April 26 - 29, 2012
We gathered from around the world, Kenya, Bolivia, Israel, USA, India, Slovakia and beyond… researchers, project leaders, restoration specialists, permaculturists, artists and activists with at least one thing in common: water. We are a water planet; more than 70% of the earth body is water. We are water beings; around 60% of our bodies are water. All life forms are 'containers' for water, it is our life source, and we have changed the natural balance and flow of water and polluted. As Sabine Lichtenfels, co-founder of Tamera, said in her opening speech: "Water is everywhere, we are all connected through water. Let us work in a way that we will form a global council of water, connected through our mediation and prayers, knowledge about alternatives, and political actions worldwide." Tamera, inspired by the thought of Victor Showberger that "When we treat water according to its nature there will be enough food, water, and energy for every living being on the planet." hosted the water symposium at their site, a model and research center for 'water retention landscapes'.
Tamera has identified water as a key aspect of the healing work needed during this time when we no longer live in connection with the cycles of nature and have built systems of destruction and consumption. A favorite quote of the project from Dieter Duhm is: “There is the world that we have created and the that has created us, these two worlds must come together, this is the goal of the journey”. The first day of the water symposium was dedicated to sharing the thoughts and work of Tamera. Various leaders and friends of the project spoke on different aspects of the model. Benjamin Von Mendelson, a young leader from Tamera, spoke clearly and fluidly about the current situation and the vision of Tamera. "With its exploitation, competition, and domination the present system is a globalized model of fear. This is the world we created. We drink fear; eat fear and wear fear through our use and abuse of the resources of the earth while we should be creating coherent system based on trust and cooperation." Tamera is moving towards a new paradigm as a research center and university for a the creation of comprehensive models for the future.
Sepp Holzer, the Autstian 'Rebel Farmer', is the visionary behind the permaculture water landscape of Tamera. When he first came to Tamera he met a landscape in distress: hot dusty summers and muddy winters, the cork oaks were dying, and he was asked if it was possible to sustain 300 people on the land. He said "If you could see what I see, you would not have this question. This is a water rich land." In his speech he said "If only we could read in nature we could see the water retention spaces nature offers us. We would create decentralized water management, grow a diversity of plant species and forget monocultures where plants compete with each other and exploit the soil. Nature is perfect and shows us the way when we really look. When the soil is covered and shaded by a diversity of vegetation, it attracts the moisture, rain does not run off but gets absorbed. When the soil is hot and hard then rain runs off. There is so much change on this land the last five years. The fruit trees around the lakes are growing and the terraces are thriving. There is so much done but still so little.
Nature is perfect. There is absolutely nothing to improve. We need to accept it. We need to plant trees for our great grandchildren and we can be sure that we will harvest the benefits already in our own life as well as that of our children, who will be happy to continue along our path, slowly building a paradise."
In a time when we are facing climate change and an increase of 'natural disasters', we are increasingly aware that the devastation of 'natural disasters' is human made, human perpetuated, and that it is not to late to reverse the damage we have done and rehabilitate, restore and regenerate the land(and water)scape. During the Water Symposium we bore witness to the good work being done around the world. Rajendra Singh from Rajasthan has been 'greening the desert' in his region since 1985. Faced with the situation of damns, degradation from development, the broken relationship between humans and nature in his region, Rajendra the situation of the world. "The solution for global warming and climate change is local action and traditional wisdom." His project, employing simple techniques and village participation, has successfully 'greened' 8,6000 square kilometers. Michal Kravcik from Slovakia showed inspiring images of simple retention structures that stop run off and degradation, and simultaneous give work to unemployed community members. John D. Liu wowed us with impressive images of large scale landscape regeneration in China and his commitment as a documentary journalist to sharing the most important truth he has found: regeneration is possible and necessary everywhere on earth. Majid Abdellazi brought another aspect of greening the dessert in Algeria, known as 'the rainmaker' he works with weather systems, or 'integral landscape healing', "I call it Feng Shui of the sky. Feng Shui is about liberating energy blocks; what we do in our bodies or our houses we can also do on a planetary level to help the energy flow again."
Water is a political issue, and the world situation was very present, especially during our daily 'global circles', an opportunity to bring personal story to the world stage. The first day we heard a lot of the situation of Africa, and the challenge of 'aid' work. Phillip Munyasia of OTEPIC shared his hope and commitment to work with his community for a different future through permaculture education and work with water. We also heard from the middle east, Nader Al-Khateeb from Friends of the Earth Middle East, the only organization where Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians are working together to protect their shared environment, spoke of the challenges of occupation compounding the issue of incorrect water management. Their work is highly political and focuses on raising awareness, locally and globally, to the situation of the water situation in the middle east towards law reform and long term regeneration. We also heard from Aida Shibli, a Palastenian member of the PRV(Peace Research Village) Middle East, a young group of Israelis, Palestinians and Internationals that has spent several years in education and planning in Tamera and has just spent 6 months in Israel Palestine with the vision of creating and supporting social and ecological models for peace in the region, focusing on the issues of water. Aida said "The question is how to create places where trust can live again and to recognize that we are the same divine being. If we can see paradise inside of us, we can also see it outside."
The being of water, the spiritual connection with this element, was central to our shared experience. It rained throughout the weekend, with a strong clap of thunder in the early morning of the third day, accompanying the birth of a new baby girl into the community. Rainbows appeared, celebrating the union of water and light, and it seemed that all were touched with gratitude for the miracle of water and the gift of being alive. Many speakers referred to being 'guided' by water, the importance of recognizing and connecting to this force. Minnie Jain of Shumaker College asked us: Do you remember the last time you really looked at water? Did you see the water in the glass you last drank from? How often do you speak with the being of water? We take water so much for granted, something so alive. Is water a gift, a right, a resource, a commodity, a thing to be owned by a few… or the source of life, an archetypal fluid that represents circularity, divinity, renewal?"
The human nature relationship was honored and explored, and I was touched by the awareness in so many that the work we do in 'the outer' world rehabilitating landscapes relates intimately with the work in our 'inner' worlds. Ben Tyers, a young Schouberger researcher and artist said: "All life is motion, all life is moving between extremes. We can witness this in our movement of thinking, the cycle of visualization, thought, expression, creation. We need to clear our channels of manifestation." John Liu, who I accompanied during the weekend and interviewed (see the above article "Witnessing the Incredible Potential") also highlighted the importance of clarity in action, it is essential that we know what we are doing as we are part of an interconnected whole and our actions will have an impact. He said "if you don't know what to do, do nothing" and if you do know what to do, be sure that you will be supported, as it is your purpose, your gift. Minnie Jain told me, during an in between moment, how important it is that we all give our gifts, show up with our open heart and our unique frequency, ready to give.
The gift culture was present, and the topic of money organically flowed in to this 'giestig' retention space… as co-worker for healing the human-nature relationship there was a shared understanding that the current systems are no longer functional, our economic system is based on consumption and production, leading to the over use and degradation of nature. Catherine Austin-Fitts, a critical analyst of the global financial system, said in her speech: "The current financial model is destructive of wealth. Since all wealth comes from life and the centralized control of the current model destroys living systems, it is wealth destructing. What we need is to develop many models that are life giving and wealth creating." Geoff Donoghue, working with a catholic charity supporting local organizations around the world, spoke of "a broken relationship with ourselves, the divine and each other". From this root, our systems become distorted and there are great power imbalances. He illustrated greed through the teaching of St Ambrose "if you have two coats you should ask not 'who can I give this away to', you should ask whose coat you have." He said "We have wardrobes like dams" and it continues with "the second car, the second holiday, the second computer…We dam our wealth. Let it seep back into the body of humanity as a single body. That is our task, thats the solution, it is change in relationship."
The gifts from this time will continue to grow, as many seeds were planted, connections made, and cooperation strengthened. A global community gathered to water the dream of healing, reconnection and regeneration. Tamera provided the space, sent the invitation, and received us in a field of research. Their model works is a model for their region, and a model for the whole world. The people and land of Portugal was very present, and there were meetings around the situation of the desertification of Portugal and the vision of '10,000 lakes in the Alentejo'. The idea is that Tamera can become a model for greeting the Alentejo, which in turn becomes a model for Portugal, and Portugal can become a model for the whole world. Through gathering together in one place, we had the opportunity to be inspired by many projects, many models. Tamera emphasizes the importance of comprehensive models where the different aspects of life are integrated in functioning whole, where we are constantly 'eating, drinking and wearing', working with and creating peaceful information. Seeing such a broad spectrum of 'peace workers' shows how far we have come, how much we know, and how much we have already to integrate. And, yes, how far we have to go. The situation is dire, and yet coming together in such a way brings hope through solidarity, it is inspiring to know what others are doing, to incorporate new learning into our work, and to find out how we can support one another. Towards the one, towards a healed human-nature relationship, once again in cooperation with life. As Vera Klienhammes, coordinator of the Global Campus, said "If we are capable of creating community again and learn how to live together we can recreate the original home of human beings, the original home of life, in cooperation with the whole, in awareness for the whole. By this we re-integrate the human being into the family of life."