Action Learning Pathway – Full

Read the Design Summary first

Background

When I asked Looby Macnamara to be my tutor one of her requirements was that the first design I did was to design my ‘Action Learning Pathway’ through my diploma using the design web. Thankfully she gave me a list of questions for each anchor point to answer before our first tutorial. I can’t say I found this a very easy design to get started with, but I have definitely reaped many yields from it over the last two and a half years and I am very grateful for Looby initiating it.

The Design

First Version

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See the images in big.

First Year Review

Reflections

Review

Review

Letter of Appreciation to myself

Letter of Appreciation to myself

Second Version

See the images in big.

Design Diversity Evaluation

As part of my first version of my learning pathway I created the ‘Design Diversity Analyser’ to allow me to check out as I went how diverse my portfolio was. There were a range of criteria, such as design framework (with symbols) that went in the central window and then there was a card for each design with all of the applicable symbols on it, such as a web for the design web.

Broader diploma patterns

An overview of my diploma journeys themes, patterns and milestones can be found in my Learning Journal Summary.

Overall Evaluation

Design Framework Evaluation: Design Web

Design framework evaluation

Tools used Evaluation

Design tools evaluation

Design Process Evaluation

Design process evaluation

Facilitating the IPCUK Neighbourhoods design process – Full

Read the Design Summary first

Background

At the UK Permaculture Convergence in September 2014 I went along to a workshop about getting involved in making the International Permaculture Convergence happening in London in a years time hugely successful. This is going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I wanted to support the small staff team at the Permaculture Association in making it great. Joining a working group seemed to be the way forwards, but I was already feeling quite busy and reluctant to commit to something ongoing. So I got in touch with the Welcome and Wellbeing working group and offered to do a design for an aspect of the convergence. I felt that this would allow me to manage my time more effectively than having to participate in all of the working group activities. Out of the possible options to design I chose the Neighbourhoods as building community is something I am passionate about. It felt a little overwhelming to take individual responsibility for designing an aspect of an event this big and I also wanted as part of the process to ‘pay it forwards’ and share my learnings with others earlier on in the diploma process or with less experience of people-based designing. So I put out an invitation to the working group and on the diploma facebook group and got a very quick enthusiastic response from 5 other people, none of whom had used the design web before. In fact in the midst of all that I moved house and survived Christmas and had quite a long pause where I was kind of avoiding admitting to myself what I had taken on! But the suggested target of a first draft by the beginning of April started to loom large and with only 2 months to go before then and a design team recruited I jumped into action! I quickly realised that there was going to need to be lots of planning of how the designing was actually going to come about – designing the design process. And with one design still to do for my diploma I was immensely grateful when Looby, my tutor, suggested that I did this as my final design.

The Design

With such a sudden start and a short timeline we got things underway before I had a chance to really start the designing and it took a few weeks of short term, reactive designing to catch up with myself! You can click on a picture below to see it bigger or you can zoom in really close to them here.

From this design I produced a pattern design based on my experiences and learning, which can be used in the future for aiding similar designs.

Pattern design – online, collaborative designing with the design web

As a final evaluation step I have looked at whether I have met the SMART goals that I set myself.

  1. Sharing my experience and learnings of the design web and collaborative designing
    1. Everyone in the design team will have experienced a cycle of the design web by Sept 2015 – If they fill out the feedback survey then they will all have had the opportunity to experience the full cycle already, apart from Denise who hasn’t got involved.
    2. I will actively apply my previous learnings to the process and make them explicit where possible – I have definitely actively applied my previous learnings. I haven’t alway made them explicit, I feel that may have been a layer too many in the rest of the design teams learning process.
  2. Produce a successful IPCUK Neighbourhoods design
    1. Produce a first draft of the overall pattern of the design by April 2015 which then goes for feedback – this has been achieved
    2. Pattern and detail (full) design completed by September 2015 – this was mostly achieved
    3. Average rating of at least 8 out of 10 on IPC feedback – not able to know yet
  3. Improve my online group designing and facilitation
    1. The score my design team give me for facilitation has gone up by April 2015 and again by September 2015 – I didn’t do a baseline for this, but I have collected qualitative feedback. Only one person responded but they said that they had learnt a lot and were getting what they had hoped out of it.
    2. My star of facilitation ability has gone up from now by April 2015 and again by September 2015 – I did not get round to creating the star and I am unclear as to what I was intending to include on it. I do feel like I have learnt a lot from this design and therefore my facilitation skills should have improved.
  4. Enjoyable and creative process for everyone
    1. Enjoyment check-in each week for everyone in the design team confirms the overall enjoyment – I did this to a certain extent but I didn’t always ask explicitly. I asked in the April feedback survey, only one person responded but they gave it 8 out of 10.
  5. Produce a template for using the design web for online, collaborative, events design
    1. First draft of design web template produced by June 2015 with a second iteration by October 2015 – I have produced the first draft.

Overall Evaluation

Design Framework Evaluation: Design Web

This design was a system within a system, so I was using the design web to plan using the design web! It took me a while to get those different layers defined in my mind, but once I did it was very straight forwards to go through the anchor points designing the process. My familiarity with using the design web let me work through it efficiently and at the same time making sure I had considered all of the aspects. Using the design web for the neighbourhoods design was intentionally done to share my learnings and to introduce others to it. As such no-one else in the design team was familiar with using it. As one of the beneficial features of the design web is its non-linear nature I was reluctant to just walk through the anchor points one by one, as I wanted to demonstrate this. However, practically looking at one anchor point per week was the most straight forwards approach as people needed some introduction to them. I feel that the design web has been a great framework to use for the neighbourhoods design as it encourages bringing in existing learnings and highlights important areas to consider but is flexible enough to fit to any type of design including this one with both invisible structure and physical layout  designing needed. Introducing others to the design web has definitely improved my understanding of it, especially through having to answer detailed questions as to what we were doing and why. It is, however, challenging for some people who like to understand the whole process at the beginning, as it is dynamic and therefore you cannot say for sure what the steps will be.

Tools used Evaluation

Design tools evaluation

Design Process Evaluation

What went well?

  •  It has met my needs so far and allowed me to manage the process and produce a first draft on schedule
  • On the whole it has been enjoyable and creative
  • It really enabled me to pool and utilise my previous learnings and then pull them all together into a pattern design which can be shared
  • So overall lots of good yields
  • Made connections with many interesting people including the convergence team

What was challenging?

  • I experienced some frustration around not using more interesting tools and techniques in this process design, but it felt a bit unnecessary when the aim was making the neighbourhoods design diverse and I was limited on time
  • Needing to have finished before I began!
  • Vast quantities of information gathering needed at the beginning of the neighbourhoods design
  • Boundaries of the neighbourhoods design and responsibilities not clearly defined
  • Coming up with sensible SMART goals, my attempts to make qualitative information measurable just feel annoying to me and I don’t get round to doing the baselines! I need to find some meaningful ways of measuring.
  • Receiving feedback in a challenging format
  • Keeping clarity on and explaining to others the multiple aspects of the design

What would I do differently next time?

  • I would spend time considering meaningful measurement of my design goals and would make sure that producing the baseline was integral in that process
  • I would think abundantly and give myself at least a week to do the process design before jumping into the content designing, as there would still be abundant time and it would make for a much more enjoyable beginning.
  • Check-in with members of the design team regularly and explicitly on how things are going and whether they are experiencing any challenges
  • Check others understanding of what you are saying/suggesting when communicating online, as it is easy to misinterpret without intonation and body language

Garage design – Full

Read the Design Summary first

Background

On one of the PDCs that I helped out on I met Bill who was passionate about Permaculture and worked not far away from me. He subsequently became part of our ALG.

He owns a successful independent garage near to where I live, he had already integrated a fair amount of permaculture thinking into the way it worked, but he was looking to move towards retirement and reduced work hours and so he wanted to use permaculture design to enable this. As he was not experienced in people-based permcaulture designing he asked for my help in designing it. And as it was part of the business development he kindly offered to pay me for my time.

The Design

Overall Evaluation

Design Framework Evaluation: Design Web

I think the design web worked well for this design. With hindsight and more experience, as normal, I would probably choose to use it slightly differently. I used it quite linearly for this design, moving around the anchor points. This was partly as it was an easy way to introduce Bill to it.

I did however, build in regular reflections, as well as appreciation and pauses, which helped to keep up the momentum and for me to keep a handle on how it was progressing and tweak my approaches.

Tools used Evaluation

Design tools evaluation

Design Process Evaluation

What went well?

  • Lots of good designing
  • Worked well with Bill
  • Built in lots of People care
  • Direct communication through texting!
  • Tried a variety of good techniques
  • Collected and analysed a large amount of information
  • Preparing well for meetings

What was challenging?

  • Adequately responding to feedback from the system
  • Large quantities of information that I wasn’t familiar with
  • Unclear role as the process progressed
  • Identifying other peoples limits
  • Learning and guiding the process simultaneously
  • Trying to work with another consultant with a completely different (and incompatible) approach

What would I do differently next time?

  • Investigate and seek help on identifying other peoples limits who are key to the design
  • Be clear from the beginning what my role in the process is and who I am accountable to
  • Recommend having only one consultant for each aspect of a process, as two conflicting recommendations can be less useful than none

New bedroom design – Full

Read the Design Summary first

Background

This was the first design I actually started after my halfway assessment. I already had 3 designs more on the go and so I knew that I needed a couple more. In the spirit of my Action Learning Pathway design, following my energy and motivation, this design felt very appropriate as I had just decided to move and so I would be designing this anyway. Although I had not done an indoor spatial design before, in itself it did not feel like a big learning edge. I had been interested in trying a different design framework for a while, but had not found the right opportunity. This seemed like a great chance. It took me a while to choose which design framework to use. Appreciative enquiry felt too vague and CEAP also felt very basic and like I would just end up doing the design web, but tied to the ‘order’. REAP MORE and the Australian design cycle were the two I ended up with and REAP MORE was the most different and also had ‘instructions’ with it, so I decided to give it a go.

The instructions for the REAP MORE design framework that I followed

The instructions for the REAP MORE design framework that I followed

The Design

Below is a slideshow of the design, you can pause it on any of the images and you can see all of the handwritten items in bigger here. I have then gone on to documenting and reflecting on the design process as that was my key learning area for this design.

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Reason

ReasonI definitely felt a bit of frustration going back to the ‘beginning’ and the awkward conscious incompetence of using a new framework. I found it challenging to come up with a ‘reason’ I felt satisfied with as they were all very general and therefore I felt not very useful! I did try and generate more specifics by producing a mind map of what my needs are. It was interesting, as well as challenging to decide what was a need and to not just write down everything I already had on my ideas list! I felt it was a bit early on for me to easily identify the functions of the design, but I focused on the ‘why’ of the golden circle as that is often very similar to my functions anyway. I liked bringing in the ethics right at the beginning as a spoken element. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was including in the reality check (plus I had resistance to ‘limiting’ my vision) so I just put the time and money limits like the mind map mentioned.

Explore

ExploreI found the concept of ‘exclude’ interesting and challenging to try and apply to this design beyond the obvious physical boundary of the room itself. I kept writing what I would include rather than exclude. Excluding feels a bit unlimited! I also feel that I don’t know what needs will arise during the design so I kind of want to let it be more organic and not rule things out. It was good to consider what I was actually designing though. I had also already unconsciously excluded aspects, such as the packing up before moving from the design. I was feeling frustrated at the this point as I felt there were lots of important things I hadn’t considered yet, before moving on to the more analysis stage. I then had the realisation that I was letting myself be limited by the framework and as the step was ‘explore’ I could bring in any tools and learnings I wanted that I felt might be applicable to this stage. I was not ‘starting from scratch’ in learning to design again! So I explored the resources that I had available, the limits that I needed to be aware of and also reflected on some of my past patterns of success and erosion in bedrooms. I also drew up the basemap of the room, so I can see what I am working with. I was pleased to find that everything pretty much matched up and my assumption that everything was square was close enough! For the ‘vertical’ aspects I annotated a photograph. I also realised that it was important to include the context on the map and also as a few notes. I then felt satisfied with my ‘observing’ and ‘exploring’ and ready to move on to the next step.

Assess

AssessWhich tools did I want to use? I looked at the tools mindmap I had in my resources, specifically at the analysis, stage and decided on a few tools which felt applicable, although I subsequently realised one of them is more for ‘designing’ than assessing. I liked being reminded not to do too much analysis! But I felt that now was the time to really get the essential functions pinned down as it suggested. At this stage I went back to my vision as I am used to doing, but I got a bit stuck with what ‘level’ of function to include. As part of this I realised that I am kind of doing two linked designs, one for the layout of the room and the other for the decorating of it and moving process. So I started by focussing on the layout aspect. Wanting more specifics than ‘I want to design a room that meets my needs’ (!) I went down the route of looking at the needs I had already come up with, some of these were more general needs, like warmth and light, and then I had also identified the ‘functions’ that I wanted the room to fulfill. Writing it now and looking through it at the time it felt suddenly obvious that these were the functions. So next I decided to look at the ‘characteristics’ of each function. This was useful and interesting. It took me a little more consideration to work out how warmth, light, nature etc fitted in until I realised that they were part of the function of ‘sanctuary’. It took me a while for the realisation that there were two linked designs, with quite distinct designing needs to settle in and for me to feel comfortable with identifying the functions of each. Reflecting in my weekly check-in and working through it helped. Earlier on, before I had started the Assess stage I had felt the need to write down my priority decisions, that needed to be made soon. I had also written a list right at the beginning about tasks that needed to be done/ decisions made. I was feeling like the design was heading more towards the layout and it wasn’t helping me make the decisions on schedule quickly. So having reviewed and written the elements down I did some research (Explore) into different flooring options, including whether I could get secondhand carpet. I then had three conversations in the evening, clarifying limits on timings of various things, getting feedback and inspiration on ideas. I wasn’t sure at this point though whether I was or could actually permaculture design this aspect. In light of realising there were two distinct sections I decided to go back and colour code what I had already done – purple for layout and blue for decorating and moving. Interestingly a lot of the thinking through was for the layout where as the limits were predominantly for the decorating & moving! Resources is half and half. This explained why I was feeling uneasy! So I went back and revisited the stages for the decorating and moving aspect.

Reviewing and mapping out the Decorating and Moving aspects of the design

Reason

This was one of the original functions I identified in the design, which I later clarified to decorating and moving. I had also identified some of the ‘reality checks’ around it. I went back though and elaborated on it, thinking through the yields I wanted from it and also a few more realities, which on reflection are actually the ‘limits’ of the design as I think of them.

Explore

I had already ‘explored’ a lot of this when I went through the process originally. A lot of the resources and limits relate to this. I also wrote a list of the priority decisions, therefore elements, which I then started to explore in more detail. The decorating and moving aspect of the design is more iterative as I need to make one decision before I can properly ‘explore’ the subsequent ones. The exploring so far has involved phone calls and discussions as well as some online research. It does also tie into the other layout aspect, particularly around the platform and whether to do anything to it.

Assess

As part of this I assessed which order the decisions needed to be made in. I pulled the information together to make placing decisions, such as the moving in date, which was decided after talking to my Mum and my Dad, finding out when they were available and how they could help, as well as my gut feeling on wanting to move in sooner. I did an input-output analysis of each of the elements that I need to consider/place, so that I could see how they fit together. I also created a timetable with movable pieces ready for the next stage and so I could see the lie of the land. I also clarified the functions of this aspect of the design, they were fairly similar to the ‘vision’ ones. At the time I was not completely happy with them as ‘functions’ but they definitely captured what I was trying to achieve.

Continuing with the two aspect of the design in parallel

Place

Place Having bought both of the two aspects of the design up to the same place I moved on to the next stage. It says that this is the main time when the principles are applied, so I decided to go with my interpretation on this. I wanted to more consciously consider the ethics in my designing so I did a mind map for each aspect of the design around the permaculture ethics (inspired by Jan), this was interesting, and the main thing it drew out for me was to highlight the need for peoplecare during people coming to help, as I realised that could be easily sidelined. I then looked at the principles and choose 4 to consider for each aspect, I also considered one of Looby Macnamara’s ways of thinking – thinking like nature – as I had decided I wanted to in my previous tutorial. I did a mind map for each of these and discovered I had already planned a lot of it using them, the principles are becoming more integrated into how I think so I consider them automatically. Thinking like nature was interesting, though I found it challenging to know where to start. I began with animal homes, then I did a wonder wander to see what called out to me and what metaphors it could offer, then I remembered the idea I had had of making it multi-sensory and the idea of using all the 5 elements sprung from that. I really enjoyed considering these completely different aspects and how they could be woven into the design. I have noticed a lack of space for collecting ideas in this framework, I seem to have captured them in my head and lots of them came out when considering the ethics and principles. Decorating and Moving I looked at the timetable again in light of further analysis and developments and came up with a provisional timeline. I realised from thoughts that arose in the ethics, principles and ways of thinking that I needed to have plans for the weekends that I was visiting Crabapple to ensure that peoplecare was included as well as the rest of the 8 directions after doing the hard work! I enjoyed being reminded not to wait for perfection! Layout – I started playing around with placings in the room. I identified some potential areas for things, but felt a need to take the ideas to the room the following weekend to see how they ‘felt’ in the different spaces. So whilst visiting briefly I ‘tried out’ some of my ideas to see what the different spaces felt like. This was very valuable as some areas really did not feel right and there are certain things that are very obvious when you are in a room that you forget on a design, like the door being in the way of a hammock. It was useful to talk a few ideas through with  my visitors and they had a really useful suggestion of possible bed position. It was also useful to assess what equipment was available for using for painting the following weekend. I took the opportunity during this weekend of buying some ‘treats’ for enjoying during the following ‘working weekends’ as part of my peoplecare plans.

Refine

RefineI used this first weekend as a chance to pause from designing and to relax and there was a certain celebratory atmosphere although I didn’t specifically spend time on celebrating this design. I didn’t really reflect on the process, but I did discuss some of my room ideas which was useful. It took over a week to find the time to distill my learnings. I think possibly don’t rush it or try and fit too much in is a good one and definitely physically walking through the ideas on site was really useful as was bouncing ideas off of others. Another conversation helped me realise that I can sleep on the sofabed for a while, before I need to decide on getting a bed, which removed a potential limit from the system.

MORE

Decorating and moving – I now definitely shifted into the ‘action’ stage of this aspect, but I found myself cycling round the different steps rather than just following them linearly as it was an evolving process! I spent a weekend painting the room and it was interesting how different it looked and felt once painted. We did not quite finish the painting this weekend, but we planned it so that the bits that were left were fine to do once I had moved in by myself. It was a great opportunity to stack in lots of observations and discussions and it helped me make decisions on the plan for the following moving weekend. The peoplecare planning worked well. Having one night in each home worked well as did the food plans, particularly the tasty snacks I bought went down very well for keeping up morale and energy! The pause to go to the cinema on Friday night, several walks, lunches and a morning shopping in Shrewsbury gave us a good rest, as well as chats with others popping in to see what we were doing. Taking the music player was great as it wasn’t actually so easy to talk and paint as we had thought it would be. I also made some thank you gifts. We celebrated as we went along, appreciating our progress and how lovely it looked and then reflecting on it as we came towards the end which helped me to let go of it. So lots of good peoplecare and yields, many actions I may well not have thought to do if I hadn’t designed it. I then reviewed my plan for the moving weekend to integrate my learnings. Not following the MORE stages linearly made it much more intuitive and when I reviewed them afterwards I had covered most of it anyway.

Placing

LayoutI played around with the cut outs on the basemap, trying out the new ideas with the information gained from visiting. I then decided to go through the areas to see which functions I could stack into them and what elements that involved, this looked similar to the functions table Looby made, but in a slightly different order. Because of the functions that I have chosen for this design it feels a bit different, I cannot merely put it on a map or in a mind map so I have done both. I have also interpreted in this situation the functions maxim as ‘having several spaces where each function can be met and various elements in place to support each function’. I had a bit of resistance to producing this as a drawn design as I knew that I would start tweaking it straight away, but once I recognised this thought pattern, I reframed it as capturing my ideas now and creating a plan I can work to for the initial layout. It doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ as it says in the mindmap. Because there is not very much guidance in the mindmap I have brought in techniques and learnings from previous designs.

Maintain

Maintain Maintenance doesn’t feel particularly applicable for this design, but if it was I feel like there would be a lack of ‘maintenance plan’ as it just talks about maintaining it. Similarly for most of the steps the guidance seems to be primarily on doing and I feel like they almost need two iterations for each, a thinking through, followed by a doing.

Observe

Observe Decorating and moving The final moving weekend went pretty well according to plan. It was a good job I had decided to come over the night before. It did make extra stress for me getting things packed before then, but it gave me time to find my feet, finish painting and cleaning and to get some elements of peoplecare sorted ready for the weekend. My appreciations did not go quite to plan, we did have a little of the food I had bought, but not so much and they bought me champagne and wine as a moving in present so I did not use the wine I had bought. I made a point of trying to thank them through out, but I actually think reflecting now that I should write them a thank you card as they have been wonderful about it all. The schedule also evolved slightly, but one of the best things about having a plan is being able to change it when things evolve! We did not manage so much pausing either, various cups of tea, but they were actually quite keen to keep going and that worked fine. We did kind of have a celebration on the sat eve with the champagne and wine and I took a little time on Sunday evening to reflect and release, but it took me over a fortnight to find the time to do the reflection. Something around a belief that it was going to be hard work/ lot of thinking. Layout – We laid out the furniture as close as possible to my plan and they had also bought lots of other bits and bobs and ideas so quite a few extra things were incorporated in and also there were a few things I do not have yet, such as a proper bed and a wardrobe so those weren’t placed. A wardrobe was created, however, by putting up a rail across the platform beams so I had somewhere to store my clothes, which changed the layout under the platform quite considerably, but was easy to remove if I had changed my mind. A few months after moving in I made the most of my observations so far and did a PMI of my room layout, which was very interesting to reflect on. I definitely identified with the guidance on the framework mind map. Generally it was going well, but I realised that working out where I was going to store everything was my next priority.

Refine

So I made a storage plan. I started by writing a list of the main things I needed to store, identified their characteristics and all the potential place they could be stored. There were lots of different options now that I had moved in and various other furniture items or ideas had turned up. From this I looked at the different storage areas and decided what seemed the most sensible arrangement. It felt great to have a plan, although a lot of it still depended on getting further furniture or putting up shelves, so I couldn’t do much placing at this stage. I appreciate the recognition in the framework that a design is inevitably evolving and that this is to be expected.

Enjoy

EnjoyAs the framework mindmap says ‘End? Of course not!’. My room continues to evolve and will as long as I stay here. I definitely enjoyed this design both in the theoretical and practical stages and I am enjoying the yields now. There does not seem to be a specific evaluative stage in this framework, more scattered throughout MORE. I finished this design cycle by reflecting on the systems within systems questions above and looking at whether I felt I had fulfilled the functions.

Overall Evaluation

Design Framework Evaluation: REAP MORE

It has been really very interesting using the REAP MORE design framework. It has challenged me to stretch my edges and to integrate my learnings from using SADIMET and the design web. I did not have very comprehensive guidance, so I have fairly inevitably taken it my own way and bought in my own ideas and tools. It was interesting to use a framework with a different pattern as the design web evolved from SADIMET so they both have the same underlying structure. It has taken quite a lot of processing to get my head around this different pattern and to see where some of it corresponds with what I am familiar with. I have enjoyed the words of advice on the mind map as they have often been good reminders of lessons I have already learnt during my designing. I would definitely use this design framework again. I would like to try it out for a land-based design as that is what it originated for and I am still not hugely keen on SADIMET. REAP MORE feels much more organic and evolving, in line with the permaculture ethics. What has gone well?

  • Lots of different perspectives and ways of approaching things
  • Bringing in the ethics right at the beginning
  • Lots of great reminders in the mind map, particularly those encouraging not over doing the designing but letting lots of iterations create perfection!
  • Having a whole stage for enjoy!

What was challenging?

  • Trying to get the hang of a different pattern
  • Trying to follow the framework too rigidly
  • I struggled to come up with a ‘reason’, but on reflection this is exactly the why of vision that I normally look to
  • I didn’t like ‘exclude’ as it felt completely infinite. ‘Include’ feels a more manageable question! For me it also links into limits.
  • It doesn’t specify that you have to follow the stages in order, but I assumed you were supposed to go REAP MORE MORE MORE MORE etc. This did not work for me, particularly for the decorating and moving aspect of the design and I found myself going backwards and forwards through the stages as it felt right.
  • I couldn’t really see how either of my design aspects feasibly needed Maintaining. I can see this stage being very useful in other designs, but it didn’t seem applicable in this one.
  • Until I realised that I was designing two different aspects which actually had quite distinct design features it was pretty challenging to get clarity! Once I made this realisation it flowed much more smoothly.
  • There was quite a confusion in the middle of the framework between designing and action, it was not clear when each was supposed to happen

What have I learnt? What would I do differently next time?

  • Treat design frameworks as ingredients, not strict recipes. Do them in a different order and make them your own, trust your designing instinct.
  • Give myself free rein on the Explore stage, not just covering the things in the mind map
  • Recognise two steps within the Assess, Place and Maintain stages, one of thinking and planning that stage and the other of actioning it.
  • Look at what I would include rather than exclude.
  • Consider in the Reason stage whether the functions can constitute one system or whether they need designing in parallel.
  • Incorporate momentum into the maintain stage

Tools used Evaluation

Design tools evaluation

Design Process Evaluation

This is on top of the design framework evaluation already done. What went well?

  • I experimented and played with it
  • I did the bulk of it over a space of a few weeks giving me consistency and focus
  • I enjoyed it  and didn’t try and be too strict about it
  • Building in lots of peoplecare

What was challenging?

  • Having a tight timeframe as I don’t work well under pressure
  • Doing it as a permaculture design gave me a much better result but also took more time and energy to do than just mocking something up! And time was a bit of a limit…

What would I do differently next time?

  • Seek out more examples of designs using REAP MORE and share experiences with others

Veg Patch design – Full

Read the Design Summary first

Background

In early June 2013 I moved house and was given free rein on a large and weedy vegetable patch. Living further out from town I did not have the access to fresh, local, organic food that I was used to and wanted. Growing my own seemed a good solution.

I have dabbled in food growing in the past, but I would not say I am very experienced. I did however, have a lot of enthusiasm and had read a fair few books and articles that had inspired me in different methods I could try. I also wanted to build on my learnings from the allotment design that I did for my mum.

The Design

Survey

As it was already well into the growing season when I started, I decided to use 2013 primarily as observation time and aim for a design for the 2014 growing season. To this end I took some photos and recorded the success of my small scale growing that year.

It was pretty rampant, but my housemate James did a grand job of clearing it all. I did, however, have lots of Earthcare guilt about the exposed and disrupted soil ecosystems.

Houlston Veg Patch 2013 - Houlston Veg Patch 2013

Clearing in progress

Houlston Veg Patch - Growing in 2013

Growing in 2013

Houlston Veg Patch 2013 - Rather a lot of thistles...

Rather a lot of thistles…

Houlston Veg Patch - We discovered some wonderful soft fruit!

We discovered some wonderful soft fruit!

In the meantime I was reading through Aranya’s book Permaculture Design – a step by step guide and reflecting on my previous land-based design. This gave me lots of ideas for taking forwards. So I started by taking measurements to put together a basemap and discovered string and a short tape measure is no substitute for a proper surveying tape measure! Nevertheless I did my best using my smart phone to take bearings too. When it came to drawing it up there was definitely  a bit of inaccuracy, but I concluded that for what I was doing that level of inaccuracy wasn’t a big problem.

Sketch map

Sketch map

I also surveyed the plants already there and rated their frequency with the DAFOR scale. It was really interesting to actually identify all of the ‘weeds’ that were growing. I could not deduce a clear pattern from them though in terms of where they like to grow, apart from disturbed ground! It would have been interesting to have done this before it was cleared too, when the plant communities were more established.

I also did an inventory of all of the seeds that I had gathered from various sources – some donated from my mum, some hanging around in the house and some spare ones of Bills. I sorted them into what time of year they needed planting so it was easy to find. I was introduced to James Wong’s book James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution and I got inspired so I bought some seeds for people for Christmas and to save on postage I bought some for myself as well, but as I did not have a plan by that point it was a little bit random which I chose.

Houlston Veg Patch Journal

Houlston Veg Patch Journal

I did a small amount of growing in 2013, mostly with spare plants that my mum bought up for me. I kept it all in a small patch and tried out a few techniques like mulching with the weeds I had just pulled up. I kept a record of everything that I did in a notebook, my housemate James also created a blog for recording our experiments, but I never got round to writing on it. I had mixed success, but I learnt things such as that mulching can increase the numbers of slugs and also did quite  a lot of unrecorded observation.

This is as far as I had got by the time the year turned and I was starting to get a bit anxious about getting a design together as I knew that I needed to start planting seeds soon.

So I continued with my information gathering by doing some soil tests in a few sites and discovered there was more clay than I had expected, however trying to do a more thorough jam jar soil test just confused me, because there was still so much suspended sediment when I was supposed to mark the boundary between sand and silt that I couldn’t see where the surface of the sediment was and then as the sediment settled over the next few days it ‘sunk’ and so the levels for clay were also inaccurate, although you could quite clearly see the clay layer.

soil testing sheet

Soil testing sheet

Site 1 Soil test

Site 1 Soil test

Site 2 soil test

Site 2 soil test

With this information I drew up my basemap and an overlay of existing plants and soils.

My original basemap

Existing plants overlay - top left

Existing plants overlay – top left

Existing plants overlay - top right

Existing plants overlay – top right

Existing plants overlay - bottom right

Existing plants overlay – bottom right

Existing plants overlay - bottom left

Existing plants overlay – bottom left

Trying to spot frost patternsI then came to sectors… I had a go at spotting frost patterns, where it lingered and where it melted; I went out in the pouring rain to see if water pooled anywhere or drained in any particular pattern; I chose a windy day and put out a load of plastic bags on sticks to try and discern patterns in the winds flow. I could not discern much variation across the patch from any of them, but there were a few site wide discoveries – the hedge provided a little shelter from frost underneath it; there was no pooling of water even during heavy rain, in fact the whole patch was raised up from the road where water did pool; and there was not enough wind at a metre height to blow the bags even when it was quite windy.

Observations of sectors and systems

Observations of sectors and systems

Observations of sectors and systems

Observations of sectors and systems

Now the sector where there was variation across the patch was in shading, but having not thought about it in advance I did not have observations from other times of year to use. So I decided to try out the sun compass. The instructions on it were not that clear, so although I had a go I was not sure whether I had done it right. When I tried to turn it into a sun sector overlay I was skeptical of the results, so I referred back to some photographs I had taken in the summer as well as an aerial photo taken around the autumn equinox and observations at the time which was the spring equinox to try and corroborate it. I concluded that I had too much shadow using the sun compass so I ended up using the accurate information from the photos and observations and then extrapolating and using my recordings to guesstimate the rest.

Sun Sector Overlay

Sun Sector Overlay

I also found the long term weather data for the area.

Consulting the house

Consulting the house

Client Interview

Client Interview

The remainder of the Survey stage was looking at what was wanted. So I did a consultation with everyone else in the house and then a much more detailed Client Interview with myself.

 

 

Analysis

The process of putting together the basemap and looking through the results of all of the surveying started off the analysis in my head. I then considered all of this information and used it to identify the key functions of the design. I also set myself some SMART goals around these functions.

Key functions and SMART goals

Key functions and SMART goals

From these I attempted to start thinking about the systems that I would need to meet the functions, but I found this quite challenging as the space was quite simple and therefore did not need lots of systems in it beyond growing plants. So I ended up starting with a different tack of writing a list of the plants that I wanted to grow. As I did not already have the knowledge of the growing preferences of these plants I decided that I would create a database which I could then use to help me plan which plants I would grow where. So I created a comprehensive database which you can see a sample of below.

Plant Planner database

Plant Planner database

This helped me to see which seeds or plants I did not have and would like. Through this and discussing emerging ideas with other people, I got donations of more seeds as well as a gifts of lots of native wild flower seeds for my birthday.

I also did a wider sketch map of the location of the veg patch marking on the zones and the flows of people.

Sketch map of zones and flows

Sketch map of zones and flows

Decisions

This where it started to get a bit mixed up, because the season was progressing and I was aware that I needed to start planting seeds and clearing ground now, but I did not have a design finished and so I tried to split my time between the two! For the ease of understanding I will still write about them as separate stages though.

I then went back to the functions and set about identifying elements that could meet them.

Elements

Elements

These ended up quite process orientated as the key features of water and composting etc were already fixed in location. So although they clarified the approach I would like to take they did not contribute too much to the physical layout, apart from the access side. That is therefore where I focused next, planning the network of paths. With not a great deal of variation across the patch to affect things I designed a network of paths which were visually appealing but gave good access to all beds. I divided the plot into areas so that I could work in small achievable steps. I then used my spreadsheet as well as further internet and book research to put together some polycultures to try out, aiming for a mix of heights and similar planting timings. I then assigned these to each of the areas, depending on how high they grew to minimise shading.

Design layout - whole

Design layout – whole

Design layout - top left

Design layout – top left

Design layout - bottom right

Design layout – bottom right

Design layout - bottom left

Design layout – bottom left

 Implementation

By the time I had  finished my design I had already got so far with actions and into the season that it was too late to put together an implementation plan, let alone a maintenance plan. I was essentially winging it trying to use my emerging design to inform my actions.

Growing seeds indoors

Growing seeds indoors

Planting seeds

Planting seeds

From necessity I created myself an indoor seed growing area with a giant bit of cardboard covered in foil to try and improve the amount of light there. My landlord had thrown away all of the plastic plant pots so I got inventive with recycled containers with mixed success! I did successive sowing of seeds and managed to keep on top of watering and weeding out the unwanted extras from the homemade compost.

board paths

Board paths

I did intend to start small and keep it achievable. I decided to try and think ahead a bit, so I cleared away some vegetation from one area & covered it in cardboard, compost and black plastic. I covered another area with carpet I found in part of the plot without clearing the vegetation. I realised that I had nothing to make paths out of! I found a few wooden planks, which I put to use as some rather more angular paths.

I then slowly started clearing areas, only removing surface growth though, not digging. My intention was to sow and plant the areas as I cleared them so that it would supress the weeds. Unfortunately I don’t think any of the seeds I planted straight into the soil grew! The weeds however, did!

I got a delivery of partially rotted cow poo from the farm which I spread over an area and it definitely stopped any weeds growing as it was quite acidic still. I planted tomatoes though it and they were fine.

I planted some of the plants out and nearly all of them slowly succumbed to slugs…

Weeded, raked and resown

Weeded, raked and resown

Blackcurrants cleared

Blackcurrants cleared & grass left on ground as a mulch

By mid June I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and disheartened. I sat and did a bit of a review and decided to just focus on tending and improving the areas that I had already cleared, giving myself a much more manageable focus.  This immediately gave me a much more positive outlook and so I went back to some of the areas in progress and weeded them and attempted to rake over the soil to make more of a seedbed and planted a salad polyculture. I also planted out all of the mint plants my mum had given me and James cleared all of the vegetation from around the blackcurrants. Collectively this had a big positive psychological impact.

Then at the end of June the context changed as I decided that I would be probably moving house before the next growing season. This vastly reduced my motivation for thinking longterm as I doubted that anyone else would care for any of it when I had left. So I set to encouraging the wildlife and supporting the plants that were already doing well (minimum input for maximum output), foraging from outside of the plot and harvesting my learnings from the process.

Maintain

I never got to this point in either the designing or the doing.

Evaluation

I evaluated this design as an integral part of writing it up, going back through all of the documentation, reminding myself and reliving the process, capturing reflections and learnings as I went. In this section I will focus on the content of the design.

What went well?

  • A few things did well and gave me a yield:
    • I got a reasonable number of tomatoes before the blight got them
    • The spinach and chard survived the winter and then produced lots of seeds which I harvested
    • The mint and salad burnett were happy
    • The herb patch which I didn’t specifically include in my design but which I tended and used as it was outside the backdoor, flourished with my attention
    • I got a good crop of chilli peppers and a couple of little sweet bell peppers
    • A few purple beans!
    • Emergent bittercress and chickweed were great
    • Broad beans
  • Some other things thrived but I didn’t harvest them:
    • the cardoon
    • the jerusalem artichokes (too early)
    • the potatoes (because I left it until after the tops had gone and I couldn’t find them…
    • It got me outside and getting exercise!
    • I have a plant database for using in the future

What was challenging?

  • Having minimal practical growing experience and lots of theory
  • Growing seeds outside straight in the ground
  • Not having someone to ask for advice
  • Slug proofing
  • Keeping on top of weed growth in a large area
  • Fitting it in around everything else in life

What I would do differently next time? And have learnt.

  • Mulching can encourage slugs
  • Seeds like a seedbed, much better germination rate
  • Never underestimate nature, you might think something has died, but it may return!
  • Over winter manure before planting into it
  • Snapped off tomatoes regrow roots if you put them in water, a solution for straggly tomatoes?
  • Actually eat your harvest, don’t ‘save’ it as it will go off
  • Beans don’t like growing down a piece of string, pull it taught and up!
  • Squash loves growing directly into manure
  • Tell people if you are saving a ‘weed’, make sure everyone is clear – saves heart ache when they pull it out!
  • Clearing surface vegetation gets rid of quite a lot of weeds, but the persistent ones like dandelion and dock will be there a long time without digging them out
  • Exposed soil can form a hard crust on top – not great for seeds
  • Start collecting resources well in advance, eg. cardboard
  • I am passionate about foraging and nowhere near as motivated by growing, so maybe foraging could be my focus and supporting and tweaking my local ecosystem

Did I meet my SMART goals?

  • By the end of September 2014 food grown in the Veg patch will have replaced our veg box – I did not reach this SMART goal. Looking back it does not seem particularly realistic! I am not sure that I comprehended the time and effort it takes to establish & maintain a system that productive.
  • From June 2014 there will be salad leaves and fresh produce available year round – I had a year round supply of salad burnett and herbs! I did not really meet this SMART goal either.
  • The veg patch will be maintainable on half a day per week – I did not get to this stage, but I was not managing to give half a day to implementation so I am not sure if I would have been able to give half a day to maintenance even if I had achieved this. 
  • In Summer 2014 there will be over 15 species of insect in the Veg patch – I did not measure this.
  • By May 2014 rain water will be being captured and used – I did not manage to identify somewhere to capture it from. I was also aware that I was not planning on staying around and so I was less motivated towards longer term actions.
  • The Veg Patch will require watering less than once a week in summer 2014 – Well it got watered less than once a week, but I am not sure that that is the same thing!

I am surprised that I don’t have a SMART goal around my learning and experimenting as that was definitely one of my main reasons for doing the design and it had a big influence on the way I did things. I definitely got a substantial yield of learnings.

Overall Evaluation

Design Framework Evaluation: SADIMET

I am not sure that I fully did this design framework justice as I did not really get to the Implementation and maintenance plans, which I can see on reflection would have been very valuable. However, with the much more comprehensive guidance from Aranya’s book I felt that the SAD parts worked well for this land-based design and I feel like I have got much more of a feel for and understanding of it as a framework. The really comprehensive surveying was very useful, although I underestimated how long it would take!

A minor frustration I have come across before was the lack of capturing of ideas as you go along. I did in fact make myself an ideas sheet, but I still do not see a space for this in the framework before the Decisions stage and as I find that the process of Surveying and Analysis generates lots of ideas this is an energy leak in the framework.

I also did not follow the process very linearly, mainly this was due to time pressures meaning I needed to make decisions before I had finished surveying. However, there are also some aspects which I felt contributed to several of the stages, such as the plant planning database which although I have included it in Decisions it contributed to surveying, analysis and decisions. Having used the design web quite a lot I am used to a less fixed process and I am happy that as my confidence as a permaculture designer grows I am happy to make frameworks suit my designing style, by tweaking and adapting them. I also constantly tweaked the design as I was implementing it and doing further observation of the current context.

Tools used Evaluation

Design tools evaluation

Design Process Evaluation

What went well?

  • Trying lots of different tools and techniques that I was interested in
  • Really taking the time to observe and survey everything thoroughly, there was so much I discovered
  • Going through the design process really thoroughly, I now know what is involved and so will be able to be better prepared next time
  • Reviewing and tweaking the design as I went along
  • Lots of learning and observing throughout that has contributed a lot to my understanding

What was challenging?

  • Not having the right tools for the job, eg. not having a surveying tape
  • Working out shade mapping without proper observation
  • Trying to use tools out of a book, not having someone with practical experience with them to demonstrate
  • Not leaving enough time to do all the surveying and designing before implementing needed to begin
  • Not having the experience in growing to input into the design process
  • Trying to manage the entire Veg Patch

What would I do differently next time?

  • Really observing through the seasons, recording sectors, plants etc
  • Aim to finish the design in the autumn before,  so mulching etc can be done.
  • Go for quality rather than quantity focus on a small area and do it well, then build on that foundation
  • It is okay for you to have worked some things out in your head, it doesn’t all have to be a really thorough, conscious decision, your brain can be more powerful at solving complex situations than logical thought is!
  • Have regular check-ins on progress and vision, to allow for tweaking and momentum
  • Make sure I leave time to do the Implementation and Maintenance plans, they are important
  • Get more practical experience in growing to input into designing
  • Be honest about limits, it is better to assume you have less time to give than over burden yourself
  • Now I have a greater understanding of the tools I might need, trying to get hold of them for when I need them
  • Find a demonstration of someone using a sun compass

Learnings update

Since moving house I have had a few opportunities to move forwards from this design. I am lucky now to be in a situation where I live with lots of people growing food, which allows me to join in and learn without having overall responsibility for making it work.

We also have Anni Kelsey, author of Edible Perennial Gardening, who is going to be doing a couple of experimental beds on our land, which is a wonderful opportunity for me to get involved and learn about polycultures and perennials in a practical situation. I was also able to bring a bit of my experience to the situation in terms of suggesting that we put a ground cover over the whole beds to begin with so that we can put in the polycultures at our own pace. Also I am going to design the pathways for one of the beds using the same principles and ideas I used in this design, but this time we will properly wood chip them and be able to test them out properly. I also shared my plant database with Anni and others involved and as a result of this it has been used as a resource in an Intro to Permaculture course.

Finally I have done a mini design for the window box outside my bedroom window, really making use of my learning to keep it small and manageable! You can see the design in the mindmap below.

Window box design - SurveyWindow box design - AnalysisWindow box design - decisions, implementation and maintenance

Window box harvest

Window box harvest

Window box in August 2015

Window box in August 2015

Facilitator Livelihood Pathway design – Full

Read the Design Summary first

Background

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.

Reflection

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.

Appreciation

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.

Vision

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.

Limits

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!).

Ideas

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.

Principles

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.

Reflection

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!

Reflection

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.

Action

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. 

Momentum

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.

Outcomes

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

Update

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.

Background

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.

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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

Skype
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!

Mindmeister
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.

GoogleGroups
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.

Membership Organisation Design – Full

Background

In Autumn 2012 there was a gathering for the people who were on my PDC. Three of us made it along to Sanna and Ali’s house and we (and the 5 dogs!) had such a wonderful time that we decided the five of us should repeat it regularly!

At the next gathering Jess asked us all whether we would be interested in helping her to do a permaculture design for an organisation she was involved with and they would pay our travel expenses. She had already done a successful design for her own business, but wanted some help and support with this one. I was definitely up for it because I was trying to get all of the permaculture experience that I could. As we did it during our next gathering our designing was a mixture of a social weekend with a few hours focussed designing time and more informal discussion.

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Allotment Design – Full

Background

My mum has had an allotment for a while, she likes the idea of it and likes to grow her own food, but found it hard to get down there often enough to make it work. This led to a spiral of erosion of not putting enough time in and so things not working and it all becoming a big extra stress and burden. As I had not long ago done my permaculture design course and wanted to have a go at putting it in to practice and because I am always on the look out for good, personalised, low cost presents I offered to do my mum a permaculture design of her allotment for her Christmas present (2012). This suggestion went down well and so the process started.

My mum lives in Buckinghamshire in a small town and the allotments are 20 mins walk/5 mins drive from her house.  She actually only has half an allotment. The person who originally had the other half was enthusiastic about permaculture and after many complaints from the allotment committee he got asked to leave because his allotment was too messy.

My mum’s job is running an eco-centre at the local school, it was only established a couple of years ago and so they are in the process of getting a veg garden up and running there.

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