The second in a series of three Horto d’El Rey community workshops is planned for Saturday, November 28 at the G.R.E.S. Preto Velho in Olinda. This particular workshop is specifically for residents of the Amaro Branco, Amparo, and Bonsucesso neighborhoods, which are to the north of the garden. (The first workshop meeting was for residents of the Carmo neighborhood.)
Our community outreach was a bit different than the first meeting, which relied mostly on the distribution of flyers to households in the Carmo neighborhood and having a public announcement broadcast via a mobile loudspeaker. For the other neighborhoods, we will still use the public loudspeaker announcement (see below), but we relied more on meeting with community leaders and asking them to share the information about the workshop meeting with their friends. (For this purpose, we provided the leaders with flyers.)
We learned a few things about the first meeting, including better ways to structure the facilitation process. In the first meeting, we asked that people follow a set of rules that focused on respecting fellow participants and allowing people to speak. The participants did not like the instructions, not because they thought they were bad, but because they were unnecessary, and I agreed. Participants naturally were respectful of each other and everyone worked very well with each other. North Americans (like me) like to start meetings with these kinds of rules, but this is an unusual practice in Brazil, and one that feels disrespectful to the participants. It also sent a message of a lack of trust, which was entirely unintentional. Needless to say, there will be no formal rules for participation at this second workshop.
The community-based participation methodology that I am using was also rather difficult to describe to the participants who were expecting a traditional lecture — in other words, a conventional expert to come and provide a solution to a problem. Instead, the goal of the workshop was to empower the participants — as civil experts — to identify problems and then try to formulate solutions that they would directly act upon without waiting for others. I am hoping to communicate this process more effectively to participants at the start of the meeting to more clearly establish expectations.
If all goes well, we will be holding the third Horto d’El Rey community workshop meeting on December 10 in which we will bring together residents from all of the communities along with invited conventional experts. This third meeting will focus more on potential solutions than on identifying the significance and problems associated with the garden. Stay tuned!
Loudspeaker announcement for the workshop (video courtesy of Valéria de Abreu e Lima).