Membership Organisation Design – summary

A group design, all of us fairly new to permaculture and having never used the design web before. The purpose of the design was to assess and tweak the UK membership organisation for Humanistic Psychology practitioners to make it resilient and regenerative.

People based designDesign Framework: design webDesign for a clientGroup design

Design period: December 2012 to September 2013

Client: UK Association of Humanistic Psychology Practioners – UKAHPP (represented by Jessica Smith). They covered our travel expenses for the design weekend.

Why is this design included?

This the first time that I had used the Design Web and one of the first permaculture designs I ever did, as such there are interesting learnings to be derived from it. It has also been very successful, making a big difference to the working of UKAHPP, so I want to try and assess and capture some of the reasons for this.

Also I want to add to the diversity of the knowledge base of permaculture design examples publicly available. As the Design Web is a relatively new design framework there are very few examples available. Equally there are not that many people-based permaculture design examples, and I am not aware of any others for a membership organisation.


My personal aims for this design were to have a go at using the Design Web and putting my newly gained knowledge of People and Permaculture to the test. Also to support Jess, because I knew that UKAHPP was a big energy drain for her and I was excited about the potential for making a difference.

Key learning

Permaculture designing and perspectives are very powerful and can have many positive yields – generating spirals of abundance – even if the people using it are not experienced in it and the what is being designed is more unusual. So give it a go!

Top tips

  • Designing in a group with people both familiar and fresh to the situation works well
  • Designing for clients is a fantastic way of spreading permaculture understanding – do not just give them outcomes introduce them to the process too. This is much more likely to lead to continued yields too.
  • Make sure you visit all of the anchor points they are all valuable and an important part of the process
  • Integrating designing into other nurturing activities encourages creativity and higher yields

Design Tools used

Design Tools used

Skills practiced

Skills practiced


Earthcare – On the design weekend we eat vegan food and tend to hand make and repair things, so the context of the designing included earthcare. The designing did use a lot of paper, but after that it was mostly electronic and one of the outcomes of the design was transferring to electronic invoicing which will have saved lots of resources.

Peoplecare – There was lots of peoplecare in both the design process and the design itself. The design weekend was a wonderful nurturing weekend for all of us and the entire focus of the design revolved around improving the people care with the organisation in order to make it more regenerative. Examples of this included building in appreciation for people’s work and valuing the diversity within the organisation. Its yield is evidenced in the fact that people who were going to resign from committee positions, recommitted!

Fair shares – I cannot think of much fair shares in this design beyond the need to spread the workload from a few overworked people to a larger group. It would have been valuable to specifically consider all the ethics during the designing.


Use small and slow solutions  Catch and Store Energy

We used all of the principles in this design, looking through the lens of each one for ideas and insights. The two that felt most important to me in this design were catch and store energy and small and slow solutions. I felt that there was lots of enthusiasm and yields in the organisation that just weren’t being harvested and utilised and a few small, slow solutions (all they would have the energy for anyway!) would significantly increase the energy available in the organisation. The clearest example of this is the eBulletin requesting volunteers & keeping members engaged.

Design Process

Design Web Process

Writing up and Evaluation

I have written this design up quite a while after our initial designing weekend. This has allowed me to observe the impact of the design over a year. I am writing it up now for presenting at my Interim Portfolio Assessment.

We only completed half of the anchor points consciously, although others were visited subsequently anyway. This was because in order for the design to be successful all the members and particularly the movers and shakers of the UKAHPP needed to be on board and take ownership of the design. So us presenting them with an action plan was not going to be as effective as presenting them with a variety of options, so they could then take forward what worked for them.

Most of the design is included in this write up. I have included a bit less detail around the parts where I was not actively involved and I have not named anyone within the membership organisation. The UKAHPP permaculture audit report has been publicly available on their website, so I am allowed to share it all here.

Evaluation tools used

Evaluations tools used

Now go to the full design write up.

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