Pathway as pilgrimage – design rationale

I chose the metaphor of a pilgrimage for the diploma pathway drawing on the work of Satish Kumar and the Schumacher College. I am fascinated by the action learning approach and transformative learning for sustainable living of the Schumacher College and the diploma is the beginning of an exploration of these ways of learning. Taking the metaphor of a pilgrimage, the learning pathway is seen as an inner and outer journey: there is a decision and a plan of action and a letting go of frameworks, a response to changing environments, an openness to change and new paradigms, a living in dynamic relationship with the environment.

Moving through the design process from observation to analysis to design to implementation was a real learning journey with steps forward and steps back, with helps and hindrances, confusion and fear, discipline and celebration. Using SADI and other widely accepted design tools at this stage was helpful to make the process simple for the first attempt at designing. Seeing the diploma as a learning journey, in a sense a pilgrimage or rite of passage, I was looking to let go of a way of life and integrate nature and permaculture into my life. Looking at the key points of intervention in my learning as well as the vision for the diploma, an action learning pathway and process of transition, I decided to make use of more holistic and nature-based design processes and tools, theories of learning as well as key design decisions for the selection and implementation of the projects to help me connect with nature and expand my skills as well as shift my perspective and go on to influence my choice of projects for the second year.

Key themes from the observation and analysis

The key themes for the diploma process for me became clearer as I moved through the observation and analysis stages and in reflection and reviewing the design. I wanted to challenge and change my way of life embedding earth care and people care more deeply. I wanted to explore perspectives on learning and working. Developing toolboxes for permaculture design and learning enabled me to record and embed the research I had been doing, made my practice of design more efficient, and I gained materials for teaching and further dissemination.

Applying the ethics

The main vision for the diploma is to live in harmony with nature, the basis of all earth care. This is the main aim in all projects, but also especially the ongoing projects in order to make a shift in my lifestyle and understanding. People care is making the action learning pathway sustainable and creative for myself and in the focus on community life. Fair share for the diploma is that earth care and people care is at the heart of what I do and in my work with others.

Applying the principles

The two principles below were key in establishing beneficial connections between the projects.

Each important function is supported by many elements
The main vision/aim/function of the diploma is supported by the selection of the projects and is applied in each individual project. For example, the main function to become a skilled permaculture designer and teacher and is fulfilled by all projects!

Each element performs many functions
Each element has beneficial connections with several of the projects and some elements were the foundation for many projects. The base maps of my home, learning and community formed an important part of the observation stage of many of the projects. Similarly the ongoing projects informed and nourished all the other projects.

The Design: Integration and implementation

The design was based on learning cycles supported by working in season as the basis for design. Beginning the diploma in November, it was at the beginning of the Celtic year, a time for communicating with what has gone before, reflection and dreams for the future. This was the perfect time to observe and reflect on my home life, my learning and my community and then connect to my new communities having recently moved house and moved into a community and having started the diploma and reconnected to the permaculture community. I looked at my vision for the diploma and the learning journey I would undertake and began making plans, choosing ongoing projects for support key learning in connecting with nature and permaculture, and choosing the first five projects based on projects alive in my life and the community.
In the spring of the first year, I continued making connections with my communities and had several design support tutorials clustered to consolidate my permaculture learning. The observations as well as vision and aims for the first projects were taking shape and the first plans and first stages of implementation happening.
The summer was a time for working with others on the implementation of projects and going into the autumn as a time for harvesting and celebration and making plans together.
Going into the winter again, I began reviewing and collecting ideas for the new year and new projects. Again a time to observe and consolidate. I reviewed the action learning pathway, finalising the design with the integration of projects for the coming year.