I started my diploma journey within a year of finishing my PDC. I had been thoroughly inspired, but was struggling to work it out in practice, especially as I was wanting to focus on people-orientated designing. The diploma seemed to be the accepted next step and I felt that as well as supporting my permaculture learning journey it would give me lots of opportunities to design aspects of my life, which were in a state change at the time. I also wanted to commit myself to it, as I suspected I would not spend the same amount of time, energy and focus without this commitment to more than just myself, witnessed by others, with resources like money put into it.
Connecting with others on the journey was definitely one of my desires, so I chose the supported route. I was not hugely clear on my vision at the beginning, but it clarified as I progressed into wanting to ‘start as I meant to go on’.
Permaculture (and learning the wisdom of nature) is going to be a lifelong learning journey for me, so I wanted to create productive patterns of learning and thinking, start to fill my bespoke tool box and create fertile growing conditions for future learnings. You can see more detail in the second version of my vision.
I am excited to say that at the end of this stage of my journey I feel that I really have achieved this. I have put in place some really effective learning patterns, including weekly check ins and monthly Action Learning Guilds, which I intend to continue with. I am confident with a good selection of tools and techniques and have experimented with many others and I have created lots of fertility for my future learning. More specifically I am a confident fledgling people-based permaculture facilitator, I am confident with the permaculture design process and with trying it out in different situations, I am creating strong patterns for mentoring others in the process, I have built up a thriving network of other permaculturalists both local and further afield and I am steadily integrating it into many aspects of my life, including my nature connection and cultural regeneration journey.
You can get a feel for my overall journey in the patterns, themes and achievements that I have observed in my learning journal. As well as the 10 designs in my portfolio I have done full and partial designs for many other things, as can be seen below along with the other permaculture-relevant activities that have been seeded and fed into my diploma.
How has the diploma changed my permaculture journey?
Before I started the diploma I was already well engaged in integrating the ethics into my life and the main addition that the diploma has bought me is consciously designing things. The vast majority of things I have consciously designed I would have sub-consciously or semi-designed anyway as they were largely activities I was doing in my life anyway. I have found that this conscious designing has generated an incredible abundance of learnings and much deeper ones than I believe I would have had otherwise. It has empowered me to take my visions, ideas and dreams seriously, by giving me a method of manifesting them. As I mentioned earlier being part of the diploma helped me commit to this learning journey, gave me motivation to address the challenges and encouraged me to put regular effort into this learning. I also think that without the diploma I wouldn’t have established the thriving learning community that I have.
What am I taking forwards from it?
I have definitely shifted how I think about things, really integrating permaculture thinking into my life and brain patterns, including seeing solutions, celebrating abundance and seeing through the lens of the principles. I have learned to highly value reflection and evaluation and the yields that they bring. I have far more extensive understanding and experience of people orientated permaculture, as well as my own bespoke tool shed of design tools that I can make use of. I also have abundant social capital in the form of a thriving network of other permaculturalists.
What has it seeded?
Beyond these learnings and skills the diploma has:
- Launched me on my livelihood as a Thriving Ways permaculture facilitator, which included co-creating Thriving Ways
- Led me to get involved in designing the International Permaculture Convergence in London this September (2015)
- Introduced me to 8 Shields – nature connection and cultural repair – and fed my motivation to get involved in it through wanting to have tried and tested successful patterns for using in my people orientated designs. This is the focus of my continued learning journey.
- I believe it also supported my move to Crabapple Housing Co-op and a living situation far more in tune with my needs.
Long term goals
I am sure they will evolve as my context changes and opportunities arise, but at this current moment my long term permaculture goals are:
- In two years:
- To have successfully transitioned my permaculture practice to a post-diploma state, continuing to design regularly and to keep learning
- To have integrated my permaculture understanding into my nature connection and cultural regeneration journey. Using them together.
- To become a diploma tutor
- To establish myself as an active Thriving Ways permaculture facilitator
- To continue to increase my knowledge of land-based permaculture
- In five years:
- To have fully integrated permaculture into all of my livelihoods (whatever they are and whatever that looks like!)
- To have integrated permaculture thinking into how Crabapple functions
- To be comfortable with land-based permaculture designing
- To be supporting and giving back to the permaculture community and mentoring others
- In 20 years:
- To be an elder in permaculture, nature connection and community repair, supporting its flourishing in the world. Potentially as a senior diploma tutor.
- To have a thriving, local community engaged in permaculture, nature connection and community repair
- To be living really in tune with the ethics, not just not damaging but actively regenerating