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Conferences with links to Facebook threads:
B) The Fierce Feminine
C) The Importance of Male Allies
D) Action Learning
Because in addition to being International PC Day...
We will show-case the work of some of our Permaculture Diploma students throughout May, and also launch some conferences on women & Permaculture - traditionally, International PC day is celebrated with strolls through Permaculture gardens everywhere, so we thought we'd invite you for strolls through the lives of some Permaculture designers, and also through some of the lesser known territories we explore in Integral PermaCulture.
To join us,
you can simply see each stroll or conference
in the the Integral PermaCulture Facebook group,
and join our Mailing List to receive times & dates of the live events
And the rest of this newsletter is about some of the work we're doing in developing the Social and Abstract components essential for good holistic design that are often not so well designed in 'conventional' permaculture, because of the 'traditional' absence of widely recognized women pioneers in Permaculture - as we argue in the article on "What is Integral Permaculture"
One part of the Integral Model that is critical for the foundation of Integral Permaculture is represented by this diagram of the four quadrants, which emphasizes the importance of always remembering that the internal structures of a design (left-side quadrants) are as important as the external elements (right-side quadrans), and totally inter-connected with each other, in the same way that the individual (quadrants above) and collective (quadrants below) structures are, also.
- in our work we keep finding in supporting people in transition that it is nearly impossible for anyone to try to make real changes in our "outside world" projects
(external quadrants - whether restoring an ecosystem, creating a business or enriching our family or community)
if we don't also work on re-designing our internal lives and beliefs, or if we keep being surrounded by people who don't share our most basic values.
We have to re-design at all levels - and this often works better if we do everything at once (and, ironically, it's even easier that way) .People in transition are the hope for the future: they are the many people who are thinking on how to change their life and actions so that they are more coherent with their values, but who also are often afraid to leave a job that doesn't fulfill them or unable to get out of unemployment and have the courage to take the first step to build something that fulfills them (because they don't have enough information or support in creating new habits), like launching their own micro-business, going to live closer to Nature, or taking leadership in a transition project.
And these new initiatives you can see below (courses, free conferences and support groups) were all inspired by our most pro-active students, and are some of the support structures that we offer for this very important collective that we serve.
Many more are included in the action learning courses that we have been offering for a while, and also in the Integral PermaCulture Designer's Manual, which now has a growing number of pages with discussion threads in our Facebook Group, where anyone can add interesting materials about each topic, and also discuss the contents.
, we are pushed to abandon our greatest dreams and let ourselves be dragged by the system's current. Many of the people who are attracted by Permaculture are youngsters who oppose that current, or who are waking up from going every day to a job that doesn't fulfill them, or frustrated and trapped in unemployment after years of studying.
Through many years of teaching Integral Permaculture, especially the most advanced parts of the complete curriculum (Option C and above), we have seen the effectiveness and transformational capacity that having good design tools brings us, especially to help us find our personal life mission (because even when we identify as Permaculture designers, we sometimes have a hard time in finding our particular niche, especially because conventional permaculture is, in some aspects, limiting).
And the most important design we can possibly develop is without a doubt our lives - but we rarely think of applying the Permaculture design tools to these invisible structures, even those that are very big and primary, although it's very effective when we do.
That's why, in the Academy's courses we have helped many students in their transition by facilitating them the different support structures & tools that we have available when they actually need them (most are in the e-book, but it's much quicker when a mentor can point you to the ones you actually need at the right time!)
So in order to also support the people in transition who are not doing the iPDC courses, as we can't walk besides them and offer them tools continuously in our private support groups, we are creating an on-line walkthrough (in the form of a minicourse) with these tools, so that each person can have them available to use when they need them).
This course will provide you with a selection of design tools we teach in the full Integral Permaculture Design certificate course that are useful for the task of designing the most important 'invisible structure' you will ever create: your own life.
It is a course designed to un-block anything that might be getting in the way of you bringing the fullness of your gifts & talents to the world, and clarify your way.
"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open."
If you want more information about the course and how to enroll, join us in the IPCLifeDesign Facebook group.
In one of the first courses of the Academy (in 2004), a bank manager (in transition) who participated told us that he was very surprised and excited about us including Covey's Habits in our curriculum, in the People Care module.And in fact we included it in our courses because it's a classic manual for personal empowerment used for decades in small and big businesses and in professional coaching programs, and it has a very permacultural content - even though in alternative communities it hasn't been traditionally recognized, it is an extraordinary tool and very aligned with the design techniques, values and ethics of Integral Permaculture.
in the Diploma program, who decided to take as a personal challenge (and action-learning exercise, in one of her course's practical designs) the task of facilitating a study circle on Covey's Habits.
We started by encouraging her to create a presential circle in the city where she lived, in Italy, but through a few months, and with the help of various tools from the course, she started to clarify her values and vision while she reconsidered some aspects of her life. The result of this was a dramatic change of direction: she returned to her home country, Spain, & start doing many things more aligned with her vision. That's why she finally decided to facilitate the Covey's Habits support group online and offer it to the other students in the Academy.
This study circle on the 7 Habits started in February, studying a habit each month, and we have a discussion thread about this here in the spanish Integral PermaCulture FB group, which is also open to (spanish-speaking) people who are not in the Academy, so if you want you can join at any moment and explore with us how we can face daily challenges in a more pro-active and conscious way, and re-design our lives with the support of more people who are doing the same.
¡Thank you so much Carolina for your initiative!
Some of our english-speaking students are thinking of making this also available in english soon, so if you're interested in participating, let us know here in the english FB group.
Juan, another diploma student, was the one who inspired the creation of the Men's Support Group that has been working within the Academy from January, as he had already facilitated men's groups in Spain.
And we celebrated Women's Day 2016 by launching this series of materials for study groups where we can encourage and support all people who want to truly fight for justice and equality, because doing this requires us to challenge a lot of limitations we hold without realizing - and it's much more effective (and fun) if we do it together. You can enroll for free in the FB Group "Integral WomanNet" - also open to interested men!
For women it's impotant to know that we have great allies in the men who choose to be more conscious of the mechanics of oppression, so we have designed Women and Men Circles to work in parallel and get together to share our insights and challenges.
See integralwoman.org, a resource we have been working on now for several years (under continuous construction)
And this is also part of a global movement formed by various groups of people in many parts of the planet, united against oppresion, to which we have added our point in order to join the movement.
Email Newsletter to share and forward: http://eepurl.com/bzYjyT
We've been trying out the new EcoEscuelas Network project since November 2014, perfecting the monthly iPDC program as we go with the help of our adventurous first Interns.
We're delighted with the results of having smaller groups, since it means the students can take real responsibility for actually designing a creative hands-on projects whilst they take the classes on site.
In this newsletter we focus on the experiences of some of the interns trying out the new course format in the 8thLife project in the Canary Islands, and some of the design work that has been done while they took their PDC* on site.
(*Permaculture Design Certificate)
This is an ongoing programme now, and we will be starting these internships also in Al Haman, in Almeria soon.
Frida from Italy is the latest (and oldest, at 65) Intern at 8thLife, and we very much enjoyed her participation on the course from the beginning.
Not just because of her positive attitude and excitement for learning, but also because, despite saying that she wasn't used to and didn't like using computers (needed for the online part of our courses), her enthusiasm for connecting & communicating was so strong that she made sure nothing would get in her way of building relationships.
And Frida has this advice she wanted to share with future students:
"At the moment you can come for an internship in 8thLife without having taken the theory classes, but my advice is to do the 20 classes before arriving on site, take the mind-maps you made during class with you and when you are here review or research in more depth the subjects that most interest you.
In this way you will make much more of your time here, you will have much clearer ideas about what Integral Permaculture is all about, and with clearer ideas you will be able to understand the project a lot better, design more things yourself & make more focused & more precise questions, and so learn much more."
We agree with Frida, so we'd like to clarify that there are 2 options for doing the iPDC:
1) the more conventional, shorter version, which can be done in 1 month: do the theory at the same time as the field work but not do so much of your own designs work - since real designing requires having a good grasp of the theory to start with, then ample time for observation, planning, doing, reviewing, etc.
2) and the longer, more practical route which can be done in 2 months or more, and means arriving on site already having studied all the 20 classes of the iPDC, and understanding what designs are most needed at the place you will be doing your practicals and clarifying what you would be passionate about working on, so that you can enjoy doing more in-depth creative work there, in the wider context of a complex Permaculture project being created for future generations.
The Integral Permaculture curriculum is particularly designed to help us question all sorts of things we don't normally question - and which prevent us from being good, flexible designers, and to be fully empowered in our own lives.
This is what some of the latest interns made of their opportunities at 8thLife:
Daniele from Italy stayed for two months in spring, and said...
"I enjoyed the iPDC because it is amazing taking classes outside - as we can take the classes wherever and whenever we like, we re-designed these for ourselves to suit our personal wishes and the day we took this picture of me I was outside with Suzy doing her class in another language, instead of together inside like previous days, seeing the classes together, after I realized they were easier for me to follow in spanish.
The E-Book is so full of information. I go there to look up whatever I am most interested in that I learn from the classes."
Daniele didn't do much online preparation beforehand so he didn't know what design practicals he was going to do. Because of that, he spent his first month trying out a few wild ecobusiness ideas, which we all enjoyed following as they were very creative, but as time ran on we had to find him a small enough project that he could complete before the end of the course - so he took on building the water pump house.
In the end we settled on wood as the main material, and tried to figure out how to give suitable space for all the tubes whist sheltering it both from sun and rain. We also needed to leave the pump buttons easily accessible for starting and stopping it manually, and the whole structure had to be easy to move out of the way if necessary - and we are very happy with the results, as it looks good and is very functional.
Daniele pursued various creative ideas at first, with different materials, he was open to suggestions and asked various people for their opinions, didn't get discouraged when his first prototype didn't work out, persisted and knew when to ask for help although he worked mainly on his own - all good designer traits and skills.
He also had fun learning how to use new tools and being an artistic kind of person he then did his design presentation in the form of this video:
, and was always cracking jokes & pulling pranks. But he also showed maturity in dealing with a few group conflicts, & was generally very helpful on the farm. So we accepted - for his second design - a performance he organized with Fer: a song he wrote about the farm and his experience with us, with Fer cartooning as he sang. We enjoyed it a lot and it showed a lot of imagination and resourcefulness - all also key qualities for designers.
A great proponent
of learning to live simply, Daniele stayed the coldest months of the year in a
We hope that some of the interesting experiments he made while he was with us for possible future eco-businesses will work out for him or inspire him further toward something that might work, since that is probably the most important personal design any of us will ever tackle: how to make an ethical, satisfying income (doing something we love) while being surrounded by the Destructo-Culture.
Fer from Spain did the course at the same time as Daniele, and said "It is really a practical course, it's flexible & the environment is perfect".
Fer delighted us with his cartoons, which he included in all his design work.
<< He showed this one during his final design presentation, illustrating his 'client interviewing' (Fer is the guy to the right with the notepad & pencil) with Jose telling him about the importance of the chickens feeling safe. Jose has exactly that green old jumper, goes around barefoot and plays with his long sleeves in that manner - this kind of attention to detail is delightful, and the mark of an excellent cartoonist, as well as a very good designer.
Although his main design project was the big chicken house - to which he made some important additions (THANK YOU!) - for the final part of the course Fernando found himself inspired to develop his artistic side during his stay, and after thinking about several projects to develop - one being a comic about his adventures transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle - he started helping with the graphics for a bioregional design we are participating in, creating a beautiful poster and many illustrations for the project.
Fer had already started cartooning online several years ago with this blog, but didn't continue. While he was here with us, he thought of how to return to his art and use his talents to tell the stories of transition, like those of many young people who are going through major life changes trying to
So we hope that Fer will pursue his idea of a comic about his adventures transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle, and thank him for his beautiful illustrations.
<< This 'Facebook dialogue' picture gave us the idea of linking the pages of the Integral Permaculture Designers Manual which are being discussed in our Facebook group.
Fer's drawing for the Moneda Demos leaflet
This is a design project that many people have worked on for a long time here in 8thLife, with each person adding a piece of the puzzle.
Óscar from Mexico made this model >>
in SketchUp, and
<< this drawing made by Heloïse from France shows its structure and main functions.
This is part of a bigger chicken tractor design, where the chickens will move every day from their house, in the center of the farm, though a system of corridors to the gardens, so they can work on one of them each month to enrich and prepare the soil for the next crops.
- to the right are the forest gardens).
Now we've finally managed to move the chickens there, so now they're enjoying their new house.
Fer's drawing for the Moneda Demos leaflet
Fer in the mini-swales workshop >>
Other workshops Fer participated in were fermenting foods, making chocolates & making interesting dishes out of green bananas (which became a bit of a passion, especially the salty banana chips) and also weaving shades from the plentiful cane we harvest nearby (for the chicken house roof).
Thank you Fer for your work and your inspiring art :)
Giselle from Argentina & Emilio from Spain stayed for just a month, but managed to get 3 infrastructure projects finished as their practical design projects, while they took the classes for their Permaculture Design Certificate course, the iPDC.
<< Here they are helping to prepare a new larger potting area behind the library, where new cuttings and transplants start their way to the nurseries. In this photo they are sifting soil, granzón & compost to mix in varying proportions according to the needs of each plant.
also helped with designing the vertical greenhouse, as well as making some small beautiful changes around the new potting area, but had to cut her visit short due to illness in the family.
We hope she will be back soon!
So, thanks to the recent interns, we now have three nurseries: a new one for vegetable seedlings, as well as an expanded one for other small plants, and another one for trees.
This below is one of the working sketches for the new vertical seedling nursery.
This is where we had our seedlings nursery before >>>
on a low wall that was not easy to shade in summer and prone to lizard attacks (they can chomp through a whole tray of seedlings very quickly, and they love sunning themselves in stone walls).
Jessie, Emilio & Giselle set out to design the structure & logistics for a vertical seedlings nursery that would multi-function as a green wall both for added privacy & extra shade for the Transition House patio.
It is important to have
the nurseries in Zone 1 where we can keep a constant eye on the seedlings, and this corridor is quite busy, so it's a perfect location.
This vertical nursery wall is something Celi had originally thought of and which we were keen to do also because it would provide a wall to prevent children falling off an unprotected part of the patio, as well as the other functions listed above.
They worked brilliantly as a team (Emilio wanted to practice team facilitation so this was his part of the design) and the structure made from the materials of the old nursery, which looked very different, was up in just a few days.
In this video you can see them presenting this design.
In the video below you can see the presentation of this design.
The pigs had already fully tractored their old home, so we needed a new space for them, and we were also looking forward to having them closer to the main house so we could interact with them more easily.
Emilio used his excellent building skills to build a fence and welded two new doors, after a short welding workshop by Jose, and we all did our best to make it 'pig proof' by pinning tree logs around the fence to stop them digging the base.
So now the pigs are now having fun in their new house, which we are all very happy about.
And in this video you can see Giselle & Emilio presenting this design.
David in Spain, is a student of the online version of the course, who enrolled because he wanted support in developing his family farm and nursery ecobusiness. He also presented two of his designs to complete his PDC and is now continuing on the Diploma pathway.
One of the designs he presented was the facilitation work he did to coordinate a group of students to do their Certificate presentations at the same time, where he showed a lot of proactivity,
The second design he presented was the progress of his biointensive garden, where he has been busy regenerating the soil and also advancing the creation of a future food forest and nursery ecobusiness base.
David wrote beautifully this about his experience on our course in one of the previous newsletters, From Caterpillar to Butterfly, where he begins by saying:
I considered the possibility of doing a permaculture action learning course on the Internet, but my first feeling was of backing out, because I didn't think that learning Permaculture on the internet could be at the same level as an in-person course.
But I was partially wrong, because when I started the course with the Integral Permaculture Academy and saw its functioning and the community that's behind it, I've realized that the learning and personal growth that I can undergo are similar, if not better, than with an in-person one."
And for his design presentation, he researched some tools and made a great video.
he is developing his EcoBusiness, Caliptra, with a mission to foster food sovereignty, design of aesthetic and productive environments, healthy local nutrition and knowledge dissemination,
and he is also researching and experimenting with his diet for integral health and wellbeing, developing his knowledge & skills as a bee-keeper and as a grower of nursery plants and organic preparations.
In order to support herself financially whilst living with us, Suzy had the idea of selling home-made muesli bars to passing tourists (the farm is by a walking route). This worked well enough for her to earn some regular weekly pocket money. and the idea organically developed into a Café experiment.
So one of the designs she presented for her PDC was her development on the idea of a Café for 8thLife as a small EcoBusiness, and - being a very creative person - she presented her design in waitress mode, after taking orders from us as the first clients :)
She steadily improved the infrastructure over the months, by making some small tables and cushions to sit on, designing a menu and presenting it in a renovated blackboard, sowing some shades to protect the patio from the sun in the summer, and planting more herbs in the planter besides the café.
She also made some good observations for the next person to take on this design to keep moving it forward and grow it into a budding EcoBusiness.
Before leaving Suzy had the idea of making a short documentary of the EcoVillage project. She designed the storyline, interviewed people, made some animations and interspaced stills and video footage of farm routines in the whole. She is now editing and the final draft will be published soon.
During her internship Suzy also built the foundations of one of the Hobbit Domes, completed a few tire staircases, and did other interesting experiments, learned to lay watering systems and installed the deep irrigation for young trees in nearly all of the forest-gardens, she made a very nice portable compost toilet and in one afternoon invented a new type of chair made from 99% recycled materials.
Suzy, like Fer, is one of the interns who took the opportunity to research and experiment with her eating habits whilst with us. This led her to make some interesting discoveries about how to improve her health & wellbeing.
All of this in between delighting us with her many other talents, like playing the guitar and piano, singing and teaching us songs.
Thank you Suzy for everything! It's been wonderful to have you here, and we look forward to having you as an external facilitator for the next groups of iPDC students, and to see your progress as a Diploma student.
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