Skip to Main Content

Transition in Amazonian communities

A report from Transition Trainer, May East, after a training in Amazonas, Brazil

We'd never claim that Transition is universally applicable, but there's plenty of evidence that it's highly adaptable to different places and cultures. This latest "tale from the edge" shows how key elements of the Transition trainings can enrich and empower communities and cultures far removed from those where many of these approaches have been developed.

Mapiá Village Transitioning Amazon Communities

AmazoniaThe Mapiá Village is an intentional community created by traditional forest people with about 600 inhabitants and is the main village in the Purus National Forest (PNF), in the state of Amazonas, Brazil. It was founded 30 years ago guided by a collaborative culture, solidarity, recognition of the divine aspect of nature and social equality. Currently, it faces the pressures of the current globalized development system and needs to find creative local solutions to support the survival of its present and future generations.

The PNF is a Federally protected area comprising 256 000 ha of Amazon forest. Over one thousand people live in the PNF, distributed in four population zones. According to the PNF Management Plan (BRAZIL, 2009) 

“the Purus National Forest is a socio-environmental laboratory with human, institutional and community resources which favor the creation of resilient livelihoods based on the local development of appropriate technologies for forest communities”.

AmazonBackCastingRecently Mapiá Village hosted a Gaia Education Design for Sustainability programme - AmaGaia- with approximately 90 participants who are now trained in the social, ecologic, cultural and economic dimensions of ecovillages and transition town processes. Participants ranging from 14 to 79 year old came from several river settlements, including Amazon indigenous communities and reps of government institutions working in the region.

As part of the action learning process 8 working groups were created: Culture and Celebration; Education; Health; Governance and Infrastructure; Income Generation; Food Production; São Sebastião Farm Community; and the Purus Nation Forest. Each group created a collective dream and designed a strategy to be carried out during the next cycle, seeking to put in practice and locally adapt the contents learnt in the design for sustainability programme.


The group learnt the participatory methods of Transition Towns and engaged in the process of visioning the future of the region. While back-casting they answered key questions on how a resilient local infrastructure might become a reality and how we may get there year-on-year through a jointly designed and meaningful map of concrete actions.

Through Gaia Education EDE and the Transition Training activities Mapiá Village has now strengthened its role in the promotion ecovillage and transition strategies and best practices in sustainability to isolated communities living in the Purus National Forests, in the heart of Brazilian Amazon! 

Thanks to May (pictured above right) and all the Transition Trainers out there at the "edge of Transition".

(Image credits: May East)

About the author
User picture

My journey towards and within transition involves me a) asking myself what I have done, unwittingly or otherwise, to contribute to the global crises of climate change, oil addiction and inequality; b) really acknowledging my “contributions” c) trying hard to understand the consequences and impacts within our complex ecological, social and economic systems d) working at both the personal level and also alongside my fellow citizens to come up with ways of making sure my/our contributions switch from exacerbating these situations to ameliorating them, and/or making sure they stop; e) trying as much as possible to work at root cause level.

Transition, with its creative, positive and “can-do, will-do” approach is, for me, the most appropriate mechanism for doing this work.