Friday Feb 16, 2024

Nature based solutions for the worst drought on record, with Aline Van Moerbeke

I’ve talked a lot about drought and water management on this podcast. It’s becoming a bigger and bigger part of my work and specialization, both in the work I do with private clients and through the network of farmers that I work with through Climate Farmers. At the moment, these topics are hitting home for another reason. Catalunya, the region where I live in Northeastern Spain is currently experiencing the most severe drought in its recorded history, and there is little relief in sight. 

Now obviously I’m not from this area of the world myself and though I’ve built a competent understanding of my local context and the water management history of this region, I’m always looking to better understand the scope and options of what is happening in this time of climate emergency.
Another big focus of mine lately has been to reach out and make connections to others in the area who are working on nature based and regenerative solutions to the challenges we face in hopes of supporting existing efforts and making myself useful to the people and organizations who’ve been working in this space for a long time.
One source of unification around these efforts in my area and consistent messages of inspiration and hope come from the small company La Casa Integral, and today I had the pleasure of speaking to Aline, one of the co-founders of the company.

Aline Van Moerbeke is Flemish Belgian by birth but feels most Mallorquina after spending over 20 years in San Roqueta on the island of Mallorca. She now lives with her partner Juan Pedro in the Maresme region just up the coast from Barcelona in Catalunya where they run their business La Casa Integral, a permaculture and ecological design company focused on the needs of the communities of the Balearic Islands and Northeastern Spain. Aline is also the co founder of Permacultura Mediterranea and is highly active in many networks and initiatives in the region. 


In this episode, Aline and I begin by talking about the unique journey that she took to begin a career in permaculture education and regenerative design. From there we go into the unique context behind the current drought and how Catalunya is wrestling with this challenge. Since she has made an incredible effort to participate in and lead many discussions at various levels of government, industry, and communities, she gives me an overview of the ideas and solutions that are being proposed and the entrenched ways of thinking that are holding progress back.

Through her work at La Casa Integral she and Juan Pedro have advanced many unique water saving and recycling solutions and we explore some of them and even take a closer look at natural blackwater filtration systems that they are known for designing and installing for many different use cases. 

We also talk about reasons for hope in the policy and institutional structures at our local level and explore the first steps that anyone listening can take to gain a better understanding of their own opportunities to participate in the restoration of their own water systems, at any scale.

This interview is a first step towards two things that I am trying to do more of in this season. The first is to highlight the incredible work that is being done by so many local people in my area, partly to build closer relationships with them myself, partly to demonstrate that most of the really effective people in this space are not the big name famous people from your documentaries and social media threads, and partly to show what it could look like for some of you listeners to explore your own local scene of regenerative workers and advocates instead of always looking outside your communities for solutions. Many of the topics that I’m passionate about and like to focus on might not be relevant or interesting to you, but the idea of connecting with and exploring the hyper local community of like-minded people doing good work around you is more important than a couple highly effective but isolated actors.
Another theme I’ll be promoting this season is that of inspiring examples of collaboration. People who break the mold of protectionist business practices, ivory tower academics, and competitive paradigms of commerce. Aline and La Casa Integral are a perfect example in my area of folks who are leading through collaboration and by including the voices and expertise of as many people as they can. Their creation and participation in countless committees, online groups, advocacy organizations, and volunteer initiatives show a true commitment to the larger vision of realizing change in our region, and I know this chat will inspire you as it did for me, even if the challenges in your region have more to do with too much water rather than too little.

Oliver M Goshey 2023

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