The programme was held on Sao Miguel island, an island where plants grow verdantly out of the volcanic soil, where the air is fresh and clean, where people live naturally in community and the ocean is alive with dolphins and whales.
The course was located in Sanguinho – a tiny village usually reached by foot through a steep trail winding past Kahili ginger flowers, junipers, banana trees, Japanese cryptomerias, ginkgo biloba and acacia trees. The EDE took 5 weeks and it had 21 participants – 14 women and 7 men – who were between 17 and 48 years old and were coming from Portugal and many other European countries, South & North America, Israel, and New Zealand.
Participants’ backgrounds were in the areas of healing, permaculture, cooking, marketing, workshop facilitation, science, documentary filmmaking, ecopsychology to name but a few. They described themselves as dreamers, nomads, change makers, students, visionaries, activists, couchsurfers, frustrated workers, some a little lost and somewhat depressed, truth seekers, nature lovers, treehuggers and ecovillagers, some with a predilection for non-hierarchical and participatory spaces, yearning for a new way of being, and calling for a new form of education.
Participants had time to bond in a variety of different groups, in work groups and then in our EDE design groups. The course attracted interest from local and national media, local social entrepreneurship organisations and the supportive town council. Some sessions were open to the Azores community during each of the dimensions, leaving many to be inspired, the trails of what transpired rippling long after the course ended.
The main holder of the EDE Azores space were Rita Tojal –originator of the project, founder of Olhos Verdes and facilitator of transformative processes; Taisa Mattos – co-founder of Terra Una ecovillage and organiser of multiple EDEs in South America, and Filipa Santos – co-founder of O Fojo Permacultura and workshop leader. During each dimension there were main facilitators who held the space, and led most of the sessions, as well as other facilitators who could come and lead one or two sessions, and once in a while a participant would help co-lead a session.
What participants said:
“There are experiences in life that change me for good – doing the EDE Azores was definitely one of those! It was inspiring, challenging, transformative and awesome. It gave me a new perspective of the world that allows me to engage with the planet in a healthier happier way. I feel the world is (also) in my hands and I am now capable to contribute to build a better place for us! I recommend this course to everybody.”
– Ana Filipa
“The EDE journey was deeper than I ever expected it to be. I learned on all levels for my life. I enjoyed the ride through the 4 dimensions, but even more I learned out of the group dynamics, the friendships and conflicts I faced during this time. What I enjoyed most during the time, were spaces for artistic expression. Feeling very consciously how nurturing this is for me, the course empowered me to set my focus for my projects there a gain. EDE Azores empowered me to face the world as it is, and to make steps towards what I want to be.”