Nearly three years ago, when we moved to Valencia, I went by the library to pick up an appplication for a library card and yesterday I finally went back to apply for the card.
There was a banner greeting visitors which read “the best ship for travel is a book”. It was part of an installation complete with a life-size paper boat and several children’s drawings of rocket ships. The art piece, with its edge of home-spun earnestness, was touching. Inwardly I nodded in agreement because I love books, I love libraries, and I have a few “friends” who are authors, even though I only know them through their books.
One of the threads of the course was the power of stories: the stories we are told, what we tell ourselves, along with the stories that we aren’t told, or the different points of view of stories, some of which never reach us.
As you may know, Galeano’s story-telling style suits this tug-of-war over the narrative of the past, present and future perfectly.
We put this art into practice ourselves in different ways: telling personal stories, campaign stories to learn from, inventing new ones of how we’d like the world to be and imagining observations from the past and future from human beings and creatures more than human. However there is one story that there wasn’t time to tell that I share now.
The maquis’ houses
Although the Spanish Civil War officially ended in 1939, few people are aware of the pockets of resistance that struggled on well after the war. The maquis – a group of Spanish guerrillas – continued to work against Nationalism and General Franco until the 1960s.
The Spanish Civil War is often viewed as a fight of democracy against fascism, a pre-cursor to WWII. The Nationalists, led by General Franco and the military, the Catholic Church and other aristocratic groups, battled and defeated supporters of the Second Spanish Republic, largely Anarchists and Communists.
The war was declared over after three short but bloody and brutual years, and many from the Republican side went into exile in France where WWII soon broke out. There they collaborated with the French Resistance to undermine Nazi Germany’s occupation of France.
Once the allies’ victory looked certain, the maquis turned their main focus to Franco in Spain. Some maquis remained in France, while others returned to work clandestinely in the cities and countryside in Spain.
A 45-minute steep walk up from Ecodharma Centre small stone houses built into the side of the mountain are said to have been one of the maquis’ rural camps undertaking this secret work. In fact, so the story continues, many years ago the maquis shot dead the father of the now elderly woman from whom Ecodharma bought the land for establishing the education and retreat centre. The father’s supposed crime was supporting Franco’s regime.
the past didn’t go anywhere
Unlike the maquis, the Ecodharma’s work is not at all clandestine, nor does it purport to be on one political side or another, unless you consider recognizing yourself as nature as having a political tinge. The work done seeks a world with greater equality and justice for all, and an end to all forms of domination (including humans over nature). Further the current political dispute in Catalonia about independence (or not) makes me think the past — like these mountains and stone houses — hasn’t gone anywhere. There’s still so much healing, peace and reconciliation work yet to be done.
education and organizing for social change
Learning more effective organizing methods, education about our diverse world and structural analysis of the social context that perpetuate the inequality and injustice is the main work at Ecodharma.
Paulo Freire is one educator who has taught me a lot about this sort of work, and also is someone who had to seek refuge from the military dictatorship that arose in Brazil in the 1960s. Seeing that today’s entry (28 November) was dedicated to Paulo Freire made me smile and think it’s a fitting complement to the maquis’ story.
So to finish, one more story about Freire from Galeano’s “Children of the Days”.
28 november: the man who taught by learning
In the year 2009, the Brazilian government told Paulo Freire it was sorry. He was unable to acknowledge the apology since he had been dead for twelve years.
Paulo was the prophet of education of action.
In the beginning he taught classes under a tree. He taught thousands upon thousands of sugar workers in Pernambuco to read and write, so they could read the world and help to change it.
The military dictatorship arrested him, threw him out of the country and forbade his return.
In exile, Paulo wandered the world. The more he taught, the more he learned.
Today, three hundred and forty Brazilian schools bear his name.
want to know more?
Recognition of ourselves as part of nature is deeply transformative. The Roots of Resilience course is based on practices and traditions from the —