Letters from Chile – Eco Escuela El Manzano, a Nice Place to Learn

Editor’s Note: This is Part X of a series. If you haven’t already, be sure to catch Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, and Part IX!

All photographs copyright © Craig Mackintosh

My time in Chile was encouraging. It gives me some hope in mankind to see a community rallying together to meet present historical realities. Not all is perfect of course. Not all are fully lucid and fully engaged, and whipping up enthusiasm, ethically, in a way that respects individual choice, is a challenge in leadership and patience (sometimes the shock of an earthquake or other disaster can help a little here…), but the good news is that the needed work at El Manzano has more than begun, and it should beget hope for the rest of us – that it is possible to awaken the people around us to unite around intelligent, historically appropriate plans for transition.

The current indoor classroom, at right

On my way out of the country I stayed in a hotel, on the fifth floor. While lying on the bed I felt yet another tremor. I think it was the seventh since landing a month prior. This one made me feel more uncomfortable than most, despite being one of the smallest. I coudn’t help but feel more vulnerable in a large structure, and surrounded by a city dependent on centralised supply lines. I felt that if I’m to face disaster, I’d far prefer to experience it within a community that’s progressed to some degree in taking back control of its needs, like at El Manzano.

Although the team at El Manzano promise to send us updates, my personal series will end with this post. I hope you enjoyed the series, and have come away with a better grasp of the scope of the work happening with PRI Chile (Eco Escuela El Manzano). I also hope that those considering venues for their permaculture training will put this developing permaculture university onto their short list. You will learn a great deal, in very pleasant environs, and your tuition fees will support the development of what is fast becoming an excellent template for sustainable development. We would like support such endeavours on every continent, so that they can in turn help establish and support regional satellite projects. In this way we can raise the profile of permaculture – taking it out of a purely academic or idealistic ‘concept phase’, and pushing it into mainstream consciousness as a practical, viable alternative to our present political, economic and consumer madness.

I thought I’d close more pictorially – showing images of the area to further motivate prospective students to consider Eco Escuela El Manzano as an excellent place to learn. Although the base of a healthy society – indeed, the central platform upon which it must be built – is sustainable agriculture, the great news is that at places like El Manzano it’s possible to learn, and contribute to, even more than that. On the foundation of sustainable agriculture, El Manzano is attempting to erect a structure of mutually beneficial community interactions that include other key components of a truly permanent culture – including participatory democracy and sustainable economics – elements students would do well to observe along with their on-the-ground training, so they can take these concepts home with them too.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a few photos from areas near El Manzano, and after that check out this short video from my visit.

Thanks to all the El Manzano team for spending some time with me and giving me opportunity to share your work with the world. Please keep doing what you’re doing!