Walking the Dão valley.


‘The goal of the Caminho do Dão project is to facilitate an experience
of being in a healthy relationship with ourselves, others and the
natural world that we are part of.

To read about the project and follow the developments visit the website.

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Saco à mão ~ Bag by hand

Junta-se à revolução: diz plástico não é faz o teu saco à mão!

Oficina Eco~Artesanato. Sacos Únicos em vez de sacos de uso único. Dinamizamos oficinas de decoração de tecidos, criando sacos para pequenas compras. Faça você mesmo: sacos para frutas, legumes e pão. Para ver mais exemplos, consulte nossa InstaPage.

Introdução e motivação:
A necessidade aguça o engenho e a necessidade de reduzir o uso de plástico pode ser vista como uma oportunidade de experimentar ser um consumidor (e criador!) consciente.
O caminho é reduzir drasticamente a quantidade de plástico descartável que usamos e reutilizar os materiais disponíveis, descobrindo-lhes novas e criativas utilizações. Os sacos plásticos do mercado e os sacos de papel da padaria são peças de uso único, descartáveis, mas que podem ser facilmente substituídos por sacos reutilizáveis. É verdade que a maioria das pessoas leva já os seus próprios sacos quando vai fazer compras, mas, quando vamos comprar alimentos frescos como frutas e legumes, tudo é ainda colocado em sacos plásticos. Já existem à venda vários tipos de sacos reutilizáveis. Mas porque não ter sacos personalizados e feitos com tecidos reaproveitados? Então, em vez de usar sacos de uso único, os seus sacos podem ser únicos!

Descrição da oficina:
Vamos transformar peças de roupa que fomos deixando de usar em sacos de tecido reutilizáveis, personalizando-os através da aplicação de motivos decorativos (aplicação de acabamentos em bordados ou outras técnicas de decoração de tecidos). O trabalho da escolha do modelo e da decoração será a tarefa das participantes. O trabalho a realizar com máquinas de costura será da responsabilidade das monitoras da oficina.
O objetivo é que, no fim, cada participante leve para casa, pelo menos, dois sacos únicos e excitantes, além de muitas ideias que poderá utilizar!

Objetivos da oficina:
– Reproduzir peças de artesanato tradicional português e inovar.
– Criar sacos para pão (e para frutas e vegetais) utilizando técnicas tradicionais como os bordados e o crochê.
– Criar consciência ambiental.
– Reduzir a quantidade de plástico usado e deitado fora e reutilizar tecidos já usados para fazer os próprios sacos duradouros.
– Mostrar às pessoas o que é ser um consumidor e criador consciente.

Conceito e execução:
Alda Sousa ~ www.facebook/Ditados-Rule-e-outras-coisas
Freya van Dien

933 626 556 (Alda)

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Coluna Colectiva ~ Ambiente

Website da Coluna AQUI.


The idea for a column dedicated to the environment started with a personal wish to see more articles in newspapers dedicated to the subject of the environment. In this column more than a dozen people from the region of Viseu from different backgrounds, write about ‘The Environment’, and more specifically, about conditions that sustain life and biodiversity in the region of Viseu. The column appears in the regional newspaper Jornal do Centro. The contributors are invited because of their personal dedication and/or professional knowledge related to the subject.

In my view, the environment is the most important issue of our time. Why? Because the environment is what sustains life and it is rapidly degrading with far reaching consequences for all life (including human life) on our planet. I don’t think this is news to anyone, yet both governments and individuals are not acting fast enough to respond. What I notice is that for most people the issue is too big to deal with, both practically and emotionally. It is understandably overwhelming. That is why it is important to bring the subject into the mainstream news media in ways that people can connect to. One way to do that is by publishing stories about how other people see environmental awareness, and how they integrate that into their professions and personal lives.
The goal of this collective column is to make the issue of the environment less overwhelming and more tangible. With a bit of luck this column will also deepen the awareness that the environment is just one aspect of the interconnectedness of all life. If we care about life then this awareness will help us live more sustainably.


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CuidaDão ~ caring for nature in the Dão valley.

The Dão river flows through our home. We hear it, see it, smell it and in the summer we swim in it. Soon after we started living here it became clear that even with the old paper factory upstream not dumping glue anymore, as was the case until 2005, the river is still far from clean. We see and smell the proof of many different kinds of discharges into the Dão. From soap to sewage.
I could not let this ‘pass me by’ and decided to find out what kind of action I could take to address this issue. Guided by the ProjetoRios Methodology I invited neighbors and friends to form a group to monitor the river and organize activities to raise awareness about the environmental issues facing the Dão river and valley.

A few examples of the activities I organized in the context of the CuidaDão project:
Riverside cleanings with the local community.
Artistic workshop during Naturafest in Alcafache to raise awareness about the ecological, cultural and social value of the river.
Film screenings and talks at the cultural collective Carmo81 in Viseu.

~ blogpost under construction ~

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March 2013 ~ moving from California to Portugal

After a trial period of 2 years my partner Steven and I decided to give it a serious go: living at Moinhos do Dão in central Portugal.
For information about my current activities at Moinhos do Dão visit: moinhosdodao.org

Header June 2018

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All that a summer can be. Moinhos do Dao 2010.

What a summer!! The summer of 2010 at The Moinhos do Dao was one to remember. The experience of running my mom’s rural tourism business on the Dao river in Portugal could not have been more positive. The Moinhos was beautiful as ever, and the work that has been done on our accommodations and facilities like the kitchen, made the place even more welcoming. The highlight of this summer’s experience was the way the team of volunteers got along and did their work. We were in a flow together and that amazing to observe.
Having fun doing this work is very dependent on the people you work with and also who you work for: our guests. Also that aspect could not have been better. What fun, interesting and relaxed people visit the Moinhos! And how easily everyone got along!

We had a great team of volunteers. Many thanks to all of them for making it such a fun and relaxed summer together!

Volunteers 2010

Clockwise from top left: George, rebecca, Sophie, katy, Jan, Eva, Noor, Marcel, Paulo.

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Highlight Moinhos do Dão summer 2010.

We had an evening with poetry from Petrarca (Italian) and Pessoa (Portuguese)

Poetry evening

Eva reading Pertrarca in Italian, Hugo reading the Dutch translation afterwards.

Poetry evening

Paulo reading Pessoa in Portuguese, Jan reading the Dutch translation afterwards.


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The Ruth Bancroft Garden 2009 – 2012


The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a 3.5 acre, garden with only drought tolerant plants like cacti, palms, acacias, and many different types of succulents like Agaves and Aloes. The garden is named after it’s founder Ruth Bancroft, who started collecting succulents in the 50’s and 60’s, and has build a collection that is famous in the US amongst succulent lovers. Ruth started building the garden in 1972 when she was in her 60’s. The mission of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Inc. is to preserve this exceptional example of garden design and to continue to develop its collection of water-conserving plants for the education and enjoyment of the public.

Between 2009 and 2012 I worked at ‘RBG’ as Communications Manager, Volunteer Coordinator and Event Management Assistant. In these capacities I worked on re-writing the Docent Training Program, coordination of the development of a new graphic ‘House-Style’, upgrading of the website and special appreciation events for volunteers, amongst other things. While working at RBG I also had the chance to learn a lot about botany, horticulture, and drought-tolerant plants from all corners of the globe.


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Our hands have ‘animalesque’ qualities, and are a versatile base for creating animals, and creatures that can come to live by moving our hands. I have started experimenting with various animals like birds, a crab, cat and just eyes, creating a more abstract creature. The first time I executed this craft was for Crab Cove Nature Center in Alameda California. It was a very successful first try although I learned that, unless I bring pre-drawn cut-out shapes, this is a craft for children in 3rd& 4th grade (8+).



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Adventure Playground & Instruments from Recycled materials.

Between 2008 and 2012 I worked at the ‘Adventure Playground’, a unique Building and Craft playground (there is only one other like it in the USA). Kids come here to work with tools, like hammers and saws, and work on small and large projects with their friends and family. In the playground most permanent structures (we call them forts) are built by the kids. Children work in an environment where parents, camp counselors and staff, supervise play and assist in projects when necessary. This playground is a rich learning environment where children encounter their own limits and possibilities and learn through experience. When people ask us how safe a playground like this actually is, we can tell them that research has shown that more accidents happen in ‘normal’ playgrounds then in Adventure Playgrounds.
For the Adventure Playground I have designed two instrument-building projects and executed these with the children. For these instruments we used recycled materials.

The Music Tower is a larger than life percussion tower that children and parents can play on together. The hand instruments are simple objects made with everyday trash.



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