The first day of AJUDADA is now over, and I’m back at the home of Olga, who is putting up a lot of us, including Charles Eisenstein and a group from Tamera community.
All parts of the day were special. Registration was in an old church, and people were given wonderful badges that were hand made from slices of cork, a Portuguese speciality, with cork oaks trees all over.
The opening introductions were out in the open, but only about 100 people were there. Many more arrived during the day, and nearly 700 are expected overall. There is a wide age range, including a group of children, with various activities arranged for them. I think I am probably the oldest. Most are Portuguese, but some were from the rest of Europe, and even some from Brazil, Columbia, New Zealand and the USA.
After the introductions, we went into the Cultural Centre for a series of ‘Flash’ or short presentations from people and groups with relevant projects, including bicycles in Portalegre, Portalegre in Transition, Bioenergy and of course, AJUDADA itself. All events had immediate translations into Portuguese or English, depending on the language of the presenter, which was quite a strange experience. It highlighted the diversity among us, but did slow down everything.
We then walked across town to the public market, where I had worked yesterday on the exhibition, for lunch, which was a lovely salad, prepared for us by volunteers. But by the time we had eaten, and walked back, we were nearly an hour late starting the afternoon programme. The first event was a round table discussion, between Charles Eisestein, Ana Margarida Esteves, Anselm Jappe and me. People seemed to like it, as it led to quite a few interesting conversations for me. After that, there was another series of Flash presentations. My favourite was a short film made this morning by a group of small children, who were all there in the auditorium. After the film each of the were asked to say what children could offer to AJUDADA more than adults! Very sweet.
From there, we again walked across town, this time to the secondary school, where we had two ‘fish bowl’ discussions, one in English and one in Portuguese, the only events of the day without translation. For me, this was the highlight of the day. For a fish bowl, there are five chairs in the middle of the room, which are for the people who want to speak. Anyone in the room can choose to speak, but only 4 are filled at one time. When someone fills the 5th, someone in one of the others must leave. So there is quite a rapid turnover of speakers, and all are equal. People told there stories and others commented on them. Much of the time was spent with one women who started by saving she was a farmer, but it turned out she was actually pioneering a bit of gift economy around her.
We finished the day with another meal, quite similar to lunch, with lots of interesting conversations.