EcoVillage update

in #ecotrainlast month

Hello you beautiful steemians, what's up?
This is a long overdue update, about the ecoVillage, Portugal, and what's been going on lately.
For those who haven't been following or are unaware, eco-alex has a regular ecoVillage update, if you missed his last one.

I must say it's pretty hard updating everyone on everything.. Obviously everyday something happens, and I constantly have to decide what to pass on, and when. Some things, if you wait long enough, can change, other times, what you were told, turn out to have never been true... So it's a little hard to stay on top, keep everyone in the loop, and not have to go around taking back what you said..

But that's no excuse. A very big part of the ecoVillage, is transparency. The entire process must be honest and open, and I believe the best way to that is to share everything with the outside world, the good and the bad.
It's amazing how honest we become when we have no secrets..
I've been trying to do this, including the unpleasant news as well, and even going back on things I said when they turn out to be mistakes. It's not always easy, but it's always necessary I feel.
So, where does that leave us? Whats going on and what's still to come?

Well, for starters I think it's important to know the general timeline that Lila (my wife for those who dont know) and I agreed upon long before we got to Portugal.
We knew that the first few months would be the hardest. And since we arrived in September, on the brink of winter, we felt this fit in well. The idea being we would hold off with the phsycal, manual labor on the land, and use the cold winter months instead to settle into our new life, and deal with the mountain of bureaucracy our discordian society requires when doing anything, especially setting up an ecoVillage in a foreign country...

But patience is a virtue...

Once we moved here, and were so close to the land, we couldn't resist going and at least start a small garden, gathering some materials, digging a small swale, starting to plan what we could... We were impatient...

So after starting work, planning the renovation of the stone ruin we had on the land, we then learned there was a new law enacted, which forbids building in high fire risk zones. Just a reminder the land is a pine forest, surrounded by eucalyptus plantations, with rock-rose, (a highly flammable Bush) interspersed between the trees.
It's basically a fire waiting to happen. (as is the case with a lot of the Portuguese countryside..)

The beauty of the bureaucratic system, is that the land is designated as a high fire risk, so we can't build. But we want to transform the land, to fire proof it, but we can't do that, because its a high fire risk.....? Catch 22 anyone?

So we're giving up, packing our bags and flying back to Israel where I will start work as software engineer.
JK.

We knew this would happen. And part of having a legal project, is having to do everything so much slower... And less efficient.
But!
This is actually a blessing in disguise. Since the Portuguese government is extremely anxious to find any solution to the fire risk problem, and they are a relatively open minded bunch (relative to politicians) this means we can present a detailed fire proof plan, which will be replicable to other part of Portugal, and hopefully will actually help and greatly decrease the danger of fires here.

This will be a bit of a process, but the goal is to get the local municipality, to take on the project as a useful strategy that could be implemented on a much bigger scale.
To do this, we need help.

Today (Friday the 24/1) I am meeting with my lawyer to start going over the exact legal process to get the building permits to live on the land.
We are in contact with a few couple of private architects, along with the city architect and representatives of the local municipality, to start to draw up a plan for fire proofing the land.

With these local experts (as my portugese is not yet up to presenting a formal city approved plan... I'm working on it..) we will begin work with the municipality (hopefully) and be ready in time for our summer build!!

So, getting back to that timeline..
We figured it will take us until spring just understand the legal requirements to start the process. Assuming everything goes really smoothly (hmmm....) we wanted to start building our house in March. The idea was to get as much done as possible, and then see in June what the situation is. If we're far enough behind, we'll finish up the building with the volunteers, which alway gives a nice sense of accomplishment. If we already finished it (ha ha) then we'll use the time to start building the next project. Either another house, or probably a workshop, woodworking probably.

Tbh, once the house is built and we're living on the land, it will be time to take a step back and see what is there what the next priority is, and how best we should move forward.

Of course, there is no way of knowing what will even happen by the time eco-alex comes in March, let alone next autumn... My personal assessment however, is that the city council will be very interested in our plans.

The reason I am so optimistic is not blind optimism (although that does help sometimes..) but rather the situation in Portugal, and what we've heard from other people here. One of the reasons we came to Portugal in general, and decided on penamacor specifically, was the fact that it is a municipality known to be very open to new ideas, and rather lenient when it comes to planning permits. The reason being, that there are not a lot of people in the area, not a lot of growth, and not a lot of money. Once we show them the project we have in store, the people it will bring, and of course the regenerative healing of the land including reduced fire risk, I have the utmost confidence that they will be very happy that we are committed to this, and will see just how beneficial it can be.

I don't think it will be all smooth sailing from here on out, God knows it hasn't been so far..
But if we can get one person on the council to side with us, to see things the way we see them, I know we will be able to do the rest.

As I was telling eco-alex the other day, we need all the people on this project, our lawyer, architect, and council representative, to be emotionally invested in this project. I don't want anyone doing this for money. Of course we will pay whomever we need to, that's not the point.
The point is, this a good, morale, beneficial idea, for everyone, with literally no downside.. There aren't many opportunities to help a project like that get started..

As this wonderful Steemit community has shown, there are a lot of people who really want to get being this project (myself included!) and if we all band together, there really should be no reason for anyone to want to stop us.

So that's it for me! I will do my best to keep updating as events Warrent.
For now, I bid you good day, and remember,
A little blind optimism can go a long way...

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lovely to read the update! thanks for sharing so much, i love how we both are so transparent!

IT sounds promising what you say about the local authorities being quite supportive of these kind of things and those having good ideas that can help solve local problems.. In Brighton we ended up very well supported by the Brighton & Hove City Council, who not only gave us land to build on for free, but also in an area designated as protected national trust land.

Since we have the support of the council, and they understood and valued what we were doing, they voted first time in favour of giving us permission in all respects to build Earthship Brighton. Today they are very happy the did as it has brought a lot of positive attention to the government and area in many ways including tourism.

Lets see how this pans out.. i think between the few of us only we have a great chance of impressing them with our ideas as well as our combined experience and background...

<3 xx

Absolutely! Meeting with the architect today, so I will be posting about the update after that.. So far our lawyer was very confident there won't be a problem.

Wonderful update. As someone who has lived in Australia and nearly lost our home in the Ash Wednesday fires 40 years ago, I can't help but think that the Portuguese government is slightly ahead of the curve, and that the work you are about to embark on may well have global implications.

Sending you strength for the journey.


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Thank you much! Yes, dealing with the authorities is an issue no matter where.. At least in Portugal it is a recognizer way of living... When I told my lawyer about our plans, she actually asked if we are hiring builders, or are we going to build ourselves... That's how common it is here.
And I do also believe, the implications of what we do here could very well be global.. Or as my sister would say, glocal.. 😉

I was wondering whether the Fire situation would be a set back!

I know you want to do things legally and root Earth Ships into the land, but could a temporary dwelling such as a Yurt (or even a van) be a work around the building permits in the short term?

I don't know much about fireproofing, but I'll imagine you'll find the wind to be your biggest barrier - embers and wind, that's a tough one to combat!

Hopefully it will all work out. Good to be optimistic!

As for temporary buildings, that's probably the route we will go through, the city architect mentioned, and it's common around here to live in temporary buildings while waiting and building the new one.
With fireproofing, definitely wind is a biggie. But around here, the real cause is overgrown brush, alongside the massive eucalyptus plantations.. Its a country that is used to being saturated with water. These recent fires have really caught them. Off guard and by surprise.. The biggest measure was beffing up the fire brigade, which is a great response to emergencies, but does very little in the way of prevention.

As someone who grew up in a country very prone to fires, I can easily see how the Portuguese have no cultural experience with fires.. I mean Penamacor boasts the largest bonfire in their winter festival... Maybe I'll post about it sometime because it just... So unbelievablely rediculous... Last year, they melted the church windows... melted! Evey year the fire brigade is there, spraying gallons of water all night around the area to make sure it doesn't spread... I mean.... Tradition, am I right?

Anyway, far too long a response for such a helpful and supportive comment... Thanks again, and I'll keep you all posted as we see where this goes..

It sounds like some of the solutions aren't to difficult to manifest, then again those cultural barriers!

This will be interesting to see how the local council reacts to the fire proofing plan.

It could be a very good case study to document on the Steem blockchain for others in similar situations.

Thank you! Yes, I would love for the process to be documented and of course added upon by the wealth of experience Steemit already has.. Portugal is a very good place to do this, but I believe it is possible anywhere, just need the right bureaucratic way in.. The idea after all, is to hav this as a guide for people to start their own ecoVillage anywhere..!