A collective permaculture mandate with sociocracy (Henny Freitas)

Two years ago, we hosted SoFA member Henny Freitas at our Annual Sociocracy Conference where she presented her plan to run for office with a collective permaculture mandate that runs sociocratically. Henny got elected into office (!) and we proudly present Henny Freitas, in English, with her story and an update.

More background information: The Permacultural Collective Mandate of Alto Paraíso de Goiás, Brazil, was born with transparency, equivalence, efficiency, and a dynamic structure, capable of seeking unity within diversity. As a movement that seeks to keep people’s culture alive through caring for the Earth, caring for each other, and sharing knowledge and resources (human, natural and financial) fairly, there was no governance more appropriate to adopt than sociocracy. Listen to this inspiring, eloquent, experience-based story of evolving democracy from the inside – with sociocracy and permaculture.

Watch the webinar recording:

A collective permaculture mandate with sociocracy (Henny Freitas)

Read the webinar transcript:

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: Thank you, thank you, Idit so much and Irena and Sociocracy For All, being holding such beautiful seminars and I think we can learn a lot from it, and I hope to learn with you guys as well. So yeah my name is Henny Freitas. I’m a Brazilian former journalist who once had the opportunity  in one day to  interview the former Brazilian President and on the other day, been pulling the cart of a garbage collector in the streets of San Paolo. So what made me be a journalist was the fact that I could be involved in different fields and explore different fields as we take excuse to be investigating or writing some stories about it, so I was trying different fields in my life and what brought me… Like the attention and the desire to be politician, I think it was the contact with nature, and to give nature of voice and to defend nature, because we are nature voices, we are part of nature, but we know we cannot give voice to a tree, so how we could do that through politics, and then I took a step into permaculture where, you know just like by looking at these three ethical principles of care for earth, care for people and fair share I could be doing my job and being you know, like closer to understanding how we could communicate and be part of nature. And then, like from my permaculture studies, I had the opportunity to be close to sociocracy to the sociocracy facilitator and consultant. That’s a difficult word for me. And then, it was, you know, like last year, a collective mandate brought like innovation into the Brazilian politicians and political aspects. Which resumes on a group of people taking decision together and then you know, like one part of the team, you know one person on the team just brought up these tensions saying you know, like the elections of the following year, which is this current year 2021, will happen and we need to continue having you know, like someone to talk about the environmental issues into office, and also to carry on this legacy of having a collective group of legislatures taking decisions together, so you know, like, I was caught by these tension, and when I realized, we were already forming a group discussing mission vision values, and then we were approaching the principles of permaculture and sociocracy and then decided to run for an office. That’s a little bit of the story, but I’m sure I will be able to explore a little bit more towards it.

Thomas K, SoFA: Thank you Henny, and can you tell us a little bit more about what does it mean a collective mandate, because that’s, you know, part of the name of your organization and I’m interested to know how it happens to be a collective mandate. If, you know, you normally as an individual are elected into office you know but so what does it mean to be a group of people with a link to a representative or more.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: I’m going to answer that but, just like to do a reminder of the etymology of the word democracy. When we talk about democracy, we are talking about the ‘cracy’ of the people. “Cracy” comes from “Kratos/κρατος” the Greek kratos and means power. So its power to the people, power distributed amongst the majority of people.

And when we politicians are elected by people, it means the majority of the population of the people from that city, state or country voted for us. But the participatory process of these events stops there, stops in the election event and then you know it’s very rare to follow politicians who have the access to talk to people who motivate a participatory governing and by thinking of that, the only aspect that would motivate me to be a politician, would be to have this participatory governing process. So when we formed the group of people, we chose to be four and we chose to be two women and two men. So, by definition, we couldn’t have a majority, you know, like, of voting and we were not looking for consensus, either because, you know, we understand that, if we look into permaculture aspect there’s one principle that values the diversity of nature and we are nature, so we need to also value the diversity of ideas, the diversity of information the diversity of different thinking processes. So we then formed a group of four people, and we, four are whole counselors by law in Brazil, this is not allowed yet, this is not legalized yet, we still have Henny as the representative of the group, so there is like something that we go from within the legal aspects and from the outside, so like with the population, we are collective mandate, you know, we do the four of us act in different areas of society and that we use the seven different domains of permaculture, we can go into that later on if you guys are interested in knowing a little bit more. But we do work in a holistic vision, so you know, like, we go into these different arenas and we bring back the information and this helps us to make decisions collectively. So we are four people, but there is just, like, one voice and we work with the sociocracy for that, so we make decisions by consentment and we structure our group using the sociocracy methodology. So I am occupying this moment. I am, like, running this row of being the representative of the group. Which means that I bring all the four people’s voices into the mind, into the office, but one of the first actions that we did was to ask for permission for our operational leader to be present at these meetings in order to do the double link, so this operational leader would listen to the whole other nine counselors and bring back the information to the collective group, but because of the pandemic situation we were not allowed to carry on with this process, but all the sessions are transmitted by radio, so we still do this double link process. So I don’t know if I answered your question,or if I already went into different fields, let me know where I am and bring me back to your question.

Thomas K, SoFA: No, no, absolutely like you’re already giving a lot of hints to a lot of curiosity that I have, probably all of us have. Like I wonder what do you feel are the advantages to work like that, because you know I feel like being a representative of your own, you know, can give you full autonomy to decide whatever you want to decide. Yes, you are a representative of the people, or part of it. So what do you feel are the advantages of, you know, being part of a group that decides together and then you, as a representative then speak in, you know, in the political arena, but representing many voices and yeah, can you tell us a little bit about that.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: I think your last sentence gave the answer to this question because I represent many voices not only the four of us, because what I realize when I am working in the office with the other eight councillors, is that I hear their voices and I don’t know who they are representing. I know that they represent hope voted on them, but I can see this voice being distributed. I cannot listen to all the other, you know, voices behind them, whereas in the structure that we created we do promote discussions, we do take into account all the voices that  accept our invitation to be part of. So when we receive a lot to investigate and to analyze we go to the society and ask questions and ask for involvement and due to the pandemic situation we do everything online, which is now becoming an advantage in this current moment because people are online all the time, through their whatsapp and you know, through their mobile connection. So we asked for their voices and we are having like, a very pleasing responses. So yesterday, for instance, the day before yesterday, I wanted to talk, okay, so I wanted yesterday to talk about the current situation that we’ve been facing here with the renting aspects, because airbnb came to place you know, like all the native people who were born here are being expelled from their houses and will probably have to leave the city because of all the gentrification aspects and this current situation, so I wanted to represent this voice. So, but like with which base would I be speaking from you know, like I am facing this current situation, but I am one person so just going online, and you know, just like distributing these specific questions to get statistics, to get, you know, qualitative also opinions I can represent this much better and then you might question, but isn’t it the job of all politician. Yes! It is, but like for currently who actually does that. It’s difficult to answer these questions, because I myself don’t perceive this happening in the city I represent, which is very small, in the city I was born in, which is Sao Paulo and currently has 23 million people. These voices  disappear. Here we have seven-thousand  and just with these questions we reach about two-thousand people, which is a good representation of the reality that we face and what we do like by working with the permaculture with the seven domains of permaculture. So for those who don’t know anything about permaculture, it’s based on principles and some domains, so there is like a flower of permaculture with seven different domains and we are working with these seven different domains that will, in the end, give us a vision of the whole. So it’s the same as sociocracy if you put everything in circles, so you have like your parent and your focus, specific areas of domains  and then, when you join everything into a general circle you have this holistic view. So what we did was to open the fourth share of this collective group to society and every three months, we are rotating it with a new person from the civil society. So we decided to start with the battle with the domain education and culture. We invited someone where we open a questionnaire for someone who wanted to join us. We received some responses, we interviewed these people, we had a sociocracy election taking place and then this person came to start working with us. And then this person will be then forming another circle that will be carrying their studies on culture and education and coaching and that’s already being part of a new group that will include more people from the society and then, when we joined all the seven domains, and we included a native domain, which is that the women, we need to give attention to the women in our city everywhere in the world i’m sure, but that’s like a current need from our city, we will have, then, like many more voices talking to us, so we are starting this movement in order to show people that they are part of the decision making process. But if we don’t have a structure this voice will never come to us so by using sociocracy, we are creating the necessary structure in order for these voices to be heard, taking into account and being actually an effective part of the decision making process. So that’s the advantage I see, instead of just being me in the office and just saying, like, I think, and I assume, and I do, and I know. it’s just me speaking in the third person saying like we do we think, because I can be based on a solid voice that comes to us from different fields and with different people.

Thomas K, SoFA: Cool and I feel like that if you’re backed by, you know, a group of people really like helping you, you know, to take the best decision, you, I don’t know, I don’t want to use the word power, but you maybe feel more powerful, you know, to raise your voice, and you know, delicate matter for the people.If the people are included, you know actively participating in the process of deciding what’s the best for themselves and Idit do you have a question you want to ask Henny.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: I just want to give you an example, before the question otherwise I just lose this because, yes, we are talking about power and we don’t deny it, and yes, we use a sociocracy because when we use sociocracy, we can distribute this power amongst people that we have limitations within their current and obsolete political system in Brazil and in the world i’m sure. Because I’m just going to give you a quick example of what happened, one of the counselors presented a law in which it would make a holiday one specific class of religion. So when we look into permaculture and we look at this value diversity include  instead of segregating in all these principles and that really gives us, like, the power to then speak up for people, we decided to do like, a replacement for these laws. So we had like you know, we want to make bank holiday this class of religion, and then we created this replacement law which says, you know, let’s create the date of the faith manifestation because we will include this sector of society which has this particular religion, but we are also including all the rest, and that would be like giving voice to everyone, everyone one would have the right to manifest their own faith and we had the support from the society, we did it together with people and they were, you know, like there were no like majority or minority, they were like all saying yes, we want to be included, and then, when we presented, we were just like, no no that’s not good enough, you know, like no, because if I do that what would I say to the people who voted a need and,wants their rights to you know, like have their day be transformed into a bank holiday, so we have is still this type of mentality that although we want include and we want to use, you know, like these social tools that we have now, we are still dealing with the old way of doing politics, so I think what we are doing now it’s a transition to open people’s minds and in the near future we’ll have more of these ways of leading this way of represent instead of just having the old way of just trying to separate and segregate people and their own wishes. So it’s just like yes, we want to do that and we are doing that more like with society than having actually the results that we are expecting within the office, but we are getting there, because they are getting to know me and they know that you know, like when I speak I don’t speak for myself, but like we have they always with us, so we are like in the process i’d say.

Idit Rose, SoFA: Wow, that sounds so fascinating Henny and it feels to me, it’s like really, allowing people to trust that something like this is even possible, that there is inclusion that we really want to hear everybody’s voices and I guess that the old mind sometimes doesn’t believe this agenda. So I feel that, you know, what you’re saying is, for me, my body just gets opened up, we hope that we can do things differently and really if we have time would love to hear about the seven domain and to see maybe the equivalence to them or how they merged with sociocracy. But just before that, a question that I had in mind was when you said you know we’ve had responses from 2000 people. I wonder how does he look in the processes of sociocracy, how do you create consent or how can you really include all these different voices. How does that process look, the structure of the process?

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: That’s a very good question and it’s a very difficult one to answer, I think we are in the process of finding it while we are doing it. Because if there is one thing that I learned with sociocracy, it is that we don’t and we can’t control and predict the future. So what we are doing now is to create these spaces and the structure in order for that to become a reality. But we are not just deciding all the time, so we are doing, like groups of thirties or just by these questionnaires that I launched and I had a very quick response, it means that you know people want to be heard in these aspects, so I just sent a questionnaire and we are now running a program that we will discuss further with people. So in this way we are gathering information, instead of just you know, like imagining or supposing. So that is also the way that we can include people in order to base our decisions upon. So it’s not just like you know we have seven-thousand people so let’s create one-thousand circles with one-thousand people in each circle and then from that, do double link… No, that doesn’t work in that way, we need to do it step by step and the way that we decided to do that was to use permaculture and you know with these circles that we are using to create the opportunity for people to discuss into these focus group areas and then join them into this holistic view and have these holistic approaches. So one thing, that people- we were by the way, the most elected people in the history of the town, and we are like seventy five-sixty seven years old and that’s because we just added these two worlds you know, like we just said, you know, we want to be a group of people taking decision together and we want to put the permaculture in order to build our borders, so people understand that we are not taking decisions because it comes to our mind what’s right or what’s wrong, we have something to be based upon. So you know, like with the principles of permaculture it gives us the idea of, you know, like we are secure in what we are deciding. So the other day someone tried to talk to us about the NGO transgenic seeds and no, we don’t discuss this, you know, like we discussed about organic seeds, because, like our domain area is to talk about what you guys voted on us. So it’s a bit like this so it gives people security also to know where you know, like where we are going towards I don’t know if I answered your question.

Idit Rose, SoFA: Yeah you know I feel that you’ve answered and partly what i’m really hearing and maybe mirroring back is first of all this constant deep listening to the environment, constantly and responding all the time to what’s coming and then moving and including all the time, as you grow so you’re not coming from a set structure but rather pausing every moment and saying Okay ,where are we, where do we want to go, how does that create it, which feels very alive and very very dynamic. So yes, thank you, and it gives me a good start of the feeling of how these structures happen for you. So yes, thank you.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: And we are creating this structure, while we are going and.

Idit Rose, SoFA: That you are walking.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: Yes, yeah because you know, like sociocracy is a dynamic structure, when we started, we were four and then one of the members decided to accept the invitation from the executive from the mayor to be working into the culture area, so he left, we were three and then we said, you know, like we are losing credibility because when we were elected we were four, but we work with sociocracy which is a dynamic structure, so what if this for a person could be included, like every three months we change people, we invite one person from the society we focus in one area specific so we you know, like really go into that which is happening, for the first time now in into the area of culture and education, and we are experimenting. So I say that we are a political lab as well and nothing is static, because otherwise we will just say, oh okay, so one member of the group left, that’s the end of it. No! we can reinvent ourselves and then we just did like an eternal proposal, we went for a consent decision making and that’s it so every three months we will have the opportunity to invite a member of society to be part of the decision making up their own society. So that’s already an innovation and that’s only possible, because we have a structure that is not static there isn’t, you know, black and white, there is no square that gives us the opportunity to experiment with what’s good enough for now what’s safe enough to try, we go with it and then, if not, we have constant and quick feedback process that we can know, you know, like because we have society vigilating us. So you know, I like what you did there, but I don’t like what you did there. Okay so like let’s improve what we have to improve. While you’re doing, because otherwise we just like, retain the structure, we need to do the perfect thing and then we, and then we don’t do anything because we’re just putting energy into trying to do something that we don’t know where it’s going to go to, so yeah flexibility is a keyword, for you know, like whoever is in politics. Because we are constantly being bombarded by different needs and different situations, you know, like before we were talking about climate change, and now we are talking about the pandemic situation and everything suddenly… So you need to have a structure that you can adapt through the needs of that moment, and sociocracy has been a key to us on that.

Idit Rose, SoFA: Thank you, Thomas you wanna continue?

Thomas K, SoFA: Yeah, I liked a lot to listen to you know what’s been the people’s response so, you know, people seem to be happy, you know, to be able to participate in a different way and yeah like I really would be interested to know, especially in the covid crisis what is meant this participation in such a harsh moment for people and so that’s for sure a question, but then now i’m also really interested to know the politicians response to those people that have been there, maybe elected multiple times you know, like, what did they think about your group, like, did they think that you were just a group of political weirdos?  What about that?

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: We are all for sure navigating this into this world of politics for the first time, so we are, you know, all new sailors learning how to, as sociocracy says learning how to navigate while you’re building our own paddles. So today I just heard that for the first time, you know, like ohhh Henny and her group, you know, the Mandato Coletivo Permacultural were the most elected counselors, had the most votes of these counselors in  history and nobody knew who Henny was. Because you know, like there was just like my face stamped in the number in the box and nobody knew who I was, you know, and and my hair is tied up, but I have like a really long dreadlock hair and all these kind of hippie, foreigner attitude coming into a town that has its natural beauty and it needs to be taken care of. So they were like, who is she and what does she want to do here, you know, like never heard of it and all the other people, you know, like…

But with the collective group we were lucky also because that’s the second time that it happened in sequence in our city. Before us, I like to go back to nature and say that you know when we look into a forest, we see, like all the trees and this beautiful atmosphere that all the trees combined created, but that started with something and that’s something we’re like the pioneers so we started with one tree that suffered a lot to grow, but  created like enough shade for the other one to grow, and because of the leaves it enhance like, the soil and made sure that other trees would have the enough material to grow and that and then that generated life. So the pioneers of the movement were, like the previous five people that decided to innovate into politics as being called counselors and now we have you know, like a movement in Brazil, that we have, I think thirty collective mandates spread out in our country and now these thirty groups are trying to change the law in order for the constitution of Brazil to accept this new way of politicians and politics. So it’s a part of a movement in our like, whenever it starts by ourselves, and will never end by ourselves. If that’s not good enough people will just drop it and say hmmm that doesn’t work. But why do we have the possibility to experiment, this is what we are doing and with the participation of people, they are the ones to testify and approve if this is the best for the system. But one thing is clear to us in Brazil you know, like, the way politics are doing, we don’t want this any longer. That’s why the changes are appearing. We don’t have the solution for all. But we are trying different ways and actually being innovative in the political arena and the politics scenario. Where is going to lead us? History will tell, we don’t  have the answer yet.

Thomas K, SoFA: Thank Henny, I always like, I thought for a long time that revolutions happen, one day all of a sudden, but you know from what i’ve been hearing, seems like that revolution is going to be like really like you know, it’s a process that has to be built, and has to evolve and to learn from practicing. Do you feel like you’re trying to revolutionize the system, the democratic system, or you wouldn’t say that.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: I would say that I’m trying to evolutionize

Take the ‘R’ out of it, I think the revolutionaries were back in the 70s, you know, like, Bill Mollison and creating along with his people the principles of permaculture and get our Edinburg and he’s own industrial you know, like, into his job into his, I forgot the name like, enterprise, he created the sociocracy methodology I think those were the revolutionaries and what we did was just like to combine it and try to follow the steps of this evolution. And if we imagine that this was all created in the 70s, you know, like all the sociocracy and permaculture where found you know, like in this in the way that we know it, as if today, they were introduced in  the 70s, and in the 70s here in Brazil, we have a dictatorship. So does dictatorship prevented people from speaking up for themselves, they did, and it was a very revolutionary moment. By then, but they had serious consequences, you know, like they were tortured, they were imprisoned they had to skip the country in order to survive, now it’s not happening anymore, so we you know, like, the tree was planted in the 70s, and now we are just like taking the fruits and sharing it with society. So I think these pioneers that were mentioned before, opened up the ways, you know, for us to be able to explore and experiment. So that’s why I like to say that we are doing a laboratory of these experiences and as a politician, you know I’m also part of a movement called Garn, which stands for Global Alliance For The Rights of Nature, so we are giving rights to nature, because nature has its own rights, but if we don’t recognize it by law wecan just like burn extract without any, you know, any limits so now that we are in power, we have the power to give voice to nature and this is what we are doing now. So we are just learning what are the needs of nature and give a voice to it, so we are taking our internal table, I don’t know how to say that thing in English, but we are you know, like changing that in order for nature to have its own right, secured, were giving voice to the rivers, you know, like we are writing laws to protect the river and yesterday I had a meeting with a very smart and intelligent guy who said, you know, like they’ve river just what we see, but we don’t tend to pay attention to the invisible part which starts with the rain. So the rain comes and fuses the underneath table, I don’t know how to say that, in English, either, and then that will form, like the streams that will, you know, join rivers that will join bigger rivers that will then go to the ocean. If we don’t have this system, you know, this holistic approach to it we will forget the importance of the element  water and the importance of just give the right to the river to be clean. Because we are just like extracting, extracting,  extracting, polluting, polluting, polluting and we forget that we need it to be able to survive. And the current system that we live in, you know, like with our toilets, just like there’s pure water coming and then, when we flush it we don’t know where it goes, because nothing is being treated, I mean some treatments exist but that’s not majority, at least not here in the city that I am currently representing. So, how we can also come up with solutions not just creating laws but also to give solutions to people, at least in order for them to think differently and to have a closer look to the element. Another example is like today, the garbage, the dumping place that we have, you know, people just say I think they should be extinct at all, we should move places but the dumping place the garbage area just exist because we produce garbage, so like what are we doing you know, like shall we change our mentality or change our culture and delay the way we live or shall we just like be comfortable in our seats complaining about how system works. So it’s not just like, take away the system or is to inject, you know, a positive virus into the system to change it from within, and now we have the power to reach more people through actions and just like by showing examples of how clean systems work or you know, like alternatives to live a more healthy and sustainable lives, we need to think about regeneration, so now we are you know, making laws, creating laws to think about regenerative systems. And not just to sustain a system that we can no longer sustain. So it’s a change of mentality, it’s a change of a metaphor in order to act differently. So by being this group of people who are working with permaculture and sociocracy into politics it’s already a way to just say oohhh other ways are possible, so let’s look closer into this aspect of life and see how we can learn from nature and create laws that will allow nature, just to flourish, because by doing that, we are also being benefited by these changes. And then understand that we are one in this whole universe. It was almost a preach you know, like, amen to that because that’s how it’s we are changing our way of thinking, and not just being greedy or you know, like, these I want from me and these law that i’m creating just benefiting part of the society, who then is the way they, you know, they’re going to come back with the money and then do like, build more more concrete, or whatever you know it’s just like yeah. And Autoparadiso has this alternative mindset. So we also couldn’t do that, I think in São Paulol, for example, twenty three million people, you know I would be just like one more, but here it says most cities, so we should act where we can make difference, and this is what we are trying, at least. And the result is that you know, like we’ve been invited to talk about it, so you know we are reaching more people so i’m already happy with the work we’ve been doing.

Thomas K, SoFA: That’s wonderful. So I think it’s fifty minutes we started to end I think it’s a good moment to see if there’s some questions from the audience, yeah and so yeah feel free to drop a question on the chat or and Irina will keep a look on that.

Irena Kaszewska, SoFA: Yeah you can write it on, in the chat or you can also raise your hand and just say your question.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: Don’t be shy guys come on.

Irena Kaszewska, SoFA: There’s a question, no pushback ever? Do you want to elaborate?

Ted Rau (SoFA):  Well, it sounded like there was a lot of appreciation, which is wonderful, and I would love to hear more about things that maybe people have said or that you read between the lines, how far out is that. But I guess I’m curious whether, you know, how we talked about the immune response of the system, you know when you when you try and like, change things I’m just curious about the immune response of people who want things the way they are.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: The which response sorry Ted?

Ted Rau (SoFA): The immune response. You know, like some people response, I understand that, but the old system fighting back and wanting to keep things the way they are. Have you encountered that and how did that manifest?

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: That will, when you present a change, there will always be resistance and I think correlating that to sociocracy tension, when you say tension, or like ohh I thought tension, I want to share it, when it’s just subjective to one’s perception It can create like some fissures and some conflicts and some resistance. But, what can we do I mean like we just go with this resistance also but so far the only resistance that we’ve realized was the fact that when I am in office, and each time I say we we we they refer to me me me so it’s it seems that you know as almost they exclude the understanding that we are a group of four people that dialogue with the whole society. So then when I make sure that is just like the Via Dora Henny you know, like Henny the counselor Henny all the time. And then I said and I always say you know, like we from the Mandato Coletivo Permacultural And there was one time that one of them were just like talking to me and say you know, like, we cannot even write the name in the minutes, like, so they put instead of putting like in capital letters, they will just put like in lower letters not recognizing the system that we are creating. So I think the resistance is more like within the office than outside. Outside we’re just like gaining more attention, but with being, like, more into people’s eyes also you know, like it doesn’t mean that because we were elected, we just accomplished our mission you know, like my phone doesn’t stop ringing it doesn’t have like a time for that to happen, you know, like I received phone calls, messages and try waiting like half an hour to answer they are read like oh what’s happening, you know, like, you need to talk to us. So it’s much easier in a way to talk to people, because we are part of them and we never made a separation, but within the office there is still this going on, but like just by using different vocabulary, I see that people are catching it, you know, like when I say Oh, you know, like let’s do a collective work, you know, like in the squares. Because we just like, unite people, and then we just like, refurbish a square you know we, plant trees in the square and we look after it. People just coming and the politicians around me are just like replicating these words. And the president of the Office for example he, one day is like the law to be voted he goes around the every one, and then the last one is the one that introduced the requirement or whatever it’s called in English, like the document so they’re like some similarities that I can see and and just by repeating these new vocabulary to them they accepted more and more, and some of them are already recognized in respecting more the way that we decided to do things, but I think the resistance is more within the office then then outside I don’t know if this is what he wanted to know Ted or.

Ted Rau (SoFA): It was perfect. No, this is perfect because it sometimes seems like the system is lagging behind right, but people are actually already very ready so that actually goes perfectly along with what you’re saying thank you so much.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: Yeah, and one very quick example of that you know, like we’ve been as counselors we’ve been invited, our city has been invited to join the whole state of counselors, so we had a meeting with you know, like I don’t know hundreds of people, but in a very big areas, so we, we were able to respect, like all these covid things, restrictions. But you know, like, they already had the schedule, I think it was three days and they already had the schedule of who we’re going to talk to. And then, when they found out that I was there, I was immediately invited to talk about this new way of doing politics, because we are the only one in the whole state that is working like this. And it’s new to everyone so you know, like people were just like, asking me questions and wanting to find out more. How we did that, how we were elected, how we take decisions, how we listened to the society, what is different from us and them, and so I think people want to know more, but when they don’t know what is ahead of them, the immediate response is fear and then, when they understand that we are not there to compete, but to collaborate, they lose a little bit there you know army kind of way of thinking, and they are more open to understand what’s happening, so I think we are gaining more space and letting the resistance out a bit.

Debbie Duncan : Can I just ask a question about that? I’m just wondering about, see with local cultures, one of the things that I feel is that the hierarchy and the business structure, and all this has been imposed and we’ve all been taught oh yeah we’ve got to be that way, and yet so many of the either native cultures or subcultures in the area do have this participatory type of mindset structure but we’ve been you know so pushed in the other direction, I was just wondering if appealing maybe you know, some of these you know, more grassroots cultural norms would would make a difference.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: Thanks very much Debbie for your question. It just, like, came to my mind, one sentence that I use a lot from a friend of mine , like a chief of an indigenous tribe in the south of São Paulo, he said : culture is what we cultivate. So we are currently changing our way of thinking, we are currently understanding through more and more information, especially in these tech scenarios that we live in, so we can allow things to change by cultivating a new culture. So, because we have lots of alternative people living currently here, in Autoparadiso we had the opportunity to propose an alternative way of thinking and that’s why we got elected because you know native people didn’t really know us. But now that we are in our office we are reaching out to these people and presenting them a different way of thinking and exchanging with them because they are the guardians of this place, so the interaction happens by the opportunity that arises with these possibilities and it is domain, that we are working, our culture and education, we are focusing on like, not maths and language or whatever, but you know, like the rubbish education, for example, people are still burning their plastics in open streets. So, how we can change this culture… Ohh but I learned from my father who learned from his father who learned from his father and yes, but now you know that if you burn plastic the emissions that you are breathing will you know, like create harm, for your healthy immunity system. So we are currently facing different changes and with information in and with arts, we are using arts as a way of talking to people. Instead of just being you know, like, I have a microphone in my hand, I am the counselor and I have the power to tell you what you have to do. So I think people are more ready and open to learn and to listen to when you speak their own language, or when you use arts to speak, through these issues. And we are also creating, you know, like a range of campaigns to talk about rubbish and the problems that it causes as well as to create campaigns to talk about politicians and politics, because when we listen to the word politics or politicians we just say like oh corruption nope oh it’s not for me, you know it’s a broken system or it’s a lot of harm words attached to it. And people don’t know what’s the role of the counselor, what’s the role of the mayor, what are the investments that come from town, where it came from, how it can be spent. So it’s a new language that I am learning right now and it’s very complicated. So what we are doing is just trying to translate it all in order for people to understand what it means and how they can be part of it all, how they can create their own laws and how they can be we and we work together, because every voice in the end matters, but they need to know that their voice we will be taking to account, will be taking into consideration, so culture is the key, and we are trying to recreate and cultivate a different culture that is more inclusive, that is more participatory, that is more diverse, instead of just trying to do like, you know, a monoculture of soy or being which has around this area and, just like promote the forest that  we are all together and all the social forest, with all the diversity that we have within, so it’s it’s a bit what we are trying to do, what we are doing. The results we’re going to see, but we are doing.

Irena Kaszewska, SoFA: There is a question in the chat which is partly to you Henny and partly maybe to you Ted because Romana is wondering whether the different other groups that are starting permaculture methods are connecting with each other in a Socratic way.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: I can start and give it to Ted because part of the Sociocracy For All family. And we have a circle called permaculture, and within this circle, we are studying the bridges between and the connections between permaculture and sociocracy and I had each ready to show you guys, but I know that’s the time. A result of that, I made an article and I published in this permaculture design magazine, and the article was first published into the SOFA website, but that’s called permaculture and sociocracy as tools, how do they connect. So we had, like, some studies being made and Rhonda if i’m not mistaken, is here as well, and she’s our operational leader of the circle and I don’t know if she wants to talk a little bit more that’s the opportunity, if not Ted invited as well.

Rhonda Baird: Yeah I think, I appreciate Henny sharing that and there are connections being made, permaculture groups in my observation and maybe Henny and Ted can add to this, that there’s a lot of interest and excitement. Are they connecting deeply to each other? Not as much as we might like in the permaculture circle, we really want to bring people together more and yeah that’s what I would add to the conversation and pass it back.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: And by the way, Rhonda is also the editor of this magazine that’s why it came out so easily.

Irena Kaszewska, SoFA: Okay. Thanks, looking at the questions in the chat John was asking before about a good article to use as a reference for the history and details of your approach Henny.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: Oh I got distracted can you, can you say, can you read it again please.

Irena Kaszewska, SoFA: Do you have, can you recommend any good articles that would refer to the history and details of your approach.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: Oh that’s like a homework that we have to do, because these are saying, like from a Colombian friend that he said, meaning meaning, the story that we don’t tell doesn’t count, it’s not taken into account or something like this. So we are in the process of writing. I’m in the process of creating a blog to share like, more into like daily aspects of what we’ve been facing, what the challenges are, and also the opportunities, but we don’t have much published yet, but i’ve been invited to write to some newspapers in Brazil, it’s just like wow to find a time to do it all. But one thing is that National Geographic just did an interview with us and they are coming at the end of this month to take some photos of you know, to show, to try to put in features what we’ve been doing and so you’re going to have an article written in English soon. But otherwise yeah is just like homework for us to be able to tell the story and share more and find more people also who are approaching sociocracy into political aspects and see like the viraities, it might be I don’t know sociocracy and nonviolent communication or sociocracy and whatever would yeah would be nice to do a political circle  that you understand you know, like how we can learn from and with each other.

Irena Kaszewska, SoFA: Yeah John has some other questions, for example, about detailing the approach, for example, do you envision the Mandato Coletivo  possibly being given geographic subcircle of a large Socratic political organization that would include counselors from other regions.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: Yeah we have a whatsapp group so far with other collective groups of people and we are sharing you know, like, we are sharing…. We don’t have current meetings like, set in sociocracy, I want to do that but next year, now we are trying to establish this structure within our you know, like from…. I know that we have like from patterns to details, but sometimes we need to look within to then expand, but this group is created and what we are doing so far is trying to legalize this way of collective mandates in Brazil. So, like that’s the main task that we have within a group of collective mandates is spread in our country But it would be excellent to have like a circle where we could share, you know our experiences and learn, you know, like how it’s been acceptance in other places, or the projection or to have more, yeah to have more base in comparing in you know, like in yeah sharing with each other, that’s a very good idea John.

Irena Kaszewska, SoFA: Yeah I wanted to ask Mariella, you asked before, a question that was also related to something that Henny has already answered about the internal workings of the political groups. You asked whether there was explicit conditioning from the legal established political structures. Is it still a valid question because Henny talked a little bit about this.

Mariela pippo: Yes, I think she answered. quite a bit about that, yes, thank you.

Irena Kaszewska, SoFA: Thanks. Then back to you, Thomas, I guess that’s it about the questions in the chat.

Thomas K, SoFA: Yeah I think is exactly, we said okay, we plan to kinda end the questions around this time but feel free to still think about it, then we probably have still time for a question if you like asking one to Henny and otherwise, we can go towards the conclusion of this webinar. I’ll leave you a few seconds to think about if you have another question. And yeah, at least for me it was a super super cool experience and you know, to listen about this.

I’m really excited and pretty sure it’s been for all of you, but you have a chance to drop in the chat how you’ve been feeling during this webinar, Mariela has a question I think, go for it.

Mariela Pippo: Yeah it’s not a question it’s just taking some time to to honor what Henny is doing. Many blessings for this, I think it takes a lot of courage and passion to do what you’re doing and hope we continue this cultivation of a new culture. Thank you for inspiring all of us and especially, I felt really inspired. I’m a teacher for a long time. i’ve been in education and trying to… I mean giving, putting all my energy, life energy into the building of this new culture, thank you very much.

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: Beautiful don’t make me cry. But I wanted to add a little bit to your thanks. A lot, it means a lot to me, I think this is what gives me motivation like it gives me motivation to to carry on introduce this path that we chose to walk. Like, just building up a little bit in what it was about the legal issues it’s just like a reminder that I came from activism, you know, like, I was doing like, civil disobedience and just like chasing the opportunities to speak up you know, and learned like on the opposite way of how we could pressure the politics to have our voices heard, and I think this gave me like a lot of legal understanding on how to doing that and what not to do and just like being an activist gave me like, I think this understanding on you know, like how to be organized enough in order to know that to identify the needs behind the tension and address it in a way that we could move forward. So yeah, it’s just like when it’s illegal say ohh, civil disobedience, you know, like yeah, I was one of them, and now I like i’m in the opposite row. And I encourage people to do that because. it’s not just earth we have like a more aperture to listening, but I think, yeah I think this it’s a parallel movement that has to happen in order for our society to make sense. Because otherwise  the system that we live in, or like we are still talking about majority and minority and that’s like a huge misunderstanding of just defending the needs of the majority and what do you do with the minority. So just by encouraging them to be more activist, to take part. Because they have an important role. I still  have that role as well, you know as a citizen. So it’s important you know, to carry on with this civil disobedience and times in order to grab attention and to be heard and my work is to listen to those voices as well, so… But it’s kind of like a judging  thing you know, like this legal aspect, because in the end, you need to take part on something. And what made me be comfortable in this situation is to have the permaculture to be taking our decisions from, so we base our decisions on permaculture. So you know, and what we are talking about when we say permaculture is just like principles of nature, so we are not going to do anything that goes against the natural nature law and, and that gives us like Oh, the you know, the power to know that you know, whatever decision we take, we know that we are, you know, we have, like all these principles behind us also to giving us the assurance that we need to take decisions for people, but we people at the same time, so yeah we have finding the ways, but we have more assurance when we have permaculture with us, and when we give voice and  are listen when we have a structure such as sociocracy, so I think the combination between sociocracy-permaculture and bring it to politics is what, it’s what made us being certain that, no the perfection doesn’t exist but yes, we have a solid way to carry on walking into this path.

Mariela Pippo: I feel permaculture gives us the possibility to revisit the concept of these sacred activism, that is in service of life.

Thomas K, SoFA: Thank you, Mariela and thank you Henny. Idit, do you want to jump in?

Idit Rose, SoFA: Yeah maybe just, well, first of all my mind is sort of blown and I have a lot of gratitude for all that i’ve heard here and it’s part of the way for me, was to come back to nature also but to here  all these permaculture and sociocracy weave and really changes from the inside out and therefore changes our politics, changes our structure, changes our culture, our educational system, it just  feels like a result, rather than something that we’re trying to achieve and one of the words that that I have echoing in my mind that you use Henny was flexibility, that we’re very flexible. And you know and sometimes when people learn about sociocracy it feels a bit rigid. But what I’m hearing from you is that, when we really breathe it and walk with it, then sociocracy  is very flexible and it’s just using structure and the structure of sociocracy and the heart of permaculture to you know to produce or to evolve like you said, a new future and new possibility for us and I think it just feels so important to where we are now in the world, especially with the covid, so many countries have felt that it’s going into all sorts of subtle ways of dictatorships or so on of just really one spicie and here it’s just feels like really important for this work to be carried out. So I’m so happy that we’ve invited you here today and really looking forward to see how your work can be spread in all sorts of languages, i’m going to look at translating this one into Hebrew and bringing it here, Israel is in huge need for this type of evolution, so thank you so much for my part.

Thomas K, SoFA: Thank you Idit. Irena did you want to say something then Henny and then we can go towards conclusion.

Irena Kaszewska, SoFA: I’m greatly impressed by the courage and all those ideas that you bring about how to hack the system and good luck with this. It was fantastic, thank you for sharing.

Thomas K, SoFA: Henny and in the meanwhile, if you want to drop something like how you felt during this webinar you know leaving out of this digital space, feel free to do that and 

Henny, do you want to say something?

Henny Freitas | Mandato Coletivo Permacultural: I’m trying to find a sentence that I would like to share with you guys, but I say that by heart in Portuguese and Spanish I can, if I don’t find it I can try translating it like in my mind. But I’m sure I have that in English as well, but  let’s see. I don’t know where it is. Bill Mollison, I normally say that if Bill Molison you know, the father of permaculture was alive, he would have chosen sociocracy as the governing model of his system, and he says once that to, let me see…  Many sustainable systems are not built or spread out because of one very simple and obvious reason to give power to people and to make sure that people can build their own houses, find ways to run their own electricity and to form their own food is to take away the power from them by the political and economical aspects. He says instead of people to look into the governing structures or you know, like from the politics structures or they hear our core way that we deal with, we need to look at each other and find ways to help each other to promote these solutions. More or less like this is much better when it’s fresh in his own words but, meaning that you know, like yeah, we need to stop seeking solutions outside, to look into the politics itself the way they exist or to look into or I don’t know, but my boss does and trying to find the solutions within ourselves, because this is when we bring back the sense of community and community leaving, because it says that you know, like if they world stops right now with bringing more knowledge into the system with the what we have already discovered, we can fix that world like, he said that every discovery that we made so far, we can guarantee that everybody would have roof and foods and we didn’t need to discover any more like into in the following century, so we have already all the solutions, but what is preventing us from implementing these solutions is exactly the economic power and the political power that we exert into people’s lives. So that’s why we are trying to be a positive virus into the system to change the system from within, but also to allow people to have a different perception of the same reality and actually empower people or just by seeing that people feel already powered and seek for changes outside of this currently system that we are so used to, so I think this is, this is what motivates me to do what we do. 

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