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!



7 thoughts on “Letters from Chile – Eco Escuela El Manzano, a Nice Place to Learn

  1. Postscript: I’ve also added four more photographs to the end of this post, the last of which (the second last photo on the page) shows the state of construction on the day I left El Manzano. The boys there promise to send me updates so I can keep you aware of progress.

  2. These posts were awesome, they took me back to the great moments I had while doing the PDC in El Manzano.

  3. I think we see a new kind of American Dream evolve in South America!

    Here are some words for inspiration:

    “A farmer in a traditional culture “knew” how to make a beautiful house for himself. We envy him, and think that only he was able to do this because his culture made it possible. But this power the primitive farmer had lay in his pattern language.

    And if the people of the town now have a pattern language which is whole, they have the same power, exactly. Whatever act of building or repair is contemplated – building a bench, a flower bed, a room, a terrace, a small cottage, a whole house, a group of houses, a remaking of a street shop, a café trellis, a complex of public buildings, even the re-planning of a neighborhood – they have the power to do it for themselves.

    A person with a pattern language can design any part of the environment.

    He does not need to be an “expert”. The expertise is in the language. He can equally well contribute to the planning of a city, design his own house, or remodel a single room, because in each case he knows the relevant patterns, knows how to combine them, and knows how the particular piece he is working on fits into the larger whole.

    And it is essential that the people shape their surroundings for themselves.

    Since the patterns are patterns of action, and the action will not happen unless the patterns are felt, and created, and maintained by the people whose action goes into the patterns, there is no way the living town can be built by professionals, for other people to live in. The living town can only be created by a process in which patterns are created and maintained by the people who are part of them.”

    The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander, page 353 – 354.

  4. Here is an important essay from Nikos A. Salíngaros in Spanish, which I hope to be useful for you: http://www.math.utsa.edu/ftp/salingar.old/Laws-spanish.html

    Also I see the site which I referred to in some of my postings, referring to some of the patterns in A Pattern Language, is down. Well, here is a new site I found, presenting all the patterns even with illustrations and pictures included. The patterns are listed in the left marrow: http://vasarhelyi.eu/books/A_pattern_language_book/apl.htm

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