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Transition in Portalegre

Everything began in 2011 with a guerrilla gardening campaign, Luís Bello Moraes (41), founder of Portalegre in Transition, told ECO123 on the patio of the FICAR cultural centre. They sowed thousands of sunflower seeds in all of the public gardens and parks of the city. And just as soon as they began to get growing, the mentors behind the initiatives met up with residents and invited them to plant vegetables in between the plants.

Luis Miguel Gonçalves, Luís Bello Moraestransição em portalegre
Luis Miguel Gonçalves, Luís Bello Moraes

In a shopping centre, the Transition group has its “Den” that serves as the surroundings for both tranquillity and relaxation and where they discuss and decide on their activities. This is where they exchange not only ideas and opinions but also garden produce. The Den is both a community front room and its kitchen not to mention a library of sewing (a sewbrary) and the venue for seminars on vegetable and fruit conservation techniques and hints for the local economy.
When asked about the feedback that they have received from local politicians and in particular the Municipal President, Adelaide Teixeira (52), Luis Miguel Gonçalves (46) responds how they have developed a very friendly relationship with all of the local politicians: especially from the day when they all grasped that the group had no financial motivations and was not subsidy seeking. Their concepts about a local map are easy to implement. The money available to the local council should be invested 100% in the economic circuit of Portalegre and its ten parishes and their 25,000 inhabitants: whether in local industry or in alternative energies as well as in local construction and agricultural production. Thinking globally and acting locally – also involves buying locally.
Reducing product transport distances and becoming oil independent are, to Luís Bello Moraes, the only way to kick start some activity in the economy.
Currently at the consultation phase, they are undertaking an inquiry of locally based industry and commerce and are now drafting the results of their research.

About the author

Uwe Heitkamp, 53 years old, started working after university in daily newspapers and from 1984 on in public tv broadcasting companies such as WDR (Collogne), NDR (Hamburg), SDR (Stuttgart/Baden-Baden) in the ARD (first programme), wrote several books and directed the cinema movie about the anti nuclear movement in Germany in 1986 (Wackersdorf). After emigration in 1990 he founded 1995 the trilingual weekly printed newspaper “Algarve123”  and later the online edition www.algarve123.com. Heitkamp lives for 25 year in Monchique, Portugal. He loves mountain hiking and swimming in streams and lakes, writes and tells stories of success from people and their sustainable relationship between ecology and economy. His actual film “Revolutionary Roads” tells the 60 minute story of a long walk crossing Portugal. 10 rural people paint a picture of their lives in the hills of the serra and the hinterland. The film captures profound impressions of natural beauty and human life. Along which path is the future of Portugal to be found? (subscribe to ECO123 und watch the documentary in the Mediatec)

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