Promotional text for Monchique Novas Direcoes

This is the text and image we have sent the Council to promote our event.

Monchique. What does it mean for you? If you’re a local, you’ll know all the secret places that make it unique. Imagine you are on holiday though. Where can you find out the best place to drink a medronho, to walk through lush landscapes and to buy quality locally produced gifts? Chances are, you will not stay longer than a couple of hours before driving away.

A group of young Europeans who have been resident in Monchique for the last 3 months invite you to their interactive exhibition which will launch new maps and showcase the work they have done to encourage tourists to stay longer in Monchique. The exhibition will be open from Saturday 10 Dec – Thursday 15 Dec between 2-7pm with a private view on Sat 10 at 5pm

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Business ideas for Monchique

1. Contemporary crafts shop selling Monchique and other Portuguese cool crafts

2. Tour agency organising trips to local producers and craft workshops

3. Educational workshop programme for tourists

4. Campsite

5. Hostel to tie in with the Via Algarviana

6. Social enterprises making cork jewellery and other commercial souvenirs from local products eg. modrono gift sets

Rural cooperatives dissertation

Last week, when I met Americo Telo, community development expert, he told me about the dissertation he had written as a student at Lisbon University in 1985. It sounded really interesting – about cooperatives and his ideas for regenerating Monchique. ‘Cooperacao agricola e desenvolvimento rural comunitario’. He drove home at lunchtime and by 3pm I was sitting in a back room of the bank where he works, with 2 massive files in front of me.

It was all in Portuguese so a great test of my fledgling language skills. This is the interesting stuff I gleaned:

About rural cooperatives:

Positives

  • United together, people can mobilise more resources
  • They share a common necessity
  • Members have a shared vision to progress towards something
  • Social and economic advantages
  • Give members a strong sense of identity

Pioneers are Robert Owen, William King, Charles Fourier

Principles

  • Free to join, voluntary
  • democratic
  • stimulates education
  • needs a general assembly, a president and secretary

Even back in 1985, tourism was considered to have ‘ massive potential but little equipped to maximise these’

Alternative Tourist Office

We have more of a firm idea now about our end of project show. We are going to create an ‘alternative tourist office’ and open studio in the space above the internet cafe in the centre of Monchique, which we have been using as our office.
The alternative tourist office will showcase the work we have created which responds to a need in Monchique:

– a quirky tourist map for tourists which labels what there is to do and see in the town and surrounding area and where to eat and sleep (this currently doesn’t exist)
– maps of the walks of Caldes and Picota (currently it is difficult for tourists to do this on their own)
– a new quality kite mark for products of Monchique – showing examples of this on different products like honey, modrono, baskets etc. (this is something that the local community development manager – Americo Telo – said is needed)
– examples of souvenirs and new types of postcards
– an interactive map for local people to add in their own favourite places in Monchique

The open studio will document the journey of creating the resources, research around Monchique, interactive zones where people can write their opinions on the development of Monchique.

Monchique – politics and facts

A couple of weeks ago Nic and I met the Assistant to the President of the Camera Municipal de Monchique – Helder Renato – by accident (we were supposed to speak to Paula the designer but she was too busy to speak to us)

He has been in post since May and has lots of energy and passion. The Facebook page for the Camera (council) seems more dynamic and interactive than any Council in London I have seen. He goes so far as to wish people happy birthday on their special day!

The political system is very strange in Monchique. Below the Municipio de Monchique (the main regional council) there are three smaller councils to represent each area – Monchique, Marmalete and Alferce. All have different politics so do not talk to each other and try and oppose each other at every turn.

Monchique has a population of 6000

5000 are Portuguese and 1000 are foreigners.

Their current priorities are to:

  • Attract and keep 200 old people aged over 55 (this will create new jobs for locals)
  • Attract young people (incentives are paying 500euros for every new child born here)
  • Create 7 new alojamentos (places to stay for tourists – businesses that bring in new people are prioritised)
  • Develop the Via Algarviana in its second phase – the walking route between Silves

Where do you go to find out about Monchique?

I have been asking people this question, picking brains and gathering it here

  • The tourist office in Monchique

This mainly has information about the Algarve, rather than any resources specific to Monchique. Vera, the lovely lady who works there, is very helpful and friendly but does not have the resources she needs for tourists. What needs to be created are:

  • maps of the walks of Monchique so people can do them on their own
  • a map of Monchique that shows what there is to see and do rather than just walking aimlessly round the town centre
  • Gifts specific to Monchique

The problem is that it is all in the hands of the main Algarve tourist board and they cannot make up their minds wether to make Monchique -specific resources or not and wether to sell them or have them for free. Meanwhile, there is a massive information gap. Monchique Council website

The official tourist organisation for the Algarve has ‘not to be missed’ guides to what is on in Algarve each month. The deadline is 6 Nov each month to put in copy.

You can download maps of each town in the Algarve, including the map of Monchique. It is under the press section, so not very easy for tourists to find.

  • Magazines

There is a German magazine called Entdecken Sie Algarve

There is the Viva Algarve section of Algarve 123

  • Blogs

Portugal Confidential

Portugal Info

Monchique Uncovered – a blog written by Pablo’s dad

Alternative Monchique Festival

Whilst in Lisbon, I had the idea to create a special event for Monchique which brought together all the interesting things people were doing locally that were not publicised and to pull together the work of our group. An event which people could participate in, could come together, could learn new skills, could show each other and the public what was happening in Monchique, to draw attention to it as a place to come and to stay.

ALTERNATIVE MONCHIQUE WEEK

3-10 Dec

Featuring

  • Mobile Monchique – a campervan promoting the produce of Monchique, hosting a photography exhibition, selling cakes! The van would tour eco projects around Monchique, like open days
  • The launch of Quinta das Relvinhas as an eco hostel
  • The launch of maps of walking trails – the 5 ‘Veradas’ walks which exist but are not signposted or mapped out (hence tourists cannot do them on their own)
  • A map of Monchique listing all the cool things to do and see (the one that currently exists does not show this)
  • Creative events – film screenings, sculpture park, live music, art exhibition
  • Competitions – souvenir design, modrono cocktail making
  • Seminars and workshops on the crafts of Monchique and enterprise (eg. making jewellery from cork, beauty products from Monchique natural ingredients, eco tourism, adventure tourism
  • A pop up shop including repackaged local produce – honey, modrono, sausages, piripi sauce, arts and crafts and  a book about the patterns of Monchique

The AIMS are to:

Promote Monchique as a place where exciting, innovative, creative things happen
Promote Monchique as an alternative tourist destination to the rest of the Algarve, for an alternative type of tourist
Promote what cool stuff is already happening in Monchique
Repackage local produce and crafts in a contemporary way
Bring together local businesses, creatives and entrepreneurs
Spark new ideas and collaborations
Celebrate what is unique about Monchique
Open up interesting places to the public

We showed this to our contact at the council and he was very excited.

The idea has evolved, however, over the last month. It would be fantastic to do the festival but it is not achievable in the time frame we have. Instead, therefore, we are going to create an open studio event opening on Sat 10 Dec. I will talk about this in my nest post.

Lynx sighting in Monchique!

This evening at 7.30pm mum and I were driving dad to his birthday meal at Jardim das Oliveiras when we saw an animal at the side of the road in the dark. It was a mixture between a dog, a werewolf and a brown lady lion. It had big fangs. It was like nothing we had seen before so we talked to the waitor about it. He got excited, animated and said it could be a lynx as they are reintroducing them to Portugal. He had a picture from the paper ripped out to show us. It was a lynx!!!

There is an Iberian Lynx reproduction centre in Silves, just down the road.

Also , I have just done some research and found an article about lynx sightings round the Algarve.

A guy who lives in Monchque has set up a charity to save the lynxes so there are some obvious connections going on!

I have written to big cat societies to tell them about my sighting. And the journalist from Algarve 123.

It could be a really good thing for Monchqique, to attract tourist…could be the logo for Monchique..

 

 

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