Updated: Mar 13
You maybe wondering what this is all about! Well, here is the story told by Chris Dews, a true ecological warrior of Ibiza ...
First let me introduce myself. I was born in East Yorkshire in the North of England in 1953. Since a small boy, I was always very interested in the natural world and spent many hours walking in the countryside.
I trained as a Radio Officer in the British Merchant Navy and made about 17 trips around the world, before arriving on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Ibiza in May 1985. Like so many others living here, I soon fell in love with its cosmopolitan charm and decided to make it my home in 1987.
However, after seeing so many beautiful places in the world carelessly destroyed by human economic activity during my travels, I recognised that Ibiza was also being systematically destroyed by 'mass tourism', with the usual side effects, such as the loss of local traditions and agriculture, plus a huge increase in environmental degradation and general mismanagement of natural resources.
I started to think about what I could do to prevent any further damage, before the paradise I had come to appreciate, and to love with all my green heart, turned into yet another ‘lost gem’ in an unconscious society. So in 1989 I founded the local branch of Friends Of the Earth, together with a group of friends sharing similar ideas. Our first mission was to clean 32 beaches on Ibiza and Formentera, as well as get as many members as possible to join this new movement. These were exciting years, as many more people started to come together to seek ways to save the island from destruction.
I have to say here, that I also enjoy having parties, celebrating life and dancing into the night, so I was thinking hard about how we could preserve Ibiza's natural heritage, and still continue to enjoy its magical vibrations and world fame as the ‘International Party Island’ (Ibiza must be the only place in the world, where there are beach clubs in a protected area, as we have in the Salinas Natural park!)
In 1991 I discovered a very small abandoned farmhouse in the rolling hills near San Jose and managed to rent it from the owners for a very reasonable price. This little house and adjoining farm of five and a half hectares, with sea views and stunning scenic nature, has been slowly transformed into what we now know as ‘Casita Verde’.
In 1993, Casita Verde was launched as a model ecology centre and we began to invite small groups along for eco weekends and study internships. From these very humble beginnings, to the present day scene, Casita Verde has become an icon of the local environmental movement in Ibiza and since a couple of years has even a smaller sister in the mountains of Granada. www.casitaverde.com
We are proud to have seen more than 80,000 visitors during our weekly open days each Sunday between 2002 and 2019, plus over the years we have received around 1300 residential volunteers, who have all played a vital part in Casita Verde's evolution to be voted one of the most loved venues in the Balearic Islands. Most people have been extremely inspired by their visit and for sure they have taken a lot of our sustainable lifestyle information with them to apply in their personal lives!
I then began to imagine that a much bigger project could be possible for the island, which led me to Ibiza Ecolandia, a beautiful vision for a commercial eco centre, situated on a large piece of land and well connected to the public transport systems of the island.
N.B we are currently in the process of securing finance for the next stages of this project's development, as the time to build this is NOW!
In January 2001, I was fortunate to find employment as a professional ecologist, working for Foundation for the Future in Madrid. This work enabled me to spend 100% of my time on projects related to the environment, and it also helped me to develop new strategies, to turn Ibiza into the world's number one 'Responsible Tourist Destination’, where both the local authorities and the island population are engaged in the transition. It was here that I worked on the pilot version of the Ecolandia centre.
Also during 2001, the famous ‘Greenheart’ logo and car sticker was produced, which over the years has become a successful advertising tool to promote environmental causes, both in Ibiza and around the world.
Having participated in three different local political parties during more than thirty years living on the island, I concluded there to be a need for a more ‘inclusive’ social leadership system, so I introduced the Ibiza Fènix, an interconnected ecology framework made up of various different NGO structured Legal Associations, each with their own mission and bank accounts.
The Ibiza Fènix supports both community activities AND commercial initiatives, where ecological thinking can be applied to business system infrastructures, and as a result scalable sustainable outputs can help to make a real difference to people, planet and profits, aka, the circular economy.
For the foreseeable future this means I will be focusing my attention on ventures outside of Casita Verde to work with the growing number of eco-organisations on the island. And by launching this new website, we are able to bring everyone together to be a higher force, working as a collective - The Fènix Collective.
What are we now working towards?
Taking into account the world-wide increase in eco-tourism and the need for a local change of direction away from the ‘sun and beach’ offer of the Balearic Islands, we are proposing and acquiring investment for more creative Greenheart projects and events to enhance the island's all year round
Responsible Tourism offer, and to allow local eco-businesses to rise and thrive. In essence this is the formation of an eco hub for our team, our members and our partners to network together, with exclusive access to information and resources regarding sustainable living, eco auditing and specialised event services.
My most famous quote is 'I hate waste!'
If I could grant one wish it would be for everyone to see waste as a useful material from which to make useful objects, instead of something to dispose of. Thus in our roles as eco-entrepreneurs, green activists, eco-edutainers, and as a community, let's find ways to use everything that nature has to offer us, and let's try to make all these ideas commercially viable for impact.
So, on this note, I’d like to invite you all onboard our new endeavour to make Ibiza the kind of place where we can all live together in balance and harmony - a role model Island to show the world best practice for eco design, innovation and regeneration.
A big welcome to everyone who has joined, or is planning to join The Fenix Collective!
Also, with many thanks to marketing specialist Sarah Luiz, who branded, designed, created content, optimised, edited and published this new and exciting website for the Greenheart Ibiza movement, and for the launch of The Ibiza Fènix. We will continue to use this Blog section to report on any relevant news and events linked to our growing number of activities.