Victor Leon Ades
Since its first edition, EDE São Paulo has always been an innovative and evolving course: the 1st EDE ever to be held in the world in early 2006, the 1st in an urban environment, the 1st and only free of charge for all participants. This year was no exception as we started testing some new subjects of the fifth version of the EDE curriculum.
From previous evaluations proposed in 2010, a greater sense of urgency, practical tools and experiences, focus on design and action and a reduction of ecovillage model examples, were all followed through. The latter specifically because so few of our participants live or intend to live in an ecovillage in the near future.
The course schedule was intensive, running 6am to 9pm weekdays, from December 2nd to 17th. The group of 120 was divided into 3 smaller groups, each with a dedicated facilitator and each working in a specific dimension, simultaneously! I was one of the facilitators and what an experience it was!
The idea of having the 3 dimensions - social, economic and ecological – happening simultaneously but in different classrooms, was very interesting. Groups traded places from time to time and through this, perceptions, ideas and curiosity for the next steps were strongly enhanced. World Vision was delivered to the entire group, interconnecting all 4 dimensions.
Themed sacred dances were held every morning, bringing a very special energy and care to everybody. Park and neighbourhood walks, a class inside the Planetarium, picnics and other activities were also arranged.
A team of former EDE participants were invited to help inspire and motivate this year’s participants in 4 important areas of urban environments – mobility, food, networking & communication and leisure & care.
The EDE alumni’s presence provoked this year’s group to organise themselves around these themes:
Mobility – reducing their carbon impact through car pooling and biking to and from venues
Food – checking the quality and supply chain of food, food sharing, collective buying directly from organic and social enterprises
Networking & Communication – week-night and week-end activities
Leisure & Care – trekking, parties and museum visits
This interaction between past and present students proved wonderfully inspiring, offering the former students an opportunity to give back what they had already received while directing the energy of the new group in important and practical solutions. A sense of a bigger family, empowerment, integration and responsibility emerged for all.
New subjects like Networks & Collaborative Actions, Art & Social Transformation, Art & Celebration and Geopolitics were tested with great success.
Last but not least, a final Open Space was held, mobilising people for direct actions and a big celebration with dance and music!
It was a real pleasure to experience all this with a group of 120 engaged and motivated people! What a great experience!