It’s been a long, long time since I have shared anything here in the hub of Kt Shepherd Permaculture.
Throughout 2017 I had increasing and rapid problems with my health, resulting in being diagnosed with Severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, (M.E.), in July. I had been unable to do any work, (either nursing or permaculture), since May. And once I knew what was wrong with me I needed to put all my precious energy into figuring out how I was going to survive and get better from, this new and very disabled place I found myself in.
I pinned notices on my website, saying I would be away from my work, until my health improved
I have learnt over this time about the many levels of complexity - physically, socially, politically, emotionally, spiritually - that is the reality and experience of M.E.
I’m not going to use this space to focus on my illness. There is a huge amount of online information out there about these aspects of M.E. Two of my favourite resources I can recommend to learn more, are Unrest, (a powerful, beautiful film released in the months following my own diagnosis. And, the Phoenix Rising Website.
Towards the end of last year, I remained very physically unwell, in bed for over twenty hours a day, (on good days). But cognitively I had improved and I had started longing for more connection with my permaculture work again. I made the decision to accept the experience of the new reality I found myself in, instead of putting 100% of my time and energy into finding a ‘cure’. All I have learnt about M.E. suggests to me that I could well live in the low functioning state I am in for many more months, maybe years. I want that time to be as great as possible.
As soon as I made the choice to design a way of returning to my permaculture work, I felt an emotional and spiritual weight lift. It felt more empowered and optimistic than I had for a long, long time.
So here I am.
Initially I’m planning on creating short, regular posts, explaining how I have used permaculture design ethics, tools and principles to ensure I thrive as much as possible while living with and healing from a chronic illness.
Watch this space
These events have sadly been cancelled for this year. Hoping to run some similar days in 2018
I'm really pleased to announce a programme of (Yorkshire) Dales Diploma Days over the next few months, for anyone doing the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design. These will take place at two different locations on a variety of days, with the aim of being as accessible to as many Diploma apprentices in the area as possible.
The functions of the Dales Diploma Days are:-
* To provide a space to focus on getting some design documentation completed, (both venues have great internet access).
* To meet with other apprentices - guild/peer support time.
* The opportunity to have a tutorial with me.
* Visit a great venue.
* It's possible to video link to either of venues (Skype, Facetime etc) for guild time or a tutorial.
You are welcome to either attend the whole day or just turn up for an hour or two
Those Plant People is a LAND centre in the village of Steeton in between Keighley and Skipton. We have access to a fab classroom there.
Settle Community and Business Hub is a wonderful new community project in the centre of Settle, a small market town in the heart of the Dales.
There is a 'Pay as you feel' (suggest £5-10) request to cover the hire of the venue, hot drinks etc. Any tutorials are at the usual Permaculture Association set rate of £30/hr (or part of your existing route fee if I am your personal tutor)
For more details about my role as a tutor click here
The following dates for 2017 have been confirmed. Please get in touch with me if you are thinking of coming along or would like further details.
March 2017 - I have decided to stop undertaking any further interviews for Healing Agriculture, so I can focus on other permaculture work and designs.
Healing Agriculture was a core part of my learning and development throughout my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design and I have gained so much pleasure, knowledge and inspiration from the people I interviewed, and the regenerative farming projects they designed.
I hope you continue to be inspired by the wonderful diverse range of Land and People featured here. I will continue to share related information on social media via the Healing Agriculture Facebook Page and Twitter account.
If you would like your own project to be featured in similar collections and connections of permaculture designs and people, then I can recommend Daniel Tyrkiel's podcast project.
About Healing Agriculture
Through creating Healing Agriculture I aim to profile and give a voice to the many people working in broad scale agriculture in Europe, aiming for ‘beyond sustainability,’ using the ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share in their farming work and lives.
Across the planet, how we produce our food is killing our amazing Earth and all who live on her. In a very short space of time conventional agricultural practices have caused destruction on a horrific scale. On a daily basis the media informs us of the widespread harm and bleak future we all face because of our Governments’ and personal actions. However, there are people throughout the land who are working incredible hard on many different scales to change this. For some time I have thought about a way of being able to share to a wide audience the extent and depth of this way of farming in Europe.
The main goals of Healing Agriculture are -
* To raise public awareness about the very positive aspects of food production on a broad scale (sites bigger than 1 acre) throughout Europe.
* To build connections between farmers and projects who are using different design tools - RegenAG, Holistic Management, Permaculture - to undertake this restorative way of growing our food.
Yesterday I celebrated finishing a big chapter in my journey of development as a Facilitator of people centred permaculture work. The year long programme involved mentoring creating and undertaking 3 designs for my work, participating in a variety of online and face to face gatherings with others doing the same course, and maintaining a reflective journal of my learning, experience and accountability.
The course has been a really important and motivating factor underpinning my current work as a permaculture practitioner and designer. I'll be spending the next month or so designing the next phase of my work, developing the workshops, mentoring, designing and tutoring work already undertaken as well as exploring some exciting new project ideas. These will be detailed and updated here on my website
Last night, as I spent time on Skype with others from the course, sharing my portfolio of designs and reflections on experiences of the past year, I felt so much gratitude that I have been able to be part of this programme. It felt very fitting to use my own "5 Elements" permaculture tool, inspired by my Earth Based spirituality, to guide my reflections in this presentation. This tool is something I will be writing more about in another post. Doing the Facilitator training has been a fantastic way of taking a lot of the design knowledge and experience gained in my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design to a new level, as well as making and embedding connections with some other wonderful practitioners focusing on people centred permaculture projects.
For more details about participating in future People & Permaculture facilitator training see this link - you can also read more about my experience of the training here
Artwork by Jaine Rose
Once again day and night, light and dark are equal, reminding us to find the balanced edge of equilibrium between our outer and inner selves.
Autumn equinox marks the final end of the outer growth cycle. It’s a time of change with high tides, wild changeable weather and wild uncertainties as we plan what to do next. The shorter, colder days and colder, longer nights affect these decisions. We recognise this as a transition point, an opportunity for a new set of possibilities and the opportunity to grow in new ways. We take all we have learnt during the spring and summer and transform them by taking them with us.
We walk the outer ways and walk the inner way, and aim to flow in poise and balance in the wild edges in between.
Glennie Kindred – Letting in the Wild Edges
Today is the Autumn Equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere and Ive decided to use the energies and characteristics of this Earth Festival to start a design that hopefully others will also be able to take inspiration from focusing on creating and maintaining balance in our lives. I've had a few months away from the focus of my work as a permaculture designer and practitioner, so it feels a great way to get back involved with documenting my reflections again.
Im using OBRADIMET (Observe, Boundaries, Resources, Analyse, Decisions, Implement, Maintain, Evaluate, Tweak), as a Design Process as its one that fits well with some of my initial ideas before I start considering the details.
What areas of my life feel in balance at the moment?
Work, play, Right Livelihood, physical health, emotional health, energy levels, spiritual connections, what I give, what I receive, …..
What don’t feel in balance?
What does balance feel/look like to me?
What does out of balance look/feel like to me?
What actual or potential boundaries are in my life which create unwanted imbalances for me?
What positive boundaries/edges do I have in my life which will help keep the balances I create?
What kind of resources do I have now that help create positive balance in my life?
What resources do I need to seek out?
Are there resources I have identified since the spring equinox, over the summer, that can be useful?
People, knowledge, time, finances, skills, work, experiences, patterns, ideas …..
How does all the information I have gained so far in the design connect and influence each other?
What are the functions of the design?
Which permaculture principles can help with guiding my design ?
I have decided to focus on the Principles created by David Holmgren for this design
How do the permaculture ethics of people care, earth care and fairshares help shape how I will create and improve balance in my life?
From my evaluation what decisions have I come up with my design?
How am I going to implement my decisions?
What realistic timescale will I use?
Maintain, Evaluate and Tweak
How will I maintain the momentum of my decisions?
How will I make sure that any tweaks made to the design, after evaluation, are then included in the implementation plan?
Connections to other designs in my life, aim to mini -evaluate at every full moon and then big evaluation at the Spring Equinox...
Tools and Resources
Initial thoughts about design tools and resources I aim to use in this design
Web of connections
Zoning (life/people focused)
SWOC (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Constraints)
For more detail and ideas about tools used in permaculture design see Aranya's excellent book Permaculture Design - A Step By Step Guide
Gaiacraft Learning and Teaching Tools - to help explore and identify permaculture principles in a creative way
Letting in the Wild Edges by Glennie Kindred
Nicole Vosper's entire series of blog posts on Overcoming Burnout will also be a major resource contribution to this design.
So here we are, a basic framework for a design I am currently working on inspired by the timing of the Autumn Equinox and my return to deeper focus on my permaculture work and development.
Please contact me if you would like support from me either in my role as a Diploma (in Applied Permaculture Design) Tutor, or as a mentor/coach, with a similar design.
Sunrise during a storm here this morning. Air cleared, mind cleared and along with the new moon, the electrical energy is helping some new design ideas to develop. #patternsinnature #useandvaluerenewableresources
Over the last year a core part of my Edible Garden work has been to improve the fertility and life force of the soil, to ensure a healthy grounded place for flora and fauna to flourish ....In parallel my pathway as a permaculture practitioner also feels as though creating a holistically healthy base from which to grow a diverse rightlivelihood and life balance, has been key for me during this time - and its now time to start creating yields from them both
Mentoring can be a very powerful tool in lots of aspects of our permaculture work. I particularly like this article from thechangeagency.org which explains the benefits that successful mentoring can bring.
" Mentoring provides an opportunity to think and reflect in a confidential and supportive environment. It may make sense to review the preceding period, identify challenges, and workshop ways to respond to challenges in the future. "
Many aspects of permaculture design -process, ethics, principles and tools - can help to structure and guide mentoring relationships in permaculture contexts and settings.
This week Ive been reminded how valuable mentorship is in my both my personal and professional development and learning. Connecting, observing and receiving feedback from others who are more experienced and knowledgeable in subjects we are interested in taking further in our lives can be really empowering. My Skype mentoring session, which was part of the year long people focused permaculture facilitators programme, gave me space to reflect on the last few months of undertaking my facilitators pathway design, while gaining some focused clarity on specific designs and projects I had been working hard to start implementing. Looby's skill in identifying analogies and patterns, in the various tangles of my story is something I am really appreciating learning from her. In addition, a helpful reminder about how erosive my repetitive story for myself about "I need to be more confident" (So, if I need to be more confident, that must mean Im not confident enough!), can be, has given me the motivation to reframe that story by consciously identifying and noting times when I am taking steps to improve my confidence.
More flowers! my Growing Confidence design ....each time I do something which demonstrates I am a confident practitioner and person, I draw a flower in my planner /journal with a few notes. Looking back at the patterns should really help create a lovely spiral of confidence abundance! I have a different colour flower according to significance of the activity ('day to day', 'moderate', 'life changing'!)
Another Skype meeting with Ryan, the strategic communications co-ordinator from the Permaculture Association, about my developing work in communications and marketing in the permaculture community, was also a great time to appreciate the role of Ryan's mentorship. Then an observed Diploma tutorial along with some comprehensive feedback by Wilf, (Wilf observing me undertaking the tutorial, after me observing his tutoring/educator skills over the last few years), was my third experience of some wonderful mentors in my life just now.
Reflecting on the momentum and motivation these 3 events in the last few days gave me, also made me consider my mentoring role to others in the permaculture community and beyond too. This is something I will be looking at in more depth as part of my developing practitioner and designer role.
This week is Dying Matters Awareness week in the UK - a big diverse event with many people and organisations holding events to promote awareness about subjects relating the death and dying. I decided a few months ago that this week would be my goal for launching the zone 3-5 phase of a design, Designing Dying, I started about 4 years ago as part of my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design.
I started the latest phase of the design, now called "Creative Dying" by using a different design process (The Design Web by Looby Macnamara) to explore the design at a new level. I presented my experience of doing this at the National Diploma Gathering earlier this month.
Creative Dying is a website and coaching/workshop business which aims to support people - at any time of their life - to plan and design the death they would like.
It is focused at anyone who would like to explore the creative, positive and unique approaches that we can take to considering the end of our lives and how we die.
Creative Dying uses permaculture design at its centre and will appeal to the many people throughout the world already using permaculture to increase resilience and healing in other aspects of their life and work.
Im really passionate about the journey of this design for many reasons, and will be writing regular updates about its progress and hopefully success here.
Creative Dying on Facebook
Creative Dying on Twitter
Last month I completed a 10-day residential course ‘ People and Permaculture Facilitator Training (FiT)’ run by Looby McNamara and Peter Cow, at Ragman’s Farm in the Forest of Dean. I only heard about the course a few weeks before it was due to commence, but the timing and content seemed to fit perfectly with everything else in my life.
Being back at Ragman’s was really special for me. This was the amazing permaculture site where I spent time learning much of my core permaculture knowledge from Patrick Whitefield on his PDC in June 2011, and then again for a weeks course in Organic Horticulture the following January.
The whole FiT course was an incredibly special experience, and perfectly timed to coincide with thinking about my next steps as a permaculture designer.
Here is a summary of some of the many positive outcomes of the training for me: -
Spending the duration of the course getting to know the most fantastic group of social permaculture/people centred designers and facilitators from all over world – being really motivated by the prospect of continued learning and growing alongside them over the next year, and hopefully much further ahead, through regular online meetings and connections.
The FiT training was a very different style and aspect of permaculture learning from Patrick’s courses. Being there in the same landscape with those connected experiences enabled me to further widen understanding I had built up in my Diploma, about the importance of putting people care at the core of any permaculture design, for a design to be be resilient and successful.
A much more detailed and in-depth understanding of using the Design Web as an intentional process for Social Permaculture/People centred permaculture design.
Developing skills, confidence and knowledge in facilitation – exploring the ability to see how this can be applied to and transferred to work and life situations beyond permaculture focused settings.
The creation of the first phase of my Facilitators/Right Livelihood Pathway as an umbrella design to incorporate several other smaller designs.
The FiT course will run again in November 2016 at Ragmans Farm. See the Thriving Ways website for further links and contact.
I've spent the last few days back in Yorkshire, in Leeds, with a fantastic group of people, all keen to work as tutors for the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design. Led by senior tutor and generally wonderful woman, Hannah Thorogood, and held at the fantastic LILAC (Low Impact Living Affordable Community), the training was 2 intensive days of teaching, reflecting, sharing, weird and wonderful beers from the corner shop, and a fair bit of fun too!
As ever with permaculture events I got far more out out of my time at LILAC then simply learning what I need to be a new tutor - being around such inspirational people in a really great setting enabled me to start pushing some my comfort zone edges and creativity in terms of right livelihood and life direction further. Yes, I would like to be a tutor (I'd signed up for the training to gain more information)...Could other forms of teaching permaculture be something I do have the skills and knowledge for?...Is there a need/demand for life coaching/self development work guided by permaculture design? ...were a few of the topics I aim to explore further.
So I'm now midst spending time processing the last few days..making some kind of sense of my many mind maps and notes, and starting to create my Tutor Learning Pathway, updates to follow!
regular updates and reflections about the permaculture designs in my life