My Top 5 Diploma Resources

It has been interesting to consider the resources that I have used during the diploma. I haven’t actually used a massive range as the ones that I have used are packed full of masses of knowledge and techniques that I had more than enough ground truthing to do with just a few as well as careful attention to all of my personal learnings.

  1. People and Permaculture by Looby Macnamara – so many ideas, shifts in thinking, tools and techniques to play with. It has been an invaluable resource in my exploration of the design web. I will continue to learn from it for years to come I imagine.
  2. Permaculture Design by Aranya – my other key guide to the other main design framework I have used SADIMET as well as valuable techniques for land-based permaculture which I wasn’t introduced to on my PDC. A really thorough and easy to follow guide.
  3. Permaculture Magazine – so much inspiration and knowledge on so many things relevant to permaculture, especially now that you have access to the entire back catalogue! So often I have picked up inspiration for a design in one of the articles.
  4. Letting in the Wild Edges by Glennie Kindred – this book really helped me to name and explore my passion for the edges between human and more than human nature. Shifts in thinking and practical approaches, particularly for my land-based designs and health and wellbeing.
  5. Diploma facebook group – there are always interesting things appearing on there and if you ask a question you always get a whole range of really interesting responses. A very valuable community and pool of knowledge and experience.

Learning journal – themes, patterns and highlights

As part of my ALP design and supporting evidence I have reviewed my ‘learning journal’ entries from the last two and a half years and have pulled out the patterns, themes and highlights from them. My ‘learning journal’ consisted of two separate things, weekly check ins and recordings of my responses to the Action Learning Questions at each Action Learning Guild.

The email check-ins went to a small group of other diploma apprentices and were not ‘answered’, but witnessed. They were mostly a chance for personal reflection and also recording permaculture activity since the last one. I aimed to check in every Thursday and managed most of the time!

Themes and patterns throughout

  • Around checking in:
    • Checking in on Friday…
    • Sometimes not checking in for a few weeks
    • Not realising or valuing how much I had done until writing the check in, I came to recognise and anticipate this pattern as my diploma progressed
    • The pattern of weekly check ins and monthly ALGs really helped me to keep on track with where I was and what I wanted to do next, as well as providing a certain amount of motivation to do diploma work so that you had something to report!
    • I was good in my check ins at recognising and acknowledging other bits of designing and thinking that would potentially become designs in the future – there were many of these!
    • My check ins often prompted me to consciously pause and celebrate through enjoyable activities, although I did not always find it easy to identify ways to celebrate that did not involve buying things, eating sugar or drinking alcohol, none of which I wanted to over encourage with the diploma
    • My check ins normally included lots of appreciation
    • I was always amazed how quickly Thursdays and ALGs came round
    • I am always more positive and relaxed after reflection, pausing and checking in
  • Around sharing with others:
    • Really valuing sharing my diploma journey with Deborah and others.
    • Lots of inspiration and ideas came through talking to others about mine and their diploma journeys and hearing about others through check ins, ALGs and the diploma facebook group. I often found that I would learn from others learning, finding answers to questions and challenges I hadn’t even realised that I had until that moment.
    • I felt like I almost co-created the vision and approach to my diploma with Deborah and the rest of my ALG, as hearing theirs always influenced, enriched and diversified mine.
  • Techniques:
    • Recognising the value of focussing your awareness of something, whether you formally design it or not that observation shifts things
    • Experimenting, trying lots of different techniques and then reflecting on their success
    • Working on my diploma on the train was something I often did and it was normally very productive and enjoyable
    • I would always restart after a pause with a review of where I was on all of my designs
  • Patterns of activity:
    • At various points throughout the diploma being very busy and struggling to fit diploma work in, but at other times having lots of focussed diploma time
    • My diploma activity went in waves of outward activity, reflection and pausing. In the beginning I had a tendency to be frustrated with the lack of action and as I progressed I tended to not value action’ as permaculture designing
    • I found it challenging to find a comfortable balance between diploma work and paid work. My constant challenge in all of my ALQs was finding enough time.
  • Tutorials were always really useful. I was always well prepared with questions and always came away with really useful advice and more clarity over my next stage.
  • I often did not manage to reflect soon after doing something and therefore forgot or lost some of the learnings. I did recognise this pattern and made an effort to reflect as quickly as possible, but I still did not always manage.
  • Most of diploma work took a lot longer than I thought it would!
  • Throughout my diploma I would regularly reflect on my Health and Wellbeing and how my diploma was and could affect this
  • The process of reflecting often let solutions emerge, including by reframing the situation
  • One of my next achievable steps would always be to set a date for the next ALG! Good momentum!
  • Even in challenging times I still appreciated that I was still doing permaculture and making progress
  • I did not find as much time as I had envisaged during my diploma to explore permaculture resources not directly associated to a design and therefore to get inspired and have my horizons broadened
  • I really enjoyed the designing and generally had a lot of enthusiasm for the majority of my diploma

Themes and patterns over time and highlights

  • Struggling with version 1 of my ALP, finding it hard to grasp what I was trying to do
  • **Finishing the first version of my ALP and accepting that it wasn’t going to be perfect**
  • Initially I wasn’t recognising thinking and reflecting as ‘productive’ until it came to writing my check in and then I would realise how much I had done and worked out, even though I had not done ‘action’
  • Conscious incompetence around many aspects to permaculture thinking and designing
  • Experiencing guilt at not doing lots of diploma work and expressing this in check ins
  • Lots of permaculture thinking on all aspects of my life, increasingly framing things in permaculture terms
  • ** Decision to do the People and Permaculture Facilitators Training course**
  • Still struggling to grasp the point of the ALP and to find regular time for my diploma
  • I increasingly took the tools and learnings outside of the diploma into personal reflection and other situations
  • Challenging personal circumstances led to a disrupted several months, however I had already set quite a lot in motion which kept going for a while and then tailed off until I was ready to reconvene, with a big picture overview and lots of planning
  • About 6 months in I came to the realisation that I was not going to be an all singing, all dancing perfect permaculturalist by the time I finished my diploma, this was the start of a lifelong journey
  • There was a period of about a year in the middle of my diploma with lots  going on with lots of different designs on the go at the same time, it was sometimes challenging to keep all the threads together and also to recognise progress as energy was scattered, but I generally managed it well thanks to establishing an effective organising process.
  • Still struggling to find (prioritise?) time for reflection soon after doing
  • Reviewing and letting go of many ‘commitments’ and energy leaks in my life
  • As my diploma progressed I increasingly took ownership of the process and started tailoring things to suit my style and needs
  • When I started to get paid for permaculture designing I stopped thinking of it as diploma work, even if it was one of my portfolio designs!
  • **Lots of inspiration from the People and Permaculture Facilitators Training course**
  • I need more sleep and reflection time over winter
  • Permaculture became increasingly integrated into my life so my check ins became increasingly more diary like!
  • I came to value the process as much as the end goals and vision
  • I noticed a pattern of initiating lots of things and then not having the time to complete them!
  • I found it challenging to initially work out how to write my designs up until I found an effective pattern that was both creative and sharable
  • I wished I had thoroughly reflected/written up/ harvested learnings earlier in my diploma
  • Writing up involved way too much computer time, but I could not think of another solution that made it easily sharable with others
  • **IPA – 5 designs written up and approved – whoo!**
  • **I gave myself permission to pause and celebrate**
  • I got a little ‘bored’ after my IPA thinking I could do it now and then I started stretching some more edges!
  • I increasingly followed my energy of what I was interested in and motivated at the time
  • **Mine and Deborah’s article in Permaculture Magazine about the People care actions from our support day design**
  • **Design Web workshop at the 2014 UK Permaculture convergence**
  • I noticed a shift from the summer need to be active to a more reflective and writing up energy in the autumn
  • What the last couple of designs in my portfolio were going to be kept shifting
  • By this point I had finished the action stage for quite a few designs so I shifted to a pattern of intensively working on one design at a time
  • Really enjoying integrating nature connection work and permaculture
  • **Pausing due to moving house and Christmas**
  • Always slow to start writing up, but get more efficient as I get into the swing of it
  • Intensive writing up involves too much computer time for my liking and I am constantly trying to minimise it, but it is not always that easy.
  • I do not work well under time pressure, if I feel I have too much to do then I get stressed and less effective and creative. I need timelessness. I have got better at creating this even within tight deadlines.

An example email check in

The weekly check-in epic…

You know it’s going to be good when you go and get your list to help you write your check-in!

So after writing my last check-in I took some actions and then wrote a list of different reflection and planning actions that I could complete on my train journey down to London. And then I have had another day of permacultury activity, so that it doesn’t get too confusing I am going to do it on a design by design basis as I have tied up lots of little loose ends! But as a general reflection, I have been trying to reduce my commitments and to make more time to follow my energies and this has really freed up a lot of time and enthusiasm for my diploma, which is lovely! I have also just got distracted by lots of really interesting articles posted on the Diploma facebook group.

Okay so my Action Learning Pathway. I am not going to do a proper revisit of it until after my next diploma tutorial, but there are lots of things that are going to feed into that including the evolving visions from my ALGs and my new method of keeping a track of my multiple designs and what I need to do. This is working really well for me at the moment and I feel I am really starting to get some things together and that I am filling in lots of the gaps in various designs! It is also very useful from a ‘pause’ perspective so I can come back to it and quickly remind myself of where I am at on everything.

I have decided that I am going to try and write up a draft form of my design for my mums allotment ready for our next tutorial, so that I can get Looby’s feedback on it and I have also set a date for when I am going to do that.

Health and Wellbeing design I have written up my reflections off of the post-its and into a notebook so that they don’t get lost. I have also read through my notes from my last session, which was really interesting. I also had lots of good discussions at the weekend that helped me explore my thoughts around things. My next step for this I feel is to record what I have actually down so far in terms of anchor points and at least I have my weekly check-ins to use so it shouldn’t be too difficult! Oh and I also started my actions of connecting with my wild edges and the energy of the seasons more, by going out and collecting some seasonal decorations for my room, which is lovely 🙂

Bill and I have set a date for doing the ‘client interviews’ with the staff in his garage. I need to set some time to review the questions Bill has put together and also our observations so far.

Okay the design I have done the most on was the Friends of Sector 39 one. I got in touch with others in our design team and Gemma and I who had agreed to do the first eBulletin have been in contact to get things going. I made a decision to just go with using Project Dirt for people to put their profiles on as Steve had already pre-empted us, but also it was already established so requires less energy from us to set up and makes another link in the network. So I got in touch with them to work out the best way of grouping people and also to ask for some copy for the eBulletin from them, which I now have. I did a plan of what should go in the eBulletin and sent it to Gemma and we split it into two bits so we can both get on with it. So today I am going to pull everything together and write a first draft!

And finally the veg patch design. I tried to buy some A3 tracing paper in Shrewsbury, so I am going to have to get some online and I have just asked the diploma group if they know of a good online source for eco versions. On the train I started to plan how to ‘consult’ my house on what they would like out of the veg patch and also to record what I want, now I just want to do a bit of further tweaking on them using Aranyas book as a guide. I also went out today and took pictures (very bad at doing that!) and recorded some of the species there and tried to do a soil test. I think I came back with the conclusion that it is sandy, which is not AT ALL what I was expecting as I think it is generally clay around here. So there is a more detailed version in Aranya’s book I just need to find where the sheets he refers to are! I also did some ‘weeding’ and left it on the surface as a mulch and planted a few more salad seeds through it, which are now getting a good watering in!!

Oh yes well in other permaculture news I did a talk at the weekend with my friend about permaculture to some attendees at the Humanistic therapy conference, which I think went really well. I was really pleased with the feeling and structure of our talk and it was wonderful to hear all of the progress that has come out of our previous design and it was also really interesting to explore the edge between humanistic therapy and permaculture and to inspire some people with new ways of thinking.

Oh another reflection was that it worked really well having some tasks to do on the train as I had some nice clear head space to focus on them.

Right I think that is more than enough for now!!
I hope you are all fine and dandy and I look forward to seeing Deborah and Bill and hopefully Phil next week.