REPORT: Eco-Gathering: “Call of the Calafate,” April 7-10, 2016 in Coyhaique in Patagonia, Chile
Honoring Mother Earth, Remembering Our Ancestors and Our Community
We had a lovely gathering in which we shared our knowledge and experiences in different workshops, conversations, and open spaces, and enjoyed living in community for the four days that we were together.
We traveled to the southern territory of the Chile, summoned and enchanted by Patagonia, her people, and everything there that breaths beauty and the spirit of sharing. People from different climates and places came together, making it clear that we are a global network of initiatives working on positive transformation, making decisions horizontally, taking care of our relationships, and working with our differences to advance; honoring our diversity, constructing with local materials, wanting to eat what we cultivate, caring for the soil and the earth. We asked for clean energy sources, community-focused governance, directives to advance the spiritual principles that we are all one, amongst many other things, which by working on little by little we can achieve.
Network Council Meeting
On the 6th of April, before the gathering, we met together to plan the Council meeting. Similar to how we had it done since 2008, it is a gathering of resonant hearts, where we share our stories and we reflect for ourselves in one another the stories of our brothers and sisters that are on similar paths. In these past years, we have experienced times of renovation in our network, Eco Chile (CASA Chile).
Some projects have experienced profound change since their beginnings, changing the locations of their projects to territories farther south in our country and with this has come the internal work that such large changes require. Given these realities, various older members of great significance to the network could not be present at this council meeting, but many new faces were present, especially members from the recently formed local network called Eco Austral (Bioregion of Patagonia and the Southern Highway), who hosted together with Mingalegre the gathering the “Call of the Calafate,” which occurred just following the council meeting of the Eco Chile network. Also present was representation from our friends in Los Brujos, who brought opinions from the local network Eco Sur (Bioregion of the Valdivian Rainforest and the Araucana Mountain Range). Further member representation came from Pailimay, Aldea Domo, Mingalegre, Laguna Esmeralda, and the Bioregion of the Maipo Valley.
We discussed how we can strengthen ourselves as a national network that includes local development, especially the emerging bioregional networks that are part of Eco Chile, and we also reflected on how we can help the heart of our network and contribute to the Latin American Network CASA with greater reciprocity. We talked about balanced contributions, service in all directions, and a provisional work group about membership was formed to create a proposal for the next gathering that will take place in in August. We also discussed our recently published book and how proceeds from its sale will benefit the recovery of Gustavo Lerner, a founding member of our network, who was gravely injured by a forest fire last year at Ecocenter Eluwn.
We decided to change the annual dates of our council meetings and gatherings, normally held in Spring and in Autumn when it is the most difficult time of the year to leave our projects due to the intense work required in these dates to seed and harvest crops, so that now our meetings will be held in Winter and in Summer instead.
We had our first initiatives to concretely support ourselves in sustainable food-production through the creation of an official register of organic food products and seeds of good heritage that can be reproduced in each territory and from there inter-exchanged, bartered, and sold between our groups.
The network is also discussing how to actively manifest the defense of natural and human patrimony in terms of political and social ecology, using available communication tools. For this reason we included a presentation by Peter Hartmann, Coordinator of the Citizen’s Coalition of Patagonia Sin Represas and Aysen Reserva de Vida, in order to draw from the experience of an active role in the defense of a territory.
Our open agenda spaces were filled with thematic conversations that enriched us, especially the theme of hosting volunteers, in which we shared perspectives on our responsibilities in terms of what we give and what we receive; topics very profound for our projects which we hope to continue exploring and sharing in concrete forms with all the other networks.
We invoked the main proposition to care for the Earth and her people, re-enforced our network as Eco Chile, and enjoyed our company as a family. We shared experiences, knowledge, wisdom, and promoted our sustainable lifestyles.