Lisbon June 2013

Teetering on the edge of the Eurozone, in June the pace of Lisbon was reflected by its antique trams and the week long Festas de Lisboa. Minimal public regulation with street parties, loud music overnight with unfettered consumption of sardines and sangria in the historic Mouraria and Alfama quarters. But the workshops following make it evident that this city thrives on ways of life parallel to consumer culture. Self-produced community spaces do the talking and the dreaming. An alternative world of agro-biodiversity and via campensina style food production that feel culturally different with squatted spaces as community permaculture hubs. It's a social mileau that empowers people to build their own through values of self-sufficiency, solidarity economics, and the commons. These are communities based on the self-production of 'raw' realities - raw in the sense that they are without support (from the municipality), without subsidy, without involvement of the culture industry, without permission. But glued together with communitarian energy that innovates its own aesthetic.
In the Graça neighbourhood by the community garden Horta Do Monte recycling facilities are self-made by the community. Such space resources are vital to building resilience in society but they also collide with other entrenched interests as the demolition of Horta Do Monte testifies. Lisbon faces hard times and hard choices; a stroll along the harbour and construction works signal the scale of investment from abroad. The bankers may hold the key but it's the social fabric with its informal practices that do the silent work at settlements like Quinta Do Luizo and Terra Livre at Sintra.

 

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