Youth and Elders relationship essay

To read the published version on Oya Magazine (in German):

Para ler a versão publicada na Revista Oya (em alemão): http://www.oya-online.de/article/read/683.html

The Nova Oikos Project is an association (in progress…) crafted to create and help creating spaces based on methods and concepts of sustainability (Permaculture&Degrowth). The objective is to promote and test it through educational means (courses, internships), services and events (projects incubator, festivals, experiences, etc). The Project was born from the union of its bearer’s dream, with a number of conditions imposed and provided by the local context. The place is a familiar property located in southern Brazil. Social and environmental emergencies are the problems it aims to respond to. The desire to realize such project came from the experienced awareness about the current condition of societies and the environment all over the world.

I talk in terms of “dream” because it’s a vision of future the guide-star and the motivation to this work. This future vision is clear, at least for me, and it is related to the image of a mature society where there is basically no fear – no fear of loving, of defending ideals, of sharing, of cooperating, of trust or truth. Some mature people also present that state of spirit and I call them elders. I think societies work in an analogue way: if there’s misery and hunger, is because a little elite is taking over all the resources, if there’s competition and individualism is because we have being inspired, as society, by those fears. What encourages me to think, feel and act in the sense of achieving a mature society is because the change is imperative – otherwise me, my family, friends, country, and the rest of world will face a very sad future. I wasn’t born to watch it as it was somewhere else – it reaches me everyday in a stronger way.

So the path I took has been showing up with people that leads me to become more and more involved, by assuming my place as actor, rather than as consumer or producer – as we have been taught to. I cannot say I learn much from young people (although I’ve been supported in many ways by them), but I am certainly and continuously nourished by elders – through reading, watching and talking to them. During the phase marked by the unveiling of the connections between the information acquired by formal education and social-ecologist engagement/activism, some young people around me were (and still are) really important because of our partnership, the day-to-day challenges that we are able to share in a very easy-going way.

Since October 2008, following the “discovery” of the Ecovillage and Degrowth Movements, I got engaged on independent research, participating on both local and international conferences, writing and presenting articles in order to get new insights and to meet with more people in the same tune. Let’s say that elder people are in this case, source of a kind of validation: their feedback after a presentation, their interest or their critique on a paper. That has a immense value for me, as I believe we are in a process of evolution and the more you live and experience, the more you acquire in the intellectual and emotional sense, the wiser you can get. You can, yet, it doesn’t mean you will. Personally, I still feel more confident and challenged by the feedback of elders, rather than younger people.

One example: my first deep contact with PermaCulture. It took place in France during my voluntary work for the Association Brin de Paille throughout the month of August, 2009. It was during the organization of the first Francophone Festival of Permaculture that the idea to invest in a project promoting permaculture in my homeland was born. I was sparkling with the strength shared among the young people and their projects. I’m in contact with youth from several countries and I see there is a great energy and potential there. Nevertheless, lack of confidence or lack of guidance can makes us stuck, forget to dream, and live a non-sense that will be translated later as a meaningless, mediocre life. Drugs, all kind of depression states or addiction to money (the youth “master plan for success in life”) are also a shared reality – to dream can either to be fool or to be blessed by money.

The summer of 2010 was marked by my participation on the Ecovillage Design Education, in Sieben Linden Ecovillage (Germany). I got a 72h course-certification on Permaculture and get to know John Croft, idealizer of the Dragon Dreaming – an alternative project management method. I can still appreciate his teachings and support. By late 2010, my project start being assisted by Geneviève Azam, the director of my work at the University of Toulouse. She was and still is one of my greatest mentors and challengers – showing I could do better, not imposing it. At last, but not least, my parents, my stakeholders, are the example Eldership: extremely critical, they will make me do my best, not only because of their own pride but because they know I won’t regret it. Further, no matter how many times I fail, they are there to say that’s not over – tomorrow will come.

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