As I may have mentioned earlier, I am spending some time in Lisbon at a conference of the International Society for International Ecology. My wife and I added a few days at both ends to reacquaint ourselves with Lisbon where we spent 6 months back in 1999. I had a Fulbright to teach here.
Much of the City seems the same, including the pickpockets that lifted a camera and wallet from my wife’s purse yesterday. I like that sameness, except for the aforementioned incident, as I always found the life here closer to flourishing than that back home. The streets are always full of people, shopping, working, or just having a coffee or drink at a sidewalk stop. There seems to be an acceptance of the world as it is without a constant complaint about how it should be or about what is missing from one’s life. That positive attitude is often accompanied by a sometimes frustrating procrastination of doing something about it.
Today we walked up the back side of the Alfama, one of the two hills that bracket the commercial center. It’s full of tiny winding alley-like streets like the one in the photo. To our delight we were able to find the tiny fado place we often went frequented. The same woman was running the place, now much older. Her English had gotten no better than before, but we managed to find out what had transpired. Sadly, the musicians we thought were the best around had died.
There is certainly something important about recalling past good times. The visions that come forth are almost always about doing and of relationships, like that with the proprietress, not about the trinkets we acquired. I will admit to thoughts about eating wonderful cheese and wine, although maybe also in the sense of my relationship with them. (Disclosure: I went back to arguably the best source of Port in the world and bought a bottle to bring home. The bottles still have the same dust on them)
The next few days are to be spent talking about transitions to sustainability from the perspectives of those in the industrial ecology community. I will address the meeting on Wednesday, giving the closing plenary. Much of what I expect to hear here will be directed to what I have been calling reducing unsustainability. I hope to convince the group that their future lies more in creating sustainability.

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