Snails, and other challenges

It’s our second week in la Casita de Colores, a large and beautiful stone house soon to become home to The Eroles Project, a collaborative residency which brings together people from across the world interested in creativity for environmental justice. I am sitting at the dining table which we have made into our temporary office, writing, and watching the setting sun cast long shadows over this tiny tucked-away hamlet in the Pyrenees mountains.
I want to update you on this week’s happenings.
On Monday Eroles experienced a night-long thunderstorm, followed by 2 days of rain, a much needed relief from the 35 degree heat the week before. The rainfall was perfectly timed to moisten the dry sandy soil making our garden a more nurturing home for the beetroot, cucumber, parsley and pepper seedlings we’d bought from the local market and the tomato and lettuce we were gifted from Can Masdeu, a social centre near Barcelona.
It is important to us to have an awareness of the whole consumption cycle; to buy as local and ethically as possible from networks of organic Catalan distributors. And also to grow veg, something neither of us have any previous experience with. I have used permaculture to design projects but not to design gardens! Tuesday night we had a gardening tutorial via skype on Mona’s iPad, in the rain, with a friend from School Farm CSA in Dartington, UK. Jenny advised us how far apart to plant which veg, which plants are companions, which need more watering, sunlight…. By the time we were prepared it was dark and our first ever planting session took place by moonlight & head torch.
Since then our nightly 20 minute snail watch currently involves an inefficient system of throwing snails over the drystone wall into the forest. We’ve been told they have the capabilities to crawl (…slide?) 47 meters per hour and have a strong homing instinct. Scattering eggshells, coffee grinds and broken ceramics around our vulnerable shoots is an option. A good friend advised to paint the shells of snails different colours and walk them different distances from the house to test which ones come back to munch on our succulent young lettuce. None of which we’ve had the time to do yet. But any other non-violent anti-snail suggestions are very welcome.
In other news, a huge knockback shifted our mood yesterday when we found out we didn’t get awarded the funding we’d applied for from Lush. It’s hard not to be disappointed in these situations but we’ve scooped ourselves up and are now working on a crowdfunding campaign. We need to raise money to cover the cost of food and creative materials for three months when 28 participants from 13 countries, including theatre directors, systemic change consultants, activists & dancers join us at Eroles.
Asking for money in such a public way strengthens the project, brings awareness to the growing movement of creative actions for change, but also exposes us and somehow makes me feel vulnerable. Suddenly I have to justify the financial viability of my work and lifestyle.
Why does making spaces for people to meet, speak, learn and create together matter so much?We need to re-address the way we are living now, to reduce the drastic impacts felt in the future. Eroles offers us the chance to learn and practice new concrete ways of creating change. We want to explore co-creation and collectivity. An artist and a sustainability consultant may have similar dreams of the future but are on different paths to realising them. This project has grown from the belief that through finding compassion in our difference we gain agency and can together create a stronger impact.
I can’t wait to be a part of what happens here. The potential is