SINAL stands for Synchronicity (Sincronismo in Portuguese), Innovation (Inovação) and Joy (Alegria). It’s a living laboratory nestled within the Atlantic Rainforest less than hour outside of the city of Rio de Janeiro. And based upon how my mind and body responded after a month of post Rio+20 field research in Brazil, this experiment in well-being is working. The life force that had been sucked out of me by bad news has been replenished.
I’ve written of the disillusionment I’d felt while working to create sustainability for organic reforestation of our beloved Mata Atlantica. Here I found a place to dig in, literally, whole-heartedly, and be nourished by like-minded people and organic produce from the food forest. A typical lunch would offer a delicious pot of feijão (black beans), with mountains of bananas, oranges, avocados (with optional raw sugar sprinkles—yes please), chocolate nibs, coconuts and sugar cane for dessert! Had they been in season, we would have had mangos too. Paradise.
Alongside of founder Thais Corral, (one of the most inspiring women I know), I met with volunteers from Chile, Argentina, Columbia and the US who came to help establish the organic gardens, and ease into permaculture agroforestry. Everyone’s input, experience and research was respected.
Just as seeds were about to be planted in one of the areas recently cleared of bananas (which were laboriously being moved to a different area, a bit farther from the community dwellings), I put in my two cents worth about checking to see who owned the seed companies they came from. Were they GMO seeds? Chemically treated in any way? We started reading the very fine print.
One of the volunteers spent the better part of a day online to find out who owned the seed companies, and whatever he could learn about their history. Absolutely fascinating—will be posting his findings soon.
We discovered that only one of the companies whose envelopes we held in our hands was relatively clean, separated all the others for a ritual disposal ceremony, and ordered organic, non-hybrid seeds from a supplier online.
If you too need to renew your hope, and are willing to offer your skills to the process of creating a better future, I can’t think of a better place to do it.
Here is their current call to action:
SINAL is currently looking for volunteers who can help as we develop our facilities with systems and practices that will minimize our environmental footprint. Our vision is to contribute to the knowledge of how we, as humanity, can make our transition towards environmental sustainability by simultaneously improving the qualities of our own lives and of our communities. For us, innovation happens when things are implemented in a certain way.
Located 45 minutes outside of Rio de Janeiro in the heart of a lush Mata Atlantica ecosystem (of which only 7% remains), Sinal do Vale is a space where people and group retreats develop skills, methods, and technologies, that can will improve social and environmental conditions whilst also building resilience to climate change.
Volunteers play a key role at Sinal and have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities including, but not limited to:
Vegetable Garden: The vegetable gardens are in their early stages and volunteers will help in the process of creating organic produce. Activities include creation of harvestable gardens, clearing land for future gardens, garden maintenance and general upkeep.
Sinal do Vale Beautification: Beautifying the Houses and grounds of Sinal do Vale.
Fruit Harvesting: Identifying fruit trees, harvesting ripe fruit, identifying fruit that will become ripe.
Agroforestry: We are in the process of building a agroforestry component into our work at Sinal. We are looking for volunteers who have experience identifying, mapping, and cataloging Mata Atlantica species.
We believe that in order to be involved with SINAL our volunteers need to have a drive for social change and an understanding of low-income communities’ issues within developing countries. Additionally we require you to be self-motivated, be able to work both independently and as part of a team—whilst also being able to work on your own initiative when needed. Good communication and personal skills are also a requirement.
In return for the volunteer’s hard work we offer food and accommodation. Special diets and needs should be pre-arranged by the volunteers.
To apply please e-mail your CV or resume and a brief cover letter in which you describe why you want to come to help SINAL and what qualities you contribute to the project .
Send to sinalvolunteeringATgmailDOTcom. Please state in the subject line: SINAL volunteer 2012.
For more info about SINAL find them on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/SinalVolunteers.
For more photos: www.flickr.com/people/sinalvolunteering