Thursday, September 20, 2018
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Horst adored going to the cinema. He just had too little time, and even less money, to be able to buy a ticket every time. He was lucky enough, however, to live right next to the cinema. On the first floor, above his bar, there was a framed picture in the living room, which covered a hole in the wall, like the one in a camera obscura. One day, he told me his secret. He took the picture down and showed me, with a wink, what could be seen through the hole. And so he swept me away to the …

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Monoculture: an outdated model

Fritjof Capra v. René Descartes The mechanical world view of things presupposes simple linear mathematical thinking. Primary school maths, year 3: taking the example of an area measuring 100 metres by 100 metres, which makes 10,000 square metres or one hectare, an agro-industrial farmer harvests around ten tonnes of fruit from the area of one hectare. From then on, this numerical value counts as the measure of all values for a business plan. You can use it to calculate your profit in advance, get easier access to EU subsidies, or even a bank loan. So, the investors’ expectations about the …

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The Curse of Money

The Curse of Money

What is the connection between a Nepalese migrant worker in Odemira, the biggest municipality in the Alentejo, who works in an agro-industrial company like the British-Belgian-Portuguese Vitacress (RAR group) or the German Gemüsering GmbH Stuttgart*(4) – along with many other multinational agro-businesses – and the Portuguese forest fires? You might think, at least at first glance, none at all; there is no direct link, and anyone who made one would possibly be doing so with malicious intent. But it’s not so simple in a globally networked world, where capital for investments can quickly be shifted from one country to another. …

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Back to Mother Earth - Eco123

Back to Mother Earth

My most beautiful tree in Lousã. I had made an appointment with the filmmaker and cameraman João Pedro Plácido (aged 39)* at Coimbra station. We planned to walk together through a mountain forest in the Serra de Lousã. There, we wanted to look for a vivid memory of his, the most beautiful tree of his youth. At the age of 16 during a mountain hike, Plácido was walking on the path from Castelo de Lousã via Talasnal (3 km) and Vaqueirinho (2.5 km) up to Catarredor (1.1 km), one of Portugal’s famous schist villages. He was looking for herbs. Dusk …

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Rainwater: slow it, spread it and let it seep

Droughts, desertification, heat waves, floods: the consequences of climate change are intensified by a water balance that is out of equilibrium globally. In some parts of the earth, farmers, different initiatives and landowners are meeting this challenge with simple, local measures – and successfully. The principle they follow is always the same: rain should seep into the ground where it falls. Decentralisation instead of centralisation. One successful example of this is Tamera, in the municipality of Odemira in the Alentejo. Every organism needs water. Whether an area has sufficient water or not determines its value for everything that lives there, …

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School at a time of rural exodus

School at a time of rural exodus

In remote regions, schools are shrinking, many are being closed. The pupils are being concentrated in centralised schools, have to travel long distances and become estranged from their families. For young families with children, life in the countryside is becoming even more unattractive. They are moving away, and the schools are shrinking even further. What is to be done? This is the question that is being asked by those in charge of education, headteachers and parents. In the Alentejo, children are becoming quick-change artists, twelve-year-old José Manuel forexample.* On his parents’ farm, he’s a country lad, able to perform any task …

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How can forest fires be prevented?

How can forest fires be prevented?

Let’s begin with a brief history. In 2003, Portugal was hit by one of its greatest ever heat waves. The country’s central region – in the area between Lisbon, Leiria and Coimbra – was the worst affected by forest fires. With temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius, a relative humidity of less than 30% and winds of more than 30 kilometres per hour, there was an obvious threat of extreme fire, which was even more likely in the case of those uncultivated rural areas left abandoned by farmers. The dry vegetation was transformed into a genuine powder keg. A quarter of …

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Terracrua Permaculture

TERRA CRUA
SEEDS OF CHANGE

Terra Crua is a different kind of company that works on the basis of an innovative model of ecological design. Terra Crua brings together engineering and architecture, landscaping and ecology and the principles of permaculture. A new concept of design that combines principles and strategies that go beyond sustainability and includes innovation, economic viability and social and environmental responsibility in a holistic model. Established as a company around two and a half years ago, Terra Crua provides a range of services, consultancy, planning and management of regenerative ecological projects, but its foundations were laid some nine years ago. “We started …

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Out and about on foot at almond blossom time
Monchique Mountain Marathon 2017

How far can we still travel using our own bodies and on our own feet? Monchique Mountain Marathon 2017 is an offer to take you on several different guided walks and hikes. Between Christmas and the New Year, you can discover the Algarve uplands on twelve paths, some longer some shorter. Being out and about on foot opens up a unique opportunity to get to know Monchique with your own senses: the natural surroundings of the mountains with its streams, mills and waterfalls, the ancient forests of cork oaks and chestnut trees; the culture of regional music, local dishes and …

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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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