Monday, April 07, 2008

Restoring the Land and Building Community
Vila Fortaleza
January 2008

Vila Fortaleza is a visionary project in the early stages of development. The name Vila Fortaleza means Village Fortress -- not the old kind of military fort but the new notion of a fortress of sustainability, a sanctuary of harmony for people, nature and spirit.

Sat A&A Map
Saturnino showing the map of the planning area to Alexandré and Adriana.

The first phase has focused mostly on land acquisition, establishing family homes, the spiritual center and facilities for receiving guests. Now, people are looking at a larger vision of integrating several land parcels into a plan the involves restoration of the areas damaged by deforestation, preservation of a core of primary forest and building a sustainable community.

A community meeting at one of the recently acquired colonias.


Solon looking over deforested land that is now in the first stage of recovery as pasture with a small herd of cows.



The large pieces of charred wood (below) -- looking almost like modernist sculptures -- are probably the remnants of a single large tree (perhaps a Samaúma Branca)


The past destruction is sad but the glory of nature is that it can heal through its own built-in "recovery program" of new growth (which can occur very quickly in the tropics). Here is a tree in the forest that was blown down by a big storm with high winds. Now there is a new tree growing out of the fallen log.


People and nature working together -- the part of the tree that is not supporting new growth, was sawed into large disks for the paths to the new camping areas.


Of course, there are the gardens for food


and new planting for the rainha garden.



In addition to planting gardens and building new structures


there is an effort to preserve the past. The old seringueiro (rubber tapper) house is being restored honoring and preserving the memory of Chico Mendes and the connection to the living present of the peoples-of-the-forest movement.



Another memory from the past is the old charcoal-making kiln.

Sat Char Kiln

Nowadays, there is a new kiln -- not for charcoal but for pottery.


During June and July 2007, a major cermamics workshop was conducted. People from Vila Fortaleza and nearby attended classes given by Sandra.


Many things things were made.




Then came congratulations


and diplomas.


In this way -- with vision and projects and love and work -- a community and a network of friends are being built at Vila Fortaleza.


More community building photos here.

And many more ceramics photos here.

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