Monday, December 29, 2008


Soil in Hand.

Here's a summary of excellent articles and links assembled by the International Biochar Initiative

November and December 2008

New Articles
11-19-08, Farm News Online, Oil Mallee Plan Released - Australian Forestry Minister Terry Redman announces a plan for the oil mallee industry that includes biochar.
11-21-08, The Guardian, Finding a Solution to Soil's Carbon Problem - blogger Bibi van der Zee reports on the Soil Association conference, saying "If you'd told me a week ago that I would spend two days listening to people talk about soil carbon sequestration (and be gripped by it!) I would have laughed in your face."
11-21-08, Wicked Local Orleans, Backyard Grower Preserves Eastham Turnip Tradition. A Cape Cod organic grower uses biochar to produce impressive heirloom turnips.
11-26-08, Southeast Farm Press, Manure Shows Promise for On-Farm Fuel. Summary of a US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) study on producing biochar and other products from manure.
11-30-08, The Corn and Soybean Digest , Black Gold - Susan Winsor's article is a general information piece on biochar and soil carbon that quotes scientists Bruno Glaser, David Laird and Johannes Lehmann.
December 2008 Issue, Biomass Magazine, New Zealand Company Converts Wood to Charcoal. Anna Austin tells us of a new "microwave-assisted pyrolysis" technique called "Black Phantom," developed by New Zealand-based Carbonscape Ltd.
12-02-08, The Observer, Plant Targets Farm Waste. Report on University of Western Ontario's launch of a pilot plant to turn agricultural waste into useful products, including biochar.

Top Tens
11-27-08, The Guardian, The 10 Big Energy Myths. Businessman and climate-change commentator Chris Goodall has written a book called Ten Technologies to Save the Planet. Biochar is one of them and it commands a whole chapter in the book. This article is Goodall's summary of his book.
12-02-08, New Scientist, Ten Ways to Save the World. Journalist Tamsin Osborne provides this summary of Chris Goodall's book.
12-04-08, TimeMagazine, Carbon: The Biochar Solution. Lisa Abend produced a report on biochar, its origins in the Amazon and on IBI's recently profiled practitioner, Josh Frye, who is making biochar from chicken manure. The article quotes Bob Hawkins of Eprida, and scientists Tim Flannery, Dominic Wolfe and Johannes Lehmann. Some inaccuracies in the article will hopefully be corrected in a letter to the editor.

Projects and Initiatives 12-06-08, The Toronto Star, A 'revolutionary' remedy for global warming. Reporter Peter Gorrie has a story on the inaugural meeting of the Canadian Biochar Initiative: "Next week, as 10,000 delegates in Poland wrap up another inconclusive United Nations conference on climate change, a small group will gather in Montreal to try to actually do something about the problem." 12-10-08, Houston Chronicle, Team from Rice wins $10,000 in 'Recycle Ike' Contest. Carolyn Feibel reports that a team of students and scientists from Rice University has won a $10,000 prize for finding a way to use all the wood waste generated by hurricane Ike. The winning idea is biochar. The Rice team will use the money to build a pilot bioreactor for making biochar.
Poznan, 11-23-08, King County Advertiser, White Rock Student Heads to Poland. Biochar in Poznan coverage kicked off with this article about Canadian Youth Delegation member Thea Whitman. Thea is doing post-graduate work on biochar at Cornell University and is starting a biochar cook stove project in Kenya "with a view to incorporate this process into the Kyoto protocol (or its successors) Clean Development Mechanism."
12-05-08, Reuters, Scientist Says Ancient Technique Cuts Greenhouse Gas. Gerard Wynn reports from Poznan with a basic background piece on biochar and the IBI.
12-07-08, The Independent, Ancient Skills 'Could Reverse Global Warming.' Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor, reports on a new biochar project by Craig Sams and Dan Morrell planned for Belize and Sussex, and discusses biochar in the context of the climate talks in Poznan. 12-07-08, Treehugger, Betting on Biochar to Solve Our Super CO2 Imbalance. This top eco blog has a report from April Streeter on the scene in Poznan covering biochar, the IBI, and a new biochar venture.
12-10-08,, Africa Calls for "Full-Range" of Bio-Carbon as Climate Solution. This article says, "The African Climate Solution - a partnership launched at the current climate talks in Poznan, Poland - seeks payments from industrialized nations for efforts by developing countries to sequester carbon through land use practices." Biochar is identified as one of the practices.
12-11-08,, Dangerous Sea Level Rise Imminent Without Large Reductions of Black Carbon and Implementation of Other Fast-Action Mitigation Strategies. MarketWatch ran this report from the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development on important developments at Poznan regarding fast action on climate change and the role of biochar. As an island nation facing rising seas, the Federated States of Micronesia has called for the use of biochar as a "key piece of the fast-action strategy" that can be deployed immediately to begin backing away from climate tipping points.

James Hansen, "Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?"

Wardle et al article in Science "Fire-Derived Charcoal Causes Loss of Forest Humus"
Lehmann and Sohi Technical Comment Response to Wardle 2008 Science Article
Wardle et all Response to Lehmann/Sohi Technical Comment in Science

September 2008 National Geographic article "Our Good Earth" includes Terra Preta and charcoal. For the complete article, see:

More Carbon for Soils More Carbon for Crops - Carbon Negative Farming with Bio CharBeyond Zero Emissions interviews Dr Lukas Van Zwietan, senior research scientist of the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), on biochar. To link to the interview or listen to the podcast, click here.

Listen to National Public Radio (NPR) article: Charcoal May Help Improve Soil Quality from April 11, 2008. Researchers say that adding charcoal to soil may provide more benefits for long-term soil quality than compost or hear the complete story, Click here

Photo courtesy of Richard Haard
Charcoal in agriculture: Experimental research at Fourth Corner Nurseries: Link to the article by Richard Haard.
and a followup piece here:

Stephan M Haefele, "Black Soil, Green Rice", Rice Today Magazine, 2007

The Australian Broadcast Corp (ABC) recently aired a segment on Agrichar on Thursday, August 23, 2007 at 8:00 pm. See the ABC Catalyst website for more information by clicking here. The link contains an article, the 11 minute segment, and a transcript of the program. Much of the program was filmed during the 2007 IAI Conference in Terrigal, NSW, Australia.

Johannes Lehmann, "Bio-energy in the Black", Frontiers in Ecology, 2007

Kelpie Wilson, "Terra Preta", Yoga and Joyful Living Magazine, Sept/Oct 2007

Rebecca Renner, "Rethinking biochar", Environmental Science and Technology, September 2007

Johannes Lehmann, "A Handful of Carbon", Nature Magazine, May 2007

"Scientific American Special Report: Inspired by Ancient Amazonians, a Plan to Convert Trash into Environmental Treasure"

Link to Waste Management and the Environment, February 2007, by Ron Wainberg and Adriana Downie: "The Pay Dirt of El Dorado"

Emma Marris, Nature Magazine 2006, "Black is the New Green"

Lehmann, Gaunt and Rondon, "Bio-char Sequestration in Terrestrial Ecosystems--A Review", 2006

Letters to the Editor in Response to Nature 2006 Article

B. Harder, "Smoldered Earth Policy",, 2006

David Chandler, "Down-to-earth Fix for the Carbon Crisis", New Scientist, 2006

Yvonne Baskin, Notes from the 2006 AAAS Annual Meeting

The International Biochar Initiative.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This week commemorates the life and death of Chico Mendes who was born Dec 15, 1944 and murdered Dec 22, 1988.

IMG_3239_edited Monument to Chico Mendes in Rio Branco

His murder placed the State of Acre at the center of world attention and Andrew Revkin's book, The Burning Season spread the story.

[NOTE: This post was linked to Andrew Revkin's DotEarth report The Uncertain Legacy of Chico Mendes. There's also a follow-up post about the critical issues of road and dam building in the region here.

Two years ago the Chico Mendes story was enshrined as a national legend through a 55-episode TV soap opera called “Amazônia: From Galvez to Chico Mendes” which I had the unique experience of watching from a Santo Daime community in Capixaba, not far from the Mendes home of Xapuri.

Before his death, Chico Mendes had organized the rubber tappers of Acre into a popular front called the Peoples of the Forest Movement that successfully reached out to international organizations for support and began the long process of changing forever the environmental politics of Brazil.

Today, Chico Mendes is not only memorialized through monuments, local parks, street names, posters, and T-shirts. Perhaps his greatest legacy is the sustainability movement of green government and large landscape eco-planning that has generated extractive reserves, National Parks, protected tribal lands, and multi-use zoning.

Throughout the first term of Brazil's President Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva, the internationally famous Chico Mendes disciple Marina Silva was the Federal Minister of Environment. Innovative policies were advanced and today Brazil has some of the most ambitious environmental legislation in the world. But the map is not the territory. On the big issues like dams and roads, idealism has been generally trumped by the forces of development and, on smaller questions of implementing the goals and targets of ecologically sensitive land management, the politics of county elections often introduce "adjustments".

I got my first real dose of where things might be headed when I attended Expo Acre and witnessed "Country America" in Braz


It's clearly a different world from the days of Chico Mendes. Mangabeira Unger -- Minister of Strategic Planning and coordinator of Amazon development – observes that the question is no longer whether or not Amazônia will be developed but whether the development will occur in a chaotic or orderly fashion. President Lula states the politics in simple language, “The 20 million people of Amazônia want TVs and refrigerators too.” And the newly appointed Minister of Environment Carlos Minc points out that it is much easier to close an illegal sawmill than to replace the jobs that it had created.

In a world hungry for food and biofuels, Brazil is destined to be one of the greatest suppliers of biological energy. There are vast land areas that can be converted to agricultural production and a national infrastructure is being built to deliver commodities from the interior to the global market place. The big question is whether the new crop fields and pasture lands will trigger more deforestation or if they can be based on reclaiming and renewing degraded lands abandoned after earlier ravages. Unfortunately, burning and deforestation have been moving back toward dangerous levels.

Brazil has a national goal of achieving sustainability and a stated target of reducing deforestation by 70% across the next 10 years that has been met with a lot of skepticism. Acre is one the the great laboratories where we are likely to discover if the notion of sustainability is grand or grandiose. Is "sustainable development" really possible or just a green-washing oxymoron? Many are watching.

How does it look from my perch in this little place in the boonies called Capixaba? I'm only a recent visitor and I'm no expert on sustainability, nor on Amazônia. I cannot say that I grasp the enormous global forces of the 21st Century but I sure can feel them on the ground. My views are just impressions, idiosyncratic pictures rather than scientific data. Change, contrasts and contradictions seem to be everywhere in Capixaba.

There are beautiful views


and devastated landscapes

Deforestation near Capixaba, Acre, Brazil

and vast open spaces.


There are working oxen


and heads of beef.


The main highway connects with a newly completed bridge to Peru, creating the first cross-continental route from the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Lima, Peru.


Now there are "caravans" of Land Rovers making the first "expeditions" even before the paving is complete.


Brochures are promoting Road-to-the-Pacific tourism.


There are new hotels and 4x4 pickups


The little town of Capixaba is getting spruced up with its very first urban renewal project including a center-divided highway


its first sidewalks


and its first strip mall


The main industry of the town -- a sawmill and charcoal producer -- is responsible for most of the local deforestation. I'm told that the logging is legal and the finished lumber is mostly for export.


There are large grain trucks hauling commodities to processors.


A short distance from Capixaba there is the region's first ethanol plant

Álcôol Verde exhibit - ExpoAcre

and miles of new sugarcane plantations to feed it.


Away from the towns and large ranches along the main highway there is now a mix of fragmented forest lands and smaller parcels that were acquired by people who arrived to settle in the area following the first big waves of deforestation and land-use conversion.

The Brazilian government has been encouraging settlement of the interior since the latter part of last century often under the slogan: "A land without people for people without land." The sub-divisions are called colônias and the settlers colônistas. These smaller land-holders may now be one of the keys to future land restoration and sustainability.

I have been living at such a colônia called Fortaleza -- a small family land holding and spiritual center where folks are very interested in healing the land. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the death of Chico Mendes some contemporary serringeiros brought large palm fronds across the river from Bolivia


traveling in a large canoe dug out of a single log


in order to restore the old serringeiro house that is maintained here as a monument to the peoples of the forest, past and present.



Recently, EMBRAPA -- Brazil's premier government agricultural research and extension service -- conducted an all-day ecological and reforestation workshop for area land owners.


It was a lesson in sustainability demonstrating how the land might serve multiple uses integrating agroforestry, small herds of animals, riparian restoration and reforestation into a land use plan.

The key to such a plan is fencing the ecological landscape for the separate uses. Unfortunately, at the end of the workshop when asked how the fencing materials would be paid for, they were only offered the opportunity for low interest bank loans. The land owners groaned and retired for coffee and cookies.

These small-holders, who have a real connection and love for their land, would like a better life both for nature and people. They do whatever they can with their limited resources. And, yes, they do want refrigerators and TVs as well.

Rural electrification arrived in this area only 2 years ago

Light for All

and now most of the simple houses also have satellite dishes and energy meters.


And, considering realities such as rural roads that often look like this


one can easily understand the desire for 4 wheel drive vehicles.

Last, week during a particularly stifling day of tropical heat and humidity, a friend asked what I was writing about. I answered, "Chico Mendes, environmental damage, energy and climate change." She responded, "Yes, it's been getting much hotter here. Air conditioning is becoming seen as a necessity in Acre." As the beads of sweat rolled down my face I said, "I understand."

No, I don't believe that I want air-conditioning and I have little interest in TV but after slogging down a muddy road to catch a ride on the delivery truck and spending 14 hours to get 4 hours on-line at the LAN House in Capixaba, I really want a home Internet connection. Everyone has their necessities. I wonder how they can be met?

My knowledge base is from Oregon where everyone has these necessities -- and more! And, it provides a model for Acre.

Oregon chainsaw parts in Capixaba, Acre.

Back in Oregon, USA we struggled long and hard to save the forest. There were some small victories -- postage stamp size parcels of protection and some better practices. But, even with only less than 10% of the primary forest left, the local sawmill is still cutting old-growth trees. It's obvious how local necessities were met. They were extracted from the forest.

Why won't it be the same here in Acre? Why won't Brazil follow the American model of achieving prosperity and good things through unsustainable extraction of the resources of nature? If it is to be different here, where there is still so much left to protect, how will it be paid for?

Long ago the American naturalist and founder of the Wilderness Society Aldo Leopold said, "We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

Today population growth, peak energy, climate change and more are forcing us all in to an awareness that all beings are connected in a planet-wide community. Global warming and sustainability issues are forcing us toward a new ways of thinking. Might agriculture and forestry provide the tools needed for the conservation of people and nature?

There are now serious discussions about how emerging carbon markets might provide payments for carbon sequestration in forests through avoided deforestation and in soils through biochar. Indeed, there is the possibility that sequestered carbon may become one of the world's most precious trade-able commodities and a significant source of conservation-oriented work for rural people which would be a great boon for both people and nture..

But trading is a tricky business favoring large corporate and institutional players over smaller stake holders and, as recent events demonstrate, markets are frighteningly susceptible to fraud and manipulation. Can they be regulated to give indigenous peoples, small family farmers and ranchers, and the people who live simpler lifestyles a real role in protecting the land?

There are still a lot of these folks on our increasingly urbanized planet and they are the land's most immediate caretakers. They would love to be paid for providing the services that are needed by all. Indeed, these people of the land and the forest -- the people of the vision of Chico Mendes -- may be the key to our collective survival.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Bald Mtn Horizon

It's been nearly 30 years since I had a very special dream that gave me my first encounter with the Queen of the Forest.

Today, that dream remains alive as if it occurred only moments ago despite the passage of time – time that carried me from the cornfields of the State of Illinois to the Illinois Valley of Oregon and a very special spot called Bald Mountain. It was a somewhere-near-nowhere place far from the cities (half way between San Francisco, CA and Portland, OR) but somehow it felt like it was the Center of the Universe. It gave me my first spiritual horizon and a forest preservation mission.

Nowadays, I find myself looking at a new horizon in another somewhere-near-nowhere place in Brazil and somehow I feel again that the wings of fate have carried me to the Center of the Universe. Yes, this place has captured me like nothing else since my time on Bald Mountain.

This New Horizon is called Fortaleza – the Fortress – and it is located in the hinterland of western Brazil two hours by car or bus from the Acré capital of Rio Branco, near the small town of Capixaba, close to the border with Bolivia. This is where the Luiz Mendes family has chosen to build a community of folks learning about living in harmony with Nature and Spirit.

Here is one of our favorite Fortaleza views of the forest and the lake.


My temporary home is a room in a little house


which belongs to the family of the brother-in-law of Luiz Mendes, Senhor Emilio who leads the family center of Beautiful Bujari.

Here is the view from my window.


This is the “office” where this post is being composed.


And this is where I sleep and enjoy siestas.


The main community focus at Fortaleza is now all about preparing for the coming 8th Enounter for the New Horizon which is less than a month away. By the end of the December, people will be arriving from all over Brazil and from many foreign countries.

Here is Luiz Mendes showing the proof page of the design for the new T-shirt and poster.



Three years ago, when I was among the newcomers to Fortaleza, I had no idea how much work goes into preparing the details of accommodations, meals, rituals and events for the annual festival. It's truly amazing what kind of effort is involved. Indeed, nowadays being at Fortaleza is all about work – work, working and works – nearly non-stop.

With his great laugh, Padrinho Luiz says, “At Fortaleza everyone works except for Luiz and Lou. We watch.” I think Padrinho Luiz is being characteristically humble about himself. He does plenty of work.

He is usually wearing his favorite pair of work shoes – some very well-worn crocs that had been gifted to him during a trip to the South last February.


He is often found planting in the garden...


or harvesting manioc roots


or cutting sugar cane


and carrying home a sack of good things from nature


Padrinho Luiz is known as the Master Counselor because he is full of stories of the Doctrine and of his years of living with Mestre Irineu. Today he is an ever-present source of wisdom and inspiration. It is as if he is always “feeding us” -- whether gathering food from the garden, or cooking a new batch of Sacrament


or sharing a story or a laugh or just his great smile.


Yes, Padrinho is certainly doing a lot more than “just watching.”

These days Padrinho is often assisted by Bira, a Brazilian who arrived recently to find his New Horizon after traveling the world for 12 years – including some years working with tours of Disney World in Florida and other times learning yoga and meditation in India. He first encountered Santo Daime in Spain and it was what made him want to return to Brazil. He says that he was doing Internet research on where to connect with a Daime path in Brazil and that as soon as he saw the face of Luiz Mendes he knew that he wanted to study the living doctrine in the community of Fortaleza.


Bira's energy reminds me of the archetype of Hanuman, the great monkey-god-servant of Rama from the Indian epic of the Ramayana. He seems to be everyone's helper, moving from one task to another. He is a marvelous new addition to the Fortaleza community.

Many come to Vila Fortaleza, not only to learn and experience the special energy of this particular place and its way, but also to bring the gifts of other paths. About a month ago a group of Yawanawá indigenous people came to perform one of their ayahuasca rituals and make a cultural and religious exchange.

Fortaleza is very much a center of openness to all spiritual and religious ways.
Somehow it manages to be both local and cosmopolitan. Even the local Capixaba newspaper came to document the event.


Recently, our friend Lucio, who was here last Spring, returned from his travels in Bolivia and Peru where he had been studying healing ways with a curandera


and living in a Buddhist community, learning from the teachings of the world-famous Vietnamese peace monk, Thich Nhat Hahn.


Some believe that ayahuasca is the world's greatest teacher – I certainly do! – and that it can be used in combination with any genuine religious or spiritual path to strengthen one's inquiry, healing, insight and wisdom. Many Daime communities show a great interest in and respect for other wisdom traditions.

One of the Nova Era hymns of Padrinho Alfredo says, “The Master is the one from Nazareth and the mystery is from Amazônia.” As they like to say in the Santo Daime, “It's a study for all.”

Even the physical work is a study – a study in how to stay calm and focused despite the intensity of the labor and the tropical climate. At Fortaleza Saturnino is the commander-in-chief. Not as a rank or a privilege like a boss or a manager but because he is usually the one who plunges in first and deepest... and holds a calm center.


Typically, he carries a large load, works long hours and generally inspires everyone else to put forth their strongest effort.


There's a lot of work going on here – many new construction projects – built largely with the gifts from the forest. For example, there's always a need for structural lumber which is generally salvaged from dead trees in burn areas.



Sometimes wood has to be carried long distances from where a tree fell deep in the forest.



This year's construction projects include an expansion of the general dining area.


And a doubling of the size of the general kitchen.




Soon there will be a new office and visitor center.





At Fortaleza all of the work by “daimistas” is done on a volunteer basis. Padrinho Luiz tells an important story in his remembrances of Mestre Irineu that when Mestre asked the Queen of the Forest to put the healing properties of all the plants and remedies into the sacramental tea, She said that She would on the condition that there would be no personal gain from it.

Nowadays in the Luiz Mendes lineage, all personal livelihoods are earned from sources outside of the Daime. So, in addition to all the community work, Saturnino is developing a cottage industry for additional income, making furniture from tree stumps and pieces that were left behind after the fires and deforestation.








For expert assistance, Saturnino has hired Seu Francisco, who is a true caboclo chainsaw wizard, to come from his home in Rio Branco to Fortaleza with his incredible skills.


Watching him work along a big log, just following his line of sight, is a marvel...



He has been cutting all the wood for furniture and all the structural lumber for the construction with no special milling equipment other than his chainsaw.



Seu Francisco is also a master builder and I'm blessed to have his services for the building of my new home which was started last Friday with the first stake being driven into the ground.


By the end of the second day, he had dug all the holes for the piers and cut and set the foundation


and completed the floor joists


Then, for the first time, I was able to stand on it and imagine the location for the future window of my room and check out the view – a panorama of the forest.


They tell me that the plan is to plant a new Rainha garden nearby for growing the ayahuasca leaf used in the preparation of the Santo Daime. Apparently, in the immediate view of my coming horizon, I will be surrounded by the Queen. Whew. What a fine spot it is! It's like winning a spiritual lottery or something. I'm feeling blessed and very grateful.

On this particular day, as Francisco was building, everyone else was over at the feitio house and garden area.


Some were doing the feitio tasks of preparing the Santo Daime.




Others were out in the vegetable garden.




Little Noé is a very serious worker


He is great at pulling out the weeds.


They were getting it planted with a new crop and generally prepared for Dona Maria who is the in-residence overseer of food, plants and flowers. Dona Maria has been away for a medical check-up in Rio Branco and will return this week.


For the last few weeks Zulede has been here, singing and telling stories as she makes certain that everyone is well-fed and taken care of.



Zulede, who is an especially high-energy person, has a lot to be excited about and she seems especially happy these days. Earlier this year a new granddaughter – named Eva Taio Siris – came into her life.


And, additionally, now she has a new daughter in-law Cynthia who is expecting Sofia to arrive next month.


Geri and Cynthia asked me to send out their love to all their friends.


Pictures speak best so I made a little album with more photos here.

Geri, along with Clayton


are the lead musicians right now and they help in all things.

Geri is often the human cement mixer.


And Clayton is the lawn mower which, in the tropics, is a pretty tall order.


Padrinho Luiz is not exaggerating in any way when he says that everyone works at Fortaleza. And it has a style. There seems to be a certain calm rhythm or tranquility that makes it appear as if no one is stressing as an enormous amount is being accomplished. For example, I could hardly believe it when found, at the end of the fourth day, that Francisco, working only with hand tools (and with the assistance of Lucio), had fabricated and constructed all the structural components of my house and installed half of the roofing.





Truthfully, with all this work going on, I have to admit that I have not always felt comfortable in my role as the one who “watches” even though Saturnino keeps stressing that this is not my time (or age) for physical effort and that watching with my camera and telling the story is my mission.

I guess that what is being challenged is the old achievement orientation that still lives somewhere inside me that causes me to make comparisons between myself and others. Of course, the problem with comparisons is that someone is always put 'up' or 'down' as comparisons create ranks and competitions.

Padrinho Luiz likes to point out that at one time during the days of Mestre Irineu they had ranks of spiritual attainment at his Alto Santo center but that Mestre eventually abolished all the ranks and when he died he left everything as equal. Saturnino has a recent hymn “We Are All Equal” that is now starting to be sung in many centers. Here it is on a memorable night last February when the family brought it to the beach near Salvador.

Saturnino stresses that equality means that everyone one has a special gift, a special value even though there are different levels of development. What is really equal is our need for each other and to support and learn from one another. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons that he has asked everyone in this lineage of the family of Luiz Mendes to learn the hinario Nova Era of Padrinho Alfredo of the Sebastião Mota de Melo family line. .

Nova Era has been the focus of our recent spiritual works. Here it is being rehearsed in the community.

The hymn says:

Give me strength and give me love
My Father where I am
To work within You
With firmness and vigor

For myself, the hymn seems to be saying “let us work with love to go beyond all separations.” Or, that's how it feels to me. In any event, I have heard many visitors comment that personality dramas do seem to be rare here. Perhaps, it's a Fortaleza of Friendship?

The spiritual works here are inclusive, emphasizing connection, mutual support and learning from each other. They have multiple meanings – both at the personal and grander levels – and there is the loving space to allow each person to find their own place.

Saturnino has announced that the hinario Nova Era will now have a official place in the program of spiritual works of Vila Fortaleza and that a special forest salon has been cleared at the foot of an Apiu tree that is growing in partnership with a Copiaba tree. It will be consecrated with the singing of Nova Era during the coming festival.



He further explained that the on-going expansions of the hinarios Nova Era of Padrinho Alfredo and Nova Horizonte of Padrinho Luiz Mendes are providing the instructions and guidance for the new age that we have entered. At this time we are all learning and expanding.

And what does this expansion mean? For myself, it's impossible for me to even approach comprehending what living and working at Fortaleza will mean. I laugh when Padrinho Luiz says that I'm the Patriarch of Fortaleza because I'm the oldest one here. I like to say that, after 70 years, I still don't know what I will be when I grow up.

All I know for sure is that Fortaleza is even more challenging than I had feared and more loving and supportive than I had ever dared to hope for. The power of friendship is a major force here. It has given me a new place, a new family, a new house, and... a New Horizon.

I hope that you can join us someday.

In addition to all the work, we also have a lot of fun.


PS: If you would like to support the projects here, you might want to use the new DONATE button in left column of this blog to make a contribution.