The design is a cyclical timeline with milestones and the key elements of creating base maps, changing the paradigm, the first year’s projects, the second year’s projects and a closing. It draws from the research into learning and initiative taking rooted in natural cycles and represents a pathway in harmony with the cycle of the year and the learning journey.
The base maps
The base maps were the essential observations I needed to gather before designing the diploma and many of its projects. The survey of my home – food, energy, community – was essential for reflecting on how I was working in harmony with nature and how to embed permaculture in my life. The survey of my learning was essential for exploring how I wanted to undertake this learning journey – the first time I had had such freedom in creatively directing my learning. This exploration of learning would also provide a foundation for the teaching and learning permaculture pathway. The community base map was the foundation for working in the community in which I live and the aim to engage in community life. These base maps are documented in the most relevant pathways but do provide the foundation for many different projects and the diploma as a whole.
Changing the paradigm
I decided to put several elements in place to help me sustain the diploma in terms of providing inspiration, motivation and time to celebrate and pause. These were ongoing projects based around how I learn best: through observation and reflection, through action, with others and with time for celebration, all in nature!
The first year’s projects
The choice of the first year’s project came as a result of the observation and analysis phase as well as responding to what was living in my life and community. They were also foundational projects for my learning journey as well as projects building on my resources.
The action learning pathway is logically the first design, but for me was a longer process and after a year of working on the diploma am I closing this design and integrating into the diploma work. It functions as a first experimentation with the design process and also the foundation for the rest of the diploma.
Gardening is a fundamental skill I wanted to develop and was an essential design for me. The garden pathway will be a two year project paving the way for future years. We had just moved to a new house and were already working in the garden. We also knew we would move out and have building work in the winter of 2012/3 and would tweak and add to the garden design. It was a great design to start small and local with permaculture design and then have a year of experimentation before designing anew.
We had moved to an intentional community in the summer of 2011 with a desire to engage in community life and work with others. The first project of my community life pathway was to explore community meetings. It was also a foundational project in looking at how people communicate, socialise and work together. It also responded to a need in the community after making the observation that the weekly community meetings were not working well and many people were staying away.
The forest garden pathway is both part of the community life pathway, skilling up and celebration of the wonders of nature. It was a project I had wanted to be involved in for a long time, as had my partner, and as had several people in the community. It was also intended as a community-building project.
The teaching pathway was again foundational as I aim to become a permaculture teacher, but also I began to explore perspectives on learning, which stimulated my learning journey and teaching. In observing and supporting on different permaculture courses, I was able to review, clarify and deepen my knowledge of permaculture and connect with permaculture teachers. What a gift they give!
The second year’s projects
The choice of the second year’s projects evolved throughout the first year of the diploma. I became clearer of my aims for the diploma and how to embed permaculture in my life.
The Transition pathway means, for me, reconnecting with the Transition movement, having been involved in the first year of Transition Town Lewes, and reconnecting with an inspired piece of permaculture design working in the world. Like the forest garden, it is an element of new age of consciousness.
The right livelihood pathway comes at a time when I need and am ready to begin working with others. An essential way to embed permaculture in my life.
Continuing the community life pathway, a new project to look at community buildings on all levels, ecological, social and spiritual.
The research pathway builds on the ongoing observation and study projects, integrates the learning and applies it to permaculture education.
The future pathway explores the closing of the diploma, how to maintain the learning and the year ahead.