Ananda Valley is located in a gorgeous green valley in the centre of Portugal near the beautiful Serra da Estrela Nature Reserve. Over the last years we transformed this lush but abandoned valley into a habitable place. Living in pure nature, here we observe the wild life, and enjoy the blessings of the river flowing.
Recently we began to work more together with the local community, and with these associations is our intent to provide more and more local service, in a rural area prone to desertification.
We grow some of our food in two greenhouses, we are starting a small cottage cooperative of organic food and herbal products, we are promoting local art and culture, as well as organizing events together with local associations or inside local schools. We also created an association of organic producers, which will be supported by a producers and consumers cooperative in the next months. And we share yoga and meditation to all that want to learn and we host training programmes for youths and volunteers that want to learn a more sustainable, healthy and yogic lifestyle.
Outcome – We would like to show to more people our efforts, that will help us to develop and grow, to cooperate with other similar and complementary projects and to share good practices and identify possible pitfalls. And we want to show to the world that it is possible to create a better place, with neo humanistic principles. The audience of this exhibition will also allow us to network and connect with more people interested in neo- humanistic education, an area that we are interested in developing more in the coming years.
History – Ananda Valley is a Master Unit, also called “Ananda Kalyani”, started in 2012 as a project of Ananda Marga Portugal to imbibe the principles of “self-realization and service”, joining several associations working in different aspects of human life (from ecology to art, from relief to socio-economic research) and creating a physical space (now 25ha) where individuals, by moving together in harmony with nature and the surrounding community, can realize their full inner potential and outward actions.
Highlights – We have Erasmus+ programs with youths coming from all over Europe, blissful spiritual retreats, and a purposeful-art summer festival, called Ananda Festival of Bliss – a festival for those who believe in and work towards making the world a better place. It’s an adventure through art and nature, a dive for activists and dreamers, young people and families, lovers of ecology and warriors of light.
We host several associations such as AMURT – supporting the people’s primary needs with relief and local development activities; ARTIVOS, a RAWA-inspired association supporting arts for social change, ECOATIVO, a PCAP-inspired association focused on Nature preservation and conservation , and PRIP, a PROUT (Progressive Utilization Theory) research institute, focused on studying alternative socio-economic proposals.
Products – For the moment, what we can offer is Youth Exchanges, Training of Trainers, volunteers programs and several events like retreats, adventure camps, yoga and meditation.
Our Microvita department is producing berries, cherries and vegetables certified organic, we began the first batch production of natural soaps to complement the production of herbal tinctures, both oil and alcohol based. A set of new food products under the brand “Microvita” will be released in the next 6-9 months, ready for national consumption and for possible export.
How to pointers – Everyday we are growing as individuals and therefore as a community, and in the last 10 years we collected a set of best-practices and possible pitfalls that can be helpful to similar projects. We learned that for creating a sustainable place we need to have a very supportive environment, in coordinated cooperation between men and women, young and adults, volunteers and whole-time workers, where all the components of human expression are present and co-existing, even if it may seem overwhelming and too complex in the early phases of such a Master Unit project.
We learned that reciprocal support and inspiration, guidance and motivation are the drivers that fuel this coordinated cooperation, and the importance of always keeping spirituality as the foundation stone – seeing similar projects, even more structured or with better financial conditions, become old and almost disappear when the spiritual component is neglected.
We learned the importance of service for the local community, and the reduced speed when for some reason this is not fully explored; we learned that a united community is stronger than many small individuals, and can grow through mistakes, especially when speed and structure are balanced.
We are learning the importance of networking and keeping more in contact with similar projects, or with complementary ones, to inspire and support each other, to learn from experience and not from dogmatic beliefs, very common also in alternative projects. For this reason we keep a strict connection also with local Universities and with thematic research networks.