Seeing the wood for the trees
The case for education for sustainability has never been stronger than today. Permaculture design is for everyone, it is not the exclusive realm of greens and liberals.. but for anyone who wants to understand how to create harmony and abundance and to live on this planet without destroying it. It is the science of maintaining a continuing future.
Cwm Harry is currently discussing the possibilities of teaming up with Sector39 permaculture and Moel y Ci environment and enterprise centre to create a permaculture academy and research centre. Steve Jones, lead tutor at Sector39 maps out the road ahead.
Permaculture design has a huge role to play in the transition to sustainability. It allows us to understand complex systems; with its patterns to detail approach permaculture allows us to see the wood from the trees. Food and energy security, protecting biodiversity, soils, water, jobs, livelihoods, homes, waste – there are so many aspects for consideration it is simply not possible to design for sustainability without considering all of them. Sustainability requires a systems approach; it calls for integral design and for the unleashing of collective intelligence.
Permaculture empowers people to take a greater care of place, to meet resource needs from outputs, to eliminate waste and to create abundance. The march to sustainability is not a top down process but rather an empowerment of all individuals to see their own place with in it and to play their own active role in bringing about the kind of world they want to live in.
Although Permaculture demands on-going study, of learning how to see the patterns that underpin the natural world and to learn how to emulate them, its core tenets can be learned in a couple of weeks of study. This is where its true power to transform lies, it is complex and open ended yet its core ideas can be picked up and communicated rapidly.
If permaculture teaches us to harmonise with the natural flow of energy and materials, literally to create abundance, it also teaches that what we need to achieve this is lying around us already. There is literally nothing stopping us from achieving these goals right away.. it is simply a matter of seeing the possibilities and arranging the components in a harmonious and productive way.
• Permaculture Education
Really it is learning by doing, permaculture is experiential in how we learn to work with its patterns however that process starts with some basic input of ideas. If permaculture is a language for sustainability then it is really useful if we can all sing from the same page. It gives us a vocabulary with which to talk meaningfully about our relationships with each other, the resources we interact with as well as the wider environment.
Permaculture education breaks down into three basic levels:
The Introduction: Usually a weekend course and often as a result of the interest and curiosity in the subject that tends to grow from first contact. The introduction weekend is often held on a new-ish project location and hosted by advocates who are also keen to share what they have learned so far.
Dr Matt Swarbrick is an ecologist and former BBC wildlife cameraman. He completed his PDC in 2012 and has just hosted his first Introduction to permaculture weekend at the stunning hill farm he is restoring to its former glory in North Wales.
The Design Course: Want to know how to work with nature, and how to build for sustainability? How about how to put together complex ideas like projects and community developments? Permaculture design gives you the tool kit to approach complex tasks effectively and competently. There is no alternative to experience and depth of knowledge, but permaculture design gives you that framework and a starting point. From here on in it only gets better!
This 2 week intensive course covers all the basics and gives you a framework for literally years of study and practical work. Two weeks seems like a big commitment, but there area for study is very broad and the course itself includes being part of a design team developing a presenting a real design, it gives you not only theoretical knowledge but hands on experience as well.
Advert for our June 2014 PDC.
The Diploma: Developing the experience as a landscape and project designer, as a leader or facilitator for change takes practice. The patterns don’t emerge until you have seen a process through a few times. To this end to become an experienced permaculture designer and to be able to lead on your own courses it is generally accepted that it takes developing and implementing a series of designs and reflecting on the process as an active study to hone and develop ones abilities.
It takes at least two years and maybe much more to complete a permaculture diploma – but this worthwhile activity is how new permaculture designers and teachers are born!
And now to this end Cwm Harry and Sector39 are teaming up to develop a fully integrated permaculture program, which we are grouping under the heading of a Permaculture Academy. The intention is to create learning opportunities for practitioners at any stage of their permaculture education and to provide a full progression from novice to professional.
- Introduction talks and briefings
- Practical hands on weekends
- Permaculture Introduction classes
- Full Permaculture Design courses
- 6 month volunteer practical placements
- 2 year Diploma programme based on our own Permaculture Research Institute
These plans are currently under consultation with the various parties concerned ans we hope to formally launch this exciting new project in August 2014. Any more information about this project please contact Steve Jones, why not follow @misterjones2u on Twitter.
Permaculture is a global phenomenon, it is the fastest spreading grass roots movement around the world. Here is a wonderful short video soliciting wider support for permaculture design originating from the US.
Steve Jones, author of this piece and director at Sector39 has been involved in permaculture since 1991. Studying at Fambidzanai, Harare, Zimbabwe and Centre for Alternative Technology in Mid Wales. He was quick to put his convictions into practice, founding Chickenshack housing Cooperative in 1995, a permaculture designed community whilst developing his own teaching and project development skills at CAT, the RISC roof garden, before founding Sector39 in 2005. Sector39 have now delivered 25 2-week permaculture design courses as well as many shorter introduction and practical courses reaching many hundreds of participants. Since 2010 Steve has been active with Cwm Harry Land Trust in Newtown Powys, developing community growing spaces and honing a new 5-day community garden design course process.
Building effective links between Sector39, Cwm Harry, the Permaculture Association and Moel y Ci to form the Permaculture Academy and to locate a long term permaculture research institute is the realisation of a long held ambition of Steve’s to bring permaculture design to the fore. The stated aim is to demonstrate its power and potentials and to create opportunity for broader involvement via a fully integrated training and experiential learning programme.