There’s no need to panic about the state of our planet when there are so many solutions to shift the direction of our global society. With that said, now is the time to empower yourself with these solutions to take lead in your own life and in your community to facilitate restoring the damage we have done to our planet and secure a healthy sense of place on earth for our children.
You can step up to the plate by going on The Sustainable Living Tour and also taking a permaculture design certification that will allow you to reimagine the relationships we have with everything around us.
Taking time to observe patterns allows us to design with a holistic mindset leading to life-saving and wealth-creating solutions like bringing fertility back into the degrading soil of the earth and restoring our parched rivers, lakes and streams.
Permaculture is an ethics-based design method that can be applied to all aspects of our lives and our society. It’s a return back to the basics, how ancient farmers and villagers used to thrive but reapplied to modern context.
I recently took my Permaculture Design Certification at VerdEnergia and it inspired me to return to my favorite permaculture farm, East End Eden and settle down. I lived a nomadic lifestyle over the past 3 years, exploring permaculture projects and indigenous communities while connecting with my intrinsic gifts. All of the inner and outer exploration made me ready to commit myself to a place and a community.Now I realize that in order to make a long-lasting impact I need to ground and dig my roots into a specific land and community.
Here are my top five reasons why the time is now to learn permaculture:
Gaining practical tools to combat climate change immediately.
- A PDC gives you an easy-to-digest understanding of how to go beyond sustainability to literally regenerate the planet’s resources. This theory has been applied for decades within the grassroots permaculture movement. There is classroom time to explore what kinds of energy, water food, housing, waste and social systems are typically implemented at all scales. This means that you will be able to identify, utilize and communicate the best systems to use. These solutions can be implemented at any scale, from your daily life habits, to a city balcony to a massive farm aiming to feed the masses a nutrient-diverse diet rather than pure corn.
Seeing land as canvas for creativity.
- Understanding the aspects of land to look for when redesigning or even purchasing that parcel is empowering. My parent’s backyard never looked so exciting now that I can clearly see the potential for long-term food to grow through agroforestry. During a PDC, you get to work in groups to map out a local site, choose the most beneficial way to transform it and then present your professional design to the teachers for feedback. Permaculture values creativity and art so your work becomes rewarding and lights people up with inspiration.
Seeing the earth with new eyes.
- A Permaculture Design Certification is an internationally recognized certification showing that you completed the 72-hour curriculum as created by Bill Mollison, one of the major pioneers of the permaculture movement. This certification will not prepare you to immediately go out and sell land design services. A PDC is the first step in an important life-long journey to see the world in a completely new way and dare to redesign it to support the coexistence of our species and the planet. The actual certification is a badge of honor that could score you a spot in some of the best apprenticeship programs or permaculture projects to apply what you learned and teach others.
The great potential to birth new projects and collaborations.
- PDCs are typically 2-3 weeks long where you removed from your daily routine to learn and play with 10+ other passionate allies. Building community and nurturing relationships is not only a key aspect to the regeneration of the earth but it also can result in more support for your vision and life purpose. It may feel like a vacation, but this group educational process lends itself to collaboration and is likely to birth exciting new projects. PDCs tend to create friends for life.
Turn apathy and grief into inspiration and optimism.
- For those who chose not to have a blind eye to climate change and the unsustainable organization of our economies, there may be grief. It’s normal to feel confused or isolated when opening up to this understanding that we are in the midst of a global crisis. Instead of drowning in the increasingly terrifying news of pollution, disaster and war there are movements to join that are working towards shifting our values and empowering us to restructure our society. Permaculture provides specific efficiency principles to keep in mind when designing, managing your time, growing your business or simply living your daily life. Students leave with a positive outlook on the state of the environment with an immediate solutions-based perspective. We are capable of lifting each other up and realizing the future we want to live in right now.
The actual curriculum typically dives into permaculture ethics, principles, design, soil health, water retention, plants, energy, waste management, construction and social systems. If the masses saw the world through a permaculture lens they would see the abundant, food-secure future. Our structures will be built to work with instead of against nature and produce energy renewably.
We will restore forests and stabilize the climate while living fulfilling and meaningful lives.
The farm that I chose to live at is in Ojai, California of Southern California is focusing on a major challenge in California: drought. One of the largest contributors to drought is the mismanagement of rainwater and small shifts in the landscape could mean rivers and streams flowing year round in the state where 70% of the US’s food comes from. They are just one of seven stops on The Sustainable Living Tour, so apply now if you feel called to learn more about permaculture.
A lot of people sit back and blame the lack of water in California on climate change and natural occurrences. It is clearly an issue that can be tackled on a local, decentralized level. This video by Connor Jones, Founder of Ojai Permaculture and East End Eden defends this point and provides solutions as he angrily watches runoff water pour into a sewer.
Video by: Agustin Carri Photo, a documentary film maker who is creating a film highlighting permaculture farms, ecovillages and all types of land restoration projects around the world. Check it out! – -> bit.do/CEIBO
“Here, we are watching the effects of poor land management. This right here is a major distributor to a lot of problems in our society and particularly in California as a bioregional drought situation. It’s not necessary. This doesn’t have to happen. This is not a natural occurrence. This is the product of a lack of respect for the resource of water. We are not in a drought, we are just creating that. And that is what creates the drought and that is what creates pollution in our waterways. Roundup, Urea fertilizers, all kinds of different pesticides herbicides, general biocides off of these orchards and sending it into the rivers and streams where we source seafood.
This needs to stop and the solution is not that challenging. This could turn into agricultural production, This could turn into rivers that flow all year instead of while the rain is falling. This could turn in the climate moderation effect of hydrated landscapes. This could turn into high quality spring water and well water for everyone in the bio-region. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s absolute nonsense. This right here could fill a small reservoir overnight, no problem, enough water to irrigate this orchard all year but instead, but instead, because of this management choice, we lose water and if the grower doesn’t have a well, then they’re paying ah high price for municipal water. In this bioregion what our municipal water is, is this kind of water caught in a large dam and purified. We can do the same this on a decentralized scale. This is why California is in a drought.
The solution to this pretty immense problem is a just subtle change in the design and management of the water resource.Instead of paving, piping and polluting it and sending it away as quick as possible, we have to change the standard narrative of water management in our culture. What we need to do is slow, spread and sink the water into the landscape by doing contour diversions that would actually allow this water to flash our into the orchard and infiltrate. We want this to spread throughout the orchard, not concentrate and leave the orchard. We can do this! This is an easy kind of intervention to make in a landscape. And once you do it, it’s permanent.” – Connor Jones of Ojai Permaculture & East End Eden
Nature is the primary teacher. We have an infinite amount we can learn from plants, patterns, landscapes, animals and soil about ourselves and our relationships with each other. Guiding others to deeper their connection with nature is an art form that can be further developed through study or simply by doing. Although nature is our first teacher, we can deepen our understanding by reading these books that the Earth Journeys team put together!
Coyote mentoring is a method of learning that has been refined over thousands of years. Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature reveals this approach and what happens to student and teacher during the mentoring process. Strategies like questioning, storytelling, tracking, mapping, and practicing survival skills will inspire student curiosity and encourage self-sufficiency. Background information will help facilitators feel more confident in introducing new ways of experiencing and learning about the natural world. The author, Jon Young, founded the 8 Shields Institute to help with developing a best-practices process for mentoring and nature connection work. Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature will change the way you walk in the woods. Click here to purchase.
Since 1980, depth psychologist Bill Plotkin has been guiding women and men into the wilderness such as the redrock canyons and snow-crested mountains of the American West- but also into the wilds of the soul. He calls this work soulcraft. There’s a great longing in all people to uncover the secrets and mysteries of our individual lives, to find the unique gift we were born to bring to our communities, and to experience our full membership in the more-than-human world. This journey to soul is a descent into layers of the self much deeper than personality, a journey meant for each one of us, not just for the heroes and heroines of mythology. A modern handbook for the journey, Soulcraft is not an imitation of indigenous ways, but a contemporary nature-based approach born from wilderness experience, the traditions of Western culture, and the cross-cultural heritage of all humanity. Click here to purchase.
Permaculture design typically focuses on designing landscapes for optimum efficiency and sustainability. People and Permaculture is a refreshing perspective on applying the same permaculture principles to personal development and our relationships. When we observe our own patterns, just like observing the patterns of nature, we can begin to positively transform our own lives. This book goes beyond explaining concepts by providing comprehension activities, frameworks and design methodologies that can be applied immediately to your curriculums or daily life. Click here to purchase.
Our world is exposed to extraordinarily horrific stories about famine, genocide, wars, climate change and so much more. For a lot of us the scale of global crises is hard to swallow and can create widespread apathy. Coming Back to Life provides a way for our culture to turn apathy into meaningful action by addressing and moving through the despair hidden deep in our consciousnesses. The book provides many great exercises that can be used to support individual or group processes to empower The Great Turning. The original Coming Back to Life has helped people transform denial, despair and grief in the face of the social and ecological challenges of our time. This new, completely updated edition repositions the classic work within the context of deepening global crises and the cognitive, spiritual and perceptual revolutions occurring all around us. Click here to purchase.
5. The Nature Process
The Nature Process reveals the truth that will fundamentally change your life. We are one with nature. When we consciously connect to nature we plug ourselves into the most powerful source of energy known to humanity. Part personal story and part how-to, in this book Tabitha Jayne extends an invitation to experience connection to Nature as the catalyst for dissolving limiting beliefs and energetic blockages in order to create the life you really want. Click here to purchase.
Restoration Agriculture explains how we can have all of the benefits of natural, perennial ecosystems and create agricultural systems that imitate nature in form and function while still providing for our food, building, fuel and many other needs. It provides a comprehensive how-to for anyone looking to utilize permaculture principles and practice regenerative and responsible farming methods. If you are what you eat and what you eat is impacted by how it’s grown, then how we produce food is one of the single biggest contributors to our wellbeing as individuals and a society. For those interested in justice in food systems, Mark Shepard outlines a method that could change the face of agriculture and our society. Click here to purchase.
7. The Four-Fold Way
The Four-Fold Way is an anthropologic study of the ancient wisdom from cultures around the world. Author, Angeles Arrien is leading expert on native spirituality and shamanism and uses the four archetypal principles of the Native American medicine wheel to demonstrate how we can work towards higher spirituality, a more balanced self and a better world. The book is divided into 4 sections that are connected to the four seasons and four archetypes that all humans are believed to have. Each section explains the archetype, traditional ways of seeing it and different ways we can practice being more balanced or connected to each part of ourselves and the natural world. This is a great book to have around to help stay in touch with ourselves and our true nature as humans. Click here to purchase.
Braiding Sweetgrass is somewhere between a memoir, biology book and a document of storytelling and myth that will are so lucky to be gifted. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mixed heritage native woman who is schooled in both the western and native ways of knowing and understanding the natural world. She is therefore a natural bridge between the two worlds and in invaluable asset in helping us understand what steps we need to take to find solutions to the problems we face both socially and environmentally. I have taken to reading this book out loud to people as it is so beautifully written and the content feels so relevant to the questions so many of us are asking. Click here to purchase.
Permaculture : a designers manual is not your average college textbook.The author Bill Mollison, an Australian researcher, scientist, teacher, and biologist, has compiled an account of experience, cultural wisdom, and common sense to demonstrate ways in which we can re-connect with the natural world. Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms. The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them; and of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions. Click here to purchase.
Mycelium Running is a beautiful testament to the power of mushrooms. Written by renowned mycologist Paul Stamets, this book outlines the main role mushrooms play in thee ecology, whilst displaying a wide range of ways they can be utilized to help with some of our biggest problems.
“Mycorestoration” Stamets calls it, this practice involves intentional inoculation of land in order to rehabilitate it from misuse. By far one of thee most important bodies of work on ecological restoration and preservation,while simultaneously providing a big role for us humans to play. Click here to purchase.
If you would rather be out exploring your true nature over a long weekend with an intimate group, check out the next Earth Journey!
Reposted from Shareable.net
The traditional ancestral practice known in the West as “barn raising” is present in village societies on every continent and has its roots in our tribal past. An adapted form of barn raising has recently seen a resurgence in the “urban village,” with grassroots community organizations transforming physical and social landscapes in cities. They do so by adding value to the community, creating bonds of trust and comradeship, and linking neighbors together. There are hundreds of urban village projects around the world. Below are five worth watching.
City Repair is a Portland-based non-profit organization focused on placemaking. According to their website, they facilitate artistic and ecologically-oriented placemaking through projects that honor the interconnection of human communities and the natural world.
The organization’s centerpiece is the Village-Building Convergence, an annual modern-day urban barn raising event. This event takes places at more than 50 sites simultaneously across Portland, where neighborhoods come together to create new spaces.
The three primary activities are natural building, permaculture, and intersection repair, which often involves painting street intersections with murals. The presence of these murals causes traffic to slow down and has been directly correlated with a decrease in traffic accidents. Physical outcomes of City Repair efforts include beautified intersections, community gardens, naturally built structures such as benches, and an expansion of the commons.
Spin-offs of the convergence have emerged in Santa Barbara and Sebastopol, as well as PLACE for Sustainable Living in Oakland. City Repair created a manual for how to organize a Village Building Convergence and the event has the potential to be replicated globally. City Repair has also achieved success in shifting Portland city policy to give citizens more control over public space.
Share-It Square in Portland. Photo: Happy Travels Blog
City Repair brings people together to reimagine the places they live and to re-create the commons. The organization started its work by reclaiming these spaces through direct action, such as their iconic Share It Square project, where neighbors came together and decided, despite the Portland city government, that their intersection would be improved by a central mural, a tiny library box, a self-serving solar-powered tea station, a community message board, and a children’s play space. They created these features themselves. Now, the City of Portland recognizes the great benefit these common spaces provide and has permitted the process of Intersection Repair.
Through the activities of City Repair, neighbors are skill-sharing and creating new relationships. As the commons are reclaimed and beautified, more public gathering spaces are made available for Portland’s citizens to congregate. Portland’s neighborhoods are forming closer bonds, and fences are coming down to make way for urban wildlife corridors.
Photo: Zac Fabian
The Permaculture Action Network emerged from the Permaculture Action Tour, a collaboration between permaculture designers, community organizers, and electronic music producer David Sugalski (“The Polish Ambassador”). The goal of the tour was “to inspire and empower people with the tools and know-how of co-creating a sustainable and regenerative world.”
The Permaculture Action Network developed a methodology for “Permaculture Action Days,” one-day events designed to co-create a more regenerative world through communities taking action. These events have the feeling of a blitz or flash mob. Permaculture Action Network partners with local community organizations to identify appropriate project sites, mobilize local human and material resources, and facilitate the events. The organization has facilitated 50 successful Permaculture Action Days in more than 40 cities around the United States, mobilizing up to 400 people at a time to build urban farms, natural buildings, and other ecological systems.
Participants come away empowered with new skills and confidence, new relationships with like-minded neighbors, and a community garden, food forest, or greenhouse in their neighborhood.
Photo: Zac Fabian
Permaculture Action teams up with festivals to bring attendees to a Permaculture Action Day before entering the grounds. At these events, festival-goers help with projects. One example is a cob, outdoor classroom made of all natural materials at an elementary school near the Lightning in a Bottle music festival in Southern California.
They also host educational workshop spaces, known as Permaculture Action Hubs, within events. These hubs offer courses in how to design, implement, and take action. They focus on ecologically regenerative design and techniques, community organizing and social change methodology.
Art representing the MST Movement
The Landless Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores sen Terra), or MST, is a Brazilian workers’ rights movement dedicated to agrarian reform and social justice. It has 1.5 million members across Brazil.
The MST achieves its mission through three approaches:
- Directly: Reclaiming commons by cooperatively organizing, occupying, and utilizing abandoned or unused land.
- Legally: Legal reform of land laws
- Education: Raising awareness about wealth inequality, racism, sexism, media monopoly, and other social issues. MST provides literacy education to its members, has its own university, and trains primary school teachers across Brazil in partnership with UN agencies and the Catholic Church. MST partnered with the Venezuelan government to create the Latin American School of Agroecology.
The MST is a grandfather in the movement, founded officially in 1984, with ties to Catholic Church organizations and with its roots in the liberation theology movement that emerged across Latin America in the 1950s.
NuMundo uses technology to build movements through a platform that catalyzes the transformation of physical spaces on a global scale. This happens by connecting sustainable living education centers with resources, information, students, and skilled practitioners. NuMundo is a network of activists, technologists, and event producers with a multifaceted approach to social action.
During their Earth Odyssey Bus tour in 2013, NuMundo (formerly Project Nuevo Mundo) took a group of skilled builders and permaculture designers across Mexico and Central America to support community projects such as an orphanage, an agroecology education center, an indigenous women’s clothing production cooperative, a community nutrition center, and a primary school.
NuMundo also hosts educational events on various aspects of village-building. Aside from on-the-ground work, NuMundo has a unique approach to movement building: the organization hosts networking spaces to link social activists, nonprofits, and community organizations to add momentum to existing projects.
5. Beacon Food Forest, Seattle
The Beacon Food Forest is another beautiful example of an urban community mobilizing to bring the village into the city. According to the group, the goal of Beacon Food Forest is to design, plant and grow an edible urban forest garden that inspires our community to gather together, grow our own food, and rehabilitate our local ecosystem. This citizen-led initiative is building an ethnically and economically diverse community around food.
The forest is in its initial phases of implementation, and is set to include fruits and nuts from around the world, public community spaces for education and gathering, and a community garden following the ancient village tradition of the commons where community members enjoy access to small individual plots of land.
Beacon Food Forest sprang from a student project in a local permaculture design course. It has proven to be just as much a community-building endeavor as a food forest project. Beacon hosts ongoing educational workshops and community work parties, and is looking for more community involvement from Seattle residents.
Social and environmental change is being led by grassroots initiatives like these. What each of these projects has in common is that they create resilient networks of people and projects. Ultimately, they are individual movements empowering anyone who wants to get involved to do so. These movements unite people around ideas of self-sufficiency, food sovereignty, social justice and regenerative living systems to weave a strong web of support.
A plethora of unused lots and open spaces exist in many US and international cities. When I see them in the places I visit, I wonder why food is not grown in those spaces; free food for the community. Community gardens provide limitless benefits like diversification within communities, land stewardship, youth skills, leadership, and community cohesion. With many various regulations and systems set up within cities and suburbs, you can start with small steps and an organized plan to begin and maintain a fruitful community garden in your neighborhood. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to create a thriving community garden:
1. Test the Waters!
Volunteer your free time with a local community garden to gain the skills of running and sustaining your own garden. The experience will also help you determine whether or not you have the time and energy for the commitment. To find a community garden in your area, check out The American Community Gardening Association, or you can Google “Community Garden” with your city or neighborhood.
2. Build Your Posse
Now that you’ve decided take a leadership role in your community, recruit a reliable team. A community garden team might consist of aspiring gardeners in your neighborhood, a youth church group, a university club, a committee at a senior center, or simply a group of pals who are passionate about local food. Also, consider creating a Meet Up or Facebook group to recruit members to your initial get-together. The bigger your team, the better! People with experience in permaculture are also a plus. In certain areas, you will find that including members who are a part of an already-financially stable community organization can be an advantage to the success of your community garden.
Organize an initial casual meeting with your potential group. Host a potluck, a picnic in the park, or better yet, at the community garden site where you volunteered. During your meeting, get a feel for the experience, passion, commitment, and organization level of each person. Include people with gardening skills and organizational skills. Not everyone is going to have both. People who are experienced with outreach, building email lists, or creating a website and promotional material are just as important as builders and gardeners. Some potential roles and committees with tasks to be filled are:
Umbrella Organization (Church or Neighborhood Organization): These entities can participate in the planning by motivating others to get involved, enlisting support of other community organizations, fundraising, and approving garden events and activities. They may or may not need to be as active as other Garden Team members, but they need to be on board to assist as support for the project.
Coordinator or Co-organizers: This person or committee will be liaisons to the umbrella organization, coordinate garden activities, schedule meetings, lead the creation of garden plans, recruit gardeners, secure city plots, and manage legal documents. They’ll also recruit and manage garden members.
Fundraising Director: The director oversees and develops the fundraising campaign by working with the Education and Events coordinator to implement funding streams.
Education and Events Coordinator: This person or committee develops and coordinates events and educational activities, coordinates presenters, displays topics and updates at the garden, and organizes the promotion and outreach of activities.
Lead Design and Gardener: This person or committee is responsible for storing and distributing information about plants and gardening techniques, coordinating care and maintenance of common areas like compost, paths, and borders and coordinating and facilitating garden work-days.
Community Outreach, Promotion & Public Relations: This person or team sets up social media accounts, creates and manages a newsletter, writes press releases, connects with local media, documents with photos and videos, and maintains the website.
Tool/Structure Maintenance and Repair: Maintenance and Repair people are responsible for sourcing recycled material, soliciting donations for structures, tools, equipment, benches, hoses, and other equipment. They also inventory and, as well as repair tools and equipment.
Seed Manager: The Seed Manager’s responsibilities include securing seeds, soliciting seed donations, coordinating seed saving, and keeping seed inventory.
Pest and Weed Monitor & Control: Pest and Weed Control personnel monitors, reports, and treats pest problems (organically, of course) and maintains weed control.
The Calvary Presbyterian and wood streets green team help riverside city college grow a new community garden on Dec, 12 2012 (Photo: RCCD)
4. Resourcefulness is Sexy
Being resourceful is the first way to exercise sustainability. Encouraging each member to share their resources, such as their professional networks, skills, hobbies, beneficial contacts, and relationships broadens the scope of the project. You can even create a fun and engaging game or activity out of this, to keep it light-hearted. For example; someone who likes to draw as a hobby can design flyers or garden art. Doing an exercise like this encourages creativity and empowers leadership. With your group, start by making a list and brainstorm all the skills and resources your garden team already has. Find an up-cycle warehouse in your area by using Craigslist or Free-Cycle, These are also excellent places to find free or cheap “junk” that could be useful while building your garden.
5. Scheme and Dream
Come up with a name for your garden, build a plan, and determine the goals, mission and vision of your emerging organization. Think about these questions when writing your mission and vision statement: Who do you serve? What do you serve? How will you serve? Why do you serve? You will also want to brainstorm a list of your communities’ potential supporters and partners such as neighbors, experts, the school district, farmers, growers, or other parks and recreation agencies. A great resource for a more intensive guide to planning your community garden is the National Recreation & Park Association.
Next, create a fundraising plan or campaign. When starting your fundraising plan, think about ideas such as community events, hosting workshops, plant sales, certified farmers markets, farm-to-school programs, food co-ops, sponsors and grants. Check out Rebel Tomato’s fundraising tips, strategies, grant sources and resources. It’s helpful to craft a project timeline that coincides with the deadlines of your goals. Zoho or Trello are excellent tools for project management and collaboration for your team.
Gardeners root for city patches on August 11, 2010. (Photo: TLC)
6. Pick a Plot
The fun part! The easiest and most direct route to finding an open space for your community garden is to find out if an organization in your area manages open spaces. For example, Neighbor-Space in Chicago, Baltimore Green Space, and New Haven Land Trust are all land-trust organizations that preserve and sustain community gardens on behalf of dedicated community groups. The Land Trust Alliance provides a database of land trusts around the country. A more obvious way to find plots of land in your community is to simply get on your bike, ride around, and find open spaces like empty lots. Then, just do some digging to find out who owns the space and how you can acquire it for building a community garden. Don’t rule out sites that are not park land or contiguous to a park. Look into partnering with your city or a private individual to lease vacant land, if necessary.
The tricky part! Once you find a few potential spaces, consider the quality of the soil (soil test for possible pollutants), the amount of sunshine (most vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight a day), water availability, and ease of access for trucks, the community, and garden workers.
By: Shayna Gladstone
Empowering change seekers to cultivate lifestyles that regenerate the mind, body, soul and planet through transformative journeys and earth-based education. We blend personal development, social end ecological enterprise development, and permaculture education to support regenerative lifestyles and leadership.