17 maio 2012


In the midsts of spring this year, 20 young Europeans came to the most western city within their borders in an attempt to acquire new and share old knowledge of the life of nature in today's world, its destruction and preservation.

Doing so, they perhaps discovered more of themselves and others as well. I dare to say so because the ecological crises is obviously provoked by humans and not by nature itself, so the problems of ecology has mainly anthropological character. Therefore, I believe, solutions for these issues should be searched for within personalities and their crisis in relation to themselves and nature as a constitutional part of their being.

If we take a peek at the etymology of ecology, it reveals it self not only as a study of living things and environment, but also as a relationship between the two. Or similar, Okologie derived from the Greek oikos, has a meaning of a house, habitation. So here, as the name of this youth exchange ECO young suggests, the idea of such a gathering was that participant's views on the environment they inhabit grow younger, are renewed, refreshed, regenerated and even reconstructed, so that, with a certain change that hopefully will occur in their relation to it,  the world, the nature itself could become young and new. Eco young, at least for me, is the return of the regenerating power that nature lost because of the human dominant rule over it, and so the return to being eternally young and forever new. Perhaps this romantic view on the preservation of nature was more actual in 17 and 18 century when ideas of environmental protection were given a start, more of an aesthetic preservation than anything else. So, we agree that these ideas are not new at all. The difference is that today, and this exchange helped us reconsider and remember, people are aware of their own self-destructive power which is the result of the instrumentalisation of science in service of human life stile and the realization of the modernism's program of ruling over nature. Aesthetics is no longer the case.

Different debates during this green week provoked many discussions and reflections, and the individual contribution of participants sharing their own views were highly productive for it showed the group how various are the standing points depending of the cultural, historical, political and economic backgrounds that influence how others perceive and treat their environment. To make things clearer, several field activities were performed where persons involved in this exchange had opportunity to "RE" a lot, that is to REmake, REmix, REdistribute and in this way to REfresh their consciousness of our surroundings, whether this be urban or not. I think these young people recalled that environmentalism is not exclusively far in the hills, mountains and seas, but also in our houses, streets and cities. Ecology is also defined as “The study of consequence.” (Frank Herbert), so humans being the only beings to consciously act they provoke changes that produce consequences that we are used to ignore as abstract and far from us, and therefore not worthy to deal with any time soon.

This postponing of our responsibility towards nature led us to a point where making damage is inevitable. Not only that it prevents environment in its natural cycle of regeneration, but it somehow, ironically, became a part of this cycle. Human impact is now needed, otherwise nature becomes overprotective and its destructive powers are manifested in ways we are about to witness.

Many of the workshops of this youth exchange made clear that the abstract "raising awareness" is not always the answer in making changes. I would rather say that it is more helpful not doing than doing if we wish to aid nature to get back on its track. It is choosing the smaller evil and researching for alternatives of how to reduce damage that we are making anyways. Honestly speaking this is the best we could do in my opinion. Fooling ourselves with over excessive involvement and environmental activism (which is becoming more of a trendy fashion than realistic engagement) is simply not doing the trick if we wish to take things seriously. It is good for entertaining the masses and feeding the society of banalised spectacles. We should accept our weakness and inability in making things better, and understand that sometimes nature's message is "please stay away".

I truly hope that ECO young helped us see that the human emancipation with the help of growing sciences perhaps sometimes went in wrong ways: instead of liberating and developing it led to a form of enslavement.

In my subjective opinion, and from my humble knowledge in this field I dare to conclude that our mistake is in nurturing our instinct of power over things and this is where we go against ourselves. I believe that it is not in the human nature to own things, but instead, we should attempt to enter in a dialog with them, if we wish to understand them better of course.
Tristão Garrido Lopes Faria

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