In 2001 Lucien Malins, better known as Chris, agreed a sabbatical year from his work at a Waldorf School in the UK in order to try to bring a progressive form of education to an evolving alternative community in La Alpujarra region of southern Spain.
After moving with his young family to live in a shepherd’s hut on the Sierra Nevada mountains with only one small solar panel for electricity and water collected from a nearby spring, he began advertising and talking with local people to see if there was interest in supporting his educational ideas.
At the beginning of 2002 and with a bank loan agreed, he stuck his neck out and invested in the rental of a small ground floor flat and garden in Orgiva, the main town of the region, in the hope that people would be drawn to his efforts. The school opened with two children and one of them was his own. He believed in the project and the good it could bring to the young children of the area and so with the support of his wife and two good friends he persevered and gave all his energy and initiative to develop the project to grow from a vision into a reality and within a short time people came and the seed began to grow.
After initiating that project, which is still running today, he began to speak at regular Spanish conferences for holistic education in favour of peace education and the importance of practical craft skills. He also worked for nothing in his local village giving monthly craft workshops to the local children helping them to develop new skills and understandings and was honoured for his work with a special gift by the local council.
He returned to the UK in 2006 to study and develop his educational ideas and understandings at the University of Plymouth, where he also worked as a volunteer coordinating the management team for a successful sustainability education festival in Cornwall in conjunction with Plymouth University’s student volunteer services, the newly founded ‘Centre for Sustainable Futures’ and a local charitable education trust.
This led to an invitation from another long established educational trust in Cornwall to act as project manager to develop a project for a sustainability education centre. Although this was inspiring work it meant working away from his family and so finally he returned to Spain to live full-time and continued to develop his passion for natural craft teaching and to continue developing sustainable education as an important resource for the development of healthier 21st century societies in that region of Andalucía.
This return led to the initiation of an innovative residential sustainability learning project for which he received immediate support from the Sierra Nevada National Park Authority and his local council however after the initial enthusiasm of launching the idea and after a personal investment of many thousands of euros, many difficulties really began to appear and after nearly 9 year’s work to provide all the necessary paperwork and reports to get the final approval to begin works, personal finances dried up and the project was left sitting in a council filing cabinet waiting for final payment of taxes and licence fees before fund raising could begin for the building costs…..and there it still sits waiting to this day. A project which started out as a venture to help others turned into a personal nightmare, of extra costs, administrative difficulties, red tape and endless delays.
However, not to be disheartened Chris continued to offer craft courses for the children of the local village and even with no income to speak of, recently managed to complete a Master degree in Special Education at a Norwegian University with his particular focus being on the apparent psychological illness that Humankind appears to be suffering from as we systematically decimate our home environment alongside an educational approach that could begin to offer hope and inspiration to the younger generation.
And this is where he is now, and still going J
Lucien (Chris) Malins
Canar, La Alpujarra