Preparing for East Africa’s first Permaculture Convergence, join us.

Preparing for East Africa’s first Permaculture Convergence, join us.
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Design for Sabina school driveway orchard 2008

A convergence is a coming together, in this case we are hoping to bring together leading practitiners and advocates for permacuture design in East Africa. The aim is to accelerate the already considerable momentum in the region by profiling some of the amazing work already underway in the region.

Since 2015 Sector39 have taught two full PDCs in Uganda and are planning the third currently. We have also formed a supportive partnership with two Ugandan organisations to enable us to extend our regional ambitions. East Africa is literally hungry for permaculture and there is so much that can be done to significantly improve people’s lives and resilience utilising resources that are largely already available.

It seems an obvious step forward for our East African partnership to try to raise the profile for permaculture by creating an event that demonstrates the many possibilities for its positive application. We are inviting some of the region’s biggest enthusiasts as speakers and workshop leaders and planning for an event that can bring together students from our first three courses with school heads, politicians and other scoial and financial gatekeepers with whom we might build new and mutually beneficial relationships.

The planned venue couldn’t be more ideal as it is home the most mature designed food forest in whole region and the school has embraced permaculture design and ideas within its core curriculum, even the Head Teacher has completed a PDC!

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Students and teachers from Sabinas permaculture class meet Steve from Sector39

Sabina school is near to Rakai in central Uganda, the region that was the epicentre of the global AIDS epidemic. They are still in recovery from the terrible loss of life, creativity and human resource but are well on track to have the situation fully under control by 2030. Modern drugs have massively reduced the mortality rate, it is no longer a death sentence and people are open about their HIV status. That said there are still many orphans in the region and a great deal of work to be done to compenstate for the terrible effets of the epidemic.

sabina permaculture garden

Sabina students in the school’s forest garden. Bananas, avocado, pumpkin, jack fruit, there is food everywhere!

The 2-day conference is intended to both bring permaculture practitioners, students and pioneers together as well as creating a platform to celebrate and showcase achievements to inspire and demonstrate possibilities for new and interested parties. There wil be talks, demonstrations, a permaculutre futures forum and a school partnerships proposal Launch.

As well as site tours and demonstrations at Sabina there will be a chance to visit The Permaculture Research of Uganda, (PRI-UG) which has an ecological farm and demonstration site less than an hour from the intended venue and that is en route for anyone travelling from Kampala. The day immediately before and after the actual convergence will be open days for the site with guided tours and discussion forums planned.

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Grace an ex pupil from Llanfyllin High school with Charles an ex Sabina pupil with some of the current juniors.

Political persuasion.

Permaculture belongs in schools. Imagine the anxiety for young adults when confronted with the fact that the next 30 years of their lives is going to dominated by climate change, a dwindling oil supply and the possibility if never-ending resource wars accompanied by ceaseless waves of refugees.

Currently it feels like no one in the main stream is offering solutions or ways forward they are battoning down the hatches and tightening border controls. We need to offer more than vision of a sustainable future, we need to provide the mechanism for change and pathways for empowerment and inclusion in that process and where better to begin than at school?

We have the support of the minister for education for Buganda and the national minister for education was a founding force behind Sabina school where the event will be held  so there exists a solid foundation to link the event to movement on a political level. When arrived in Kampala some 6 weeks ago our first meeting was with Mr Mula, permanent secretary to the Vice President of Uganda, he offered us his full support and strongly endorsed the work of Charles Mugarura and partners BEU Permaculture. We are looking to the younger generation to take the lead he emphasised.

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Launch of BEU permaculture, Uganda’s most dynamic permaculture team and partners with Sector39 delivering this event

Sector39’s education team have since began work on 12 educational units for use in school that will introduce permaculture’s key principles to the curriculum, not as a subject but as cross curricular themes.

The East African Convergence gives us a timeline now to develop and profile this work. We have a key partner school in Wales to develop and trial the materials with as well as an emerging school network in Uganda so we are absolutely ready to take this work to the next level.

Pre booking and sponsorship packages are available to help us develop these potentials and we are also reaching out to teachers and educators to help realise these ambitions.

Delivery Partnership

  • The Sector39 education team are taking a lead role in organising this event, please contact us for bookings, sponsorships and other offers of help. There will be volunteering and internship opportunities as well.
  • On the ground logistics, site development, volunteer hosting plus marketing support and branding services are being provided  by BEU Permaculture, Kampala.
  • PRI-UG are offering demonstration visits, networking a practical support fir workshops and site development.
  • PermoAfrica centre and K5 community permaculture are linking us to on the ground community permaculture practical work in Kenya and will be profiling their 2 years of developmental experience for the conference.
  • Key note speakers tbc. We are  inviting a leading Author on East African botany, a leading agronomist and politician in the educational field to outline the key themes of the conference.

 

 

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Meeting the head and agreeing on outline plans for the coming event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permaculture at the Cathedral

cc1For many people completing a PDC can be a life changing event. Not least become they come to the subject looking for a catalyst to accelerate changes in themselves which are often already well underway. Permaculture puts flesh onto the bones, it enables a person to move from defining themselves by what they don’t like or approve of, to what they positively do strive for.

Modern societies greatest fallacy has been to externalise the environment. We are encouraged to see the living world as something outside of our selves, where of course nothing could be further from the case. By externalising the natural world we have lost sight of our own place within it.

Permaculture begins within you. It starts as way of seeing, of thinking about the world that makes ourselves active players, spectators no more, we become participants. Sustainability is just an idea really until we really take it on board and think about what we mean. If something is not sustainable it by definition leads to collapse or footcut.jpgimplosion. It doesn’t matter on what level it is happening the outcome will be the same. It is no co-incidence that so many people feel a deep sense of disconnection from a global society that seems hell bent on its own self destruction.

Permaculture teaches us that nothing exists in isolation, we are all the product of interactions between living things. We humans are as intricately bound into the web of life as are the plants, fungi and animal around us. We couldn’t digest our food with out the yeasts and bacteria in our gut, our waste would not decompose and plants couldn’t extract nutrients from the soil. The air we breath is full of oxygen released by plants and all life* draws its energy from the sun.

*(Actually there are some weird and wonderful life forms that draw on geo thermal energy to exist, but they are far removed from anything we recognise).

Why the Cathedral?

Permaculture design is for everyone, it teaches how to live on this planet without destroying it, it is not an exclusive club for greens. Although many of its pioneers are hardened environmentalists as a club it is open to all for membership. We all have a stake in a living planet, not everyone has fully realised that yet maybe, but the wake up point comes to everyone at some point.

The 2 week residential course is out of reach for all but the most dedicated students. Although it is a fantastic experience every time it is also hard to squeeze into busy lives, childcare and work responsibilities. At Chester we created a modular course based on evening classes of 3 hours, supported by home study directed by resource pages and videos.

This pattern has enabled students to weave the course around their existing commitments with a degree of flexibility.

 We are excited to announce we are invited back to Chester this October to run the course again and build on what we set in motion on the first course. 

I am writing this on my phone as I wait for train to Heathrow to pull out of Shrewsbury station. The next Sector39 course kicks off in Kamuli Uganda next weekend with 25 African farmers, teachers, students and civil servants. We are partnering with the Permaculture Research Institute of Uganda who are keen to connect us with Government and funding bodies out there. We will see how it all goes, delivering an excellent PDC is our first goal but are keen to develop peer to pèer learning models to enable us to launch a permaculture academy and create 1000s of new designers and teachers. Permaculture and Africa go beautifully together, an explosion of creativity just waiting to happen. Watch this space.

 

 

 

 

Forest Garden for Busoga High

 

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Field trip to Busoga 2016

Connie is the English Literature teacher at Busoga high and last year Grace from Sector39 caught her for a few minutes during the S39 PDC at nearby Kamuli, to talk about the girls she supports at the school. They are developing a school garden within the campus to generate small incomes to provide for essentials for the girls. I love the idea of a school empowering its pupils to generate money towards fees, books and accommodation and we hope to celebrate and promote this kind of partnership through our teaching work. 

 

When Raymond Orenda from Homa Bay permaculture Kenya contacted us about contributing to the next Kamuli PDC in May 2017 and offered a forest garden workshop, it wasn’t hard for us to put 2 and 2 together. Can we develop an output from the PDC that is an input into Connie’s essential work at Busoga.

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Raymond celebrates the next stage completion of their project base in Homa Bay

Obviously on a busy PDC schedule time and resources can be limited but we can certainly set something in motion here that could be start of a longer term project for Busoga high and that could serve as an inspiration to school around the globe.

The idea of a school releasing some grounds so students can begin small enterprises that meet both their own and the wider communities needs, creates a powerful change in the relationship between school and the pupils.

Sector39 have been at the forefront of permaculture in the UK since its inception in 2005 and bases its teaching work on the 25 years of project and educational experience.

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English teacher Connie from Busoga High with Han Rees from Llanfyllin In Kamuli last year

We are based in Mid Wales but have strong links across the UK and with permaculture in Uganda, where we have been invited to take an active role in the development of the Permaculture Research Institute of Uganda. Our second African PDC is intended to build on the achievements of partnership visits in 2011, 2014 and 2016, where significant contacts and networks have already been established.

African PDC’s. These are open to both local and international participants and especially suit farmers, teachers and project planners from East Africa and NGO staff and trainers planning to work in the region

pdc ads 2017

Next PDC courses: Wales and Uganda May & June 2017

We hope sector39 can bring the right people together in May/ June to advance this project and to develop it as a powerful example of collaboration between projects.

 

 

Crisis, what crisis?

Crisis, what crisis?

chester chroncalI have already written to the editor of this paper to make the point that publishing climate change denial letters such as this one on 6 Oct both demeans and trivialises the whole paper. I would however also like to address the letter writer directly and more forcefully.

Christopher Calder tells us we have been fooled by ‘science’ have we? By science I guess you mean those nasty people at NASA, you know who gave us the moon landings, the space shuttle, satellites and digital telecommunications.

Or did you mean the Met office, who we rely on every day for weather forecasts, storm warnings and the like.

Or NOAA in the USA, when they give hurricane warning do we ignore it, thinking it is another of their made up pranks?

60 Nobel laureate scientists published a joint open letter only a couple of weeks ago saying how urgent it is that we pay full attention to the science – and it is not the first time either! Are you saying they all made this up, really?

The Oil industry has been caught over and over pumping millions of dollars into climate science disinformation, bad science and denial, do you not think if there was even the merest chink in the robustness of the science they would have exposed it and filled our media with it?

pope-768x401The Climate denial game is so over, even Exxon’s Mobil’s own scientific department concluded that unchecked co2 emissions represented a clear and present danger back in the 80’s; but when even the Pope steps forward and puts the full force of his office behind the ‘moral imperative to act on climate’ then you make a fool of yourself to pretend otherwise.

‘Science’ you say, I am particularly annoyed how you chose to put the word in commas, you and your so-called science! Science, my friend means observation, simple as that. Everyone with a thermometer can measure the temperature outside and make comparisons and the evidence of temperatures past is written in every geological record and every tree ring. Anyone with a ruler can measure sea-level changes. This is evidence that can’t be falsified, evidence that every serious scientist around the world concurs with when they do their own research.

de grasse tysonThere is no dissent about climate change within the scientific community, other than just how bad and how urgent is it? Trump, a climate denier blames it all on the Chinese, why the Chinese I don’t know and how they falsified everyone’s scientific data around the world, that bit he failed to explain. The US army’s own scientific research teams concur with the climate scientists, it is indeed a real and present danger; are they colluding with the Chinese too?

Honestly, there really is nowhere left to stand to hold onto the position of denial and appear credible. Are you really prepared to put the whole gamut of evidence against your own untested word?

You site no sources to support your views, yet the weight of world opinion is against you.

I am sorry to have to be so strong in my words but you are a scoundrel sir!

A scoundrel for daring to make such a false point and doing it so weakly and so incorrectly, you insult our intelligence. Around the world millions of people are already affected by climate change, ecosystems are collapsing, oceans are acidifying and there is no other explanation for what is happening to us. The scientists are not just certain that it is happening they are also certain that we are causing it, and to my ears anyway that is the good news. What would be truly terrifying would be to hear that it was a natural phenomenon that we can nothing about, the fact that we are causing it also means we can solve it.

earth surface temps

Global average temperatures ar rising, hard to falsify!

Facing up to this is a huge challenge as we have built an economic infrastructure that runs almost entirely on coal, gas and oil. If that wasn’t bad enough, our economy also requires growth, year on year just to stand still, just to pay off the interest on the money we have already borrowed. We are sort of locked in to our own destruction as we have already raised money against oil and coal that hasn’t even been burned yet.

Although 195 governments, almost the entire world signed the Paris Climate Agreement, binding us to work to stay under 2 degrees of change it also not unsurprising that they are unable to enact policies that take us in that direction. After all until now our whole economy has been rooted in burning resources at an ever faster rate to produce goods with ever shorter shelf lives.

regenerativeEconomic growth is not going to save us, only an evolution in human thinking, an evolution in our collective economic behaviour will do that.

Atmospheric CO2, the main culprit in the problem currently stands at 400ppm. It used to 285ppm before we started on the industrial age, and the planet will carry on warming until we get it back down to 350ppm (this is the view of NASA), that means getting our global emissions down to zero as soon as we possibly can whilst developing ways of farming, land management, building, energy and more that actually lock CO2 up and stop it returning to the atmosphere. Plants do this all the time, so building out of natural materials achieves this goal, imagine building houses from wood, straw, hemp, clay/ lime, coupled with a re-localised organic food production system, powered with a renewable energy grid running super-efficient, low energy appliances and homes, that is the kind of thing we need to put in place and fast. Building such an infrastructure is where the jobs will come from for the emerging generation, the generation who are growing into an already climate-changed world and whilst we are doing that we will be building a new kind of economy that enhances the environment and locks up carbon, making climate more stable once again over the longer term.

There is already a global movement in permaculture design, in community supported farms and climate change adaption and mitigation, so instead of burying your head in the sand and expecting us to believe these absurd statements of denial I invite you and everyone to join the solution, the transition. Let us all help each other find the pathways from the destructive and now obsolete carbon extraction economy and create a new exciting and forward- thinking carbon-sequestration economy. I call that permaculture, you can call it what you want but it is the only future possible for humanity and anything that distracts us from that aim is wasted time.

leo2Science is sceptical; every published data set is tested by other scientists to ensure accuracy, which is how the peer review process works, you make yor reputation by proving other people wrong. If you reject climate science then you reject science, it is all inter-connected, so the smart-phone in your pocket or the jet plane that takes you on holiday, it is all the same science, you don’t get to pick and mix what you ‘believe’. If you want to know more about climate science, talk to the scientists, here is a plain English site that explores every commonly held mis-understanding and explains with evidence what is the best understanding by those who study it. www.skepticalscience.com

Find out about permaculture design and how we can work with natural systems to repair the biosphere and lessen the effects of climate change.

Chester Cathedral are teaming with local permaculture trainers Sector39 to offer a course for community leaders and innovators for change at the Chapter house from Mid-November, over the course of 12 evening plus 1 weekend.

Join 350.org the global climate action movement to find out how you can join in the response to the biggest challenge humanity has yet had to face.

Taking permaculture to old places

Taking permaculture to old places
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Chapter house, Chester Cathedral

The cathedral at Chester represents nearly a 1000 years of history. First built-in 1093 the main part of the building was rebuilt around 1283 to 1537. For this course, the first at such a venue certainly for us, we will be based in The Early English Gothic chapter house, built between 1230 and 1265, it is a rectangular building and opens off a “charming” vestibule leading from the north transept. The chapter house will be the classroom for the proposed PDC and the significance of the venue is not lost on me. (History from Wikipedia)

This place connects us directly to our Norman past, Hugh d’Avranches (c. 1047 – 27 July 1101), also known as Hugh the Fat, the second Normal Earl of Chester was buried there, first in a long line of patrician overlords who found their resting place here. I have always been fascinated with history, especially the ancient buildings, churches and castles which have always captured my attention and where as I child I always felt I could feel the pulse of those that had passed before somehow resonating from the very stone of the buildings.

Hugh spent much of his time fighting with his neighbours in Wales. Together with his cousin Robert of Rhuddlan he subdued a good part of northern Wales. Initially Robert of Rhuddlan held north-east Wales as a vassal of Hugh. However, in 1081 Gruffudd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd was captured by treachery at a meeting near Corwen.

Gruffudd was imprisoned by Earl Hugh in his castle at Chester, but it was Robert who took over his kingdom, holding it directly from the king. When Robert was killed by a Welsh raiding party in 1093 Hugh took over these lands, becoming ruler of most of North Wales, but he lost Anglesey and much of the rest of Gwynedd in the Welsh revolt of 1094, led by Gruffudd ap Cynan, who had escaped from captivity.

So it comes full circle, to be travelling from Wales to Chester to explore ideas for our continued mutual survival in this rapidly changing modern world.

What would Hugh d’Avranches have made of the dilemmas we now face, climate change and resource depletion, what lands would he invade and subjugate? I also wonder what would he have thought of Bill Mollison, the originator of the permaculture concept? I really can’t empathise with Hugh d’Avranches but on many levels the monks at the Abbey in the 13th or 14th century would have got it, they kept bees, grew veg, were guardians of seed and provenance and kept carp in ponds in the gardens at the Abbey. They knew about food security, how to cultivate the land and how to act a guardians of seed and soil. They certainly knew how to weather the many storms that faced them in those troubled times and I am interested to know what we can draw as inspiration from their memory.

If you have never heard BIll Mollison speak then he is certainly worth a listen. The word genius is overused these days but Bill brought a new way of seeing to the forefront, of way of seeing that which once you do see things that way, becomes obvious and compelling. Bill had foresight, he could see what was coming and set his mind to developing a system that was accessible and adaptive that might provide a basis for every community to address the challenges that confront us.

On the PDC I will be sharing Bill’s vision and design for a sustainable world, but so much more than that permaculture gives you a set of tools that enable you to work with the people around you to bring about meaningful change.As much as we can recognise the need for change it is hard to know where to direct one’s energies and what to prioritize.

 

The PDC is a curriculum that covers the broad thrust of Bill Mollision’s and David Holmgren’s work, encompassing the principle tools to be able to immediately start working for positive environmental change. Permaculture is empowering,  at its heart are ideas of self-determination and responsibility and a way that actively helps to build mutually beneficial relationships with those that surround you.

Scott London: A reviewer once described your teachings as “seditious.”

Bill Mollison: Yes, it was very perceptive. I teach self-reliance, the world’s most subversive practice. I teach people how to grow their own food, which is shockingly subversive. So, yes, it’s seditious. But it’s peaceful sedition.

Bill’s passing in September this year is a huge loss, a big tree has fallen in the forest, as writer and teacher Graham Bell said, however the new light let in from the canopy creates the opportunity for many more to grow.  Bill always taught us the nature is cyclical, the Rainbow serpent on the cover of the epic Designer Manual is both creator and destroyer, birthing a whole world of complexity whilst devouring its own tale.

Please join us in Chester for this course and help us work together to create new opportunities for all and to draw on the inspiration of those who have gone before us.

Sector39 news and developments

PDC course advert for Llanrhaeadr

PDC course advert for Llanrhaeadr

Triodos Newsletter

The Colour of Money Triodos bank’s newsletter has chosen to feature Dragons Co-op as a key article in the latest edition. We worked closely with the bank on the article and are happy to be associated with them as they have been supportive by providing ethical finance to a series of housing co-operative projects that Sector39 have been involved with. Creating the kind of opportunities such as fully mutual housing co-operatives, community owned businesses and permaculture projects requires investment and long term support and we are really grateful for a chance to profile some of our work in the publication.

Launching our January Design Course in Llanrhaeadr at Dragons Co-op

Short notice we know, but we will be offering a full PDC based at the new co-op in Llanrhaeadr. We are also writing a three year programme at the moment now that we have a more solid base at Dragons Co-operative and can plan much further ahead. We intend to use this course to strengthen local links and some of those attending are also closely involved with other projects in the area. Sector39 is also currently developing plans to work more closely with the High School and Dolen Ffermio charity in Llanfyllin as well as Tan y Fron housing co-op in Meifod.

The course is designed to work well for those based locally and for those coming from further away. There will be accommodation options for those wishing to stay over on the Saturday evenings, creating opportunities for some social time as well as the course itself. Please contact us for more details, prices are flexible to keep them affordable for all, based on £50 per weekend, with a discount available for those who book early for the full course, at £250.

Changes to Reading plans

Following on from the successful course we ran at Reading International Solidarity Centre in January to March this year we had initially planned to run one there again this year, however on  reflection it is going to be such a busy time for us we have shrunk that ambition. We will be running a full introduction weekend there this March  and going back to RISC in 2017 to offer the full permaculture design course, again spread over 6 weekends.

 

 

Sector39 return to RISC in Reading next spring

Introduction to permaculture design

19-Mar-2016 9:00 AM – 20-Mar-2016 5:00 PM

Location: Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC)

Before we can “save the world” we have to save ourselves. Well we have to at least start with ourselves because that is the part of the universe we have the greatest control and influence over!

Led by Steve Jones from Sector 39, these 2 days, at RISC are designed to be the start of your permaculture journey. Packed with information, new ideas and rich with opportunity to develop your own thinking and personal goals.

This 2 day event is part of a build up to a full Permaculture Design Course in Reading commencing January 2017(6 full weekends at RISC and one optional extra weekend/ field trip to Mid Wales)

Advance booking is essential for this event, min one month.  For more information including how to book, go to http://www.permaculturedesigncourse.co.uk/?event=introduction-to-permaculture-design

Sector39 is led by Steve Jones supported by a network of permaculture tutors, practitioners, artisans, community growers and activists. Together we have been working with permaculture designing landscapes, running educational courses and developing projects since 1995.

Sector39 is based in Mid Wales UK.
WebLink: http://www.permaculturedesigncourse.co.uk/?event=introduction-to-permaculture-design


New courses, dates and venues

We are busy putting together our programme of events and courses, with more details to come. Now we are settling into our new home at Dragons Co-operative we have the chance to plan a bit further ahead. Dates for PDC’s in Llanrhaeadr, Uganda, Reading and Llanidloes, with more in the pipeline. A 2 day full introduction to permaculture at RISC in Reading and tbc a series of specialist events, including raw chocolate making, mushroom foraging and the secrets of biochar.

All our events and booking details are on the sister site www.permaculturedesigncourse.co.uk

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Click banner to see latest course dates and booking details

Chickenshack at 20

Brynllwyn in 1995 shortly after we first moved there.

The story of Chickenshack Co-op began in Zimbabwe in 1990/1. A chance conversation led to a chance encounter which led me and friend Sue to the village of Chimanimani in the eastern mountains there. A wonderful and unexpected  opportunity to care take a pemaculture designed small holding quickly evolved into the opportunity to develop a derelict neighbouring property, using the knowledge and momentum from the first project. The new property had once been the home of John Wilson a permaculture pioneer in Zimbabwer involved in several key early permaculture projects in that country. Ever since that time my life has also been inextricably linked to the world of permaculture.

Chikukwa permaculture project, Zimbabwe

Chikukwa permaculture project, Zimbabwe

Looking after the small holding of Graham Metlerkamp had taught me so many new things and slowly the idea to apply this learning to new and subsequent projects really took hold. The first port of call was the neighbouring property, which has now evolved to become Heaven Lodge an absolutely stand out destination for travellers in Southern Africa in itself, let alone the stunning region surrounding it.

Heaven backpackers lodge Chimanimani

Heaven backpackers lodge Chimanimani

One of the first real sources of inspiration came when we visited Chikukwa in 1991 and met Uli and Ellie Westermann, two German teachers who had naturalised to the traditional Mashona homeland area, and who in consultation with John Wilson, the previous owner of Heaven helped begin the impetus that has gone on to transform the whole of the Chikukwa area.

Read The Chikukwa story in Permaculture Magazine

The combination of these and other experiences led me to discover my own passion for permaculture and realise a determination to take this ideas and put them into practice via my own life an work. So the dream of Chickenshack was born and on my eventual return to the UK  I set about finding ways I could both learn more about permaculture and put the ideas into practice myself. I have to mention my great friend at the time Andreas Heigl, it is in part down to him that we actually called the housing co-op that name, we had lived in a wooden shack in Zimbabwe and kept chickens so there had been lots of jokes and silly names around chickens at the time, including a band and a repertoire of silly songs, but with Andreas the Chickens name kind of stuck. When we reunited in a camping site in Amsterdam in 1993 he even coined the word Hunchenfest, for Chicken party, i used it as a net pseudonym for a while.

Andreas Heigl, was the first of our friends and supporters to contribute to the Chickenshack loanstock fund. Here he is helping fit the door from the cottage to the larder, some years later.

Andreas Heigl, was the first of our friends and supporters to contribute to the Chickenshack loanstock fund. Here he is helping fit the door from the cottage to the larder, some years later.

It was through the support and belief of dozens of people like Andreas that the idea grew into a reality. I bumped into a woman called Stephanie McCann in the Green Futures field at Glastonbury and she told me all about Housing Co-operatives, Radical Routes and how to buy and manage property without necessarily having capital. Suddenly what had been a whimsical aspiration become a potential realistic proposition.

That's me in 1994, having moved to Wales and contemplating launching Chickenshack

That’s me in 1994, having moved to Wales and contemplating launching Chickenshack

It still didn’t really seem real when we  put our offer in on the property in early 1995, we still didn’t have much of the money and only barely had a few members committed to living there, as people kept getting all excited about the prospect then dropping out when the full complexity of the challenge presented itself.

Then came the Permaculture design course at Centre for Alternative technology and that served to click all the pieces into place. We only had 3 of the required 8 members in place at that time and still needed money, we had allowed our focus to broaden to make the coop more broadly appealing, who knew what permaculture was all about after all?

My certificate from the 1995 PDC with Mike Feingold

My certificate from the 1995 PDC with Mike Feingold

But with course all that changed. the design course not only gave us a why, it gave us a how, it showed how to prioritise, via zoning where to place by sectors, it showed how to make decisions by consensus. Ironically the tighter the focus for the co-op the more attractive it became. It became easier to explain what is was all about and how it was going to run. we found our other 5 members on the course and in the surrounding community, we had our focus, our raison d’etre and momentum was finally on our side.

The basic lay out of the land, the position of the veg garden, orchard, forest garden, wind breaks, paths and much more was mapped on on the PDC as our group design project. It has been a fascinating process to see how it has matured and how well it has all worked, over the years and the successive residents and members of the co-op.

I have too many memories to try and list them here, I dug out a handful of battered old photos from those early days and I have scanned a few of them in. I would like to write much more about the whole experience, and the three other housing co-ops I have been closely involved in starting, the fourth of which I currently reside at.

The whole thing has been and continues to be an amazing journey and thank everyone who has been part of it so far. I am certain that the co-operative model is one of the most powerful tools we have to transform our society and to empower us all to pursue our dreams of sustainability and abundance.

View at Chickenshack 2015

View at Chickenshack 2015

I am going to be there this weekend, and will be photographing and making some sound clips and video for posterity. it feels like a significant achievement for all concerned and hopefully can act as inspiration for future potential projects.

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything
Chris Reid’s Dad

 

Podcast008, Summer updates, its a busy time for Permaculture

Please listen, share and enjoy. This summer, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Chickenshack Housing Co-op we have launched a new housing and worker co-op in Llanrhaeadr and moved in. We ran a full run a PDC in June, appeared at 4 festivals and events and am now planning for our September PDC in Wales and a November one in Uganda as well as taking part in the International Permaculture Convergence and Conference. All this and more!

New Media
I am developing a strong interest in community radio and alternative routes to broadcasting, having become tired and disillusioned with state owned an controlled media and the billionaire media barons that run the airwaves. As they jam the media full of anti-Corbyn rhetoric it is rather clear who has access to the controls and that any dissenting voice is going to get shouted over, our drowned in the never ending torrent of bullshit they are forever spouting. Would love to hear from others with similar interests.

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Next PDC will be in Llanrhaeadr and will focus on co-operatives and community as key drivers for a sustainable and resilient future

Up and coming courses:

1, PDC in Llanrhaeadr, Mid Wales, from Sept 20th

Please get in touch if you would like to know more about this. We are really keen to hear from people in the Llanrhaeadr area as well as elsewhere, the ideal mix is half local and half rest of the world.

I am also putting together a new Crowdfunder campaign to support the course and we have already had a couple of applications from people on very low incomes who would like to be able to attend. I am hoping we can learn how to use these new media opportunites much more effectively as they open up so many new opportunities. I have discussed this is in the latest podcast.

PDC in Uganda planned for this November

PDC in Uganda planned for this November

 

This is a very exciting prospect. We plan to bring 12 Ugandan students of agro forestry and sustainable farming together with 3 or 4 international permaculture students to be able to offer this 2 week course. We will also have the chance to visit a series of projects and initiatives that Dolen Ffermio have been involved with over the last 20 years. Lots more to say about this… and again I have mentioned it in the Podcast.

Last years’ visit to Eastern Uganda was a real highlight and it was extremely inspiring to see all the work going on there. This course aims to reinforce and help share the learning and progress made on these projects.

Apologies for the rushed posting.. more soon!