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Digital technologies for regeneration
Activist, writer and regenerative farmer Dylan writes about his experience with TDF, a regenerative project that uses new digital technologies such as web3 and tokenomics for nature conservancy.
We all have the desire to live close to our friends, to build a network that supports us, to cooperate on the daily human routine, to have a playground in our back garden, ample workspace. Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert or an ambivert, we as humans long to live and maintain grounded meaningful connections in some way or another.
Imagine, the daydream of escaping from the city and connecting to the natural expanse of peaceful rolling hills and shady overhanging trees etched into the sunrise mist, stretching culture through the present and into the future, feeding our generations forthcoming. This is the lucid reality of Traditional Dream Factory (TDF), and here’s my story, accidentally, flowing into the story of the project.
I arrived very late one November night, too late to set up a tent. There was no moonlight to define anything about the place – not that I had any real idea about it anyway. I was guided into a long open building, and given a mattress and a blanket. I had come to volunteer at Primal Gathering to plant trees. No further intention than that.
By the end of the weekend, I had fallen in love with the oak forest backdrop, with the way the hills flowed gently into the valleys and the expansive spaces of potential creativity in the buildings. The following spring (a year ago now), I decided to stay for an entire cycle around the sun. I had been travelling, rarely staying in one place for longer than 3 months. As a developing regenerative farmer, I felt it was important to integrate into a landscape for at least a year and explore the impact of the changing seasons on the land.
I didn’t grow up wanting to be a farmer. My life in Scotland was in cities and towns, even though I always found peace in nature. At university, I studied journalism and creative writing. I had worked a little with Greenpeace, though, and in smaller social start-ups as part of a sadly degenerating culture. At some point, I was a climate activist with Extinction Rebellion until I found myself burnt out by the hypocritical acts of corporate states. In short, my mental health was in a bad state: aggravated by the painful feeling that no issue was really being taken seriously.
This was a couple of years before I arrived at TDF, sometime in 2020. Somehow I found myself called to a simple act of empowerment in the action of growing one’s own food and creating local food systems. I started calling it quiet activism. My first projects started in the backyards of the tenement blocks in Glasgow’s southside. Soon, they grew into bigger ideas and aspirations.
I could choose any place, and play with the skills to tend a garden, to plant and care for trees, to get to know the wild flora and fauna. Finally, I chose TDF because it had something different to offer: a well-formulated vision that aligned with my own vision to be a bridge between humans and nature driven by innovation across the spectrum of being.
Located in Alentejo, Portugal, TDF is a community focused on land regeneration, human regeneration and technological ethics. Its idea is to use web3 technology and a tokenomics-based system to gain administrative advantages and generate funding for land conservation through the OASA network. This approach provides members with living facilities and a means of governance within its entrepreneurial structure, but in reality, it is simply a way to make possible the regenerative project of the land. Plans are meticulously underway for a luxurious coliving space, bio-constructed coworking cafe, and ethical restaurant with means of produce from its own abundantly producing garden and locally-sourced foods.
I stayed true to my intentions, staying as a resident and developing my relationship with the land, training my eyes to detail while having the freedom to go and explore other projects, taking inspiration and time out elsewhere. I learned my trade in the language of plants and did an agroforestry internship at a place an hour South. I grew friendships and connections in and around the community from its base in Alentejo. There was always so much to learn from one another, and I never stopped.
Some of the greatest value of staying at TDF for so long actually came from learning my own fine-tuning how to take the space and create the boundaries necessary to have the stamina to show up as a representative of TDF. Sometimes, that means taking a lot of time to myself, as I lean quite occasionally to introversion. Other times, that means having the space for sharing, in circles, gatherings around fires, and finding out what is important to us as a collective and individuals.
The project is firmly rooted in the integrity towards creating a thriving natural ecosystem, restoring biodiversity to the land, reintegrating water systems, building a microeconomy, and community organization. We are always looking to expand our family, with an openness to volunteers and specific roles becoming available. The opportunity is there to be picked up by any dreamer who wants to turn their mind to active participation and co-creation.
Dylan is a socially-, environmentally- and spiritually-inspired activist, radical tree planter and part-time wordsmith. Hailing originally from the eternally chilly green Celtic nations of Ireland and Scotland, he now finds himself involved with regenerative projects in Portugal. In his own words, the vision is to build bridges between people and nature, creating living examples of abundance to inspire a shift in mindset and to allow healing to happen organically. He believes that it is critical that regeneration occurs as radically internally embodied as externally in the world.
You can read more about the Traditional Dream Factory on traditionaldreamfactory.com. It is the regenerative prototype of the OASA network which, in its own words, is “a web3-powered nature conservancy network serving regenerative living places and the planet.” You can find out more on oasa.earth where you’ll also find their Whitepaper.