Bring more colour to Lisbon and to get citizens and retailers to decorate balconies and storefronts with flowers is the big idea behind Evadream, whose initiative was officially launched yesterday.
Some years ago, walking up Rua da Esperança, a well-known street bordering the old neighbourhood of Madragoa in Lisbon, two balconies with flowers caught our eyes. Red geraniums. “My house looks like the house of Amália”, the owner of one of thes flowery balconies used to say amused, referring to the mythical fado singer who loved this characteristic Portuguese flowers. These two balconies did convey a sense of beauty to this street, reinforcing somehow the traditional spirit of the neighbourhood. But the curious bit of this story is that both houses with flowers in their balconies were owned by Spanish girls. As for the rest of the street only a few discrete flower vases decorated the windows and the balconies. The years have gone by and the country has changed. The city is livelier, new business open every day, tradition is hype these days, tourists flock here, but walking around Lisbon the picture is pretty much the same, there is still a relative absence of flowers in the city’s windows and balconies. The answer may lay in the discrete nature of the Portuguese which is there in the colours of the garments, mostly in shades of grey, brown and beige, or in a certain lack of social engagement and sense of community which may be high In traditional neighbourhoods but lacking somehow in other neighbourhoods. Portuguese houses are nicely decorated in the inside but the outside of buildings is often a deserted and colourless landscape.
Lack of colour was what Tó Romano, the CEO of the renowned model agency Central Models felt it was missing when he visited one village in Portugal. The place lacked indeed colour and he wondered what was missing there. Flowers, was the obvious answer. And what if we decorated the villages and cities of Portugal with flowers? The idea started revolving around his head and materialised with the launch of a book under the name “Evadream”. This book brings us to the main story and to António Romano’s big idea – turning Lisbon and the rest of towns and villages in Portugal in a true garden and the country a garden by the sea. Lisbon is the first town to join this major initiative and for that end a protocol was signed yesterday with the Lisbon Town Council with the aim to involve every parish in the city. The idea is to get everyone on board and to convey to all Lisboners a message of beauty and harmony between citizens and both public and private spaces. The challenge is pretty simple: get the people to put flowers in windows, balconies, façades and storefronts and to decorate an iconic space of each town parish with flowers, a model that can easily be replicated in other cities. Lisbon is a city worth a short visit or a prolonged stay, but with this initiative its promoters believe the city will have and additional appeal, attracting more tourists while injecting a new strength in markets and areas considered remote and rural.