One of the main goals of How to squat a river is to give voice to civil society.
As well as documenting their involvement in defending the rivers, in this case, the river Jamor.
But it is a fact that if people should benefit from the power to manage rivers, it is necessarily shared with local or national power. This was the reason why we contacted the counties’ autarchies that are bathed by Jamor, that is, those of Sintra and Oeiras. We wanted to know in what way and with what eyes those entities see the squatting that has been debated here, and which in many cases is carried out on public land. One of the most enthusiastic answers we received was that of the Union of Parishes of Massamá and Monte Abrãao (UPMMA), of the municipality of Sintra, headed by its president Pedro Brás.
From the first moment it was demonstrated great interest and availability, by this Union of Parishes, to participate in our project. The interview resulted in a kind of guided visit to the gardens of Jamor in the area of Monte Abraão, made by someone who clearly knows the terrain and is well aware of the importance of what happens there, to the parish and to the municipality. UPMMA recognizes and values the gardens of Jamor, it knows that they help in preserving and cleaning the banks of the river, and thanks the farmers for the work they are doing there.
During the interview, Pedro Brás agreed with the idea that the population should be involved in the management of the common good that is the Jamor and its margins, and assumes the need to support this type of civil society initiatives of valorization of the public good. He says that he often goes down to the river, and talks to the people who keep the gardens, he hears their ideas, and then he takes them to the town hall meetings.
Also the theme of the Green and Blue Axis was debated. The President expressed great enthusiasm for the project and assured that it will affect the area of Monte Abraão in a positive way, with new spaces of culture, sport and leisure. But will the gardens have to leave? Pedro assumed that there will be a reorganization of the gardens, but that the farmers’ rights in keeping their horticultural activities will be taken into consideration, even if it will be done through their displacement to new plots of land located in the community gardens of Monte Abraão, which UPMMA expects inaugurate soon.