Healing Waters: The Story of Tamera Ecovillage

My mother is a hydrologist. Growing up, I heard the usual – close the tap while brushing your teeth, don’t shower so long… But there were some additions to it coming from a professional. From an early age, I understood that in the global North, clean, potable water is used to clean the streets and flush the toilets. My mother told me about polluted rivers, barren landscapes, and the animals affected by these catastrophes. She explained to me how climate change disrupted the water cycle. At the time, she worked for a government institution, and despite her efforts, she could not change the system single-handedly. I was disappointed. How to make a profound change and create conditions to nurture it? 

Tamera members working with the group from Palestine on Water Retention Landscape

Three months ago, I started working for Global Ecovillage Network Europe. Soon enough, I received an assignment – to write a story about how communities across Europe are taking action to live a good life supporting the planet. I have heard almost mythological stories about various ecovillages healing landscapes and regenerating rivers and lakes through holistic water management. The communities that focused their efforts on the rising issue of desertification and by continuous and persistent effort, created a regenerative model to tackle the climate crisis. 

Perhaps you know, and perhaps you are only to find out – the story of Tamera ecovillage, peace research and education centre in Portugal. The story of healing and love. An ecovillage, one of the oldest and biggest communities in Europe, and a peace research and education centre in Portugal.

Slow it, spread it and sink it. This principle of permaculture water management can be applied to the work of love and healing, as Anne Bretschneider of Tamera suggests. “As water, love has a flow. It wants to spread and sink deeper.” 

The community of Tamera started in 1978 and is currently a community of around 150, working towards autonomous decentralized models for a post-capitalist world. Their goal is a world without war, governed by cooperation and trust among all beings. 

The work of Tamera is embodied in the landscape that surrounds them. Around 30 years ago, their dedication to heal the land has commenced. In the arid area of the Alentejo region, Tamera workers created the Water Retention Landscape as a far-reaching holistic and regenerative approach for ecosystem restoration. Using earthworks, Tamera has managed to counteract erosion and desertification present across the region. “We don’t need massive technology to reshape the landscape”, Anne Bretschneider says, “The only limiting factor could be how we as humans cooperate and how we create a common vision”.

Earthworks for water retention

As the people of Tamera see it, if principles of natural water management are understood and implemented, not only can an abundance of water and food become available for all people on Earth, but our global climate can also be restored. “Having these water retention spaces full and taking care of it… It gives a lot of hope to the whole community. It keeps us inspired, grateful and hopeful.” Anne Bretschneider concludes. 

The story of Tamera is a story of not merely adapting to climate change, but restoring it. Led by a common vision and dedication, this community-led initiative is reshaping the world. Experimenting just like a laboratory, Tamera has the potential to bring transformative social innovation to the wider society. Yet, to unlock this enormous potential to create a more sustainable society, community-led initiatives like Tamera, would need the support and acknowledgment of policy makers.

Water Retention Lake, Tamera

To learn more about inspiring stories of regenerative ecosystem design to create water retention in communities, villages, and regions watch Water is love film, by Tamera Media. 

Photo resources: https://www.tamera.org/water-retention-landscape/

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