Facilitator Livelihood Pathway design – Full

Read the Design Summary first


I did my first PDC at a point when I was considering a new direction in my livelihood. Permaculture captured my imagination, particularly around people-based designing, partly as a way of deducing and designing this new direction. Facilitation and teaching has always been something I have had an aptitude and enthusiasm for and I have been involved in numerous alternative learning situations, although never as a full-time job.

When the People and Permaculture Facilitators Training Course came up I was thrilled as it perfectly met the two functions I was after in one go – namely increasing my People and Permaculture and my facilitation knowledge, experience and skills, as well as being a gateway to this as a right livelihood. Enthusiastic as I was, I still went into the course without the self-confidence that I was anywhere near this becoming a reality. The journey of the course and this design have taken me a long way towards realising my dream and building my confidence.

This design was a ‘requirement’ of the course, but it is one I would have almost certainly started anyway.

The Design

I decided to follow the pattern of the anchor point sessions that we were having on the course so that I could harvest and use the inspiration that came from each of these. As I had used the design web several times myself already I wanted to try out some different techniques too.

ReflectionSo I started with reflecting on my current situation. I wasn’t sure what to reflect on, but in the end reflected on my experience so far. I also reflected on a question suggested by Pauline looking back on where I was exactly one year ago.


AppreciationI then took the time to appreciate everything that had bought me to this point. I also came up with a couple of actions to show appreciation to myself and others.


PauseI took quite a lot of pause time at the beginning of my design as I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the course and was concerned about finding time to do this design. It felt good to be able to count this pausing as part of my designing, so I could still consider myself as making progress!

VisionI was struggling to clarify the vision for my design, feeling like what I was coming up with was really vague and therefore not very motivating. I shared my frustrations with Demian and he introduced me to the idea of the Golden Circle, where the why of your vision is the most important followed by the how and then the what.

Golden Circle

I had been very much focussing on the what so I took some time to digest this advice and have a think about my why. I found it a really useful approach and came up with lots of different whys, but getting them into one succinct sentence was challenging! So I decided to let it go for a while and whilst I was out on a walk the perfect sentence came to me, encapsulating my inspiring vision. I have still kept the details around the edge.


HelpsFor the helps anchor point I wanted to try something different from just brainstorming with a mindmap, so I used one of the session suggestions and tried drawing things which represented each help. I found this a bit broad though, so I also annotated the drawings with how they could help. All this drawing also inspired me to present all of my other anchor points beautifully too. This helped increase my creativity and my positivity towards the design.

I found doing the helps really beneficial as at that point in the course I was feeling a bit at a loss as to how I was going to carry this on when I got home, but I found it really easy to come up with lots of helps, so realised that I did have a lot of resources I could draw on.

Helps #1 Helps #2

LimitsI started capturing my limits quite early on as the course was stretching a lot of my edges, making them pretty clear! So I noted down all the ones that came up. The context also meant that the focus of my limits is very personal, rather than physical.

I was interested to find that one of the limits linked back to my reflection on where I was a year ago and I wonder whether it might have been that start of that pattern.


IdeasI had been noting down any inspiration and ideas I had as I went along, but I also sat down and spent time blue sky thinking too, trying really hard as Peter suggested to think outside the box and explore the marginal, using the anchor points I had already done as inspiration. I had a revelation during one of these sessions when I realised the design was not just about me delivering courses, but also my pathway of growing and developing as a facilitator (which seems obvious now!).


PatternsA lot of the patterns were captured during the sessions on this anchor point,  I came to writing them up after a session on the shadow side and handling emotions.  We had had a discussion that it is not helpful to label emotions positive or negative, as they are all valid reactions to experiences and situations. So similarly I realised that I did not want to label my patterns spirals of abundance or erosion, but merely considered them in two different directions.

Patterns #1 Patterns #2

PrinciplesMy approach to the principles anchor point was inspired by Angela sharing that she always put all of her ideas through all of the principles and ethics and if they didn’t meet them then she discarded them. So I gave this a go with all of the ideas that I had come up with so far. I found it a very interesting process, I wasn’t always sure if an idea did meet a principle, but I was pleased at how many of the principles they did meet.  It was also great for inspiring me on ways I could take ideas forward using certain principles as guidance.

I found that on the ethics Earthcare and Peoplecare came naturally, but I hadn’t always considered Fair Shares and so I drew circles where I wanted to explore the implications of this ethic further.


PatternsI noticed a pattern as I was doing this that with this design I really wanted to integrate it into my life, taking advantage of the opportunities that arise rather than having to start completely new things. This shows in the fact that nearly every idea meets Integrate rather than Segregate.


This was as far as I got on the FiT course with the designing. Although I did have a reflection session by presenting my progress so far to the rest of the course.

Presenting my design so far

After I presented my design everyone reflected back phrases that had landed with them. I found this really powerful so wanted to include them here.

  • Started slowly and gained momentum
  • Helped me feel less lost
  • Feeling a need for functions
  • Limits into bubbles
  • Letting go, my vision fell into place
  • The vision came together on a walk
  • Meeting and integrating my needs in the community
  • Understanding why it is permaculture
  • Took time for pause
  • Making my design pretty
  • Where was I one year ago
  • Enjoying and getting into it
  • Using pause
  • There are loads of helps
  • Realising I have to work on myself as a facilitator, personal development
  • Noting down the limits in an ongoing way to capture them when they are noticed

ActionAfter the course I took one of my actions, which was to give myself time to reflect on, digest and write up all of my learnings into a form I could easily use in the future. I am very glad I did this and it has been so useful already.

Example of notes written up - design web learnings

Example of notes written up – design web learnings

After I had organised and digested all of my notes I went back through my design so far. I was so excited about the possibility of actually making part of my right livelihood from being a permaculture designer and teacher that it rather overshadowed all of my other diploma designs for a while!


I reflected on the design as I went through it and added a few more things onto the Helps anchor point, but then I was at a bit of a loss of what to do next. I decided to brainstorm possible next steps, which really helped me see the way forwards.

PrinciplesI decided to start with counting up the principles and ethics score of each of my ideas, but I discovered a certain resistance to the results that emerged. I realised that some of the ideas were important for other reasons, or if they didn’t contribute to all three ethics they definitely didn’t contravene them!  For example, setting up a local permaculture facilitators group did not actively support Earthcare, but it didn’t cause environmental harm either!

ActionAs I still wasn’t any clearer on which ideas I should take forwards I decided to try and adapt the action chart that Diego and Demian had shared in their design presentation. So I ranked all of my ideas against time (when they should happen) and the amount of effort they required. It was an interesting exercise, mostly to discover that I had already mentally ranked them and put those that would take more effort further into the future!

An effort vs time chart

IntegrateI still wasn’t that clear on my way forwards, but I thought things might become a bit clearer if I worked out what the main functions of my design were. This turned out to be a lot more straight forward than I was expecting, due to Demian’s golden circle of vision, the purpose of my vision was more or less my key functions too, plus a couple of other things which had emerged as important.

I wasn’t completely sure whether ‘Further integrating my life’ was a function or just something that was an overall aim of permaculture designs, but I decided to leave it in anyway.

Key Functions

As I had got a bit fixated on the challenge of working out which were the key ideas to take forward I decided to try some colour coding. So with a different colour for each function I went through all of my ideas adding the colours of the functions they met (see previous ideas photo). When I finished doing this I still wasn’t sure what it had shown me, but it came in useful later.

IdeasI also started a further ideas sheet to capture others that came up.

Further ideas

IntegrateNext I decided to write some SMART or WISE goals for each of my functions to help to ground them and make them measurable. I made a really good start on this and it helped make it feel more real. I didn’t manage to complete all of them because I didn’t have the explanation of WISE goals with me and I was having a day off of computers. I was recommended WISE goals when I started a discussion on the diploma facebook group about the challenge of writing SMART goals for people-based designs.

This was the end of my first major session on the design after which I went away and did other things, but it was always there in my mind. One of the key things which I realised over this time was how much I needed to visit the momentum anchor point! And how I needed to build myself a support system around this design, like I had around my whole diploma.


I took the initiative before my next focussed designing session and asked if people wanted to have a regular contact group, which I was hoping to use to check in with others on how my design was progressing. A few people said yes, but even I didn’t get round to emailing the group my update, although the half finished draft of it has been very useful for this write up!

MomentumI started my second big session on this design with the momentum anchor point, as I felt this was really important. I found it really useful to think about and to go through the momentum questions in People and Permaculture. 


IntegrateNext I went back to Integrate and worked out that there were three main systems I needed one for delivering courses, one to support me and one to continue developing myself as a facilitator. Then the colour coding of ideas came in useful by letting me see which ideas met 3+ functions. I used a combination of this, the results of running the ideas past the principles and ethics and also my intuition and common sense on what would make a successful system to select which ideas to take forwards.  This still felt relatively random, but I had to make some decisions and I tried to take as much into account as I could.

I mapped them out with how they interlinked (green) and which functions they met to try and ensure that each function was met by multiple elements and each element supported multiple functions. The functions were definitely all supported by multiple elements, but not all of the elements supported multiple functions, such as putting aside a pot of money for training courses, but I felt they were very important elements to the success of the system and therefore I included them anyway.

Systems and elements

ActionFrom this I then put together an action plan of when things would and should happen. I found that there was not too much that I could put on to it to begin with as it depended how things evolved.

Action plan

ActionI then moved on to implementing the design for a while, although not in a particularly structured way. So rather than trying to plot all their progression chronologically I will explain the remainder of the design process I have gone through and then explain some of the outcomes individually.

In January I reviewed the actions I had written on my action plan for that month and aimed to complete them.

ReflectionAfter a while of actions I used the opportunity of a train journey to have another review session. I was pleased to discover that despite feeling like I had been ignoring it, quite a few things had actually happened and quite a lot of progress was being made! I discovered that there were quite a few things that had changed in my situation, making some of the ideas not relevant any more. For example, I had given up writing for the Transition Social Reporters blog and we had decided to give the Nearly Wild Explore days a break until the Summer. And other ideas and opportunities had also arisen.

AppreciationAfter reflecting I wrote myself a rather large list of next steps! But I made a start on them straight away by doing do a Reflection and Appreciation on my progress. This was lovely because I had discovered I was doing much better than I thought!

LimitsA few weeks later I set aside a whole day for focussing on this design. It was great to spend some time focussing on it and I managed to complete a lot of actions. I also did a reflection on the limits I was experiencing and my subsequent needs on my People and Permaculture Facilitator pathway. This was requested by Looby, but was really useful for me to reflect on personally too. I would really like to work on these limits for the next design cycle to help build more momentum. I also updated my timeline and reviewed and updated my list of actions.

IntegrateI then went back to my goals and filled in the more intangible ones that I had left for using WISE goals. However, on looking at the WISE goals again, I found that they were actually more outlining essentially a permaculture approach and wouldn’t serve the same function as SMART goals. So I attempted to devise SMART goals for all of my functions.  I still haven’t manage to properly record my baseline for some of these goals, which means they are not very useful for evaluating progress at the moment!

ReflectionThrough the process of writing this design up I have again reflected, updated my list of actions and made a start on recording my baseline for some of my goals.


A People and Permaculture course in Norway

An idea arose from a discussion on facebook around the possibility of running a course in Norway. A group of interested people had a Skype call, which was quite nebulous and broad and a second skype just seemed to raise more questions. One of the challenges being the large number of people interested in being involved. After this there was a long pause until I reinitiated the discussions a few months later. This resulted in a meeting of just three of us who took the decision that we would be the core organisers of a two week course running in Norway next Summer 2015 and other people would be welcome as guest facilitators. Since then we have been having regular meetings and are following the design web to make this course a reality.

Getting support and sharing my thoughts

Over Christmas I took the momentum action of sharing the design so far with my mum to help her understand the process and my plans and I also shared it with a couple of friends who were interested in it. It was really useful to talk through my plans with others, but hasn’t actually led to me checking in with them on it.

The email support group also never got off of the ground, but I do now have a support buddy following her request for one and my enthusiastic response. We just have a chat when we feel the need for support and so far it is working well, although the unstructured approach is not necessarily encouraging me to get on with things.

Further training and experience

I started with some research into the different training courses I was interested in attending. One of them clashed with another plan I already had, and the other two combined still came within my annual budget, so I decided to go for them both. So I have now arranged to shadow Aranya on a PDC he is running in October and following a lot of research and organising I am attending a one day Non-violent Communication course with my friends in July.

Since then Looby has also extended the invitation to get involved with a course she is running before the UK Permaculture Convergence in September. So I am still exploring how I can be involved with that.

Nearly Wild

One of my main ideas for integrating this design into the rest of my life was to run sessions at Underhill Farm and as part of Nearly Wild. There was a school group of Korean WWOOFers visiting Underhill Farm and I planned a session for them, but it never came about as the way they needed to work was so different from what I had anticipated.

I have also made progress on developing ideas for Nearly Wild courses. I had a stroke of inspiration in March as to how it could all work together and I have talked to Steve about it. I now just need to find the time to work up the Exploration Courses as an ‘approach’ to market and then get people to choose what topic they would like to have within that! There is also the potential for running an Introduction to (People) Permaculture course of some kind at Underhill, but I also need to find the time to work this idea up.

As a linked idea I am also going to look at running Nearly Wild experiences based on People and Permaculture at the Nearly Wild Camping location I am going to be running where I live.

Making links through Shropshire Permaculture Network

I had already offered to host the Shropshire Permaculture Network at my house in March and so I offered to do a workshop for anyone who was interested. I sent a list of possible topics for people to choose from and the answer came back as a ‘Wild Edges’ workshop. I based a lot of the ideas on Glennie Kindred’s Wild Edges book and it went down very well, with 13 participants wandering around barefoot, observing nature, foraging and thinking about the rhythms of nature. I managed to capture some feedback from a few participants too, which was very useful.

From this I have also met other permaculture facilitators in the Shropshire network and have an avenue for promoting courses through.

Investigating diploma mentoring

One of my ideas which I wanted to explore further was offering some kind of mentoring for people pre- or early diploma, particularly with people-based designs. This was in response to a leak I had experienced. I decided to moot my idea on the diploma facebook group and I got a varied and interesting response and discussion. It helped me to clarify that the two areas I could offer mentoring in would be support after a PDC on which pathway to follow next and also people-based designing guidance. I still need to investigate the potential for these further.

Thriving Ways

On my People and Permaculture Facilitators course we also did a big group design on our collective future as People and Permaculture Facilitators. I was part of a group of participants who at the end of the course volunteered to carry on this process and make it happen.

To begin with this felt very broad and not easy to use or link to this design, but in the last few months it has clarified itself into a collective of People and Permaculture facilitators with methods of collaborative promotion and support, called Thriving Ways. So suddenly it is very relevant and useful to this design and will definitely be incorporated into future action plans.

Links with other designs

One of my other diploma designs is around helping to manage the change of ownership of a local garage. The pathway forwards has not been decided yet, but if they do follow the employee owned route then I might potentially have paid work giving them some training around People and Permaculture topics.

Overall Evaluation

Design Framework Evaluation: Design Web

I really enjoyed using and exploring the Design Web as part of this design, especially as I started it on a course where it was being taught.

I felt it worked really well and I often found that moving on to a different anchor point helped to overcome any challenges or obstacles I was experiencing.

I did however once again get a bit bogged down in the Integrate anchor point and making it into an action plan. I think this is partly because I feel this a pivotal point in the design where you make decisions and shape the onward path, therefore I really want to get it right and master it and I am not happy with uncertainties.

Tools used Evaluation

Design tools evaluation

Design Process Evaluation

What went well?

  • Trying lots of different tools and techniques
  • Had lots of interesting insights and revelations along the way
  • It has set me on my path and there are quite a few actions in the offing
  • Designing while on a permaculture course and therefore immersed in permaculture and lots of inspiration
  • Having a group of other people on a similar pathway

What was challenging?

  • Deciding which ideas to take forwards, understanding what is permaculture and what is just designing
  • Maintaining momentum, finding regular time to check-in
  • Establishing a support system
  • Deciding what were realistic goals
  • A lack of clarity in the bigger picture design, made it more challenging to integrate it into my personal one
  • Being a pioneer in people-based permaculture facilitation – less examples to follow or opportunities to apprentice
  • Establishing something locally

What would I do differently next time?

  • I would transfer my action plan into a mind map and also schedule tasks directly into my diary
  • Give more priority to actions which enable and support other actions, which one do I need first, eg support system
  • Make sure I had some small, easy actions to get me rolling
  • Explore my limits around earning money, so I can better allocate my time between paid and development work
  • Spend time finding out how others approach creative ideas weeding using permaculture
  • Try and incorporate more multiple intelligences into my designing to enhance creativity


Quite a lot has moved on with this design since I wrote it up. I would like to revisit it maybe as part of a wider livelihoods design after I have handed in my portfolio.

Facilitating on the 7 ways to think differently course

Facilitating on the 7 ways to think differently course

The course in Norway was postponed for a year, as the host would have had a few month old baby so it wasn’t very practical. I have, however, apprenticed on the 7 ways to think differently course with Looby and Peter and then co-facilitated it with Looby this March, which went really well and has really motivated me to continue down this livelihood path. I hope to run more 7 ways courses in the future. I have also been approached by a couple of other people about running courses with them and will be apprenticing on the Social Permaculture course this year, so hopefully this design will continue to evolve and grow. I am also still an active part of Thriving Ways and I hope that we will start seeing lots of yields from it soon.

As well as apprenticing I have continued my training with a course in compassionate communication, a year long programme in nature connection and cultural repair and lots more experience through my diploma!

I have discovered that once I have completed my diploma I can become a diploma tutor and that is definitely an option that appeals to me, so I will be looking into that option as well as considering other forms of mentoring that I might be able to offer.

Diploma Support Day design – Full

Read the Design Summary first.


As a result of my Action Learning Pathway Design and sharing my first diploma tutorial with Deborah I am part of an active Guild, which meets once a month. We have a shared dinner, each go through the Action Learning Questions and generally chat and support each other. There are now four of us in the Guild, having started with just two.

We all find the Guild gatherings very supportive and inspiring, but we found that we didn’t really get time to properly see each others designs, so we decided to have an extended Action Learning Guild (aka Support day) to have more time to share our designs. So in October 2013 the three current Guild members had a wonderful day together. We definitely wanted to have another one and realised, as we were reflecting together at the end of the day, that we were essentially designing the next one anyway, so why not get the additional yield of a design for our diplomas?

By the time we got round to it we had a fourth member of the Guild. With Deborah and my IPA’s looming we decided to have a full day of designing together in the hope that that would be the majority of the work.

Continue reading

Alumni Network design – Full

Read the design summary first

The Design

I would like to tell you a story, so pull up a chair, make yourself comfortable and I will begin…


It all began as a design task for a Sector39 PDC on designing an alumni network for the graduates of Sector39 permaculture courses.

Or, it all began in May 2012 on a farm in the Welsh borders with a 2 week PDC where our narrator, unsure of the next steps in her voyage of life, got inspired and empowered by the ability of permaculture to make things happen! To cut a long story short she ended up trying to set up a new life in that area and to continue her journey of permaculture discovery. She knew that there were lots of other people in the area who had done PDCs, but how to find them? She didn’t know, so she asked her PDC tutor Steve Jones. He told her a few people, but it all felt a bit awkward and difficult. Out of this confusion a seed of an idea emerged – there should be a way for people who have done Sector39 courses to get in touch with each other, so that they don’t finish their PDCs and feel a bit lost and alone when they go back home to ‘reality’.

So our narrator took this idea to Steve who could see its potential. As fate would have it, it coincided with another discussion about what design tasks could be set for the modular PDC Steve was running at the time, and the problem is the solution, so it began…


So the wheel of the year turns and we find ourselves in January 2013 on a PDC weekend. All the students were given the choice of two design tasks and three people chose to join our narrator in designing her vision. So let us meet the players.

  • Nia True wanted experience of people-based design and had been wondering whether this idea existed already.
  • Gemma Jerome already had lots of other experience of working with communities and this was where her interest was focused.
  • Paul Stocking is a community artist, although he was most used to working alone, he felt that connections and people were the edges which he needed to stretch next.
  • And then our narrator, Kerry, who had felt the lack of this network and wanted to make it a reality, which meant being closely involved in its designing and implementation, even though she wasn’t on this course.

Before the weekend drew to a close a plan of action was decided on. Using the SADIMET handout the surveying stage was sorted into four sections, with one person responsible for starting each:

  • defining an alumni network & researching existing ones
  • surveying Sector39 to set the ‘context’ of the design
  • preparing a Client Interview for Steve Jones; and
  • preparing a Client Interview for all the alumni (Kerry’s role)
The whole PDC group

The whole PDC group – on the front row from left to right – Nia, Gemma and Kerry and on the far back right is Paul.

Kerry: I was very aware during the whole design process of letting the group take their own path and make their own decisions. I wanted to be an equal group member, not a leader and was very conscious that given my greater designing experience it would be very easy to take over. As part of this I asked everyone to share why they chose this design and what they wanted out of it, so that I could name this situation and we could all get the yields we wanted. 

I was pleased with how the first discussion went and how the group was working together, although I was worried that Paul wouldn’t get to play his full part as he was quite quiet and the least experienced in people systems amongst three strong women!

And once again I was frustrated by the SADIMET design handout and how land orientated it was. I was pleased to be able to offer my experience to help work round this.


The group of designers lived far and wide across the land, so they couldn’t meet up in between the monthly weekends. But in the modern digital age that challenge was easily overcome through virtual meetings on skype and sharing documents on google drive. However, not all of the group were familiar and comfortable with these, which inevitably led to a degree of segregation even though every effort was made by the others, as we shall see.

So their first virtual meeting came to pass, through the magic of the internet. One of the group couldn’t find their magic word , but the intrepid members who did make it had a look through everyone’s work so far, tweaked it and then decided which path to take next.

The skype meeting worked really well, apart from Paul not being able to join us. We got on well and worked together smoothly and with fairly equal contribution. I was very grateful to Nia for offering to take on some of my action points, as I had quite a few! In the end I only had to put the questions for the alumni into an online survey for everyone to test.

They tried to have a second meeting, but this time someone else had to rush away at the last minute. Nevertheless the yields were good, everyone was in the loop and further decisions were made. Following the meeting, the survey and an introductory email was send to all of the Sector39 alumni to collect their resources, limits and preferences, with a mighty 52 responses.

Principle - Use and Value DiversityPaul was struggling to understand the design process and our aim. On reflection I believe he just did not think linearly which made me feel like he was going off on tangents, which I struggled with as I was quite determined to follow SADIMET step by step and not jump into designing early. I did try to explain things to him, but in hindsight still very much from my perspective without recognising and valuing a diversity of approaches.


Paul couldn’t make their next gathering, but they did a Client Interview with Steve anyway,  all taking notes on different sections in recognition of the diversity of perspectives on a shared experience. The great breadth of knowledge they had gathered was the then distilled into a basemap – a snapshot of the situation now.

Basemap - goal

Goal – Click to enlarge

Basemap - current situation

Current situation – Click to enlarge

Basemap - values

Values – Click to enlarge

Basemap - resources

Resources – Click to enlarge

Basemap leaks

Leaks – Click to enlarge

Basemap constraints

Constraints – Click to enlarge

The three women stayed together that night, with multiple yields including getting to know each other better and having more informal discussions about the design.

Principle - Use small and slow solutionsI find these informal discussions are where some of the most valuable ideas and insights come from. I think the Client Interviews (Steve and wider alumni) captured lots of useful information and generally confirmed what we had already been thinking, which was reassuring. In hindsight one of the things we didn’t survey was what facilities and organisations already existed that fulfilled similar roles or that we could utilise as resources, this lack of information hampered us later on and meant we may have missed some potential small, slow solutions.

Paul traversed the country roads to join the gathering the next day. After filling him in and adding his thoughts to the basemap, we presented it to Steve, who agreed it matched his perspective.

An important decision was made this day, since the beginning there had been many discussions of the word alumni, what it meant to people and whether it was right. After reflecting, the group decided Friends of Sector39 was a clearer and more welcoming name.

But time was drawing in, the design was to be presented at the next gathering, so to speed things on their way the group decided to do some individual analysis to combine on the final weekend.


As it often goes no-one found  time to do much analysis in advance, so our narrator stacked functions when staying with Nia on the eve of the final weekend. They tried to do some analysis using Aranya’s book and after much head scratching the functions of the design emerged.

  • Increasing the yields for Steve from the resource that is the Friends of Sector39
  • Increasing the yields of the Friends of Sector39 network for it’s members

It was great to do the analysis together as I had struggled with applying the mainly land-based explanations to our design and muddling through together was much easier! I also believe the analysis we did was better than what either of us would have produced individually. I was initially reticent to share the functions I had already thought of, as I wanted to see what Nia thought first, but all the other ideas seemed to be systems and elements.

Overnight the world turned white and no-one made it to the course, so it was postponed until next month. This bonus design time was not put to good use and when the final PDC weekend arrived there was a mere half a day to finish the design and prepare for presenting it. Time was of the essence so after explanations the group decided to plough on with the functions Nia and our narrator had devised. The group struggled to use SMART goals for this people-based design, but so as not to completely lose their function the group replaced them with another method of measuring the success of the design. which was doing an annual ‘informal survey’ of the Friends and Steve to check what was going well and what could be even better.

I found that coming up with SMART goals for people-based designs is more challenging as the yields and functions are often less tangible than a handful of carrots. We didn’t persist with them as we were short on time, but I wanted to find a good solution, so I asked on the diploma facebook group and got lots of useful advice, such as WISE goals (written, integrated, synergistic & expansive) and stars, whose use I tested in future designs. On reflection our method of measuring is pretty energy intensive and is actually more suitable for the ‘tweak’ stage. 

It was decided that all systems and elements had to fulfil both functions. And with no time left for the intended unboundaried ideas session, they were driven down a certain path. This path, however, was only there due to all the observation and consideration of the last three months. As both functions were around increasing yields they included the yields which would be gained from each element of the design.

Analysis process

To demonstrate the process. Systems and elements in the middle, functions down each side and the yields in between.

The time restrictions meant we didn’t have the space to be properly creative and explore all the options, it also made it less enjoyable. I could have chosen to spend more time exploring it myself in between sessions, but I wanted it to be a group design, not just mine.

But coming up with it wasn’t enough, the group now needed to explain it to others. So they created a flipchart with mindmaps of each element and how they would be implemented. This has been summarised below for your viewing pleasure.

Friends of Sector39 design

Click to enlarge and see the full design

The two phases were so named as Phase 1A would not finish before Phase 1B began!

I was quite pleased with the design and that it clearly met all the functions and needs. Although I felt if we had had more time we could come up with something even better. Reflecting now, it seems a pretty ambitious design.

Interestingly because I was intending to actually action this design, we automatically transformed it into a basic implementation plan rather than just a static design.

And so, the design was presented, to Steve and the rest of the course.

The reaction to our presentation was disappointing, I didn’t feel we put it across that well, but there was a real lack of enthusiastic response. After reflecting on this afterwards I decided that as we were actually intending to implement it, the design was much more realistic and practical, rather than exciting and visionary and that this was what it needed to be and would hopefully lead to greater success.

The design only included very basic details on implementation and as such didn’t provide easy momentum for making it happen once the demands of every day life took over.


Nia and our narrator were the only ones able to make it to the ‘launch’ at Steve’s Party  and with no time to prepare together the responsibility rested with our narrator for making it happen.

Principle - Apply Self-regulation and Accept FeedbackA summary and feedback sheet was put together to put up at the party, which had an added yield of being a good refresh of the design. To test the waters it was presented to the residential PDC course running at the time and the feedback was positive.

At the party, as always, plans changed, ending up with a presentation to everyone there, which despite a personal crisis resulting in entirely the wrong frame of mind, actually went quite well. A couple of routes forwards were suggested, including integrating with the Shropshire Permaculture Network or using Project Dirt. As it was beautifully sunny day no-one went inside and filled out the feedback sheets.

Launching the Friends of Sector39

Introducing our design to the guests at Steve’s party

Maybe the lack of feedback was also due to the fact that it was a party and therefore people weren’t in that kind of headspace. Several talked to me personally, but due to the above mentioned challenge and the fact that it was a party I didn’t manage to remember that much useful information.

Despite my best attempts to decentralise the implementation plan and our groups best attempts to decentralise the whole design and get lots of people involved it still ended up being up to me having to follow people up and put the effort in on the ground.


The impetus for the design rested with our narrator and personal circumstances meant she had low energy and motivation for taking it forward, but once she had decided to postpone the first eBulletin until the Autumn equinox everything seemed more manageable and the ball started slowly rolling again.

In September group contact was re-established and a plan for getting the first eBulletin out was devised by Gemma and our narrator, which included dividing the workload in two so it could be worked on independently.

An executive decision was made to put the Directory of Friends on Project Dirt, because Steve had pre-empted the decision in an email he sent out to everyone and it was already established so required minimum effort. So after liaising with the organisers it was decided that Friends could sign up and befriend Sector39 on there, that way everyone would be able to find each other. So the group all signed up to start it off!

Then a series of obstacles presented themselves, firstly trying to get the relevant emails off Steve to set up the googlegroup, then by limitations on entering the emails on to googlegroups and finally trying to get news off Steve to go into the eBulletin. But eventually it all came together and out it went.

I was pleased with the eBulletin, unfortunately the response was fairly low, mostly people asking me to change their email address, but Steve liked it. Thankfully, we already had a volunteer to edit the second eBulletin, but no-one has volunteered since. I tried to stack the functions unfulfilled at the launch into the eBulletin, but got no response.

Co-ordinating the eBulletin remotely with Gemma when we were both busy was quite challenging and meant I ended up doing the lions share. I also decided to reduce the burden on myself by not fighting to get it out exactly on time and by taking the responsibility for making decisions myself so I didn’t have to wait for others input.

Because I was planning on using this design for my diploma and because I had come up with the idea in the first place it ended up being me keeping up the momentum. At this stage I was still hoping that I just had to deal with the growing pains and then it would roll on itself.

I found that the designs weren’t in a very easy format for me to refer back to. 

To help those that came after her, our narrator put together an eBulletin template to guide people on their way.

The Winter Solstice (second) eBulletin went out eventually, but our narrator had to do lots of chasing people up. By this point she was starting to question the wisdom of this path and where she might go next and so here we are, reflecting and telling stories.


To write this story I have again reflected on the design and results myself and have also sent an email round requesting feedback from my design group and a few others people I know in the Friends of Sector39 network.

The insight that I have reached through this reflection process is that there is currently a leak when people finish a PDC and aren’t sure what to do next to continue their permaculture journey. I believe that there should be a greater diversity of post PDC pathways offered on top of the current one of, start the diploma straight away. Some with a slower route to starting the diploma and others that don’t involve the diploma at all. These probably exist already, but aren’t publicised. Exactly how and what this would look like would need another design to clarify.

The mistake I made in this design was moving straight from my motivation of feeling lost and unsure of my pathway after my PDC to an assumed solution of an alumni network for Sector39. It is actually a potentially broader pattern and there are many possible solutions to it, which should be explored.

I shared some of these thoughts on the diploma facebook group and the ensuing lively discussion helped me to clarify my thoughts, so thank you to those involved.

I have decided to self-regulate and accept feedback that our design wasn’t gathering momentum and therefore I am not going to keep putting energy into it, but I would like to use my learnings and potentially some of the resources in other contexts, including the one above.

Overall Evaluation

Design Framework Evaluation: SADIMET

As I had found previously it was a bit clunky for using on people systems. I find it a bit too rigid for accommodating all of their different variables. This is compounded by the fact that most explanations on its use are very land orientated.The survey stage works okay, but the analysis is quite challenging to get your head around if you don’t have experience of it – trying to identify functions and make SMART goals.

It didn’t feel like there was a good space in the structure for capturing and generating ideas, all the way through we were trying to hold back from designing too early. In hindsight and with more experience under my belt I would have set up a cycle rack for parking all the ideas we came up with so as to capture and store that energy.

We more or less combined our Design and Implementation planning stages. The flow of the process and the relationships between the elements was too important a part of the design for us not to put it straight into a time frame.

The Maintain stage was never really reached and Evaluation is being covered in this write up.

SADIMET is a very linear (or at least step by step) process and therefore not so great for people who don’t think linearly and for the creativity that flows in lots of different patterns. I am sure there are techniques that could be used in conjunction with it to alleviate this, but equally the design web is specifically designed as a non-linear process.

Tools used evaluation

It was challenging to design long distance and therefore virtually. I didn’t feel skype was a great medium for it as it encourages a more linear and less creative approach. Especially as we weren’t using video. It also excluded people who were less technologically able. However, it was free and did enable us to have meetings in between weekends.

Flipchart mindmaps
These are good for thinking when you are together as a group and are useful for presenting, but they are difficult to then share with each other and to be easily added to. They are also no good for including in diploma portfolio write ups as they are too big!

Online mindmaps (specifically mindmeister) were quite hard to follow, were constantly trying to get you to sign up and were also very difficult to then convert into any other form, such as printing off. It was however, the best solution we had at the time for sharing the basemap, which was in the form of a mindmap.

Group working
This is great for increased ideas and creativity and I really enjoy designing as a group and valuing the diversity of skills and perspectives. However, you need the time and processes in place to ensure that you use everyone’s skills to their full. I feel we really missed out on using Paul’s skills as he is very creative and capable, but didn’t contribute much to the design.

Survey Monkey
This was very useful for sending out the survey to lots of far flung people, it is also free and I was familiar with it. However, with the free version I couldn’t download the results so had to just take screen shots which were more awkward for sharing with others and more time consuming for me.

We decided to use them because they are free, you can control who is a member of them and all members can contact the whole group, which was important when having rotating editorial control. It was however hugely time consuming and fiddly to put the email addresses on to it. And I don’t think new graduates are being added to it.

Overall design reflections

What went well?

  • We worked well as a group, trying hard to be inclusive
  • We did a very thorough and diligent attempt at using SADIMET for a people-based design, working things out as we went along
  • Some of it was implemented and resources were created

What was challenging?

  • Limitations on time in general and time physically together
  • Using SADIMET for a relatively abstract people-based design
  • Sharing the workload, especially in the Implementation phase
  • Responding to change – trying to doggedly carry on with the design we had constructed despite changes in circumstances
  • The initial survey of the alumni showed a will to engage and network, but we didn’t find the spark to ignite this into action

What would I do differently next time?

  • I would ensure that I had identified the why and motivations behind the design and was designing the right thing
  • I would survey the resources and limits for the design process too such as limits for those implementing it and resources available for using during designing
  • I would ensure the final base map and implementation plan were going to be easily referred to and used at a later date
  • I would try and integrate more learning/thinking styles into the design process.