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The Love that Binds us and the Loss that Drives us: Reconnecting with Paulo 10 years on

Many of our newer Re-Alliance members and followers will not know of Paul Mellett, who died ten years ago last Sunday. Paul, or Paulo as he was known more recently to friends, was responsible for much of the inspiration behind Re-Alliance and in some way for its foundation. After contracting Leukaemia at the age of 19 in 1998, he vowed while in hospital that if he recovered he would do something useful with his life.

Thankfully he did and in the 14 years that followed he became a strong climate activist, a campaigner for the rights of minorities, and passionately concerned about the state of the planet and its soils. He married Ruth Andrade, chair of trustees of Re-Alliance, and through her became a strong influence on the work of LUSH and its support for farmers. 

It is a tragedy that during his work with them he contracted Malaria in Ghana in 2014 and died in Brazil from complications that followed. At his funeral his friends, many of them also innovators and activists, formed the Blueprint network, to further regenerative thinking in humanitarian response. As a network of friends and colleagues much of this was realised in their own practice, and some years later it was felt that if the network was to grow and make a significant difference, it was necessary to formalise it into an NGO. Re-Alliance was dreamt up at a meeting at the LUSH offices following a Spring Prize event in 2018 and founded as an NGO in 2019 with a small grant from LUSH to get it off the ground. Many of the Blueprint group were among its first members. 

I sadly never met Paulo, but in early 2018 while I was working for The Lemon Tree Trust on refugee gardens I came across a video of him and Ruth talking about their work and felt strongly that it was these values and principles, rather than those of LTT that I wanted to represent. On Sunday, in his memory, Re-Alliance hosted a small gathering of friends, family members and those who have been taught or influenced by Paulo to share stories of what he inspired in them, and the things they have been doing since. 

While the event was of course tinged with sadness, it was also warm and humorous. Individuals shared stories of someone who was tenacious and committed, full of joy, jokes and energy, and who lived out his values of Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share – the permaculture principles that also underpin Re-Alliance. Others who couldn’t be there sent in tributes or poems, including the one below from Hieroglyphic Stairway by Drew Dellinger which I feel I’d like to pass on. This, along with our newsletter this month, and the stories of the work we have been doing with you all, are dedicated to Paulo’s memory. 

"it’s 3:23 in the morning

and I’m awake

because my great great grandchildren

won’t let me sleep

my great great grandchildren

ask me in dreams

what did you do while the planet was plundered?

what did you do when the earth was unravelling?

surely you did something

when the seasons started failing?

as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?

did you fill the streets with protest

when democracy was stolen?

what did you do




Hieroglyphic Stairway by Drew Dellinger


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