ambitious visions, goals and targets to redefine our relationship with nature.
BAE welcomes the launch of the EU Green Deal, but we don’t want deals, we call for transformative change. We are aware that the oldest European legislation on biodiversity are fit for purpose, but only on paper. Thus, the EU needs to work together with Member States on efficient implementation and enforcement mechanisms. The European Commission also has to improve its active vigilance and monitoring of this implementation. So we, BAE, demand the EU to create a system of law enforcement and accountability. We need more efficiency. We call for:
More knowledge of Member States’ context and specific needs to improve implementation and sincere cooperation.
Member States to be responsible and follow through on environmental promises made.
The creation of an effective monitoring and sanctioning system.
We need a holistic change of the economic and financial systems to halt biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems. By fully acknowledging the interconnection of human, planetary and economic health, we will experience a culturally and socially positive relation to nature. Next to biodiversity loss and the environmental crisis, we now face economic, social, and health crises. We call for:
The mobilization of financial and legislative resources for biodiversity, especially for civil societies and small businesses, along with the elimination of incentives for harmful practices.
The recognition of ecosystem services as the main driver of economic and human well-being. The current funding mechanisms do not meet the profitable, long term and self-sustaining investment potential of preserving biodiversity.
Capacity building and empowerment of women, youth, indigenous and local communities, the less fortunate and vulnerable in the decision-making process.
Vil du gerne læse videre? Så kig ind i deres hjemmeside:
I provinsen Almería ligger der, tæt på den lille landsby Lucainena de las Torres, en oase i Tabernas ørken. Stedet hedder Oasis Al-hamam, Cortijo de los baños, og er et sted, der forbinder dig med Moder Jord og giver plads til en indre rejse. Det er her jeg har opholdt mig som frivillig, i sydens varme sol, det sidste halve år, fra januar til juli 2020, takket være Erasmus+/Eu-comission og Permakultur Danmark.
I efteråret 2019 havde jeg mit første møde med permakultur, da jeg var elev på Brandbjerg Højskole. Jeg mærkede, at her har jeg en passion og jeg fandt med denne lærelyst og motivation frem til dette ESC frivilligeprogram, der netop beskæftiger sig med permakultur og spiritualitet. Jeg tænkte, at det ville være et skridt i en rigtig retning og et sted jeg ville lære min nye gode ven bedre at kende: Permakultur. Den anden side af projektet, den spirituele profil, var for mig noget der gjorde mig lidt nervøs, men jeg tog ja-hatten på og hoppede ud i det med åbne arme. For mig var det en bonus at projektet befandt sig i Spanien, for jeg elsker det spanske sprog og den spanske kultur og har længe haft et ønske om at forbedre mit spansk.
”Jeg synger og danser, lever lykkeligt og meget med lidt”
Under opholdet har jeg boet sammen med medmennesker fra forskellige lande i verden og vi har delt vores forskellige baggrunde og kulturer. Vi har levet i et samvær af forståelese, forskellighed, respekt, nysgerighed og konflikter sås som mulighed for udvikling. Det som særligt har været en gave for mig, har været at leve i omgivelser og med mennesker, der deler den holistiske livsstil med respekten, bekymringerne og omsorgen for vores klode. En gruppe af mennesker med grønne fingre der gladelig hopper ind på komposttoilettet, som deler jublen over upcycling og hjemmelavet sæbe, og finder livsglæde i dans, sang og leg. Et miljø hvor vi er opmærksomme på vores tre hjem, og tager os godt af dem; Kroppen, Sindet og Jorden. Alt sammen langt væk fra forbrugssamfundet og materialisme. Ugenligt havde vi Co-existence samling i vores fælles- og spiserum, Gaia, hvor vi med principper fra Co-listening, evaluerer ugen der var gået og kom med nyheder.
Arbejdstimerne stod på gård- og havearbejde, fodring af gårddyrene, madlavning og vedligehold/rengøring af stedet.
’Holisme’ er blevet min nye yndlings filosofi og jeg har elsket at leve en hverdag, hvor man kan se, at alle elementer hænger sammen, på rigtig permakultur vis.
Om morgenen høster vi grønsagerne fra haven, til dagens madlavning. Biorestaffaldet bruges dels til kompost, dels som foder til dyrene, sammen med det grønne der luges væk ved vedligehold af haven. Dyrene leverer retur et læs næringsindholdigt møg, som også komposteres og bliver til dejlig jord, hvori vi planter grønsagerne. Det synes jeg er smukt og meningsfuldt! Især i øjnene af den verdensituation, der ramte os mens jeg opholdte mig på gården, har det virkelig vist sig hvilken levemåde der er resistent og giver, hvad jeg synes er, frihed.
Gennem ’study circles’ med permakultur, har jeg været gennem 5 spændende moduler, som har lært mig meget; Omsorg for mennesker, Permakultur design, Omsorg for jorden, Øko-teknologi og Øko-økonomi. Her har vi berørt emner, som vi praktisk har brugt i det daglige arbejde.
I arbejdstimerne har vi fx bygget biokonstruktioner til tomatplanter, brygget organisk gødning, fremstillet sundhedspræparater af planter og lavet bokashi kompost. Og så har vi selvfølgelig plantet en masse lækkerier i haven, samt en masse træer, da stedet også har et Reforreststation program, med visionen om at bekæmpe forørkningen. En stor del af arbejdet handlede om at tilse de anlagte vandningssystemer. Det er essentielt pga. den hede der raser i ørknen, den udtørrede og udnærrede jord der kæmper med erosion og de få dråber regnvand der falder.
”En ændring i bevidstheden kan ændre verden”
Gennem spændende og lærerige ’Emotional mannagement’ workshops har jeg fået en masse gode redskaber, som særligt hjælper til permakulturens etik om omsorg for mennesker. Jeg har lært om Eco-listening, Forum Zegg, Nonviolent Communication og forskellige meditationstyper; aktive meditationer, Biodance, mantras, ritualer og yoga. Inden for dette felt er jeg virkelig blevet præsenteret for meget nyt. Det har været en meget spændende rejse, som har hjulpet mig meget til at finde frem til min indre ro og at kunne mærke mine prioriteter i livet. Jeg har fået øjnene op for den fine forbindelsen mellem en bæredygtiglivstil og elementerne i den spirituellelivsstil.
Udover hvad denne tekst beskriver, har jeg lært utroligt meget mere. Et element er det teoretiske udbytte, men meget af det jeg har lært er på et personligt niveau, der er svært at beskrive.
Jeg ved blot, at nu hvor jeg er landet igen i Danmark, længtes jeg som aldrig før efter at have jord under neglene og drømmer om et kreativt sted at bo, hvor der sættes minimalt fodaftryk på planeten – Og især har jeg lyst til at dele denne tilværelse og livsstil med glade og ligesindede mennesker.
Tusind tak, Association Al-hamam, Permakultur Danmark, Erasmus+/Eu-comission, for en sindsopvækkende oplevelse, der har givet mig mod og redskaber til at fortsætte min drøm, skridt for skridt. Nu må jeg rundt og besøge de spændende permakultursteder, økosamfund og andre grønne godter her hjemme i Danmark.
Jeg slutter af med Namaste og et sigende permakultur-citat;
”I tider med forandring ligger problemet ikke i, ikke at kunne gøre alt hvad vi drømmer om, men i ikke at drømme om alt hvad vi kan gøre”
SUSTAINABILITY IN PRACTICE PERMACULTURE: NATURAL BUILDING & GARDENING SKILLS
HVAD HANDLER DET OM?
Et Youth Exchange er en aktivitet der er finansieret af Erasmus+ Fonde. I denne aktivitet vil man lære om og hjælpe med at bygge en muldtoilet, undendørs bruserbad og udendørs køkken med pizzaovn samt deltage i vedligeholdelse af haven og fælles aktiviteter.
Denne Youth Exchange vil finde sted på et permakultur-sted der hedder Aldeia do Vale, i Portugal. Aldeia do Vale har ansøgt penge til et projekt med hjælp af andre organisationer i Europa. Projektet handler om at lære om permakultur og skabe noget sammen med hjælp af unge.