Friday, October 20, 2017
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Getting around on foot

Getting around on foot

Today, public spaces are dictated to by driving. In most of our cities, it is actually no longer possible to cover a distance on foot. Cities are built for cars, not for people. Instead of designing places where people can live together, town planners create through roads, bypasses and arterial roads. Pedestrians in natural spaces are of no importance in the city any more, or in the countryside, for that matter, not even old trees. They are chopped down. Asphalt always has priority. Nature is part of the decor. And because that’s the way it is, urban dwellers have to …

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nature tourism walking trails in Portugal

Speaking of nature tourism…

Every forest fire makes our country poorer, much poorer than we can imagine. It sets a whole avalanche of consequences in motion. More CO2 in the atmosphere causes temperatures to rise. Heat waves, torrential rainfall, storms and soil erosion are the consequences of climate change, which is itself aggravated again and again and more and more by forest fires. With every house that burns down, the risks increase, and hence the cost of insurance policies. The variety of flora and fauna declines. Agriculture and forestry are destroyed, bee populations die out. With every forest fire, there is less interest in …

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There's no such thing as rubbish in nature

There’s no such thing as rubbish in nature

I you he she it, we you they. We are all throwing something away at this moment. It’s easy to say, isn’t it? Into the rubbish. Something away. Out of sight, out of mind. After me, the flood. Or maybe not? I’m standing in my kitchen collecting up the bottles from the past month. Eight empty wine bottles, and an empty bottle of olive oil. It’s the day I go to the glass container and clean up my apartment: bathroom, bedroom, living room, kitchen and study. I have also found a very practical solution for my used paper, which I …

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rota vicentina

My Way
Rota Vicentina: 14 + one day)

Via Algarviana – Rota Vicentina – Rota do Pescador   Day 1 – Aljezur – Odeceixe (18 km) On this first day of April, the sky is as I know it in April: unsettled. For the last two weeks, I’ve been walking the 250 kilometres along the Via Algarviana, with little more than a sense of the Atlantic in the near distance. Now I can raise my nose into the wind, smelling salt and all sorts of colourful things by the wayside. The lines on the paper of my map indicate a further 350 kilometres, which I welcome with a …

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Modern Times

The year is 2020. There’s no one sleeping in the streets in Portugal any more. No one has to stand queuing in the soup kitchens of the charitable associations. The beggars have disappeared. The universal basic income in the Welfare State of the 21st century has arrived in southern Europe. Portugal, the smallest of the five southern EU countries, has decided to provide each of its citizens with a basic income. The EU’s pilot project is beginning. Prime Minister António Costa and his government, which has had a stable majority in a coalition in parliament with PAN since the last …

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Payday?

The scene with long queues and lots of elderly people in the post office is repeated every month. More than a dozen people stand there in a queue and wait for their pensions. Most of them receive a sum that is way below €400. The money is paid to them in cash, and counted out in public before being handed over. The post office clerk counts the money out to the pensioner: ten, 20, 30 euros, one hundred, two hundred, three hundred euros, and then the money is stuck in the envelope which had previously contained the payment slip from …

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Beggar in Lisbon

Support a universal basic income PROSPERITY + FREEDOM

From 25 to 29 September at the Assembleia da República, the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon, scientists and politicians will come together for the World Congress on the Universal Basic Income (http://basicincome.org/) to discuss its introduction. What is a UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME? How does it work? How is it financed? Does it make economic sense? And, above all, is it socially fair? No strong democracy is based on losers. Digitalisation and automation, the abandonment of coal, oil and gas, and the adoption of renewable energy and robot technology are revolutionising our world of work. The world over, these changes will take …

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Bringing the Horta do Zé estate back to life

It is a cool autumn evening. The campfire glow flickers continuously over the faces of the audience. They tell and listen to stories about the River Sado, this farm and its garden. What would it have been like here 50 years ago, when feudal conditions still prevailed and the farm workers lived on the farmstead with their families? And what might its future hold? The branches of a walnut tree spread out over everyone and create a feeling of security. It’s as if the elves are dancing over the heads of the audience. But wait: who makes a campfire under …

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Ruins – a realisable utopia

Does Monchique really need a cable car? When organising a town or a city, the most fundamental requirement is, first of all, to define a strategic concept, however utopian this may be, that will enable everyone to understand what sort of human activity is essential there. The house is the first cosmic concept of organised and potentially positive space in the town’s dynamic construction, with all of its dreams and aspirations. Utopia is a necessary part of any visionary reform that can appeal to the town’s social imagination. The town mirrors the way in which social and personal relationships are …

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About a better life: Make our country a better place

I recently bought myself an Interrail ticket for 224 euros. I used it to travel for five full days within a fortnight through half of Europe. The idea that I could stop here and there, get out and take my time, increased the sense of anticipation. And so I consulted the timetables of Portuguese and Spanish railways CP and RENFE. In doing so, I was amazed to discover that there is only one rail connection between Lisbon and Madrid (and back). Why? For the 600 km between the two cities, the train needs 13 hours. I realise that we in …

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