~ Giulia Lepori & Michał Krawczyk

Echoes of Ecologies’ initiatory travel was an itinerary through Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia, to find out about socioenvironmental stories and practices of ecological sustainability. As to largely and uniformly spread them, we profoundly believe in the need for a gentle revolution that leads to a change of paradigm, substituting competitiveness with creativity and individualism with cooperation. We are convinced that to stop perceiving the world as a space to exploit and start feeling it again as the place to live in, we must all become protagonists of such change – from our house till big far away issues. That is why we got up to narrate who is already contributing to the subversion. To those who asked “why South America?”, we reply that we want to see the world from as many perspectives as possible. Detaching from our habitual context helps us sheding new light on current ecological questions – questions that affect us globally, though are defined locally.

During four months, on a work-hospitality basis, we shared the experience of those who deal with: sustainable agriculture and the delicate matter of transgenic crops, agroecology and permaculture, food sovereignty and protection of native seeds, land and water rights, recycling and reappropriation of abandoned urban spaces. But also who helps raising awareness through the media, writing and various artistic forms. Associations, popular schools, collectives or individuals who are daily putting effort for a more sustainable life.

Like we imagined, the journey in South America didn’t exactly follow the map we drew before departure… right now we can say that while half the places had already been contacted from Italy, the other half came to us as surprising changes of plan... the travel really started in São Paulo do Brasil with our friends from Horta CCSP, though still jet-lagged – before that official introduction day – we had already been at Instituto Chão and Praça da Nacente’s mutirão. The people we met at the beginning spread as much energy as to take us till Horta das Corujas, Horta da Saude, Casa Rodante, Morada da Floresta and Cidades Sem Fome. What a start! A full immersion in Paulista’s urban agroecology.

Then a great change of landscape leads us North till Visconde de Mauá’s green hills, where we visited ecologist Joaquim Moura, who speaking and talking connected us with agronomist Marquito. Gone Southward: in Florianopolis we were hosted by his family. The Florianense context offered a lot, we chose Revolucão dos Baldinhos, Morro da Mariquinha and Rio Vermelho.

Meanwhile we get a reply from Viviane, a PhD who among many things cares for seeds. She was awaiting in Porto Alegre, where we left together to the centre of Rio Grande do Sul, Ibarama. There, like in a family, we were welcomed by the seeds’ keepers agriculturists.

On a raft, we crossed the Brazilian-Argentinian border to reach Misiones, where a red-soiled road led us to Colonia Primavera’s school. After our stay with Martin and Alejandra once again we hit the border. Two days at Iguazú and we entered Paraguay by bus.

In Areguá, we were embraced by bioarchitectonic structures created by Joe and Gustavo from El Cántaro. Afterwards, another bus and we are in the capital Asunción, where we were hosted by Mercadito Campesino and Colectivo TierraAdentro. Among various activities, we got closer to the situation of rural and indigenous women. In the end, in Luz Bella, we were involved in the eco-resistance of alternative agriculturists.

It took us a while to cross the Pantanal, ferry-littleboat-hitchhiking and we arrived in Bolivia. From Santa Cruz de la Sierra towards Cochabamba to reach Kusikuna. Through the Andes we kept going upward all the way to Nuestra Señora de La Paz, where we stayed with Alternativas’ group. Guests at agronomist Mariela’s place, we also discovered subtropical Yungas. After few days at Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca, it was the end of our Bolivian experience.

We took as many buses as the hours through Mato Groso do Sul, to get back to São Paulo to Mehl, Chris and Lana. An urban agriculture’s festival and a mutirão at Horta CCSP, it was all we could desire!

Said, done: 4 months, 4 countries, 9070km.

Echoes of Ecologies: a photo-narrative blog