Evaluation

Does the herb garden design fulfill Dragon Dreaming objectives?

Service to the Earth: this design is in service to the world of herbs through getting to know herbs, sharing knowledge and inspiring others to engage with herbs, in the second phase of the design much more emphasis would need to be put on working with the site in service to the earth, such as gardening organically, building and regenerating soil, creating beneficial guilds, space for wildlife and wild areas.

Community building: community building is done by sharing of the world of herbs in gardens and woodland areas through organising walks and talks, events around herbs, creating spaces and inviting visitors, creating a network of interested people.

Personal Growth: personal growth is very much a theme in the initial stages through studying herbs and connecting with people interested in herbs, the design allows for time to increase personal knowledge and make connections as well as flexibility in deciding on the scope of the project.

Does the herb garden design fulfill permaculture ethics?

The main three objectives of Dragon Dreaming match the permaculture ethics.

Earth care: as above with ‘service to the earth’.

People care: as above with ‘personal growth’ and ‘community building’.

Fair shares: this goes deeper into earth care and perhaps ‘service to the earth’ expresses the notion of conserving resources and restoring natural and wild habitats more clearly, redistributing surplus is contained within the ‘community building’ aspects.

Does the herb garden design fulfill permaculture principles?

All these explanations are at the current stage of the project, is forming a group and locating a site. Once a site and group have formed, meeting the principles will be site oriented and may not necessarily come out of the Dragon Dreaming process as I experienced it, without participants having a knowledge of permaculture.

observe and interact: the design works with the current nature of the project, as yet unformed, without a location, not yet with a team and takes steps towards realising a herb garden through allowing the project time to take form and working with the themes or qualities already present in the initiative, ie study of herbs, sharing knowledge, celebrating herbs

catch and store energy: working with existing impulses and making connections to others with similar interests catches the energy of the project

obtain a yield: with small steps in the dreaming phase, there is a yield in increasing knowledge and connections resulting in hopefully the formation of a team and location of a site

apply self-regulation and accept feedback: in working collaboratively, using group agreements, deep listening, sharing dreams, win-win policy, etc

use and value renewable resources: this may be the collective wisdom of the group

produce no waste: the long process of coming together as a group, dreaming and planning together and testing commitment before action, ensure no thoughtless action based on individual impulses

design from pattern to details: in Dragon Dreaming all dreams, objectives, tasks are acknowledged first and built upon throughout the process, this may have the consequence that the Dragon Dreaming process does not move to the details and most importantly that there is not explicit movement from the pattern to the detail and back again to engage with the natural environment

integrate rather than segregate: integral to Dragon Dreaming is working collaboratively and the herb garden design went from a personal vision to a community project

use small and slow solutions: the design reflects using small steps towards a bigger project

use and value diversity: the process integrated all dreams, objectives and levels of commitment without prejudice

use edges and value the marginal: as with the diversity principle

creatively use and respond to change: integral to the design process was crossing the thresholds to each stage through celebration (feedback, evaluation and reflection), also the design itself allowed for a new design before the doing stage

Reflections on Dragon Dreaming

  • I like the fractal nature of the design process, making explicit that going through a design cycle has smaller design cycles within it
  • I also appreciate the recognition of the thresholds of each design phase, ie ways of going from dreaming to planning, etc
  • working together as integral to the design process ensure good group working and ensures constant feedback from peers and sharing of skills and knowledge making for better observation, analysis, design and implementation, as well as ensuring succession
  • the tools used are based on a living systems approach incorporating flexibility, making connections, diversity and complexity
  • there are also good tools for budgeting, delegating tasks and responsibilities, and monitoring progress
  • the main reservation I have is the emphasis on group work and personal growth may be to the detriment of earth care unless the group contains people who are bearing that in mind and making it part of the design