This is just a dream, but my commitment with the Great Turning, if you are called, please answer, any contribution (from idea to resources to your friendly support however it looks like) will be well received:
I live in Surrey, a wonderful place with many challenges and possibilities, a place with probably more immigrants and refugees than “local” people, with groups struggling to make a living, to be safe, to meet each other. A place with emerging and increasing crime, poverty, food insecurity, addictions and homelessness but also with so much to offer and create!
Putting this out there to the universe and all its beings: I am looking for an old/abandoned or barely used building, preferably with some land or exposed surfaces in City of Surrey.
The plan? To call all peoples from Surrey and around to co-create a vision for this place as a “People’s Hub” where we can share skills, run support circles and groups, startup training for real social/regenerative entrepreneurs and for people who are considered “ineligible” for employment services (or who don’t want to be “prepared” to end up in a Wallmart as a shelf stocker)…
My own vision is to make this building/place beautiful with ALL our hands and resources and focus on the nine capitals (yes, I added one!) that include social, cultural, intellectual, spiritual, natural, health, etc.) and plant a food garden, have a childcare and elder-care in place, a place to make music, share skills and passions/ideas, exchange home-made products and services, support each other and more…this will be open to all the different ethnicity groups, genders, sexual orientation, levels of ability, etc in Surrey and beyond…we would have a place for people from outside to crash safely but also for the local people who may not have a safe place to stay…this will NOT be a non-profit based on services/charity model, it will be a cooperative based on inclusive leadership and sociocracy.
I need you to name a place you already know that would be ideal for this and let me know if you are in as I’ll be having a Zoom/real cafe meeting soon.
Please message me if you are in and/or if you have suggestions for the place, preferably by no later than this coming Sunday (July 22), but if later than that, still welcome…
I’ll be posting this in various groups so in order to keep things clean and accessible, please message me personally or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Decades ago, when I was a scout leader in Venezuela, we used to go to a mountain’s cave. We could only get out by passing one by one through a scary and claustrophobic narrow and impossibly long tunnel/passage, and once you were there, you couldn’t know what was in the other side, you just needed to TRUST and also would help, hearing the voices of those who were already on the other side. We used to rappel to get in, it was a great adventure of exploration of the land and our own fears and sense of trust in each other…now, decades in the future from that young woman, I am entering another cave and need to go through an unknowingly long and narrow passage…I have no idea what’s in the other side or whether there will be others receiving and encouraging me when and if I make it through.
I am both scared and excited, I have chosen a path with undefined borders and depths. I have no plan and carry a lot of burden with me that I will have to deal with or choose to let go.
Everything around me has been screaming “trust!” but the burden I carry tells me otherwise…”what if?” and so many feelings of guilt and confusion (how could I be so selfish when others don’t have this choice? I am privileged to have what I have!)…still, the contractions have already started, this baby will be born, even if I’m fully scared and contradict myself every hour There’s no way back or down to the old and well-known cave.
As a friend half-funnily said to me a couple of days ago: I have outgrown the pot, not that one you are thinking but the other: the pot/container where I had been planted, partially with my consent. All my body is screaming for a transplanting: I need to have my roots naked and wandering around until they find the ground and ecosystem they need for continuing growing, giving, being.
Your words and prayers of support and encouragement will be needed and fully appreciate through this process. I’m about to enter the narrow passage, and leave this cave…
From Emergence Magazine:
In this music video: Lyla June’s poetic reflection on time and the wisdom needed to care for future generations.
Powerful message, it reflects the path I started to follow seven years ago…
I am inspired beyond tears by the raising of the indigenous peoples around the world, leading the way, and all those who have understood what we are in this miracle of evolutionary journey and that we are the universe made conscious, with the tremendous responsibility for caring, creating and stewarding and the understanding that we are part of the everything, not more important, not less, and that we are in this journey together…
Those who are awakening and caring are the true Bodhisattvas…
https://emergencemagazine.org/story/time-traveler/ via @emergence_zine
Time traveler running faster. Warrior is born. Battle to be won. Past trauma, future hurt. I’m a child of the dirt and I'm ready to give birth. Planting a dream. Panting, I breathe. Running towards the future with a handful of seeds. Stronger than greed. I am stronger than hate. I stand under the shade of trees planted so long ago. A product of ancestral love, I’m here because my elders danced in the sun. They would give it all up for us and from day one it was practiced like religion to prepare for the ones to come. We are here to give all our love to the ones unborn. But this is insane. Living for fame. Living for the next quarter, profits and gains. You forgot love. You forgot truth. You forgot how to live for a time beyond you. It’s not about you. It’s not about you. It’s about the song that is traveling through. It travels through time. Singers will die but the song lives on through matrilineal lines. We are here to give all our love to the ones unborn. Open your eyes. Open your heart. Draining aquifers before they can recharge. We’re not in charge. Nature’s in charge. Look to the stars remember who you are. Stay humble or fall. We don’t know it all. And we are not exempt from natural law. Live selfishly and the structure will fall. But if we live for those unborn then the song will go on. So before you take a book off the shelf, take a look inside yourself. Answers come to you at light speed. I’m searching for knowledge I can’t find on a newsfeed. Knowledge found through intuition. Knowledge found through fasting and dancing. This ain’t superstition. It’s ancestral tradition. Throw me the spear of wisdom— sharpened and sunlit. I’m giving my life to the oneness. I’m a warrior. I’m sun-kissed. I’m armed but I’m harmless. Protecting cycles of rain and cycles of snow. Fighting for children whose names I will never know. I look up and read the messages written all across the sky. Messages telling us that it’s time to evolve or die. It’s time to live this life right. So that when our children look back, they look back with pride.
Have you planned to take a permaculture course but never have time? Can’t take time off from family, school or work? Do you want to go deeper than the usual PDC and have life-long access to the materials, including updates?
Studying online has its own benefits: re-visiting of the materials as many times as you want, self-paced, making meaningful and lasting connections with people from all walks of life and from around the world, the opportunity to reflect and journal and of course, hands-on projects you will be applying to your home or community!
In the current course, we have permaculture teachers and people who took PDCs years ago but wanted to refresh or have a new perspective from a course organized and taught with social justice and care for people at its center.
Get a 72-hour Permaculture Certification PLUS Advanced Certificate in Social Permaculture for $100 off! (Score!)
Tuition also includes 3 hours of private tutoring with one of the 40 women on our expert International faculty (you choose!). There is no other course like this out there…for women by women. Check out the 37 Modules & more here.
Permaculture is about finding your niche, growing your passion, and sharing the abundance, together and as individuals, for the betterment of ourselves and the planet. If you resonate with this, you’ll benefit from this course.
Let this be the year you say “YES!” to learning new skills to better your life & local community
USE CODE: SUMMER at checkout to save $100 and mention you saw this here with Silvia Di Blasio so you can also get access to 1-1 mentoring on Ethical and regenerative Pathways and Right Livelihood!
“The quest for food security can be the common thread that links the different challenges we face and helps build a sustainable future.” ~José Graziano da Silva, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General
“Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” La Via Campesina
“Food Sovereignty is the right every human has of choosing, buying, exchanging and consuming, growing, harvesting, preserving and making healthy, ethical and regenerative food for themselves and their loved ones”. ~ Silvia Di Blasio
The Food Sovereignty Workshops Series includes 14 core workshops and some optional ones. The workshops can be taken individually or as a series. Taking as a series is recommended for people serious on improving the self-reliance and resilience of their households and communities.
Workshop 1, Food Sovereignty essentials:
Workshop 2, Food & kitchen skills for households in a budget:
Workshop 3, Growing food in small spaces and year-round
Workshop 4, making food from scratch: vinegars and kombuchas
Workshops 5, 6 and 7 making food from scratch: yogurts and cheeses
Workshop 8: making food from scratch: breads
Workshops 9 and 10: making food from scratch and preserving the harvest: ferments and kimchis
Workshop 11: preserving the harvest: pickling
Workshop 12: preserving the harvest: canning fruits and jams
Workshop 13: preserving the harvest: canning sauces and chutneys
Workshop 14: making a livelihood from food sovereignty
Supplies and materials needed:
Facilitator fee: $25/hour plus accommodation and meals
Total hours: 14 X 3 hours/each: 42 hours
Suggested length: 7 days at an average of 6 hours/day (intensive), or two sessions of 3.5 days each with a “break” in between of a week or a few days.
Total facilitator: $1050
Total cost of series: depending on supplies for food preparation and number of participants
Suggested fee per participant: $50/workshop or $600 for entire series
Silvia is a Food Skills master trainer, certified canning instructor, food sovereignty advocate, blogger and facilitator for the Surrey and White Rock Food Action Coalition. Silvia teaches permaculture, resilience, food sovereignty, fermenting and pickling, canning, growing microgreens and making most foods from scratch at various locations. She combines her passion for food sovereignty and community resilience with her career as social entrepreneur coach and facilitator, ecotherapist and Reiki master. Silvia is also a Work that Reconnects facilitator, a Global Ecovillage Network ambassador, EDE facilitator candidate and a long-term supporter of O.U.R. Ecovillage.
Visit her website at: https://mainstreampermaculture.com/
“As we apprentice ourselves to the way of nature, we begin to understand that all of life is in a continuous cycle of giving and receiving. It is the honouring of this cycle that makes us feel at home in ourselves and in relation to the rest of nature. In order to experience true belonging, we must not only acknowledge the gifts we are receiving, but also give our beauty away, no matter how it may be received by others.”
~ Toko-pa Turner, Belonging (bold is mine)
“The historical mission of our times is to reinvent the human – at the species level, with critical reflection, within the community of life-systems, in a time-developmental context, by means of story and shared dream experience.” ~Thomas Berry, “Reinventing the Human,” in The Great Work, 159
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
~ Søren Kierkegaard
I have been tempted to close this blog in many occasions. There’s not much interaction, I tell myself, I rarely get a “like”, a share or a comment, so why bother? What’s the point of having 1,164 followers (as of today, May 15, 2018), if I have no idea and no control on whether my writings affect others, help others, inspire others to do something?
Lately, I have turned to nature for answers, and studying ecopsychology, ecology and systems has definitely helped: elements and beings in nature never “expect” a response, responses just happen. Trees continue to breathe the world alive every night and give it to us again every day. Birds sing, butterflies fly, flowers flourish, mushrooms emerge, all synchronizes with everything else in an ever going dance of indescribable creativity, joy, death, grief, rest and rebirth…and not for a second any of them (stone, cedar, leaf, worm, deer…) ask whether their lives are important, have a purpose or whether they, as individuals or species, belong.
Only we, humans, do that. Only us are wounded enough to bring those questions up to the space.
In a coaching exercise (a visualization), I realized how much I miss certain things and how much I long for them to be in my life: a meadow, a garden to call mine, doing nothing but sitting under the sky, walking in nature, playing with animals, watching chickens do what chickens do, running, camping, sitting around a fire with friends and family, reading more, writing more, learning about herbs from the herbs themselves, playing with magic in the kitchen through fermentation, bread and cheese making, listening to others in non-structured “coaching” sessions, having deep and honest conversations about almost anything, kissing, hugging, holding hands, building things with my hands, playing with mud and wood and breading/weaving baskets, exploring “primitive” survival skills and teaching them to others, singing, dancing, backpacking…
The funny thing is, I’ve done and still do many of those things. Just not enough!
This week, I’ll be travelling for 10 days to OUR Ecovillage to co-facilitate alternative/resilient and sustainable economics, locanomics, indigenomics, the right livelihood and social entrepreneurship practical tools. I will also be co-facilitating the worldview of the EDE and a workshop on Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects”. Apart from my everyday work as career coach for immigrant job seekers and entrepreneurs, I work as the social media and communications “wizard” for the Work That Reconnects Network and the local Food Action Coalition/Seeds of Change Surrey. I’ve been teaching Food Sovereignty workshops at UBC-Farm, the local Food Bank and the now closed Homestead Junction. I have been teaching resilience, First Aid and disaster assessment and planning to dozens of groups and communities. I am now co-facilitating an online Permaculture +beyond Permaculture course along with other 40 permaculture practitioners around the world (registrations still open), I have been presenting at conferences and seminars and now will be collaborating with Regenepreneurs...I’m still dreaming on launching my own online and in-house regenerative entrepreneurs coaching business (Ethical Pathways) and offer 1-1 and group coaching for those in need…
My life is in many ways already a miracle beyond what anyone could have expected for the daughter of a refugee/activist/single mom who didn’t have the best of the childhoods (at least at the psychological/emotional levels). I didn’t get to study high school or university like “everyone else” (although I’m not along here, there are millions who still don’t have access to this type of education in the world). I never had land, or money, or family support. I stayed on my own in Venezuela at age 17, determined to make a life different from what “fate” seemed to have designed for a girl like me…
In many ways, however, my life has been an effort to demonstrate I belong, to find a place, a people and a time where I can feel whole at last.
And I found it, but not within the usual suspects: I have grown tired of expecting “others” to like me, love me, accept me, make me feel whole and that I belong to their family, group, community. My life/patterns are seeded with misunderstandings, people who leave, people who ignore or even abuse me in different ways. I have grown expecting emails not to be answered, “friends” disappearing for no reason, no phone calls or texts, no surprises, no thank yous, having to ask and justify myself for every step I take…
I’ve found that I am already whole and have always been: that my body is perfect as it carries me everywhere and manifesting through the senses, pains, joys and discomforts, all what’s good or wrong (it never, ever lies!). I have also discovered that my emotions, including those of anger, fear, shame, frustration, disappointment, etc. are all ways my Self has to communicate with me and send me warnings or cues that something is off and I need to change direction or attitude.
I have also found that I belong, I’ve always belonged as each leaf and twig and worm and bug and mushroom and water molecule and stone and right of light, as each one of you who are reading so far and those who will never read these words…belonging is not something we have to work towards: it is already here, in this space and time, and it is the reason we exist.
For years, I have facilitated workshops for those looking for a career path, a job or to open their own business or become self-employed. As many other career coaches, I have used and abused the formula of “exploring your gifts, strengths, skills, interests, etc.” and then researching/exploring the “market”: who are willing to listen to you, accept your gifts you have to share and, most importantly, giving something in return that you can use in this society: usually in the form of money…
The problem with the “formula” above is that it depends on a “public” willing to “pay” (respond in some hopefully positive way). It is, in many ways, based on a capitalistic way to see the world, through transactions of value/capital and the concept of markets. Not only that: if someone discovers they have something to offer, do or express that cannot be contained, something that burns inside but this doesn’t have a “mirror” in the world (a response that results in $$$), then the person is told to tweak their offerings and dreams, or to offer them for free, like they have no “value”…
But that is not how nature works, and not like history has worked either: nature is in an endless emerging and creative mode: it can’t help it! It shoots “weeds” through pavement, grows flowers through Chernobyl and Syrian destroyed towns, creates new species, rebirths every spring after the apparent dead of winters. She never asks whether these emerging and creative offerings will be well received. She doesn’t care whether the soil, water and air have been polluted, she births and births without exhaustion, and when a new experiment is “ignored” it never “fails”: she will release it in a few years or in another environment until it takes hold!
What if what we have to offer, what is pushing through our chests and throats is an expression of Nature, like birdsongs and wild flowers and new species? What if we have a guaranteed “niche” as everything else in this magical and mysterious world and we have no reason to ask for, justify or demonstrate that we are already whole and we belong? How would that play out in our life and career decisions? How would that reflect out there in the way we treat each other and Nature?
What if our Path is the Path we are already living, and we just can’t see the full shape until we get far enough and turn back: then we see that all those apparently random dots, failures, misunderstandings, detachments, challenges and neglects were guiding us to what we have become and what we have always been in the first place?
“Perhaps a new revelatory experience is taking place, an experience wherein human consciousness awakens to the grandeur and sacred quality of the Earth process. Humanity has seldom participated in such a vision since shamanic times, but in such a renewal lies our hope for the future for ourselves and for the entire planet on which we live.” ~Thomas Berry, “Ethics and Ecology,” in The Great Work, 106
“By bringing forth the planet Earth, its living forms, and its human intelligence, the universe has found, so far as we know, its most elaborate expression and manifestation of its deepest mystery. Here, in its human mode, the universe reflects on and celebrates itself in a unique mode of conscious self-awareness.” ~Thomas Berry, “The Viable Human,” in The Great Work, 56
“Serendipity thrives on alertness” ~ May East, Gaia Education co-founder and trainer, edge worker
One of the advantages of studying how systems work is that you start seeing “the matrix” behind each behavior, including social behavior.
I became fascinated with systems when I stated studying, and then practicing and teaching permaculture: we are surrounded by systems and we ourselves are systems within systems!
From observing how ecosystems work in nature, learning about patterns and eventually re-visiting how the universe has evolved and particularly how Life works, I started to see the connection between what we call “matter” and that more intangible substance that forms from our thoughts, emotions and the unconscious to the mystery of dreams and the soul/spirit “world”.
As it turns out, this artificial division or duality, the same behind all our story of separation, is the one that has created the mess we live in: socially, politically, economically and environmentally, we have allowed this to be created, this “thing” to emerge and take control over our lives, behaviours, relationships, values, judgements, etc.
Life is in continuous emergence: it shoots creatively all the time, even in deeply wounded and broken places. We see it in the strong roots of the “weeds” that stubbornly and resiliently break through the pavement or thrive in eroded and polluted soils, in the bugs and birds and flowers and seeds that move and take hold in the strangest places. We see in the trees that grow from soilless rocks!
What if that “emergence” is also happening at the social and individual level same as it is continuously doing in natural ecosystems?
Not only I strongly believe this is the case, but many others do, and have dedicated years to study this phenomena: because there’s no division between “humans” and the rest of nature or between “society/culture” and any other ecosystem: all are systems, they just look (superficially) different.
Through the last two years, I have been learning, exploring and using systems theory, emergent design and ecopsychology in my coaching and facilitation practices…and the results are not only inspiring: they create “unexpected” synchronicities…with time, I’ve learned to expect and even produce these synchronitities by paying attention and staying open to the flow.
Imagine there was a tool that allows us to “read” the cues and become so alert that we can tweak what’s emerging in ourselves, our relationship and dynamics, groups or an entire cultures to work better with the flow instead of being constantly pushed and pulled by it, controlled by it.
That is what “Cultural Emergence” by permaculturist, coach, teacher and change maker Looby MacNamara allows you to do: to understand how systems (including cultural and personal systems) work and learning to read the cues so you can work with them instead of fighting them or becoming their slave.
Cultural emergence allows you to “create breakthroughs in the Great Turning to a life enhancing culture” as Looby MacNamara says.
Some abstracts from Looby’s course:
“Humanity is presently in a crisis of disconnection and a time of mass cultural emergency; we see the personal, social, political and environmental problems as stemming from a lack of cultural understanding and cohesion. We believe there are tools that can help turn this around into mass Cultural Emergence; where abundance, gratitude, care and connection are part of our everyday culture.”
Want to know more?
I invite you to join this online course where you can progress at your own pace and join a community of learners and change makers https://coursecraft.net/c/ActivatingCulturalEmergence/a/cpmYFEtWT
Looby will also be teaching about Cultural Emergence Design in BC next September, for those who want a more hands-on and deep experience: https://www.designedvisions.com/index.php/course-dates-topmenu-97/cultural-emergence/406-canada
“What permaculturists are doing is the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet. We don’t know what details of a truly sustainable future are going to be like, but we need options, we need people experimenting in all kinds of ways and permaculturists are one of the critical gangs that are doing that.”~ Dr David Suzuki geneticist, broadcaster and international environmental advocate
I know how it is, because I’ve been down to that rabbit hole as well: so many things happening, so many challenges and threats, so much uncertainty about the future: where are we going? Are we even going to make it to 2,100 and beyond? Are we destroying the only planet we know? How will be the life and livelihood of our children and grandchildren? How will be their future ecologically, socially, economically, spiritually?
I haven’t stopped being concerned, but many years ago, I discover a path that gives me what Joanna Macy calls “active hope”, not the hope of thinking that “someone else” will take charge and magically solve the issues, nor the comfortable denial that nothing is really so bad and we will make it because we have always had found a way…
Permaculture and the many paths it has opened to me: ecopsychology and the practical side of it: ecotherapy, ecovillage design education and its fourth dimensions: ecological, social, economic and worldview, and so many others that have created such big earthquakes in my life and allowed me to meet incredibly beautiful people from all over the globe, learn things about myself I didn’t know and most importantly, inspire my children and my family to change their ways and find their own path in this..
I invite you to take the leap and join the revolution: even if you only use it to start a backyard food garden (and I promise that much more will happen in your life once you decide to dig into this), your actions will change the way you see the world, your life and community and even the future.
We already have 150+ students in this amazing experiment created by 40+ women around the world: women in permaculture who run farms, home businesses, editorials, write books, teach people, empower communities, coach, consult, etc.
If the journey of putting this program together wasn’t already amazing, I have been inspired beyond words by the stories and the learning path of the students: they are co-creating teaching materials and already applying permaculture in just a month into the program!
We have very young people along with 70+, we have all the genres represented and many ethnicities and spiritual backgrounds. People are using the course to design their social entrepreneurships, their livelihoods and lifestyles, to address social and environmental justice, to grow food and to re-design their footprints…
And we are accepting more students! The course can run at your own pace, you’ll have till March 2019 to finish. If you register using my link you’ll be working with me, we have a private network, a newsletter and will be meeting via Zoom to support each other. Those living in BC will also arrange to meet at each other’s community and may even work together in a project. If you live abroad or far, I invite you to ask a friend to enroll with you, or even a group, so you can be tutored by one of us and practice what you learn in circles and projects you create locally…what other PDC can offer all this for ~$600 bucks?
And…surprise, surprise! About a third (1/3) of our students are either permaculture teachers themselves or have taken permaculture certificates in the past but wanted a refresh and also to experience a PDC that stretches the edges of permaculture into the social, inner and justice landscapes…
We will have special offers every quarter, here is this one, valid ONLY for those registering May 1st:
“Everything gardens, or has an effect on its environment”~ Bill Mollision, co-founder of permaculture
I am one of the 40+ women co-teaching the first ever women-led online permaculture design certificate that officially opened last April 1st. We have now 150+ students, 30% of them with scholarships, coming from diverse backgrounds, genres, ages and levels of experience (some are permaculture teachers themselves who wanted to refresh their skills and get a new perspective, some already have at least one PDC in their pockets but wanted to explore one that would expand in the evolving edges of social and inner permaculture, and some are absolutely new to the concept! Some have farms or yards, some live off the grid, others live in cities or tiny apartments, we have it all!).
Reading their introductions has been one of the most inspiring and empowering (as well as humbling) experiences I have had as a teacher and learner myself. I never had a doubt this was going to be an exciting and groundbreaking journey, but now, I’m more committed than ever had!
As I start receiving my own permaculture students, I hear the question again and again: where should I base my design? Should I start with something I know or someone else’s backyard? What if I am not a hands-on person? What if I don’t have land?
Permaculture, as you would see in this course (yes! registration is ongoing, so what you are waiting for?), has evolved and transformed since it was first promoted and given a name and a shape by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the late 70’s. While it is based in their own carefully documented observations, trials and the curation of dozens of documentation and practices from many indigenous cultures, permaculture has grown far from the design of sustainable food, energy, shelter and other systems, and most of this exploration (into the social, economic and psychological realms of permaculture) has been done by women.
With time, many of us have noticed that many of the “designs” were all based on “stuff”: a garden, a farm, a water or waste system, a house or a community of houses with food, water, energy and other systems around. Most PDCs base their designs on some sort of garden or food forest.
But while those components and systems are important (and we should all learn about them if we want to create a regenerative and ethical future for all), if we miss the “invisible structures”, those systems are doomed to fail: these “invisible structures” are, unfortunately, the least explored by most PDCs: we are talking about how you live your life, how you nurture your relationships, how you care for yourself, change patterns that are not healthy or helpful to you and those around, make decisions, navigate through conflicts, create a healthy and ethical economy and community that respects the Earth and all other beings, raise children, provide support for those who are in vulnerable places or wounded…
Your design is yours. If this is your first PDC, it is normal to be all stiff and anxious and try to stuff it all in one place. It is also normal to have doubts and to try and imitate one of the many amazing examples you may have seen during the course. But permaculture, as my fellow teachers say in our course intro, is about observation and relationships: “You can have solar power, an organic garden, an electric car, and a straw-bale house and still not live in a permaculture.” You need, however, to start from something, and that “something” may be guided by your or your community needs, strengths and interests, previous experiences and skills and what’s available around you.
Even if you are an experienced permaculturist, you may be stuck with people’s backyards and rain harvest systems design: many permaculturists end up becoming landscape designers. But again, a food forest doesn’t make a permaculture: only a design that includes a full cycle, whole-systems approach has the potential of becoming something ethical, sustainable and regenerative: a perma-culture or something “permanent” through the natural changes of cultures and what sustains cultures: food, water, energy, etc.
What is more: many graduate from a PDC thinking that permaculture is about the techniques they practiced: herb spirals, swales and keylines, forgetting that good design takes into account what’s in place already and what is appropriate for the place, people and elements already there: permaculture is the farthest to “one-size-fits-all” you can get, because is based on observation and ethics. A food forest in a deforested place can create more harm than good, and mulching may your garden rot if you apply it where is not needed!
First the first: remember that permaculture is a design system based on whole systems approach, observation of natural systems (and yes, social, political and economic are also part of nature, we humans are not from another planet!) and ethical foundations. This means that you can use permaculture to design almost anything: from a garden to a space program, let’s take a look at some of the areas people have focused their designs:
· Food production to meet their and their family’s needs (examples: community gardens, family plots, food forests, food balconies, animals integrated in the system when appropriate, etc.)
· Restoration and regeneration projects to support species that may have been impacted by displacement, deforestation, pollution, “development”, etc. (examples: pollinator corridors for bees and bugs, community food forests, rain gardens to recycle polluted water, etc.)
· Energy descent design: to reduce their overall ecological and carbon footprints (full-cycle study and re-design plan to retrofit your house, workplace, school, community hub, suburbs…)
· Ethical livelihoods: to create resilient, ethical and regenerative businesses or “livelihoods” (earning money while regenerating and restoring social and economic systems, ecosystems, food, water, energy, transportation, shelter, waste systems, etc.)
· Lives, behaviours and relationships: creating new patterns of behaviour that are healthier, regenerative, nurturing and caring
· Community hubs, organizations, networks, grassroots groups: creating new systems that truly care for the people, are just and also care for the Earth while helping the group to deliver what was intended to do
· Restoration and regeneration projects in wounded and broken places: creating beauty and restoring the broken interconnections in areas damaged by war, climate change, social or economic oppression, trauma, pollution, etc.
As you can see, the list can go endless, as every category above may contain plenty of examples at any scale: from personal to communal and as “formal” as needed (depending on who you are and who are able to involve, a design project may involve local authorities, community representatives and a sort of professionals).
The important thing is to know that you can start as small as you want, and that small is always better for those who have never designed before: “start small and slow”, is one permaculture principle. You don’t want to go too big to fail, and want to test your design to make necessary adjustments.
· Take a walk in nature: leave all behind (turn your cell mute or off, forget the dog, if possible go solo) and allow yourself to become truly immersed into the landscape: open all your senses and absorb as much as you can, without an agenda…do this as many times as you need through the design process. Sometimes, you may ask the land, the birds, the trees, the question you have in your heart…allow it to flow freely and wait
· If you are planning to design something tangible, like a garden, take many walks into the space, touch and smell everything. If you can, spend different days at different times from different angles, sleep there, eat there, talk to it, and allow the space and the present elements to tell you what they need, and what they can give with what they already are
· If you are planning something more intangible, like a community hub or a business, the approach is different: spend time with each member or potential ‘client”, call for a World Café, create a network, ask questions and allow the needs and expectations to flow as well as the strengths and opportunities to emerge. Listen and allow them to tell you what “shape” the design may require
· If you are working on a behavioural/relational design (inner permaculture), take time off and go into nature, if possible, away from it all and alone. Journal, note what your body and your soul are asking for and telling. Take note of the blocks and the flows, and consider getting a coach with permaculture background
Want to learn more? Consider registering to our ongoing Online PDC!
· 114+ hours or amazing materials in form of videos, readings and “going deeper” resources from 40+ experienced permaculture practitioners with diverse backgrounds and niches
· Up to a year to finish your design
· 3 hours of 1–1 support with your assigned tutor
· Access to a private forum where you can share, get support and connect with study buddies locally or globally
· Life-long access to the materials
· The opportunity to go through the materials at your pace, start whenever you want and go back-and-forth to make sure you don’t miss any detail
· You can also op to have extra support ours with your tutor or experts in different niches such as ethical livelihood, community organizing, design for disaster and emergency management, social justice, inner permaculture and of course, the more traditional topics such as earthworks, climates, soil, edible landscaping, urban permaculture and much more!
To register, visit: https://coursecraft.net/courses/z9Thn/a/cpmYFEtT4 and mention you saw this in this article!
“Ah, not to be cut off,
Not through the slightest partition
Shut out from the law of the stars
The inner – what is it?
If not intensified sky,
Hurled through with birds and deep
With the winds of homecoming” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
“To be an enchanted life is to be challenged, to be awakened, to be gripped and shaken to the core by the extraordinary which lies at the heart of the ordinary. Above all, to live and enchanted life is to fall in love with the world all over again.” ~The Enchanted Life” by Sharon Blackie
“Enchantment isn’t about magical thinking: it is about being fully present in the world.” ~The Enchanted Life” by Sharon Blackie
I got a new book this week and haven’t been able to put it down: is one of those books you want the evening to come fast (or any break you may have) so you can hide away and just…READ!
The book is “The enchanted life” by Sharon Blackie, the same author of “If women rose rooted”, a book I loved reading, and which opened the doors to ecopsychology and looking deeper into European ancestors’ myths and practices as well as the role of women in reconnecting and re-generating Earth.
This new book is about becoming enchanted with the world again: that sense we all once had as a species and from every culture in the world, the same enchanting that indigenous peoples live so naturally when not stolen and negated by settlers and colonizers.
The book starts comparing two scenes: in one, a woman walks through the forest following the human-made path, with the cellphone in her hand and barely paying attention to the wonders around. She quickly becomes invaded by the many “to-do” lists of what’s ahead in her schedule, bills and other concerns. When a crow lands in front of her and looks her in the eye, she quickly dismisses the experience as “just a bird”. She ends up her walk feeling rushed and anxious, looking forward to the next time she may be able to fit a “walk in nature” into her busy schedule.
In the second scene, woman “B” walks into the woods with her cellphone mute. She goes into the forest without fear, following her inner compass, knowing she can’t be lost. Her lungs take all the wonder of the surrounding spring flowers, she becomes one with the forest, no need to go far: there are all kind of wonders down in the soil, in every trunk and branch…when the crow lands in front of her, she knows he knows she is there: the entire forest has welcomed her, and this crow has a message, even when she may not fully understand.
She leaves the forest in peace and re-energized, knowing that she belongs, happy, with a smile. She looks forward to going back to her friends, her soul, but she also carries them inside: in the air she breathed from the ground and the flowers, the sounds of the forest and the eyes of the crow…
Enchantment: I never lost it, and I miss it so much when it is not around!
Enchantment was my first teacher of interconnection and belonging. I never managed to “grow up”, and always carry a bit of straw in my hair, a wild and “lost” sight and soil in my hands. My pockets always carry something from a forest or a beach: my reminders that there’s much more than this “human” life full of unnecessary fights, drama and pain.
From Laguna Pueblo writer Leslie Marmon Silko in her novel Ceremony, describing the way Westerners see the world:
“They see no life.
When they look, they see only objects.
The world is a dead thing for them
The trees and the rivers are not alive
The mountains and stones are not alive.
The deer and bear are objects,
They see no life.
They fear the world,
They destroy what they fear,
They fear themselves.”
“If I have influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupations with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.” ~ Rachel Carson, from The Sense of Wonder.”
“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but its there. Like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.”
—Morpheus, character in the movie,The Matrix
You know things are not good: at the social, environmental and economic levels. People are exhausted, burnout, addicted to anything that helps them forget how their precious and sacred lives are being wasted, used for the profit of a few who couldn’t care less for the Earth, its peoples, its ecosystems and their future.
Not only ecosystems are failing and shrinking (and they are the ones who sustain life!), but also social, economic and personal systems are failing: the gap between the rich and the poor is growing, the middle class is slowly disappearing, burdened by debt, work exhaustion and stress from being so busy and overloaded by it all: from information (fake and real) to entertainment, “friends”and expectations of how to be in this world…
Oceans are filling up with plastic and dead zones, forests are disappearing, taking with them entire species and the livelihoods of many. The food, water, soil and air are poisoned, translated into health issues for everyone, even those who think they are safe. Millions of animals are being sacrificed everyday to feed the hunger of a growing population who doesn’t seem to have a limit to their greed…
Children are being medicated, fed with unending garbage from TVs, laptops and cellphones at ages as early as a few months old…
Think is not affecting you? Think twice: even if you can still eat (and make choices about what you but), have a “good” job and a house to sleep in, even if your neighbourhood looks clean, safe and nice, if your family is still together and you are in “good health” and “fit”…how are the rest and why? What or who needed to be destroyed, displaced, oppressed, negated and ignored so you could have all that? Why is that you have all that and not the other 90% of the world? And why should you have all that and not be guaranteed for your children, your neighbour’s children or mine?
Meanwhile, we are told lies after lies: every “solution” comes with a cost attached because they are being thrown with total disregard to the root causes or the systemic repercussions of what they propose.
And we, each one of us, continues working as another peon in the rigged game: helping the broken system to stay together a bit longer, perpetuating the damage and the pain, stuck as clogs in an endless and narrow pipeline that goes nowhere except Hell.
Is there a way out?
To be completely honest, I don’t know. I I think no-one who says they know would be honest or credible. We are in the middle of both the death of a system that was born dysfunctional and abusive, and the birth of “something” that may end up being amazing or just a life boat for a few…only the future will tell!
In the meantime, we have to choose: do we want to continue this path of unsustainable debt, exploitation, lies, burnout, destruction, pollution and oppression? or do we want to explore other paths and see whether they could at least alleviate the suffering and the damage and maybe, just maybe, turn the entire machine towards a better direction?
“They caught the wild children and put them in zoos,
They made them do sums and wear sensible shoes.
They put them to bed at the wrong time of day,
And made them sit still when they wanted to play.
They scrubbed them with soap and they made them eat cheese.
They made them behave and say pardon and please.
They took all their wisdom and wildness away.
That’s why there are none in the forests today.”
– Jeanne Willis
I don’t know you, but I know there are many still in the forest and many more going there…I also know that many of us who may not be able to leave all behind and settle in the forest (or the meadow, the coast, the lake, you get it) to regain a sense of fulfilling life, are still able to do a lot from where we are…we are maybe as important as the others, because it is in our hands the task to redefine our economies and how we live, make choices and work together.
“The leading edge of evolution of the human species is our capacity to look at impossible repression and violence and to courageously and imaginatively bring compassion and the re-weaving of complex oneness to bear. That’s the hardest thing to do: to proclaim kinship and interdependence in the face off all that ugliness and win-lose thinking. “
“I think the infinite game is reinventing ourselves as a regenerative, restorative, responsible, collaborative presence in the Earth community. We cannot do that without social liberation across all forms of oppression and without it we don’t survive as a species. “ ~ Victor Lee Lewis
We go through life like zombies: since we are little, we are told and modelled in so many ways that we end up doubting our dreams and visions (and those of others) and following a script.
There are still some cultures where each individual’s gifts are carefully observed, encouraged and supported so each can find their “niche” and fulfil their need to belong and give to a community. In those societies, this is usually achieved through a long process where all the “village” is involved, from the elders to the child’s parents, relatives and friends. It is also a long process that starts when the child is born and matures through some sort of initiation, usually around the child’s puberty. The then teenager finds a role within their society and is widely supported in this role and guided in their choices.
Beyond whether or not some societies may have also practices that oppress women, the argument I want to make is that we no longer have this process in our current dysfunctional model of “modern” societies: and we are dangerously importing this model of disconnection to other areas of the world, creating a homogeneity of non-supportive upbringing. The cost of this? There’s barely any intergenerational connection left, there’s anger, frustration and misunderstanding from either “side” of the age spectrum, and for youth this specifically shows as not having clear ideas of how to live, much less what kind of livelihood may be appropriate for them.
Most people respond to this by bending their heads down and accepting the other script: we are all cogs in a big machine, peons in a chest game (and the game is rigged!).
In my last post here, I talked about the importance of finding our niches.
Finding our niches is both about exploring our gifts, grooming them and making choices. Some of those are difficult choices, not for the faint of heart or the one that feels OK being a zombie (after knowing they are one).
I firmly believe that no amount of technology advances, skills, information and willingness will ever produce a sustainable nor regenerative and restorative society if we don’t take care first of the individuals and communities’ livelihoods.
Economy is central to everyone. Not the concept of economy we have been fed (that it is a sort of “science” that follows laws like a natural science would). I’m talking about the concept of “wise management of the household”, which is the true meaning of the word “economy”.
We have failed as species to take care of our household both at the community/social as well as the ecological levels: we are destroying and polluting our “household” by taking more than what can be regenerated by natural cycles, we are producing waste through non-closed loops and we are exacerbating inequality and suffering.
While some are more privileged than others and have the choice to choose a livelihood that is creative, restorative, regenerative and ethical (yes, this is possible, I have seen it!), the reality is that the 99% may not have access to that, not even by choosing radical simplicity. The game, as I said above, is rigged.
My believe is, however, that there is a way out: if those of us who are privileged enough to choose come together not only to free ourselves “from the system” but also co-create realities at the local, communal and household levels so others can discover and use their gifts to create dignified and regenerative livelihoods, then we may all (not only a small group) have a chance…
There are plenty of opportunities: from land, water and biodiversity restoration to household and entire systems retrofitting, the re-thinking of basic systems from food to energy to transportation to the different goods and services we require to be comfortable and safe, all done as much as possible at the local levels.
The process is long and requites to be able to think like a system. As reverend and activist Victor Lee Lewis said in this interview about evolutionary leadership: “The job of this social justice leader is to help our species to evolve. And that is way beyond justice, way beyond equity and fairness, way beyond reparations, way beyond even restoration. It’s about taking leadership because the whole human family is in a position of being oppressed.”
I recently read a really raw and disturbing recount of what’s happening in the world by Deb Ozarko (you can read it here). I agree with Deb in many areas and respect her decision. I also believe that if you are bothered by her writing is because somewhere in your heart you know she is right. Mine (decision), however, is that of the stubborn warrior who doesn’t want to give up.
As author and activist Joanna Macy (WTR) says, “I choose life”. I love this planet, all forms of life in it and the miracle I witness every day too much to be able to sustain any emotions of hatred, anger, frustration and so on for very long. I do have them, but they are deeply entangled with the grief for the world and for what human beings are doing to themselves and other forms of Life.
I thought about this for an entire challenging day. I know I’ll be thinking about this for the rest of my life and this is not a new thing for me, since I started to “wake up” to this reality a few years ago.
I’m not attached to the outcome. And I know I’m guilty (as we all are, nobody is safe here) just by the fact that I walk and breathe in these times and place.
But I don’t do what I do because I’m convinced that the outcome will be a sudden change in consciousness that will magically get us to a New Age where everyone will live sustainable, regenerative lives and be happy ever after…
I live in the real world: I work with immigrants and refugees, I ride the bus everyday, I see both privilege and oppression, I have family and friends living in areas of South America for whom Climate Change, biodiversity loss, land grabbing and overall exploitation and not “concepts” but realities.
I know that is not going to be easy, I know many will suffer, I know things will become harder than they already are…but I am also convinced that if I don’t involve myself and do something, the suffering and the loss will be even bigger.
We all are Life, and Life has demonstrated, again and again, that she is stubborn and creative. She has witnessed the changes from eukaryote cells to tree leaves that can breathe and produce oxygen and food from the sun by photosynthesis. She has seen the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other species without which we may have never had a chance as a species.
We are flesh and soul, but I don’t see the Self or the Soul as separate or “other”. I see it as the life force that goes with the flesh and rot of all Life on Earth. As such, worms, trees, seeds, elephants, even clouds and of course the water are Soul. It is not only us, and my Soul is not different from theirs, or from yours.
So here is my set of intention:
As an aging woman with health and oppression issues living in a suburban home as an immigrant from a minority in Canada. I’ve been adapting my life and practice to more regenerative and life-sustaining options since I got my first PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate). It has been hard, and I have advanced one step and went back two.
I have also spread myself too thin and wasted my time with people and projects that were too narrow minded and/or unsupportive of a process that I see as sacred and systemic.
I have noticed this pattern in many others, particularly those who have non-supportive families or environments, suffer from chronic illness or pain, have any sort of (dis) ability, belong to a target group (less privileged or even oppressed by other’s privileges), need to work two or more jobs to pay the bills (I work two jobs plus many ongoing gigs), or live in areas where sustainability is nothing but a bad joke.
My intention is to challenge myself (and anyone who wants to support this mission) to find real ways to create regenerative livelihoods not only for the oppressed, but for everyone. I believe in the liberation of all: oppressed and oppressors, and I believe that until we can co-create true regenerative livelihoods AND an environment in the community that allows for these livelihoods to be sustainable, we will be stuck in this cycle of inequality and destruction of the Earth and its life cycles.
What is your intention? Are you living a zombie life? What can I do to support you? Better: what can we do together (or you with your loved ones, your community) to liberate yourselves?
Want to work alongside with me? I will be both a teacher and a student at the upcoming online women-led PDC. Those registering through my link and mentioning me as their referral teacher will have the opportunity to work with me (unless you want to work with another teacher, something we may arrange if the other teacher is not overwhelmed).
By supporting me on this, you will also have access to 1 extra hour of 1-1 coaching for the design of your right livelihood. You will also have a discount, if you choose to work through it in the future, in the upcoming Ethical Pathways workshop series, which will be covering areas from pathfinder to the practical side of starting your own entrepreneurship (solo or with others as a co-op), getting paid and co-creating a local community economic development that supports not only your livelihood but that of others.
Want to know more?
Check the upcoming PDC and contact me if you have questions: https://coursecraft.net/courses/z9Thn/a/cpmYFEtT4