Looking back at my Action Learning Pathway it is amazing to see how much my Permaculture Practice has changed and developed since I embarked upon my Diploma in November 2013. That’s not to say that my ALP is no longer relevant, as defined when I revisited it in October 2020, but after struggling to get started it has not been until the last six months that I have really found a sense of momentum and purpose with my Diploma. The scope of my approach and focus has grown and widened and in response to that rather than reflecting upon my ALP in this final reflection I am going to make a wider reflection upon my Diploma journey using Whitefield’s principles as a foundation.
Through my Diploma, and particularly over recent months, I have experienced a deep sense of growth and learning as my fluency and confidence in Permaculture Design grows. This has been exciting and empowering, as I understand more the part that Permaculture can play in my life.
Alongside this I have developed a deeper sense of the part that Permaculture can play in responding to the huge planetary crises that we currently face. If now at a moment of such profound and painful change is not the time to embrace Permaculture that I cannot imagine when that time will come. At the same time I feel a huge sense of importance as a Permaculturist of the need to celebrate and acknowledge the roots of our learning in the wisdom of indigenous people and our ancestors. As a discipline I have come to see that this acknowledgement is not happening enough and feel that if we fail to do that sufficiently our ultimate goals of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share will ultimately fail, or be a fraction of the greatness that it has the potential to be.
Diversity and Niche
I have loved the space that the Diploma has given me to work, explore and develop over a wide range of designs. This has brought energy and interest and a feeling of vitality – it is my intention to maintain this sense of diversity going forward.
As my portfolio has developed I have become increasingly interested in accessibility within Permaculture. Whose voice is heard and amplified? Who is excluded and why are they excluded? I have touched upon this aspect in a couple of designs and am committed to exploring this further going forward.
I love the diversity of the Permaculture Community and have come to feel strongly that as interest inevitably grows over coming years we should resist the temptation to standardise. Permaculture Design is a place for everybody – it doesn’t belong to anybody and as such we should all do what we can to champion access to the commons that we share.
My Diploma has galvanised the feeling for me that the scope of Permaculture as a discipline is that it is applicable to everything! I am not sure that I had a true sense of that what I started this journey but the discovery is a fantastic thing. I have also come to love the fact that a Permaculture Diploma and a Permaculture Life does not have a single pathway – its versatility means that it can take you anywhere!
It has become clear during my Diploma how connecting to others is crucial to developing and maintaining a dynamic practice. This connection can be within the Permaculture Community via things like guilds or events, but equally it can come through using and advocating for Permaculture in the wider world. In many ways it is the second form of connection which olds most possibility.
Why did I originally start my Diploma? Largely because when I finished my Permaculture Design Course the Diploma felt like the only option available to me to continue to develop my practice. I think that the lack of real purpose when I began my Diploma was the main reason why I lacked momentum and motivation in the early stages. Now there are so many more ways for people to engage in Permaculture that I feel I would not have stepped right into a Diploma from my PDC, and when I finally did start it would have come from a more informed place that I feel would have brought much needed energy at the early stages! I am sure that I would have come to a Diploma eventually but probably not straight away.
I have come to better appreciate a sense of my Permaculture practice being a thing which inhabits the here and now. By asking where I am now and what I want to achieve it gives a sense of clarity and purpose to my practice which stops it being an abstract entity and which in itself gives a sense of energy and momentum.
Key Planning Tools
Through my Diploma Journey I have developed an increased sense of fluency and confidence in my use of tools and frameworks. This in turn now gives a feeling of fluidity to the design process which initially felt so clunky and forced when I started out after my PDC. This sense of confidence also seems to open up new space for learning and development, which is crucial to me. When you have to think less and the nuts and bolts of designing you can think more about thinking!
I now regard my Diploma as a starting point. When I started out it felt huge and insurmountable but now I see it as a point on a journey, and this point in itself cannot conceivably support everything that I want to learn. In that sense each design may only represent small steps forward and that is fine. As soon as I realised that I didn’t have to do everything and that actually what I wanted most of all was to do small things but to do them well I felt much less daunted by my Diploma. Also those small targets of personal learning can represent huge steps in individual change and development.
Input / Output
For me the Diploma has become very much about learning and growing but I have come to appreciate now much that takes place within the context of a wider community. In relation to this I am committed to asking what I can contribute so that the communities that I am engaged with can flourish.
Increasingly I appreciate, as a result of my Diploma, that learning outcomes are not always predictable but that’s a thing to be celebrated for the possibility that it affords.
During the later stages of my Diploma I have felt a real sense of energy and momentum. I acknowledge how enlivening that has been and therefore want to see ways to maintain and grow that energy once my Diploma is complete. I can see that a large contributor to that has been the way that Permaculture has become much more central to my life. I can see that feeling of something which is integral for me to have a sense of purpose that in turn fosters a feeling of energy and momentum.
The most overwhelming sense that I take away from my Diploma is of Permaculture being something which is integral to my life and which can be integrated into everything. The Diploma, and the PDC before that, is just the beginning and the excitement now lies in the possibility of what lies beyond.
I feel that I have learned so much as a result of my Diploma. I love the body of work that I have created within my portfolio and am excited and curious about where it will take me next.