I am part of a group from the Associação Casa Velha called Atravessados, in honor of the village of Vale Travesso. In Atravessados, we set ourselves to meet one weekend a month at Casa Velha. We pray together and collaborate in the mission, whether on the farm or in the local community, in the homes of the elderly and children, in visits to families and in the parish.
The circumstances of 2020-2021 came to limit our mission. Yet, we have found an opportune time to assess more deeply an essential aspect of Casa Velha that brings us together: its ecological aspect.
So, we decided to apply a useful resource, the Ecodiagnostic, from Église Verte (Green Church), the ecology secretariat of the French Episcopal Conference, and disseminated in Portugal by Rede Cuidar da Casa Comum.
We started by forming a small group in November 2020 to carry out this mission. Once we gathered five people motivated for this mission, we started by adapting this Ecodiagnostic to the reality of a house that is shared by many people, where many activities take place, but where a family also lives. We focused on three areas, proposed by this resource of Rede Cuidar da Casa Comum: caring for physical spaces, local and global involvement, and lifestyles and way of life.
In each of these areas, there are several points that deserve reflection – from the consumables of the house to energy efficiency and involvement in environmental campaigns.
For this reflection, we adopted our criteria, aligned with the objectives of the new Strategic Plan of Casa Velha for the period 2020-2025. Thus, not only did we question good ecological practices and the centrality of ecology in the activities and projects of the House, but we sought to identify the responsible people for each matter, proposals for practical objectives, and coherence with strategic objectives. In this way, we will be able to move from the diagnosis on to a concrete and consistent change.
This initial part of the process is ongoing until the summer of 2021 and we are aware that it will not finish in our small mission group. Thus, we will expand and adapt this diagnostic to the wider community, in the form of a survey, challenging all those who have stayed in Casa Velha to think about its ecological aspect. We will assess this general perception. We will meet with the heads of the main groups of Casa Velha, from the Casa Velha products store to the coordination of volunteers and family and, in the end, with the support of other people and communities that are in this process of ecological conversion, we will move on to practice.
This ecological conversion process will never end, but during this moment when we try to give it a greater boost, the importance of the community in the structural changes we need is revealed in a very clear way, and very much in the spirit of the encyclical Laudato Si’. We do it, not because of imposition or inevitability, but because, in praise, we cherish this land that welcomes us!
Pedro Franco is a young volunteer in Casa Velha and he wrote this story originally in Portuguese.