Over a year ago, in March 2014, Andy Goldring (CEO of the Permaculture Association) gave an inspired and excited talk at the LAND gathering about the International Permaculture Convergence coming to the UK in 2015. Eighteen months away and it seemed very distant, but now it is just round the corner. He set those of there a challenge to create exciting edge events for IPC. He asked us to think about who had most inspired us in global permaculture world and then to invite them over and organise a course for them to teach. This sounded like a great idea and I like challenges so the idea was planted in my mind.
Some seeds take a while to germinate and the idea of me organising any courses for 2015 lay dormant for several months, until a chance meeting with Starhawk in the permaculture area at the Green Gathering last summer. She asked about my book (People and Permaculture) and I about hers (the Empowerment Manual) and we remarked on the similarities and same direction they were both heading in. I inquired if she was coming to IPC and if she wanted to do a course with me. I was delighted when she said yes let’s talk more about it.
What I initially thought to be just one seed germinating turned out to be 4 that took root and grew. Several movers and shakers from across the world had offered to come and teach over here, and Andy Goldring put me in contact with those that were offering anything to do with social permaculture and/or teacher training. Over the course of a couple of months emails crisscrossed over continents before we landed the programme that we now have.
The Training of Teachers course which Designed Visions holds annually was due to be held at our new venue Applewood this year. We are delighted that we are able to open up our teaching team to welcome Rosemary Morrow. As author of the Earth User’s Teachers Guide she is bringing a wealth of teaching experience and in all sorts of different situations and cultures. Applewood is a very magical site and Chris Evans and I are feeling very blessed that there is a group of international permaculture people coming to our land.
When I first did my PDC in 1999 my overall lasting impression was not so much about the content but about the process i.e. how the course was taught. I loved the games, the sharing, collaboration and friendships and all the creativity and fun. When I started my journey as a permaculture teacher the Teaching Permaculture Creatively Manual by Robin Clayfield and Skye was a key source of inspiration and a foundation text for this way of delivering permaculture. It is a real honour to come full circle and to now be a special guest on Robin’s new course Dynamic Groups, Dynamic Learning.
During my conversations with Rosemary she also was looking for help to convene another course she wanted to run Community Disaster Prevention Planning. After agreeing to use the Sustainability Centre for the other courses, we realised that we could run 2 courses together there. We renamed this course Resilience Planning – though the essence remains the same – how can communities build resilience and design comprehensively for pre, during and post disasters. In April this year Nepal suffered from huge devastating earthquakes. Nepal is very close to my heart with my partner having worked there for over 30 years. The experience in Nepal has been relevant to show there are serious issues about disaster preparedness and response that need addressing, and how vulnerable we all are to emergency events. We obviously can’t stop an earthquake or tsunami but there are ways of mitigating the effects and the effectiveness and speed of relief and recovery. I’m sure her course will provide people with some vital tools for their communities.
The last course I come to is the biggest, this seedling grew and grew and this course now has over 35 people involved. For a while now there have been permaculture practioners from around the world who have been stretching the edges of permaculture and taking it out of the garden and into homes, groups and relationships. People like myself who have experienced the potency of permaculture for dynamic change on all levels and want to use permaculture to create more change. The Social Permaculture course is bringing together 5 of us who have been pioneering social permaculture. Robina McCurdy, Peter Cow, Robin Clayfield, Starhawk and myself are so passionate about what permaculture has to offer for shifting micro and macro cultures. We know though that we don’t have all the answers – social permaculture is still in it’s infancy, and we also know that through coming together we will create more answers, that it will be a collective discovery. We are planning to harvest our learnings and share them with the rest of the permaculture community and beyond, and use this course as a springboard for further discovery and collaboration around social permaculture. Designing this course has been a steep learning curve in virtual designing in a group, with skypes in 5 time zones at strange times of day, these have been fruitful and we now have an amazing timetable.
When planting the seed for any course there is always a time lag sometimes there can be quite a while before the harvest of the course itself, they aren’t quick crops – not as long as fruit trees more like a sprouting broccoli crop. Now with less than 2 weeks to go before the first course and I can see the crop ripening, and there certainly looks to be a true abundance of deep learning, connection, growth, friendships, synergies, wildness and nourishment. I think this coming August and September will be 2 of the most memorable months of my life.
There are still some places left on these courses if you would like to join the adventure – please email Looby at peopleandpermaculture(at)phonecoop(dot)coop