Sunday 24th April we had our 2nd Open Day of the year - this time the theme was 'Local Economy'
The day was a huge success - the sun was shining and the people were shining too.
We had nearly 100 people turn up from 11 different countries and take part in a local economy exchange at the Mount of Oaks.
People were buying or swapping local produce, contributing ideas and knowledge in a facilitated discussion on local economy, sharing contacts for further actions AND having lots of fun, especially the kids!
The weather was perfect for the event - sunny but not TOO hot. Barbara and our current helper, Lena from Germany were busy creating a structure for shade over the Welcome Desk!
Signs were put up directing traffic, colourful bunting to bring joy and the long list of logistics ticked just as people arrived!
The plan for the day was for a shared lunch with produce from our garden, a tour of the permaculture project in English and Portuguese, talking circles, kids games and donkey ride and then a summery circle.
LOCAL PRODUCERS FAIR
We opened the invitation to folks who wanted to come along and bring their goods to sell.
There were 7 stalls with a huge range of products for sale. Some were selling their fresh goats cheese and milk, others fresh vegan food, others wood and glass ware.
We had ranges of organic cosmetics and chocolates and liquoers we had preserves of sweet and savoury fruits and veggies! It was incredible the variety, tastes and smells!!!
For the stall holders, their feedback from the day was really positive - they were able to make some money, share their contacts and share experiences of the legal aspects of selling in Portugal. They all thought it a worthwhile event!
Each of the stalls can be contacted via us if you are interested in their products.
One of our aims of the day was to promote social as well as economic integration in the region. We had people from 11 different nations, different ages and backgrounds - a real mix! All the talks were simultaneously translated between English and Portuguese. We were delighted to have a journalist from the local radio station, Paulo Pinheiro interview several participants for a follow-up piece on Radio Cova de Beira. He interview Marcia a few weeks ago before the event and came along to actually see the fruits of the planning!!
We also were pleased to have the support and presence of the President of the Junta de Freguesia of Alpedrinha opened the discussion, Sr. Carlos Ventura.-->
The first talking circle shared why more cohesive local economy was important, the need to value the local produce and create markets abroad for the Portuguese processed products. In general people felt that this was a time to experiment with new models of exchange of goods/services and products.
We had a general discussion and then divided into smaller groups around themes people want to take action upon.
The suggested small group themes were:
- From Local to Global – educating on trade treaties
- Promoting organic farming in Portugal
- Economics of Health and Well-being
- Local currencies in Practice
Anyone interested in following the full notes and action points from the discussion are welcome to get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the transcripts.
l LOCAL TO GLOBAL
An important point in the informal and formal discussions of the day pointed to the importance of us being aware of the global political trade agreements. A Portuguese activist Graca Passos was present and educating us on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIP treaty). She warned us to keep campaigning on this and other broader economic policies along side doing the local work.
Check out info on TTIP in the following websites:
voices/comment/what-is-ttip- and-six-reasons-why-the- answer-should-scare-you- 9779688.html
It was so encouraging to share news of successful alternative projects ALREADY in existence that we can join and support. For example a monthly second hand market in Fundao. There is also a community market (Mercearia Comuitas) run by young people in Fundao. For more information in Portuguese follow this link.
In Covilha an NGO called Coolabora partners with several projects in the region - including Mount of Oak to organise an occasional exchange market (Feira de Troca). This weekend (30th April) Marcia and I will go to Covilha to take part in the Feira de Troca and bring our olives, olive oil and soaps to the fair. Check out the details by following this link.
IVO and HIS BOOK
We we privileged to have the input from the economist and author of 'Repensar a Economia' Sr. Ivo Gommes Francisco with us. He humbly shared his research and his knowledge with the group. It was super to make the connection with him and we are sure to work with him again in the future.
For Portuguese readers his book is available from
Produce from our garden and the gardens of friends and neighbours was enjoyed by all! Organic salads complete with edible flowers decorated the table!!
Alongside the lunch we made the stalls had a range of sweet and savoury scrummy food. Cakes, chocolates, cheese, breads and Indian nibbles AND more filled our tummies.
TOUR OF THE LAND
Many of the people who came to the Open Day had not visited the Mount of Oaks before and were keen to have a look around. Barbara did a guided tour in Portuguese, and I did one for those who understood English.
Xico is often the star of the show - and when I was taking the tour of the project, showing the buildings, sharing our vision and answering questions - the main question the kids has was - WHERE IS XICO? When we found him on the top terrace he received lots of affection from young and not so young alike!
There were games and a donkey ride organised to entertain the kids as part of the programme. Sarah planned some wide games and several of the parents got involved as well. It was super to have help from Sarah and Halayna, along with Eric did a fantastic job! It was important for us to have dedicated activities for youth so the parents could be freed up to take part in discussions.
As a result of the help of MANY people it was a successful community event.
Many behind the scenes helped with the logistics of preparing food, organising the parking, registering the people as they arrived, washing dishes, taking notes, translating and clearing up!
You know who you are and we send you love and gratitude!
We would like to acknowledge the support of the Atalaia do Campo football club who loaned their tables and chairs for the day!
NEXT STEPS ....
We typed up a transcript from the discussions - available in English and Portuguese for those who would like to read. Our main action points are about sharing information and building networks for future collaboration. A solid recommendation for a skills/services inventory came from one of the groups, as did the need to increase the numbers of registered organic farmers - we will share more about these exciting initiatives in future posts!!!
WELL DONE TO ALL INVOLVED!
Here is a message we received from a participant after the event we wanted to share.....
Dear All, It was a pleasure to be with you all yesterday and all of you motivated me intensively to be a part of building a (local) community of LIFE! We are all living together on this little peace of earth and everybody can be of an important difference to improve quality of LIFE.
Mahatma Gandhi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world!" And everybody is an important part of the movements to help to change this world into a better place.
Many people know about things what doesn't work anymore in this world. It won't help us to focus on the so-called "wrong" things. But.... all things what doesn't work anymore are right now our motivation to BE the change we want to see in this world! So thanks for all the problems we've met in our lives!
The time for change, for motivation is developing very rapidly now. And how much joy it will give to everybody to BE a part of this change in our own unique way! We cannot wait anymore until everybody else will give "the" example. We are the change! And don't think you are too small or don't have enough "knowledge".
Sometimes the smallest contribution will have the biggest effect! Of course, things we are talking about are serious, but let's not forget that Mother Earth is a playground! A place of joy! We all thrive when life is joyful.... when we experience love and joy we will 'flower' and honor our Mother... the Earth.
I hope we stay motivated to invent, to experience, to develop new 'roads' in our lives and in our community!
From the team who live at the Mount of Oaks, we look forward to the fruits of this Open Day.
For the connections made, friendships formed and energy shared, we are really grateful!!!!