sustainability

 

Morph Yourself
October 13, 2016

By Maria Mor 

You are sitting on the dirt with an open field in front of you. There are a couple of trees scattered around. The wind is mildly blowing as the leaves rustle among each other. One, two, three leaves fall from a tall tree to your right. They glide slowly through the air landing on top of freshly cut grass. A faint buzzing overwhelms the air as you glide your hands through the green blades.

The sun is about to set as the movement of the clouds create subtle patches of dark on the ground. From a distance you see some accumulated water in a dip within the dirt. The rain has moistened the field and little trickles of water glide along the crevices until they reach a slow halt.

 You have been here before yet you cannot recall exactly the same view. Yesterday you sat in the same spot and admired three little red and white butterflies drifting by the tips of the uncut grass. When you came back in the afternoon, you spotted birds flying in unison across the sky. Last week you stood in the same spot and smelled the sharp scent of daisies and leaves did not fall, but figs did.


Photo By Sofia Matsi
Sofia Matsi's Garden and Land- Petrera Permaculture

You have just envisioned what Sofia Matsi, a former drawing professor at Florida Atlantic University, practices through Permaculture in Cyprus, an island near Turkey and the Lebanon.  As an efficient design system to create living spaces for people who respect the ecosystem, Permaculture is a symbiosis between mankind and Mother Nature. Regardless of the specialization- forestry, environmental housing, water management, or farming- Permaculture is a dedicated process in which every single decision from the clothes you wear to the food you eat is consciously thought out. 


Photo By Elena Goggou
Sofia with herbal nostrums at re-green center in Greece

The process originated in Australia by a man named Bill Mollison.  An avid fisherman, carpenter, and farmer, Mollison and his student, David Holmgren, created a very simple design system in which he gathered twelve principles between nature and human along with a specified ecosystem (forest, desert, tropical, jungle, etc.) all through observation. Some of those principles include but are not limited to producing no waste, use and value diversity, and learn to self regulate. Now Sofia uses those same principles to design her own environment in her homeland. 

Photo Sofia Matsi
Sofia and friend Andreas building an earth dome

When Sofia went back home from the United States Permaculture was not the path she knew she wanted to pursue; it came at a later time. However, her urge to find an answer in a more natural lifestyle brought her closer and was a start by slowly solving her dissatisfaction with her eating habits. With that in mind, she fervently dove into documentaries, books, and articles that reflected her new interests. As time progressed her eating habits changed with the realization that certain products were not beneficial to her body. She began by making organic and vegan granola bars similar to the ones she ate when she was teaching in Florida, but with natural ingredients. Eventually her granolas became a selling product among friends and family who enjoyed the tasty and healthy delights.

Alongside selling her little creations, she worked for a health foundation that combined her passion for natural science and art. Through her job and plenty of new connections the concept of Permaculture was introduce amongst her colleagues, but it was not until the economic change in Cyprus that Sofia felt the societal pressure and the validation to “want to grow her own food.” The banks were closed, money was restrained, and food was scarce; not to mention the lack of nutrients needed for a healthy lifestyle.  She was ready!


Photo By Sofia Matsi
The beginnings of Sofia's crops

An artist herself, Sofia explains that the journey of creating an art piece and devising a permaculture design have one thing in common: observation. It is the core ingredient. She could read countless books and they still could not teach her how to intricately see. Much like Cyprus’s grandparents of the land who knew how to read patterns within nature and sense the changing habits in order to survive, Permaculture is just as intuitive. She has to be in that specific moment training her eyes to not just look, but to see, smell, and feel the many organized networks within nature.  In other words to observe, know when to interact, be aware of stepping back, observe again, and readjust with nature.


Photo By Sofia Matsi
Sofia picking and tending her land


As Permaculture is a metaphor for life, Sofia has tapped into something far greater than environmentalism. She has ignited a collective subconscious.

As Permaculture is a metaphor for life, Sofia has tapped into something far greater than environmentalism. She has ignited a collective subconscious. Sofia believes that, like nature, each one of us have different qualities and skills that are useful and the world would benefit if everyone valued those individual strengths. Similarly to a symbiotic relationship, she highlights the importance of believing in your passion and working to develop it to its highest potential. Every small positive action together creates a magnifying cycle of change forward in the world. All you need is patience. It is the patience to give you the opportunity to observe, to make the necessary adjustments, to step back, and to try again for the benefit of the world.


Photo Sofia Matsi
Sofia during her Permaculture course at re-green center 

 In essence, it is the patience to fail and get up once more. In Permaculture, errors are equally valued. In fact, they are valued because they teach something new. They force you to re-observe your habitat and to redesign your process for personal success. Life is a mixture of triumphs and failures, both equally weighed and equally appreciated.  Sometimes you get it in the first try and sometimes you need to observe and morph yourself into something that works.  In the end, if we respect ourselves, our people, and our environment everyone can offer and oppression disappears. The process is slow but the results are ever growing.

The truth is you have to plant your seed in the world, persistently tend to it, and allow it to grow to its fullest potential.


Photo By Sofia Matsi
The beginnings of Sofia's Design- check out more at www.petrera.land


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About The Author: Maria Mor

Maria Mor’s interest in humanity and development of the self excites her to research and experiment in different ways. She chooses to see the world with hopeful eyes and thrives in creating wonderful experiences for the people around her, including herself. Through photography as her main gateway of expression and an eye for fine detail, she focuses on capturing those unique moments that radiate love and light.





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