I love the promise of a New Year — not the resolutions necessarily, they quickly disappear in February’s grey. The promise is a hope, a ‘putting to bed and waking to a new morning’ kind of hope. This year, after a trying few months and a mad move over Christmas, we are starting afresh in a new village, a new permanent home, in the mountains of Coimbra, Portugal. Hope is all the new opportunities that lie ahead, the people to meet and life to create.
The plans and ambitions forming in my head, inevitably focus around community, art, this beautiful setting and the landscape, and sustainability. My visions for the future — my hopes — are grounded in the knowledge that to achieve these possibilities, I must rise to the challenges. Dreams become projects only through hard work, connecting, co-creating and building change.
The challenges are many, and yet, it is the overcoming and background, underpinning work, which sets the foundations. These times are when there are no thanks, just navigating the needs and requirements, working through barriers, finding solutions and allowing space for others to bring their hopes too.
My ongoing voluntary work means that I have an oversight for the variety of work which other volunteer groups undertake. This work is local in nature, although parts of broader national movements, and reliant on the skills and execution of community groups. A fellow Trustee has just received an MBE for services to their communities. I am constantly in awe of the efforts and achievements by individuals and groups.
One such project, itself started as a hope, is the new CREW Centre in Worthing. A small team of dedicated, tenacious and unstoppable volunteers have negotiated a host of challenges to finally open this climate resilience centre. That small sentence belies the huge amount of work, problems and new learning that these volunteers had to overcome, whilst continuing to maintain jobs and families on the side. The hours spent talking to authorities, learning, fundraising, building commitment and enthusiasm from others, not giving up in the face of setbacks, recording all the project ideas, meetings after meetings. This effort — the effort of no thanks or awareness — is everything before, before the public opening, before the real, ongoing work begins. The team, whom I’m lucky enough to know, are truly amazing individuals and a daily inspiration.
Here, now, in my new home with all my new ideas, I am right back at the beginning. My dreams and hopes are in my head, not yet commited to paper. I am learning my area, meeting new people, clocking their skills (a computer expert as my neighbour — useful), finding my feet. I am itching to get going, but recognise that patience will pay dividends. As my language skills, snail-pacingly, improve, I’ll gain confidence in understanding what is needed locally that I can contribute too.
I am excited by the prospect of this new year — I hope you are all too.
If you like this article, please give it a clap — you can clap up to 50 times! I write irregularly but around every couple of weeks or so, follow me to be notified when I do. I’m a artist, activist and sustainability guide, building a new life in Portugal and growing trees. See more of my sustainability work at https://futurecologic.co.uk/. To support my work as an artist, visit — https://www.patreon.com/Postcards_from_Portugal or buy me a coffee https://www.buymeacoffee.com/GClaws. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy it and I welcome any comments or conversation starters below.