Learning from SPARROWS

Social Permaculture As a Resource for Regenerative Open and Welcoming Societies was co-funded by the Erasmus+ program of the EU, the venue was Ecovillage Torri Superiore in Italy and it was attended by 27 youth workers from 11 countries supported by 5 professionals in the field of Social Permaculture including Massimo Candela, Marguerite Kahrl, Dražen Šimleša, Lucilla Borio, and Silvia Corna.

Permaculture is a design discipline aimed at achieving sustainable human settlements, a meta-discipline, which in addition to some original insights, uses and systematizes already existing disciplines, such as geography, biology, architecture, and agronomy, creating virtuous relationships between them.  The ultimate aim is to responsibly meet the material needs of a community or individual (such as land management, food production, housing, waste management, and creating economies), starting from the observation of natural processes, with a focus on the relationship between individuals, groups, peoples, nations.

The course focused on the concept of the margin: the membrane of the cell, the bank of a river, the boundary between city and country, between migrants and the local population, between disability and ‘normality’, or the border between states. It included a combination of lectures, workshops, and participatory work methods, and using permaculture knowledge, ethics, and the basics of design. Participants learned about their resilience, empowerment, position within the group, the relationships we nurture with other people, understanding and resolving conflicts, activism in the local community and on a global level, and acting in crisis situations.

The course was a transformative learning experience for many participants, that used participatory methods to explore the topics and observe their reflection on their groups.

One day was dedicated to sharing and raising awareness of migratory flows, which began with an action of cleaning a stretch of the Roia riverbed in Ventimiglia marked by the passage of migrants, followed by a meeting to reflect on how social structures and natural forces influence human behavior, and what changes can be made to achieve lasting change. During the course, two filmmakers recorded materials for a documentary film that will be presented in the spring.


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