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Solstice News

posted Jun 23, 2012, 3:10 AM by Stella Ne   [ updated Jun 24, 2012, 5:37 PM by Jose Lorenzo Zamora ]
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Between 20 & 22 June Summer Solstice occurs for the northern hemisphere,  & winter solstice for the southern hemisphere of this wonderful blue-green planet.  

We traditionally celebrate this with a newsletter as one of the most beautiful things that we learn as we advance as permaculture students is to become much more aware of natural cycles.   

This is a time that is celebrated in different ways but in all cultures that carry an  ancestral awareness of earth-rythms, because it is the day of the year in which the sun starts to descend or ascend (northern & southern hemisphere perspectives respectively) in it's visible path in relation to our horizon: we're half-way through the year.

We have been very busy with our mission of teaching Integral Permaculture so we take a pause at this mid point on the wheel of the year to share some news.

The Solstice

The Noche de San Juan in Spain is a very ancient festival that is traditionally connected to lighting bonfires, connected to the celebrations which marked the arrival of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere.
The purpose of the lighting of the fires was to "give more strength to the sun", which starting from this time gets increasingly "weaker".

From now on, each day will be a little bit shorter until the winter solstice, which will be marked by the shortest period of daylight.  Conversely, in the southern hemisphere each day will become a little longer until their summer solstice.     

This is a solagraph, a long exposure (6months) photograph.  The sun's path each day can be seen from right to left in this image across the sky; the path of the following day runs slightly lower, until the day of the winter solstice, whose path is the lowest one in the image.
The word solstice derives from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still): the sun appears to stops then 'turns around' in this transition with respect to the horizon.

Worldwide, interpretations of this event have varied among cultures but many have held a recognition or sign of the fertility, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around the time of the Summer Solstice.

New Conferences

To celebrate this 'second half of the year' we start another round of free online conferences about the most important issues of our times, with - possibly - the most critical of all, the one we need to really 'turn things around':  Collective Intelligence.   

And being designers we ask: How do we design for it?

on Wednesday the 27th of June 2012, 
8pm UTC

a free online conference where we'll consider:
      • Is Collective Intelligence achievable?
      • How do we achieve better cooperation between all existing initiatives?
      • How to organize ourselves collectively toward change in these transition times?
      • Which are the necessary elements for Collective Intelligence to function?

click on the picture to share the invitation with your friends & colleagues... and give your group an intelligence-enhancing gift!

We're also compiling a reference resource on this critical topic in the Integral Permaculture Designers Manual, here:

>>  See previous news article for more detail <<

Please go to this link to register & join the class live
to see the recording afterwards

Summer Intensive PDC

We're offering the full PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate), 
as a practical intensive this summer, 
focused on food-growing.   

It will located in an Integral Permaculture eco-village project starting in the Canary Islands. 

Dates: from the full moon on the 3rd of July 
to the full moon on the 31st of August  

<< Click on veggie picture for more details or go here:

There will be another two month intensive from 31st of August to the full moon of the 29th of October that will focus on eco-building.    You can join us for both intensives & take the full Integral Permaculture Design Certificate course in this way (see bottom of the page for full range of options)

& Take-Away Options

We call the practical-intensive version of our courses the GaiaSis project (Gaia's Big Sister Challenge) & there is a site which is all about this: 
<< click on picture or go here:

We are delighted that now, thanks to the major re-design of course options we finished in May we can offer these practical intensives anywhere in the world, and a lot more flexibly than ever.   
See table below, also in Courses on Offer

What this means is ... that 
1) if you have a favorite project that you would like to do a permaculture apprenticeship with, or 

2) if you would like our help in finding such a project for you, 

you can now enjoy an offer of two free emails of personal support from us in finding the best way to get you going on the best fit we can find for you.

Simply email us at with some background about you & where you are in your development as an earth-activist or would-be permaculture student.     We will send you a questionnaire that will help you to reflect & us to evaluate your personal needs & opportunities. 

These Practical Intensives get you designing from day one, with good support whilst you also develop relationships with a community of other Integral Permaculture students from around the world that you can also take with you wherever you go, & for as long as you wish.

In 2011 NodoEspiral started offering our in-depth Integral Permaculture Certificate (the PDC+++) also in English & in May 2012 we expanded the offer of courses to these:

Click on the image to zoom in.
The cost of the Intensive Practice options (column 2) is 162€ per month.
We advice adding 27€ per month for a
personal tutorial session (more if you want).

Note that A>B>C, etc., are incremental steps, designed especially to facilitate your progress.  
So you can start anywhere & then go on to the next step/s when you are ready to.

New Study Circle

A new Integral Permaculture study circle is starting in Seville in September.  
It is led by Maria Jose (which the spanish often abbreviate to Pepa), who has been a student on the PDC+++ course since April 2011.

Pepa is a 43yr old laboratory technician, an agriculture engineer & trade union representative who lives on the outskirts of Seville, in Spain.    She is a very warm & perceptive person who is lot of fun to be with, & also very passionate about permaculture.   We're sure she will be an excellent study-circle facilitator!

< Pepa is the chook in the middle, enjoying carnival with her daughters

She has been developing a gardening project in her daughters' school for the last few years, & is now looking to take on some more ambitious permaculture projects. 

Pepa has become increasingly enthusiastic about the action-learning course she's been taking with us & she decided she would love to share this wonderful science with others, whilst the creates a new group of permaculture enthusiasts around her.  

If you live in Seville & surrounds, see their new Study Circle page in the EcoEscuela web, 
direct link here

The Web

The new Seville study-circle joins a series of other groups that started during 2011 & 2012, as the first students of the Integral Permaculture curriculum got going with the first Study Circles supported by our node of the Permaculture Academy.

So Pepa joins the group of brave pioneering study-circle facilitators like Chiara & Charo in Spain & Diego in Belgium. 

With others like Pau & Esther preparing to launch their Introductory Courses / Study Groups more officially in the near future


So there are only half a dozen of these pioneering groups getting going, but they are all over and during the last few months we decided to unite them under the domain:

We'll be evolving this resource as we do all of our projects: slowly, collaboratively, starting small & tweaking the design as we go, responding to maximise benefist for all whilst we listen attentively to the needs & desires of the permaculture students we serve, as well as those of the brave group facilitators.

The general idea is that eventually, anyone looking for an Integral Permaculture Study Group will be able to easily find the nearest to their area on this collective web, but also each member of a study-group will be able to easily connect with the private pages of their group & also get to know people in other study-groups around the world (through a common set of private pages) from that same site.

We learned a great deal about how to go about designing better study-groups during the first year & we are proud of & very grateful to the first pioneer facilitators for smoothing the way for future groups.  THANKYOU :)

Good Support-Group Design

We encourage all permaculture students who are taking on any kind of major project to ensure they give some attention to the very important design of their support-group: basic emotional-social ground-work!  

Thinking in terms of support-circles is not something that comes naturally to most of us, raised as we are in a culture where individualism & 'going it alone' is seen as the norm.

But in fact we know from experience that no project ultimately works without a group of committed people supporting it & we've seen far too many a wonderful pioneer have burnt out because they didn't have a good, reliable support group around them.     

We are delighted to see how well some of our students are designing their international & 'take it with me anywhere' support group, by cultivating fertile connections with their peers online, maximizing edge by figuring out more & original ways of having useful contact with each other & learning from each others' design work.

But in addition to this, we encourage all of our students to give attention to designing a good local support-group for themselves.   And it is useful if it doesn't only comprise of your family & friends, but also of local permaculture colleagues working in another projects.

To this end we offer the express-action-learning course in facilitation & team dynamics that is included in Option D  in the series of Integral Permaculture courses we now offer - which we call the PDC++ course - by organizing a Permaculture Study Circle. 

The e-Book Project

We continue our slow & painstaking work of compiling 
the online Integral Permaculture Designers Manual 
("the e-book" for short).   

We're now just starting the first draft of Chapter 4: Energy & EcoTechnology - because that is where we are in recording the 50 classes of this amazing curriculum.

You may have noticed that we are slowly changing all our websites into distinct english & spanish sections & now the e-book is one of those which is a lot more comfortable to consult for this reason.

THANK YOUs & great appreciations go to the team of people who are collaborating with this.   As well as our more involved students we continue to receive generous contributions from colleagues who are working professionally in different fields that are important for the great transition.   

Odum's Energy Work

As we get going with recording the 4th Module classes - the Energy & EcoTechnology Module - we grow increasingly fluent in & grateful for the wonderful work that the Odum brothers left for humanity. 

We dedicated Module 3 (EarthCare) to Wangari Maathai, as our way of paying our respects to a great pioneering Integral Permaculture Designer, who improved the lives of many disadvantaged people by thinking holistically about reforestation.

In a similar way we are dedicating Module 4 (Energy & EcoTechnology) to Dana Meadows & Howard T Odum, another two great Integral Permaculture Designers who greatly expanded our collective boundaries of consciousness with regards to the functioning of the wider natural systems we are part of, as humans.

Eugene Odum was Howard Odum's older brother, who pioneered the "new ecology" from a systems perspective, and wrote the world's first text book on ecology in 1953, Fundamentals of Ecology.

>> Links provided to their pages in our e-book <<

The Odum brothers worked together & like his brother, Howard T. Odum also studied in great detail the energy flows & interactions in complex life systems, but he is mostly recognized for creating a simple pattern-language that serves as a powerful model for understanding how ecosystems work, in useful detail.     

This is the first time that we have had the luxury of the time, on a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) course,  to go into a little bit more detail with regards to why & how Odum's proposals for some new Laws of Thermodynamics are important & very interesting for us as the generation which will have to design what Odum calls "A Prosperous Way Down". 

We look forward to developing further these powerful tools & insights in Module 5, EcoEconomics & Transition.

Celebrating Planeta Finito!

Planeta Finito (Finite Planet), an eco-business set up by Sergio, one of our old PDC students who was particularly interested in EcoEconomics, is celebrating - check their web for discounts.

Congratulations Sergio on the 2nd Anniversary of Planeta Finito, for creating your own ethical work & thanks for being an inspiration to all of us - we celebrate your success with you!

A little bit of the story.   After doing the PDC with us & also helping out as an apprentice teacher on several of our courses, we invited Sergio & a handful of other promising students to take part in a small EcoBusiness pilot project.

This was an idea for a new action-learning course we wanted to try out in 2009, to support people who were or wanted to set up their own small businesses in a way that were coherent with their permaculture values & ethics.    

We had a very interesting time during this pilot project, learned a great deal but eventually concluded that, at least for now, we would keep including this eco-business design support in the diploma pathway that we already offer - and which has now developed even further, thanks to this & other small pilot projects we tried out, see Option F of the summary table above, The Diploma.

However, Sergio did very well out of this experiment, which helped him decide which of various eco-business options were best suited to him, developed the details with our help & now is celebrating its 2nd Anniversary: an online permaculture shop which sells publications & eco-products - notably menstrual cups & washable menstrual pads - & will soon also be selling the new range of Integral Permaculture courses.

The Inclusion Principle

One of the solidly Integral Permaculture design characteristics that we are very glad to see in the Transition Movement is that it sets out, explicitly, to base itself on a series of Principles.   One of the reasons why principles matter is because the people we deal with on a day to day basis can hold us accountable to them. 

One of these principles is the principle of Inclusion & Opennes, which states:

Successful Transition Initiatives need an unprecedented coming together of the broad diversity of society. They dedicate themselves to ensuring that their decision making processes and their working groups embody principles of openness and inclusion.    
It makes explicit the principle that there is, in the challenge of energy descent, no room for ‘them and us’ thinking.

A much more blunt & hopefully provocative way of pointing out how most often Inclusion or Openness are in fact noticeable by their absence is this phrase, "It's not Fascism when We do it".  

We recently participated in the first national Transition Movement conferences in Spain by pointing out that maybe it's time that we apply our desire for deeper human connection & our design skills to creating more inclusive meetings, using the wide variety of the wonderful communication tools we now have available, a lot more flexibly & creatively.    This was prompted by a national conference deciding - amongst other more useful things - to relegate to 'archives' the spanish-language Transition Movement wiki some of us had worked very hard at for several years, without minimally consulting the wiki founders, simply because they didn't go to the national conference.    
We have been expressing this inclusion philosophy in many different ways since we started NodoEspiral in 2003, especially framing it as a question:

How can we grow in creativity & complexity, learning to include all of the people, cultures, world-views & species in a new Planetary Phase, whilst we also decrease our energy usage?

We do think it's going to happen by more & better big meetings of minds, but we are fairly sure that it cannot happen by continuing to support big contradictions like flying many tons of bodies around the world in order to discuss how to best re-localized the economy.   
This is only more fun for the few people who can afford such luxuries, yet we know that the most privileged - in general - are not necessarily those who are best qualified to understand or propose how to change any oppressive system they are part of.

This is also why we stopped doing the traditional PDC courses, and gave ourselves the challenge of designing the best possible action-learning courses, where we could follow each student a lot more individually, as they develop their own designs at home.   We were very delighted to realize that as our courses energy budget decreased considerably, the intimacy & closeness with & between students, as well as the quality of the design work increased a great deal.  

As with the slow-food & slow-economy traditions, decreasing energy usage whilst increasing overall quality & multi-functionality was achieved by re-designing around longer periods of time.     

And we believe that wider participation, together with more quality-time to think is one of the essential ingredients for designing Collective Intelligence.

We hope to See you Soon!

This all neatly brings us round again to the beginning of this newsletter focusing on natural global cycles:
we hope to see you at the first of our second series of conferences!
Starting with
                                 Keys to Collective Intelligence
a free online conference where we'll consider:
      • Is Collective Intelligence achievable?
      • How do we achieve better cooperation between all existing initiatives?
      • How to organize ourselves collectively toward change in these transition times?
      • Which are the necessary elements for Collective Intelligence to function

on Wednesday the 27th of June 2012, 
8pm UTC

Click on the picture above to invite a friend

Please go to this link to register & join the conference live
to see the recording afterwards

These stills are taken from a presentation video we prepared for 
the European Permaculture Conference of 2010
(click on pictures to see video)