Wasteland, 2023

a story about Projeto Gea for “Riding the Heatwave”

I met António during my university years; we dived into subjects like nature conservation, biology of vertebrates, ecology, and sailed through those and many other seas together. From his persistence and dedication, I saw António grow as a biologist, and above all, witnessed his restless desire to make the world better taking various forms, sometimes through environmental and biodiversity protection, other times through efforts to reconnect people with nature. I feel happy for keeping António close, even though I’ve moved slightly from the natural world, he is partly responsible for making me feel more at ease exploring valleys and mountains than streets and alleys.

Among the many times we’ve spent together, the day I met Vivi sometimes pops up like a notification from the folder where I store my memories. At that time, I was packing for Amsterdam, and they came to visit me in my hometown in Portugal. Through all the conversations, I left with the feeling that António had found someone who understands him and shares his concerns.

I recently saw Vivi again, while creating this story. She told me, in perfect Portuguese, that she graduated in social policy in Greece, where she is from, and arrived in Portugal in 2016. She has been interested in the complex dynamic between societies and the environment from an early age, as well as the solutions and changes needed for a more sustainable future in the face of the intensifying climate challenges. This concern, along with the resilience she is known for, drove her to seek out a project that addressed these subjects.

In 2019, with the idea of breaking away from Christmas traditions, António and Vivi grabbed some bags and, each with a pair of gloves, hit the streets to collect trash, giving birth to Projeto Gea.

5308kg (of collected garbage) later, they’re still at it.