With much fanfare, I am pleased to announce that the first community workshop meeting on the Horto d’El Rey is finally happening on Thursday, October 8 at the G.R.E.S. Preto Velho in Olinda from 19:00 to 22:00 for residents of the Carmo neighborhood. My students from the Federal University of Pernambuco have been absolutely fantastic in helping bring this workshop to fruition. They have helped advertise the meeting though flyers and a loudspeaker announcement and prepare materials that the participants will use. I am very grateful for their help. Some of these students will also be helping to facilitate the meeting. Because of my limited Portuguese fluency, my students will be doing much of the work at these meetings with my role consisting of helping mentor them through the process and providing training. Because I will be at these workshops, I am also available to help with the overall process and support my students’ work.
In Brazil, it is quite common to hire a person with a loudspeaker to record and play an announcement. These loudspeakers, which can can be on a bicycle, motorcycle, or a car or truck, play a recording with a public announcement or a commercial advertisement. They are quite common, and unlike in the United States, there are (at least in Olinda) no laws that prevent their use. Thanks to the help of one of my students, we were able to secure one of these loudspeakers; the first announcement happened this Saturday, and it will be repeated this week. The second method for disseminating information on the meeting to residents was the distribution of flyers to households in the Carmo neighborhood, which my students completed yesterday. My students have also been talking with community leaders in the area and making direct invitations, which I have been doing as well. (The video below is courtesy of Valéria de Abreu e Lima. Cool car, no?)
This meeting is just the first of what will hopefully be a series of workshops; the second one will focus on the neighborhoods to the north of the garden followed by a third meeting that will hopefully bring everyone together. The overarching goal for these meetings is to understand the stakeholders’ perspectives on:
- How is the garden important?
- What are threats to the garden?
- How should the garden be used?
- What are potential solutions?
- How can the meeting participants act on these solutions?
I am also grateful that the owners of the Horto d’El Rey property have both agreed to allow this study to proceed and are also interested in participating. In addition to the residents of the neighborhoods around the garden and the property owners, the Brazilian federal government and the city of Olinda are also significant stakeholders because the garden is protected by law from certain changes because of its association with the World Heritage site of Olinda.