My Permaculture Life

Aim: To create a plan focused upon how I will continue to develop and grow my Permaculture Practice once I have completed my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design.

Date: April 2021

Client: Personal Project

Status: Ongoing

Principles: Holmgren

Framework: Appreciative Enquiry

Tools: Jasmine Dale’s Observation Tool, Mind Map, Ethics Analysis, Patterns in Nature, Yields Analysis, Boundaries Analysis, Guilds Analysis, Permaculture Wheel, Holistic Decision Making Template, Principles Analysis, Action Plan, Six Hats.

How does the design reflect the Permaculture Ethics?

Earth CareFinding ways to make use of my Permaculture learning for the benefit of local environmnental / climate action groups.

Sharing learning with children and building their love of the natural world through a children’s Permaculture group for home educating families.
People CareExploring the ways that I can make my Permaculture practice more accessible to others.

Finding time and energy to develop my own learning and growth.
Fair ShareSharing Permaculture learning through involvement with wider networks regionally and nationally.

Exploring ways to build the accessibility of my work through developing opportunities to engage in Permaculture which are free and open to all.

How does the design meet my personal learning objectives?

Permaculture design as underlying foundation to the work that I do.Exploring and planning new ways to intergrate Permaculture Design into my professional practice.
Build links to the Permaculture community.Building and developing links with the wider Permaculture community are a key aspect of this design, with particular focus upon my local Permaculture network.
Develop learning within the structure of the diploma.Exploring ways to continue developing my learning once my Diploma is completed.

Resources / Support

  • Design Forum
  • Design tutorial
  • Permaculture Design Companion – Jasmine Dale
  • Knowledge Base – Permaculture Association Website
  • Permaculture – David Holmgren

Context

I began my Permaculture Diploma in November 2013. After developing my Action Learning Pathway I seemed to grind to a halt! With the exception of one design which I developed prior to starting my Diploma I really struggled to find momentum and purpose for my learning within the diploma structure. With the exception of a Home Birth design which I created in 2015 I tried many times to pick up the diploma again, but never succeeded.

In 2020 it became clear that the format of the Diploma that I was following was to be phased out I came to a crossroads. Should I drop the Diploma completely? Or pick it back you with energy and focus and work towards a specific date to complete it? I decided upon the second option and in October 2020 made the decision that I would like to try and complete my portfolio by the end of April 2021. During this period of time I have really relished re-engaging with my Diploma learning and have felt confidence and satisfaction as my fluency in design process grows with each new project. However I also feel a sense of trepidation how I will maintain momentum for my Permaculture practice once my Diploma is finished.

This design aims to create a plan to allow me to focus upon how I will continue to develop and grow my Permaculture Practice once I have completed my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design.

Dream

To begin I used Jasmine Dale’s OBSERVATION TOOL to think about the wider context that my Permaculture Practice is located within. This invites you to think about a site as detailed in the image below but I tweaked it focus upon the projects, people and emotions that I feel connected to by and with my Permaculture.

Below are my own responses:

Land – the surrounding environment– Diploma in the context of my Applied Arts practice.

– Professional role as practitioner, producer and creator

– Volunteer involvement in projects in greenspaces and with local climate action groups

– Home education context within our family

– Permaculture within professional arts practice – where does it sit?

– Lived everyday Permaculture – what does that mean?

Society – other people now and in the future
– My family and friends

– Strong links to communities and organisations within the cultural and community sectors

– The team with my company (Small Things Creative Projects) and other organisations we work with – mainly in the charity and third sector


– The home education community

– My local community – connection through where I live but also through volunteering locally in parks and local environmental activism

– Permaculture community – locally, nationally and internationally
Personal – feelings, preferences and resources– Sharing learning / teaching

– Keeping connected to the Permaculture Community. What can I bring?

– How can I maintain my Permaculture practice after the Diploma?

– How can Permaculture Design influence our journey as a home educating family?

– Permaculture Design in my creative practice

– Wider development of practice particularly in community settings with focus upon accessibility

– Permaculture in everyday life – deepen my sense of what that means and how that looks

I then created a MIND MAP to think about loose ideas of aspects that I would like to feature in my Permaculture practice going forward, noting how the PERMACULTURE ETHICS may be reflected in these elements.

Finally I explored what I created a very simple ETHICS ANALYSIS to think about how the Permaculture Ethics may manifest themselves in my life.

Earth Care– Environmental activism

– Living mindfully and lightly as a family

– Valuing and protecting the natural world

– Volunteering in parks and greenspaces

– Creating a garden at home to provide food and to support nature
People Care– Valuing my relationships with famly and friends

– Linking to my local community in an active way

– Connecting with others by sharing learning

– Advocating for accessibility and equality

– Education for my son which is relevant and empowering
Fair Share– Creating opportunities for others

– Being an active volunteer

– Being involved in activism

– Sharing learning in accessible ways

Discover

I began this aspect of the design by creating a further MIND MAP to focus upon the things that I have particulalrly enjoyed during my Diploma journey. I added detail to this by thinking about where I had derived that enjoyment from within the structure of my Diploma Learning – sometimes it came from specific designs, but other times it came from things that I was involved in as a result of my Diploma such as the Design Forum.

I then thought about PATTERNS IN NATURE and using that to think about the different things that I would like to feature in my practice beyond the Diploma. I found this a really good way to begin to shape my thinking in a more focused and structured way.

Following on from this I spent time doing a YIELDS ANALYSIS to focus more specifically how all of these things that I had enjoyed and thought about may manifest themselves as yields going forward. It was at this point that what I really wanted to try and create was a plan by which Permaculture could be central to my life, and not simply a discrete element of my wider work.

I used there yields as a starting point to think about the BOUNDARIES that may make it difficult for me to achieve my ambitions, whilst also thinking about possible actions that could mitigate the challenges that I may face. Within this diagram the yields are in blue within the central wheel, the boundaries are in green and the possible solutions are in red.

At this point I really liked the notion of creating a wheel format as part of the design to encapsulate the different aspects of the Permaculture Life that I am hoping to create. In order to start doing this in a more coherent way I thought about the different yields and explored how they grouped together in GUILDS. In doing this it became clear that my aspirations fell into four main areas:

  • Living and Doing – where Permaculture is encapsulated and enacted in my everyday life.
  • Learning and Growing – where I continue to learn and develop as a Permaculture Designer.
  • Sharing and Connecting – where I reach out to share my work through collaboration and partnership.
  • ???? – where I embrace the unexpected and go with the flow.

Design

Following on directly from the Guilds Analysis I created a PERMACULTURE WHEEL to encapsulate the things I wish to focus upon visually. I love the way that this is such a visual representation of the next steps that I wish to take on this journey.

I then added more detail to how this would manifest itself practically in my life by using a HOLISTIC DECISION MAKING TEMPLATE. This uses the key elements from my Permaculture Wheel and defines ways in which each of them will be manifested withn my everyday life.

I used a PRINCIPLES ANALYSIS using Holmgren’s Principles to ensure that these principles lie at the heart of the actions and yields at the foundation of the design. I did this by exploring which of my yields are most closely aligned with the principles.

Observe and interactActive
Exploration
Collaborative
Connect
Embracing
Catch and store energyEveryday
Connect
Embracing
Obtain a yieldActivism
Growth and Curiosity
Connect
Embracing
Apply self-regulation and accept feedbackActive
Exploration
Growth and Curiosity
Collaborative
Connect
Embracing
Use and value renewable resources and servicesEveryday
Integral
Creativity
Teaching and Sharing
Embracing
Produce no wasteEveryday
Integral
Embracing
Design from patterns to detailsEveryday
Active
Exploration
Growth and Curiosity
Integrate rather than segregateEveryday
Integral
Accessible
Use small and slow solutionsEveryday
Activism
Creativity
Growth and Curiosity
Teaching and Sharing
Use and value diversityActivism
Creativity
Accessible
Use edges and value the marginalActivism
Creativity
Accessible
Creatively use and respond to changeActivisim
Creativity
Exploration
Growth and Curiosity
Embracing

Deliver

This design will be an ongoing project which will begin now as my DIploma draws to a close. I do not want to create a specific implementation plan as this design represents Permaculture within my day to day life so I feel that it needs to be more fluid than that. In the absence of this I have created a simple ACTION PLAN defining at least one next step for each of my yields. The plan also gives a sense of when it may be reasonably possible for each of these next steps to happen over the next six months. It is my intention to revisit the plan at the end of this six month period and tweak as approriate.

EverydayContinue to look for a new homeOngoing
ActiveSeek ways to engage more in the work that the Permaculture Association is undertakingOngoing
IntegralDevelop list of cultural partners and explore how may develop Permaculture focused projects togetherJune 2021
ActivismDevelop summer activity programme for Love Springwater ParkJune 2021
ExplorationContinue to be an active member of the design forumOngoing
CreativeUse journals and creative writing to reflect upon my Permaculture practiceOngoing
Growth and CuriosityEngage in events and gatherings from the Permaculture Association when possibleOngoing
Teaching and SharingExplore development of Permaculture Introduction for artists – investigate who partners may be and start to think about the structureJune 2021
AccessibleDevelop further sessions for the Home Education Permaculture groupJuly 2021
CollaborativeDevelop a forum for artists / creative practitioners and Permaculture following on from Diploma Gathering workshopMay 2021
ConnectReconnect with Manchester Permaculture Network July2021
???Embrace the unexpected!Ongoing

To be revisited in November 2021

Key: Living and Doing, Learning and Growing, Sharing and Connecting, Embracing

Evaluation

As there is no evaluation within this framework I added the SIX HATS tool and used this to evaluate the design.

White – Facts– I have created a plan with clear focus as outlined at the beginning of the desgin. This includes the areas I would like to focus upon in my Permaculture practice, and also how and when I would like to make that focus.

– The framework was very effective for this design. It helped me to formulate my thinking and work towards developing a simple action plan.
Yellow – Positive– I really enjoyed using the framework – I think that is particularly good to use with designs where you are trying to inspire open, creative thinking.

– Developing the Permaculture Wheel structure within the design was a very positive step. It really helped me to clarify thinking around what I wanted to achieve and to organise and group my ideas and aspirations.

– I found Jasmine Dale’s observation tool to be a really positive starting point for this design. I would love to use it again on a more land focussed design and see how it works there.
Black – Negative– As this is a design which is very much a starting point there was much less to think about within the Deliver section of the framework. I have created a simple action plan which feels enough in this context. Maybe the nature of the design means there was always going to be less to think about within that element of the framework?
Green – Ideas– I loved developing the Permaculture Wheel which emerged organically during the design process. It has allowed me to visualise the emotional and conceptual elements of the design perfectly and it’s something that I would like to explore further in future designs.

– It was very positive to use the Patterns in Nature tool within the Discover aspect of the framework. I really like the way that it moves my thinking in many different directions which help me to think about things from a very different perspective, whilst also making a well rounded observation.
Blue – Review– I feel good about the breadth of thinking within this design. It seems that the tools have helped me to take a broad approach in my thinking.

– The framework and the process opened up ideas to me, revealed unexpected possibilities, clarified direction and gave direction to my thinking. It was a postivite experience which I really enjoyed.
Red – Emotion– I really enjoyed creating this design. I loved the way that the design emerged as a result of the different tools that I used and how so many unexpected elements and connections revealed themselves.

– I am excited about the design that I have created and look forward to seeing how it develops over the coming months.

Reflection

I returned to the patterns in nature and used them as a foundation to reflect upon this design.

BranchingWithin this design I got a real sense of how Permaculture Design helps me reach to the light in terms of new ideas and thinking, but also how it helps me ground and root myself in my life. There is a deep sense of reaching out and connecting to new ideas and people but also to stretching down to put down roots. I love the way that it brings these things together for me, and in this design I got a real sense of that happening.
SphereI feel that within this design the framework and tools allowed me to develop a really well rounded sense of thinking and observation which is a really difficult thing to achieve. I also love the way that this process allowed me to really focus upon the fact that what I am actually aiming towards within this design is a sense of a Permaculture Life. I feel that it is something that is integral to my life and the acknowledgement of that duting the mid-point of this design was the point at which the design truly began to take shape for me.
SpiralWIthin this design I got a strong sense of growth as the framework and tools helped me to bring my thinking together and to shape my ideas. It was so exciting to feel the sense of growth and possiblity that was emerging as the design developed – an organic sense that I am not sure that I have felt previously during a design process.

Maybe this it to do with feeling more comfortable with the tools that I am using, and the way that I use them collectively? I am not sure but it is something that I would like to continue to explore in future designs that I do.
WebThe design gave a sense of how my Permaculture practice is connected to so many different things both personally and professionally. And this in turn gave a sense of the way that the tools can and should be about opening and revealing possiblity rather than closing down options at an early stage in a design. Again, maybe this is something that I feel more comfortable to explore and acknowledge now that I feel more fluent in the tools and frameworks that I am using.
RadialIn this design I also got a sense of how the tools allowed me to reach out to many different things in many different directions and this felt like a very empowering and exciting process. Especially when I embraced the fact that I may not always be able to anticipate where this reaching would take me!

I also got a great sense of reaching out for ideas and possiblities whilst always returning and reconnecting to the core. This is reflective of my thinking within this design but I suspect that it also reflects how I wish to use Permaculture as an emotional and intellectual core going forward.

This sense of reaching out also reflects how important I hope the sense of learning and curiosity I have developed as a result of my Diploma has been to me – it has brought my Permaculture practice to life and it is something that I hope I can maintain going forward.
Random ScatterOne of the key things that emerged within the Permaculture Wheel that I created is how important the unexpected has become to me throughout the Diploma – and the subsequent embracing of the unexpected! This has manifested itself in many different ways and it really resonates for me that it sits at the heart of this design in terms of allowing space for it, being open to what it brings, and celebrating the energy that it injects into things.
HoneycombStrength through connection is a running theme throughout this design in terms of the Permaculture Community, but more importantly in terms of my family and friends. I really appreciate the way this design has allowed me to acknowledge this and to define it, particulalry as an aspect to build resilience and meaning in my family life and beyond.
TorusWithin this design there was a sense of energy and flow as the design developed, as ideas emerged, and as links and connections manifested themselves. This sense of flow was really exciting and made me think alot about the importance of energy and flow within the plan that was created as a result of the design. I am mindful to observe where the energy flows within my Permaculture Practice, where it comes from, and how I use it. The design has also made it clear to me how much having a sense of purpose in design work gives it and you energy, and also how connection to others does that same. These are both aspects that I will look to explore beyond my Diploma.