Compassos Institute, or Instituto Compassos as it is known in its native Brazil, has claimed one of the five £10,000 Lush Spring Prizes in the Intentional Projects category.
The not-for-profit organisation was founded in 2005 in Florianópolis, the capital and second largest city in the state of Santa Catarina, in the south of the country. Its purpose has been to debate ideas and solutions related to the marginalisation of those with special needs, and in particular young adults who have found it difficult to enter the workforce because of their impairments. The Institute has proposed creative, innovative, and viable solutions that will not only help their members but also go some way to strengthen the local culture, economy and environment too.
“We are so focused on ourselves, our wishes and desires that working together is undoubtedly a great challenge. So we need to forget our egos and our own desires for the greater good,” the Compassos Institute say. “For many years we have heard here in Brazil that the problem with our projects is that they are very utopian. So being seen and recognised by Lush is just as important to us, as the prize fund itself. It was reassurance that we are on the right path and if we are futuristic, then the future has arrived.”
The name of their proposed venture is ‘The Compassos Action Project’, a multidisciplinary enterprise that will provide training, courses and lectures and focus predominantly on biodynamic agriculture. Families, schools and the local community are also invited to participate, and there will be in field experiences to collectively manage and run a vegetable garden.
“Since we can't expect anything from the government, we have to be protagonists and present an alternative, not only for us but for humanity,” they continue. “Our focus on this project is the human being. We are focusing on the most despised, humiliated, persecuted and condemned, which we call disabled. And the soil, which can be lovingly cared for by these human beings.”
The Intentional Projects Award was open to individuals, communities, groups and organisations, to help them build a strong foundation through knowledge sharing, and it seems the Compassos Institute’s vision for a permaculture-focused community stood out.
“We are going to do two things with the money,” they reveal. “With the prize we can begin teaching the young adults, and second, convert an area where we can begin using permaculture techniques, as we urgently need a physical space.”
The Institute will continue to look for investors until it is fully sustainable, and if the Compassos Action Project proves successful, there are plans to take the venture nationwide and even beyond, with eleven institutes in neighbouring cities already expressing an interest to adopt the plans.
To find out more about the project visit www.institutocompassos.com.br