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.
We knew this would happen. And part of having a legal project, is having to do everything so much slower... And less efficient.
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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