Your NameEunice Lisboa Neves
Cohort AssignmentEurope Summer-Fall 2023, Cohort 1
1. What do you see as your primary work at this stage of your life?

My primary work is to apply permaculture design (design thinking, systems thinking, whole systems design) to create regenerative and sustainable solutions for challenging situations.

I am a landscape architect who fell in love with permaculture and its ethical and ecological approach to design in 2009, and since then has been working in permaculture design, education and research.

I've been designing and coordinating a refugee resettlement project for young Afghans through a local Association called Terra Sintrópica. This project is called Terra de Abrigo and has been running since March 2022 in Mértola, a small village in the interior of Portugal that is at the forefront of climate change and desertification and struggling to fix young people in its territory. Central to our resettlement program is care, care for the refugees being hosted and for the hosting community and land, through designing beneficial relationships that support local people, ecosystems and economies. This project will finish in early September 2023.

Since 2015, I've been doing research on pioneering permaculture systems in Australia and the US, looking to identify the principles and patterns that make them thrive.

2. What role do you see as yours to play?

I believe that in order to create new models of resettlement and well as regenerating territories (ecologically, socially, economically), we need to engage governmental decision makers, at multiple levels, and local stakeholders through a common vision of a positive future for both refugees and these forgotten territories. This will require a whole systems approach to design, in which everyone involved is part of the design process in co-creating better conditions for all. My role is to promote and guide participatory design practices that inspire and engage local actors and communities in need to create their own and unique regenerative solutions.

3. What goals or aims do you have in regard to the above?

In regard to refugee resettlement, I'm aiming to promote new models of resettlement based on permaculture ethics and ecological principles, which can be adapted and replicated in other contexts.

In regards to my permaculture research work, I'm aiming to accelerate succession in the permaculture world, by connecting young enthusiasts with the pioneers. I’ve also been looking for ways to convey these complex systems without fragmenting them, while promoting systems thinking and a whole systems approach to design.

4. Where do you feel your next arenas for personal growth are?

Regarding personal growth, I'm looking to continue exploring different practices to keep me present and observant of the world around me and my role in it. Some of these practices are: Tibetan Buddhism, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, 5 Rhythms... dancing and being in Nature, When I am fully present, I gain the clarity and discernment I need to apply my skills and enthusiasm for the benefit of all.

5. And for professional growth?

I would like to find balance between my professional and personal life, as I have the tendency to engage with complex projects and overwork. I want to rest more, so that I can be more present and more creative in my professional work.
I would like to gain more tools to facilitate processes of regenerative design that unite and empower local people to create systemic solutions for the social, ecological and economical difficulties their territories and facing. I'm especially interested in the working with territories in the interior and South of Portugal that are facing challenges such as desertification and depopulation.

6. What have you invested in to get you where you are?

I've invested so much work, time... and above all trust. Trusting my enthusiasm and letting myself be guided by it.

As a young landscape architect working in Holland (2008) I started feeling depressed because of the kind of work I was doing and the lifestyle I had. I then decided to leave everything behind and go to Nepal to do volunteering work in an ecological village for orphan children. This experience changes my life and presented me to Permaculture.

Through Permaculture I found the ethical and ecological foundations that truly resonated with my worldview and felt empowered to apply these to my personal and professional life. Since then, I have taken numerous courses with world experts, developed several design projects, organised and facilitated various trainings and events and have taken on an extensive research (independent and crowdfunded) on pioneering permaculture projects.

During my research, I've been working and living with various Permaculture pioneers, studying in depth their projects and ways of living. I've also been been creating educational materials to share this knowledge with the wider Permaculture community.

In partnership with my friend and colleague Sara Wuerstle, I've created GUILDA Permaculture a regenerative enterprise that offers services in Permaculture Design, Education and Research.

Since the fall of Kabul, I've been working with my friend and mentor Rosemary Morrow, through Permaculture for Refugees, in bringing to safe haven Afghan permaculture students and peace activists. This led to me moving to Mértola in early 2022, to coordinate Terra de Abrigo project - a permaculture inspired resettlement program.

7. What fields of learning and which thinkers have been important in your life?

Landscape Architecture - Francisco Caldeira Cabral, Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles, Ilídio Araújo, Teresa Andresen, Paulo Farinha Marques, Teresa Marques...
Permaculture - Rosemary Morrow, David Holmgren, Bill Mollison, Annemarie and Graham Brookman, Brock Dolman, Kat Lavers, Doug Bullock, Dan Palmer, Richard Perkins...
Successional Landscape Repair - Peter Marshall, Peter Andrews
Systems Thinking - Donella Meadows. Professor Fritjof Capra with his Systems View of Life has been a great influence in my research and design work.
Buddhism - Candice O'Denver/ Wangdor Rincpoche (Balanced View Training) / Thich That Hanh / ...
Ecological and Regenerative Design... - Bill Reed, Joanna Macy, Carol Sanford, Sara Wuerstle,
5 Rhythms - Gabriel Roth
I'm sure there are many more that I can't think right now...

8. Can you frame your philosophy or cosmology of life? What role(s) do humans play in it?

I see humans as Nature, as part of the web of Life. Conscious beings that are able to observe themselves as part of a much greater whole (Gaia) and therefore understand the impact of their actions at various scales. I believe that when we are truly present, we instinctively know what to do in order to benefit the ecosystem of which we are part of. As all the other element of the ecosystem do. I guess that as a rational being, I am fascinated by intellectual frameworks that help me understand my role in the complexity of Nature. At the same time, as spiritual being, I am also fascinated by the intuitive ways I can access greater wisdom and use it to serve the benefit of all.
In short, my philosophy is to serve Mother Nature with my skills, abilities and enthusiasm for Life.

Date CreatedAugust 29, 2023