While thinking about the principle of obtain a yield I stumbled across one of the challenges of people based designs. They are sometimes known as ‘invisible’ designs, because the problem and solution and not necessarily visible or tangible. When we start designing something like our emotional health or our relationships we can’t necessarily forecast the outcomes of our design. In a land based design plants and trees are much more predictable; we can guess that if we plant an apple tree now we will get apples in four or five years time, we can even have guesses on the amount of apples we will get. It isn’t really possible to say what yields we will get from activities we put into our health and relationships; there is a non-linear relationship between cause and effects, or actions and yields. There needs to be an element of trust that when we do something positive, such as introducing meditation into our daily lives there will be benefits, even if we aren’t quite sure what they will be. This makes it particularly hard to quantify the benefits of design to share with other people. There is now a network of LAND – learning and demonstration sites around the UK. They show how permaculture has been put into practice on the land in tangible and observable ways. It is more of a challenge to know how to do this with people; it is an ongoing question of how we can share our stories and talk about the yields we have personally gained through permaculture.
As we approach the end of January I am reflecting back on my New Year’s resolutions, and thinking about the yields I have gained through them. Firstly have I kept to them? Certainly there are some things that I have managed to do regularly and incorporate into my routines. Other good intentions haven’t quite become established patterns, some completely forgotten about. The reflection process is as much about gratitude as anything else, when we think about the yields we have obtained. When we look back we can be thankful for what we did to be where we are now, even if we aren’t quite sure of which actions made the differences. We will never know where our lives would be with different actions.
Sometimes we have to expand our perspective of yields. One of my New Year’s resolutions was a weekly blog. If I looked at my yields from this only in terms of how many people read my blog, would I find enough motivation to continue? Perhaps. But when I widen my perspective and think of other yields; such as developing my own learning and understanding of the principles, and training up my writing muscles; then I’m pleased with my progress and want to continue. I recognise yields as not necessarily something that comes neatly packaged. Some yields develop slowly over time, with the gradual expansion of our comfort zones and capabilities. Appreciation of our yields can provide the momentum we need to continue and expand our actions.
Next week I will be thinking about Creatively use and respond to change.