Let the Streams Flow In

The stream has started flowing (and strong)! Give Thanks!

Sunday January 10, 2016, Quinta das Moitas

Now, with all the rain, it’s started overflowing, along the levada that I’ve been building slowly over the time here. Check the action! …

It gives me flashbacks of when my friend Gertjan and I dug out that small pond after having come back from the Water Symposium in Tamera (April 2012). I had an inspired impulse to create some of my own water retention spaces on the land (little did I know how much work it was to do by hand). I know it hardly compares to a Tamera sized project but for those who only have hands and shovels it’s a good way to make a start and try things out …

Gertjan and our inspired attempt after attending the Water Symposium in Tamera 2012.

All this flowing water comes as a good sign. It reflects back to me the desire and the need that I have to be doing more – and writing more! Admittedly though I’ve had to acknowledge that I’ve been experiencing frustration at feeling held back by the obstacles I’ve encountered on this journey so far. Anyhow, it’s time to stay focused, and my focus, since I returned from Oz in June has been on creating income streams for the purpose of getting this project kicking. For this reason I want to start on purpose by writing about some of the services that I’m going to be providing as of new year 2016, in order to take a more serious approach to funding the development of this project.

How has my experience led me to this role …

Since the initiation of the Earth Neighbours project, I’ve found myself meeting more and more people searching for land and trying to help them through that process in whatever way I can. Also, due to the ease I have with the Portuguese language (living in Spain almost 10 years helped) I’ve been in a position of being able to help friends and acquaintances interface with all manner of locals for various purposes, such as sourcing building materials, negotiating with land owners, liaising with lawyers, arguing with bureaucrats etc. It seems quite fitting then (especially since I feel that it works in alignment with the Earth Neighbours project) to be working in the role of mediator/facilitator to help connect inspired folk back to the land and use this as a means by which I can raise funds for my own project.

So these are some of the services that I’ve started offering …

LAND hand holder

This involves hand holding buyers through the process of finding and buying land.

My first role as a professional in what I guess could be called ‘land mediation’. I recently carried out some work for an English couple, going out with them to view land that was on sale, translating for them and helping them by giving unbiased views and guidance on things. I was able to share what I know (including permaculture design ideas) to help them in finding what they wanted/needed and in return I got paid for it. Win/Win!

So this is one of the the services that I am now providing – helping good people who want to move back to the land and live sustainably to find their own peace of land. I can assist with communication between the local land owners and the potential buyer. I can help out with the buying process and assist with any legal / bureaucratic stuff such as getting your NIF (which you need prior to purchasing the land) and I will also do my best to communicate to you quite honestly my observations and views.

I’ve already carried out some of this work and here is what one my wonderful clients had to say …

I was fortunate enough to have Millo recommended to me by Sophie from Pure Portugal when I was looking to buy some land with a ruin. Millo accompanied me for several days and was invaluable with translation, providing advice on various aspects of building legislation and asking very direct questions to the estate agents and vendors. He was also able to provide me with a long list of English speaking Lawyers and can assist with opening bank accounts and getting Fiscal Numbers etc. Apart from Millo’s knowledge of Portugal and buying rustic property, he is a warm and generous man with an excellent sense of humour and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Millo. As a result of his help and advice, we have been successful in purchasing one of the properties we viewed together. I can thoroughly recommend Millo as a guide if you are considering purchasing property in Portugal.

I will be charging 20 euros per hour for this service. Daily rates can be negotiated.

Land Sleuth

If there is an abandoned piece of land in need of love, and you’d like to know who the owner is then perhaps I can lend my hand at being your land sleuth. If the land is already advertised by an agency then I can potentially negotiate you a better deal, perhaps by even putting you in direct contact with the owner. Exchange would be negotiated on a one to one basis.

Land Connector

In the short time that I’ve started this I’ve become aware of many plots of land that are available around here that could potentially be of interest to good people wanting to start a new project in life. Some of them are quite well priced, and the owners seem to be very honest and straightforward people (which obviously is very important). My friend, Fran and I have teamed up to provide this kind of service to those coming to the area and looking to create a sustainable way of life. We want to start by focusing our attention primarily on this area around here and especially in ‘The Valley’, where there is already a small earth neighbourhood naturally forming (as is also happening in many other places around Portugal). There are some beautiful things happening in that valley and Fran, who is part of the community around Cherry Pond Quinta, would like to see more young families with kids moving to the area.

We’ve talked about what is a fair price for such a service and we’ve agreed that maybe we could start by charging by the hour for taking people out and showing them land (and potentially connecting them with the owner etc and helping them through the whole purchase process if they decide to buy etc). We would charge same as above, 20 euros an hour (as a package service – for the two of us) plus a finders fee (agreed upon prior to commencement of service).

Going with the Natural Flow

So let’s see. Maybe I’ve finally found some work that is cut out for me. I hope it works out for all involved. I’m very clear and serious that this is about funding myself and the development of my project (Quinta das Moitas and Earth Neighbours Platform) while at the same time helping others of like mind connect to the area and to the growing conscious community that is developing around here. I still feel very inspired to actively facilitate Earth Neighbourhoods across Portugal by developing the Earth Neighbours web site to the next level (users being able to manage their own projects and pieces of land they have available around them and providing access to land mediators like me that can help them through the process of finding owners of those surrounding lands etc). Perhaps I can write more soon on how I’d like to develop the Earth Neighbours site. Right now, it’s time for me to go with the flow and do what I gotta do!

Wishing abundance and prosperity to ALL in 2016 and beyond!

2016 = Year of Action

Well, since I’ve returned from Australia (June last year) I’ve had to consider what’s most important here in terms of getting my own personal project going. This thing I call my Permaculture Regeneration Project.

In a sense I feel like I’m starting again, from scratch. New beginnings … and so I’m experimenting with a new approach now. I’m realising there are many characters and acts inside me and in amongst them there is a business man. A character that I have treated with some degree of shame. I see the need now to not only honor and respect that character for having taken care of the economics in my life but also to embrace him as an important part of the next step. I’m feeling that it’s time to start acting, in a way so that I can build income streams. I want to form a pool (of resources) that can be used to develop this project. It is priority number one right now and I can feel myself sharpening up to this. It’s time to open up the dam gates and let the energy flow.

2016 = Year of Action

Since my return my focus has been working out how to get money flowing in. I recognise how I can do so much with it. I’ve for so long had issues with the idea of what it’s backing (This whole centralised counterfieting scheme). I have conscience issues with it but for the moment it seems like it would be just too difficult to try and work against it right now at this point in time. I’ve thought about how economies could work differently and I’ve seen some great demonstrations of economy such as when we were having our work days for example. To see that kind of exchange happen in such numbers, in such a meaningful way, where everyone in the community just works together towards small achievable objectives and in so doing GET SO MUCH DONE! I couldn’t have said it better, because really what I need is to get stuff done! There are so many small projects I have around here that I need to get done, but just lack the funds to buy even just the materials right now.

I’ve been open to doing things without money. For example, I have a piece of land that I was working out an exchange deal with. They were two friends, one a carpenter, and the other a natural lime stone mason. I thought it would have been a perfect exchange, offering a piece of land in exchange for having some of the ruins I have here rebuilt. That would have gotten stuff done! Alas that never worked out due to one of them dropping out around the end of 2014 when a certain incidence happened and one of them got cold feet over it. Many are called …

I’ve now put it up for sale. It has a pigeon house ruin on it. It’s about 5.6ha west facing, but the problem is that last winter was dry and the water mine at the bottom was just dry during summer, so there’s no guarantee of water there unless water retention spaces are built. Which if someone has the money can do it quite easily (Just a matter of finding the right person to carry out the work). I’ve received a few offers from interested buyers but I’ve not come clear as to who will be the custodian of this piece of land. Will soon come clear though, I’m sure.

There is still this one up for sale. It’s got some legal issues but I’ve been trying to work through them with someone who is potentially interested in buying. There is also the potential that a social enterprise may fund this operation via a trust fund. An organisation that is interested in taking land out of the corporate land grab scenario and putting it into the hands of land stewards for land and community regeneration. I’m still speaking with them and getting to know them better but from what I’m hearing it all sounds genuine. It’s largely a matter of time and gaining trust and then finding a solution with respect finding a ‘fair exchange’ between them and someone willing to take it on as their own project.

Then there is this sale going ahead. I won’t go naming names yet, until it’s done. But the interested party is wanting to create a place that can be used as a permaculture demonstration site. I will share more details once the sale has gone through, but looks like it should all go quite smoothly, perhaps within the next couple of months.

So perhaps soon I will have 3 new neighbours. The beginnings of an earth neighbourhood.

I’ve been getting to know a lot more owners of land around my project here, with buildings on them and some with good water sources, so once these three are settled then I can continue on with those investigations. I will go one step at a time. I will also be sharing more news soon on how I can be of service to people coming into the area looking for land and community … Stay tuned!

Bom Ano Novo!