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Dear friends,
 
It is with some shame that I have to admit; we have not kept in touch, as perhaps we should have. 
But then, things have not exactly been standing still, on our side!
 
Back in March, we told you that we were trying to slow down. That we had found our limits, by exceeding them, and that we would take a wintersleep to recharge before the summer. By now, the summer has well arrive. We did manage to slightly lower our expectations, we realised that instead of going to the moon and back, it sufficed just to go to the moon.

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Pioneer species
For now, we aim to co-create a single rural co-housing, wherein an intensively managed agroforestry contributes both to the essential monetary as well as the nutritious needs of the community. And to do so in a manner that facilitates replication, in order to regenerate the Northern Portuguese and Galician countryside. 
 
Given that, to our knowledge, this is both the first rural co-housing as well as the first productive agroforestry system operated by such a community, at least in Northern Portugal. And given that we are probably the first, in Europe, to combine this social innovation with such ecological innovation, our pioneering still amounts to a Herculean effort. We are going where none had gone before, learning lessons from our predecessors and improvising where there are none.
 
And hence, we still hit our limits. Last March, there was so much momentum going on, so many different processes already started, that we could have easily occupied a full-time team of 5. Instead, we were with 2, one of which exclusively involved with the foundation and the forest design, the other carrying the cooperative, the co-housing and everything else.
 
This was myself, breaking. I had bit off more than I could chew. I was not feeling the joy anymore, and the unrelenting 10-hour days started feeling more like a chore than the pure exaltation which giving the best of ourselves ought to be. So, I had to give up. I had to break down, letting unrealistic expectations slide. Even the moon will be a challenge, and it won’t be worth it if the way there is a bitter struggle, rather than an artful play-fight.
 
So, as it was, and as I know it has been for many of you, I’ve spent the dark of the Corona-times facing my daemons. First, exacerbating an ongoing conflict between myself and Diego - suffering the oversight of making clear agreements from the start - and discovering that the agreements we did make at the time, did not work for us. Then, working way beyond both my limits and my comfort zone, acutely taking over the forest management. And then, in relief, letting myself fall into the abyss. Only to discover that, after the panic of the falling sensation, there’s silence.
 
The sensation that, whatever life throws at me, I will take it, and find a way to use it to my advantage. The glass is not half empty, it is half full. We are  tremendously fortunate to be able to be in this place, in this pivotal time for our species and our planet, and to accept the freedom and the responsibility that flows from that.
 
I have come out choosing to invest my energy in what is, rather than loosing it over frustration over what is not.

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We are a baby tree
What remains, is the realisation that, trying to be a forest community, we are merely: a baby tree. As a tree, in its first few years, we would need protection from the plants and trees around us. But growing alone, we take greater risk, we need more support and we might even die before reaching maturity. But then if and when we do grow, we can be to others what we ourselves have had to do without. We can offer others our many lessons learned and the support of our legal, social, economic and ecologic infrastructure. We are now the pioneers, but we long to grow up a diverse human ecology, able to strengthen and protect a living network of those around us.
 
And in this process, this is where we are now, this is what’s going on:
 
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Growing together
In addition, some of the support we’ve asked for, has actually manifested! In April, Frank van Doremalen joined us as a board member, taking care of the financial administration so that we can fully justify that your donations are spend to further communities of trees and people!
 
And in the midst of the Corona pandemic, Marta Gralewska joined on the side of our cooperative, Ecoaldeia Silverto, assisting us with project management. As such, she is providing much needed help with both internal as well as external communication and is assisting us in formalities.
 
Lastly, we are all extremely excited to celebrate that we have received a tremendously helpful and encouraging donation of 5% of the revenue over 2019 from the Dutch company SEOSlim. Their generous donation allowed us move ahead with the budget of the pantry forest on more than just a shoestring budget. We can now get all the materials we need, we can buy the species that we found will work best, we can innovate further - and then share that with the world!
 
Until the end of summer, I will most probably immerse myself in the construction project. Hence, I won’t be available for anything else. Then, for the first time in 2 years, I finally take a break during September and October. While I am building and resting, Diego, Frank and Marta will push forward with the forest design. 
 
While I’m away, Marta will tend to the day to day operations as well as communication. She’s very friendly and well-spoken in English, Portuguese, French and Polish. For any ideas, remarks, requests or questions, you can contact her directly at marta@solnascente.eu
 
For any forest-related questions, it’s best to get in touch directly with Diego: diego@solnascente.eu
 
With love,
Mathijs
 

--
Co-founder Sol Nascente / Ecoaldeia Silverto
https://solnascente.eu / https://silverto.pt
mathijs@solnascente.eu
+351 964 061 972
 
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