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GEN Conference at Tamera

While Adam & Mim where presenting our project to people at the Feira Alternativa in Porto (see below), Cynthia and I headed south to to the community and “Healing Biotope” of Tamera where we had been invited to attend the European Conference of the Global Ecovillage Network.

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We were very grateful for the invitation as we do not really see ourselves as an “ecovillage” as we are small in number, but more a “project” or maybe an “evolutionary eco-hamlet”! The highlight of the conference for us was the chance to give a short presentation about the Awakened Life Project. As there were so many projects/communities that wanted to present, we only had a 10 minute slot to get our message across.

Just to add a little more pressure, shortly before we were due onstage I locked the keys in the car along with our pen drive with the slide presentation on it! We sprang into action and while Cynthia ran into the conference room to tell them we might be delayed,  I tracked down the Tamera odd job man. He angled a long twisted piece of wire through the open sunroof trying to flip the lock, while another female Tamarian stopped by on a bicycle, saw what was happening, and said “Ok we need a miracle!”. And that is exactly what we got as the wire flipped the lock and we all sighed a big and amazed Yes! Then we grabbed the pen drive and dashed into the conference hall. I handed the pen drive to the computer technician as we were being announced…

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Suddenly we were up onstage with a few minutes to convey our vision and show the slide-show of photos we had prepared…There was no time to think and all we could do was let go and dive in so that is what we did! We began by clearly and simply stating the vision of our project as putting Spirit first. I alluded to the popular notion that “we are all One” saying that if that is really true then it means that we are all that “One” and in that recognition we are all responsible for the Evolution of the Whole.

Somehow in a few minutes we managed to convey the evolutionary challenge, profound joy and sense of purpose that comes from endeavoring to live a life beyond the personal world of the desires and fears of the separate ego. Then we zoomed through the slide show of the quinta, the permaculture gardens, the ram pump, the bees, the donkeys, the permaculture courses, the meditation retreats…and, as we finished totally out of breath, we received a huge round of applause!

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Many people came and spoke to us afterward and shared how moved and inspired they were by our bold vision and our infectious enthusiasm. When we asked what moved them the most they all said it was our commitment to spiritual conscious evolution and making that the foundation, instead of just an aspect, of what we were creating. This invariably led into some very interesting discussions about human potential, what community really means and the challenges for individualistic post-moderns who are yearning for communion and higher purpose. We made many new friendships and connections with other projects that I am sure will lead to some inspiring cross-pollination in the future.

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About 200 people from all over the world gathered to give and hear presentations on ecovillages and various inspired sustainable initiatives. What impressed us the most was the big-hearted commitment of so many people who were courageously tackling enormous ecological problems. The most moving were presentations from Africa about projects in the Congo and Kenya that showed incredible spirit in mobilizing desperately poor local communities to actively begin to heal their lands. I have been a great believer in the power of permaculture to effect rapid grassroots change ever since I did my Permaculture Design Course and learned how the healing of our planet is so within our grasp if only we worked alongside nature and not against her. These presentations about Africa, and also one about empowering impoverished indigenous people in India with permaculture methods, showed just how much can be achieved in a short time.

Other particularly inspiring presentations included national one day clean up campaigns that mobilized thousands in Estonia and Slovenia, green urban planning, a desert Kibbutz, and the youth group NEXTGEN presenting their vision for the future.

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The setting of Tamera gave a special ambiance to this inspiring international event. What impresses me the most about the people of  Tamera is their collective commitment to creating a model of a new culture in different fields. For example this arid land has been transformed by the creation of several lakes under the guidance of permaculture activist Sepp Holzer…and they are very delightful to swim in under the afternoon sun…

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This dying landscape, that was gradually succumbing to desertification like so much of southern Europe, is now alive with greenery and life, the old cork trees are reviving and the air is full of birdsong…

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They have also created something called the Solar Test Field that demonstrates amazingly innovative means of harnessing solar energy to cook and to generate electricity using stirling engines amongst other things…

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The lake waterscape and the solar technology present viable working models that could transform the energy and desertification problems in Portugal and also be replicated all over the world.

In the psycho/spiritual/cultural domain we found much resonance with Tamera´s aspiration to be a beacon for “research” and the expression of new human potentials and it was great to connect with people who have a real passion for open exploration and being engaged change agents.

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The experience of the conference far exceeded our expectations and it was deeply inspiring to feel the commitment and care in all who attended to shoulder the responsibility for creating a better world. So thank you to Tamera and to GEN for inviting us and we look forward to being more connected with this vital and broad movement in the future.


  1. Loring Palmer says:

    Pete and Cynthia: Good going—pulling the situation out of the fire [keys and pen drive locked in car] and sharing the joy and technology.

    Are you in contact with the community, Damanhur, in northern Italy? It’s a dynamic and fabulous group. . After the 2009 Tuscany Retreat, I was able to visit the group and their amazing “Temples Of Humankind” that they carved out of the mountain. They’re authentic folks and have one of the most successful communes on the planet. I think that they’d appreciate being in touch with you at ALP.

    W/love and gratitude,

  2. Claudian says:

    So happy to meet you.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Wish you all the best.

  3. I was in Tamera (7-11 july) and it is a pity we did not talk … But I am happy to discover your website. I am going to Portugal again next fall and hope to visit your. I can translate abstract into French …. (free of charge) Best regards.

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