Almost one year lasted my adventure in ACARBIO and it’s time to take a look back and reflect on this experience and what it left on me.
To begin with, being part of the ACARBIO team brought me one step closer to how I want to see myself, my work and its objectives and how I could possibly organize the ideas flying around my mind and put them into action.
How did ACARBIO help me? The answer comes below…
Reconnecting with nature
For years I was fascinated of real sustainability cases around the world, the use of agriculture as social change, agroecology, plants, trees, farming…in the reality though so far of them, reading about them from my laptop screen in a typical urban setting, ignoring the reality behind them. But if one wants to learn, life offers opportunities. In Tramonti I learnt to be exposed to the weather, to cut wood and start fire for heating, collect nuts and vegetables for nutrition, let myself in the nothingness of the rural winter, appreciate the first sunshine in spring, enjoy the stunning landscape in summer, work the land with the hands, value the insects living there, take care the plants for the plants to take care of us…it’s not a hipster version of reconnection but an original one instead, the one that makes you understand how vulnerable and dependent from nature the humankind is, how delicate the ecosystem is and how important is to preserve it.
Being a group facilitator
Everyone ever worked with people knows how fascinatingly demanding it can be. In ACARBIO I got the chance to work around young volunteers, teenagers, children, people from around the world, local residents. Being a group facilitator with so different groups is quite challenging, but you get the chance to transform your approaches, be flexible to meet their needs, become proactive and creative, friendly and open to people that you never thought of interacting before. Despite training your leader skills and making yourself more confident to stand in the crowd, you get the chance to know that after all most of us share the same fears and insecurities, and there’s the very same recipe to deal with them: sharing, understanding, a smile, some joy (and some small amount of alcohol for adults would help 😉 ).
The backstage of a project
Several times in my past I participated in youth programs, but never before from the view of the organizer. I had the chance to follow all the procedure behind a project starting from the idea, writing it down into an application, the accreditation, the approval or rejection, the budget, organizing the activities, the material, the staff, the location where it takes place, the small but necessary details for making everything functional, collaborating with the local authorities and other stakeholders. And yet be prepared for things to not go as expected, because from one single factor might depend if something will go right or wrong and that’s part of the business. You just make sure to take it into consideration next time.
Giving value to what modernism left behind
Coming from a fast paced society where you see lots of stress and competition, relatively low food quality, career-based lives and individualistic relationships, in ACARBIO I appreciated the whole philosophy around the food, how carefully each ingredient is collected and used, the whole history behind it, the nutritional values, the recovery of ancient grains and varieties, such as the famous tomato Re Fiascone, the struggle to bring back to ordinary life what modernism deprived from people, like working without hanging themselves from the clock, taking the time to cook and have a collective meal, giving this way some space for social interaction and bonding.
Learning to live together
Working, living and hanging out with the same people is exactly as awesome and challenging as it sounds. We all have this picture on our mind that we go home after work to our family or we go for a beer with friends and probably we start narrating funny stories from work or complaining about a hard day. Well, in our life in Tramonti all of these cases involve the very same people! Most of the time it’s working well, but as even lovers find it hard to be together all the time, I suppose it’s more than normal for us to be too. You get the chance to see your limits in demanding situations, to learn to control your nerves (or not), appreciate the others’ kindness and understanding, accept their flaws, accept your flaws, realize that what’s mostly disturbing your to others is mostly the reflection of your own weaknesses on them, argue, be friends again, work effectively together, but most important remain a team until the end.
Because life in acarbio is not always easy and this is why you understand better yourself and the others, try new things, experiment, learn to work on your own and together with very different people, test your knowledge, become the responsible one of your work, grow, realize much later the impact it had on your personality.
In the end, my life in ACARBIO was an originally sustainable experience that I will happily carry inside me for the rest of my life, transplanting the seeds to different lands hoping for equivalent ideas to grow.
Tania Rempatsiou, specialist in Education for Sustainable Development