By Isabela Coelho

The word sustainability has gained more space in the world media and has become a common theme in many sectors of society. But the idea of sustainability is not a new one. Ancestors had this information and made sure to pass it on, generation to generation. One of the most important parts of this self-preservation was in acknowledging our interconnection with nature in a holistic way. At some point in time we stopped listening to our elders. Especially since the Industrial Revolution when we began using up resources and disconnecting from the web of nature that supports all life on this planet.

Within the context of sustainability and green architecture we have Permaculture, a system of design to create sustainable and productive human environments in balance and harmony with nature. Today more than one billion people live in urbans areas. The problems are many, such as air pollution, lack of access to clean water, security and work, garbage build-up, sanitary problems, among others. We all know that it is easy to identify problems in the majority of the cities, but this can turn to our favor if the intention is to create solutions instead of simply attract attention to the problems.

Many urban were never planned according to environmental condition, effects or future needs. A lot can be done to diminish the effects of our past and walk in the direction of a responsible and positive future. One we look to the elements of the city as opportunities to create beauty through design, we start to find sustainable solutions such as:

  • Turn gardens into functional food production areas
  • Turn empty lost into gardens
  • Plan water catchments systems
  • Use buildings to cultivate plants that need partial shade or vertical space
  • Increase native flora and acknowledge the vital functions of natural areas within our communities so that biodiversity is restored and a nice ecological image is created

In urban areas of a country like Brazil there are many people with energy and a disposition to work towards the good. One such organization, The Organization of Permaculture and Art (OPA), has chosen to do work in the city of Salvador (Bahia), in it’s historic center called “Pelourinho”, with a strategy to introduce art-education and permaculture to the boys and girls from the shanty town. These children are seldom seen behind the facade of Pelourinho, nor show up in the postal cards of Salvador.

OPA has a unique contribution to make with the infusion of Permaculture and Art, connecting ecological consciousness to workshops in theatre, circus and music. Youth learn to work with imagination and collaboration. In the context of art, concepts and the ethics of Permaculture are inserted, such as care for the people, care for the environment and proper utilization of excedents from the city. The children also learn to work the soil, and learn about seeds and plants.

In the world we live in and the circumstances we have reached, initiatives of “yes, it’s possible” are of great importance. OPA’s fusion of youth, art and permaculture is a winning strategy for creating healthy, beautiful and artistic living for all, in the middle of the chaos of a big city.

*The Organization of Permaculture and Art (OPA) aims to reestablish this interconnection with nature in a fun, colorful and artistic way. To know more about OPA visit https://www.facebook.com/opermacultura/

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