Fazenda Santa Ester is a paradise. No laying it on. Huge land, wooden houses, beautiful flora, animals; plus swimming pool, waterfall, pond and.. a church.
Bruno Paschoal, Fazenda Santa Esther’s owner and co-founder of Onda: Fazenda Santa Esther was a coffee farm, created in the 19th century. Our land has 40 hectares, which is only a small part of what it was before. We have here five houses, one for my family, one for volunteers and daily use, one for guests and two for Elaine and Manuel, our workers, who live in the farm together with their families. The farm initially belonged to my grandparents who came here from Italy. Then, my parents took it over and started to use it as an option for the clients of their wedding company.
Few years ago Bruno decided to transform the farm into something much more complex than that.
Bruno: I have a law background, I focused on research. I did the master in Sao Paulo, then I moved to Berlin to continue my career. My call was to make my research more usable, go beyond articles which nobody really reads. I started to make movies. In Berlin I focused on the topic of using the land in different ways. I visited rural communities and eco-villages. I saw people living in the middle of nowhere and working through the Internet, not even being involved in farming or agriculture. When I moved to Brazil, my father-in-law told me: many people work all their life to have a land like this, you have it, why you are not there? Right, why am I not there? So, I decided to move to the farm with my wife, Barbara, and a small daughter, Teresa.
At the beginning Bruno shared his life between the farm and Berlin, where he still had few projects to finish. But since few months he fully settled in the Fazenda, trying to bring people and culture here instead of looking for them outside.
Bruno: I have two goals on this farm. The first one is a bit abstract: I want to create a positive change in people’s life. I want people to rethink their life, what they do, make them believe that everything is possible. The second things is creating something I call “New Rurality”. New ways of using rural spaces. When we think about rural spaces we think about animals, plants. I believe that they can offer much more. I don’t have a clear idea about it yet. We are experimenting with different things. Food production and ecotourism don’t have to be the only reasons for people to come to a farm. I want to create a hub of creativity and innovation. In Sao Paulo, 90km from here, you find thousands of them, why not bring them here?
One of the ways to do so is to offer different kinds of events. The one we volunteered for was called Coworking Camp.
Juliana Costa, co-founder of Onda: At the beginning we just wanted to bring people to work from the farm. We experienced it ourselves and we realized how different is the work from here. We produce more, we breathe more, we get inspired. We feel time passing in a different way. We thought: “Let’s create a coworking space here, let’s open the gates”. It was Bruno’s idea, the Fazenda project. But in Brazil there is no culture for it yet. People don’t come to villages to do city work. We didn’t succeed in bringing people that way. We decided to create a one-week experience instead. We put effort to bring people for this specific week, we prepare for them not only the space to work, but also workshops, talks, performances. This Coworking Camp is the third edition. People really enjoy it and ask for more.
The Coworking Camp we volunteered for was the first with a specific topic: Cycles. During six days we had the chance to discuss, observe and analyze this concept from different angles. Among the activities which had the bigger impact on us we can mention the yoga practice with Rudra Avella as well as the movie “Yoga. The architecture of peace.”, by Heitor Dhalia, which together with his wife, Vera Egito, was one of the most inspiring persons we met in Brazil. We enjoyed a lot also a talk about eco-villages and the chat with Gabriel Sigueira, who through his project Irradiando Luz tries to connect different eco-villages as well as share and promote understanding about creating and managing communities and sustainable living. Among the most interesting people were also Bruno himself, Juliana, Barbara and Caio, the four co-founders of Onda, the company behind the Coworking Camp.
Juliana: From February this year we started to be more engaged in turning Onda into a company. We decided to do what we like and fully involve in it. We have a background of research and innovation, we like putting people together, creating experiences, designing solutions. And thanks to Bruno we have this amazing place, Fazenda Santa Esther. We decided to put all those resources together. That’s how it started. Today Onda is a company which designs prototypes and experiences for people and organizations.
Onda. Barbara, Bruno, Caio and Juliana. Four amazing people, each fascinating to discover, each with different area of expertise. They create an amazing team together, sharing different skills, but the same values and vision.
Caio Werneck, co-founder of Onda: When you look at the profile of people who are part of Onda, we all created experiences for people before. We were all involved in events and projects which bring people together for a specific time. We bring naturally those experiences in what we design. And we try to make it as natural and organic as possible, so people can come together and have nice conversations and interact under a specific context, which makes sense to them. I think combining those experiences with more practical and innovation driven prototyping is something which allows us to create room for reflection about what is happening in the present but also envisioning what comes. This is the beauty of prototyping: bringing together people from different backgrounds, with different ideas, to create something which can materialize the idea, bring future vision to the present, that’s what prototyping is all about. We use that method to understand specific challenges and find the best way to face them.
Onda’s focus lies on people who want to face social challenges, bring real impact, changes which are so much needed in Brazil and the world over.
Caio: I think in order to change the world, we need a combination of things. We need time. Changing things requires time. We have to understand that. Dealing with our own anxieties is very important. Second, we need movement. We need to shake things, go for different directions, not always the right ones, those we are expected to go. We need to bring different groups together, different points of view, that’s what creates movement.
Juliana: And we need courage. It’s the first word which comes to my mind when I think about changing the world. Courage to take the first step.
Caio: Don’t underestimate your intuition. For me it is so important to trust my feeling that this is… not even the “right” direction, but the direction which makes sense to me and other people as well. Trust it, this process is much less rational than we think.
More about Fazenda Santa Esther here.