by Taisa Mattos and Lara Freitas
The great journey of Gaia Education in Brazil began in the South American Autumn of 2006, through a partnership with Secretary of Green and Environment of São Paulo and a few other organisations.
A Programme conducted in UMAPAZ (Open University of Environment and Peace Culture) was the first urban version of the EDE (Ecovillage Design Education programme) in the world, carried out for free of charge at Ibirapuera Park, the green heart of São Paulo City. It included groups totalling of 101 participants, and ran for 5 consecutive years. This is where the initial seeds were scattered which then paved the way for Gaia (as it is known in Brazil) and were spread throughout the country.
Gaia Rio de Janeiro and Gaia Porto Alegre were first established in 2009. From Rio to Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Brasília and Terra Una – MG (the first EDE held in an Ecovillage in Brazil). From there, the effervescence took it to the North and Northeast with Gaia Salvador, Gaia Pedra do Sabiá (Itacaré - BA), Gaia Fortaleza and the audacious AMAGAIA, that blossomed at Purus National Forest, in the middle of the Amazon. In 2011 Gaia for Transition Brasilândia was launched, weaving together tools and methodologies from the EDE programme and the Transition Towns Training, awakening leaderships in a huge slum in São Paulo.
At that moment, with it is own shape developed and fully adapted to the Brazilian reality, the programme also acquired special contours for youth with Gaia Youth Rio de Janeiro and, afterwards, Gaia Youth Serrano, in Nova Friburgo, RJ. The programme was also established online as GEDS in Portuguese. In addition, the EDE developed a deep and specific focus with Gaia School - a contribution for improving the educational model in Brazil.
It is important to emphasise the continuity and the diversity of the programme, manifesting in the implementation in various contexts and formats: in urban and rural settings; from 20 to 100 participants; immersive or modular; offered as an extension programmes at Universities, as Gaia Viçosa, at Federal University of Viçosa – MG; in a holistic university, as Gaia Nazaré UNILUZ; and in an Anthroposophic Neighbourhood, as Gaia Botucatu (Demétria).
Other remarkable moments of Gaia in Brazil took place when instructors and organisers of the Brazilian programmes met at UMAPAZ to collaborate with the review of the curriculum V.5 in 2010, and specially, the co-creation of Gaia Home in Rio de Janeiro, during Rio+20 Conference, in 2012, when we could bring together Gaia Education, Global Ecovillage Movement and Transition Towns Movement representatives in one of the most dynamic spaces of the People Summit. Following the Brazilian journey, many “Inspired by” Gaia Education programmes were also developed within organisations (Change Agents Programme), in partnership with public agencies (Inspired by Gaia in Paraty) and inside Universities (Gaia Juiz de Fora), among other settings.
After 10 years, we have certified almost 2000 Gaianos in Brazil, several businesses have been reformulated inspired by the EDE, many hearts have been touched and lives transformed, contributing to this so urgent transition to a new culture and way of life mainly in urban areas.
The EDE programmes are still proliferating around Brazil as Gaia João Pessoa, Gaia Goiânia, while other projects are being developed. It is time to celebrate our intensely inspiring journey, to honour and recognise the history of Gaia Education in Brazil, our achievements and challenges.
There is beauty in recognising the fertility of Brazilian soil and the courage of our small team of transition warriors that have been spreading Gaia around the country on a volunteer basis, without external funds, trusting at every step that we would have enough resources to close our budgets. It is time to honour these deeply involved people, to hear these voices and souls that have been working hard to awaken others from the sleeping giant in the Global South, those who have been co-creating our better common future while promoting Gaia Education around Brazil and supporting the implementation of EDEs in other countries, such as Argentina (EDE Buenos Aires) and Portugal (EDE Azores). After 10 years, being Gaiano here has a special meaning, bringing a unique quality, a recognition and a kind of status - but also the certainty of belonging to our global family.
Right at this moment, when Brazil is facing an unprecedented political, ethical and financial crisis, when violence is increasing quickly, when we still don´t know what to do about the devastating environmental catastrophe that took place in Mariana, Minas Gerais, a few months ago displacing people, polluting our rivers and sea, extinguishing many species... It is time to get together, to focus our energy and to understand how can we effectively serve, consolidating and expanding our contributions.
We are organising a Festival to celebrate Gaia Education in Brazil that will take place in Paraiso na Terra (www.paraisonaterra.com.br), near Brasilia, from November 12 to 15th.
The Festival will be a time and an inspiring field of co-creation, to connect with people with unique paths that participated in this journey, to learn about the most diverse identities of the programs carried out, and especially the opportunity for collaboration between so rich initiatives Gaia Education inspired and boosted over these 10 years. Leveraging these networking fruits certainly strengthens us to innovate in new seeding ahead - this is more than necessary, is vital!
We warmly welcome our dear GEESE and the Gaia Family to join us at this special moment. We will soon be circulating more information about it to everyone – save the date!