The Choice Is Yours

There’s a certain kind of madness that comes from living within the wilderness of the land, such is the beautiful complexity of nature. Here I feel an intangible understanding that that madness is the spirit which resides within me, within us all, telling us where we belong. Before the hum of the industrial machine and the enclosure of man’s spirit, our connection to nature was whole, we were one with her. We are born, we grow, through nature and nurture we evolve.

Our spirit grows with us, staying close to the triggers that will one day remind us we are part of the whole.  They can tell us to fear our surroundings and flee or to stand and face the foe before us, but if we cannot recognise our foe and know which we should do, how do we begin to understand the actions we should take? How do we know what tools to use to cope? How do we know when we have enough, when our lives are full? How do we know what choices to make on behalf of our children? When do they have a say? How do we learn to not be swayed by whispering, corrupt, hypnotism? At what price do we make choices to help others, knowing there will be a price to pay? Therein lies another kind of madness. A solitary one.

ANXIETY is an intrinsic part of our biological makeup, an instinctual trigger to tell us something is wrong, to stand or to run from hairy mammoths. A few days ago my husband was browsing through books in a library, when he sent me this message from his phone. There was an image attached.

“I opened up a book on seedbombs and discovered this slip inside on a page with Fukuoka. Seems significant to find this today”

He had discovered a small, piece of white paper, which read,

“F.E.A.R

has 2 meanings

Forget Everything And Run

Face Everything And Rise

The Choice is yours”

Anon

This card was…and is…significant to the challenges we are currently facing. The card is now in a prominent place to remind us both to make a collective choice.

We have no need these days to run from mammoths, [at least not the hairy kind] so not much of a need for our instincts to tell us to do so. But our psyche still tells us something is wrong. How do we face with strength, the things which break our hearts or shatter our dreams?  Whoever we are, whatever we become, we cannot stop  the natural connection we have to the earth. We still need to breathe the air, we still need to drink water, we still need food, shelter and clothing…..we still need companionship and community. Taking one or all of these away, does not mean we are not connected to them, it means we may struggle or go mad trying to find the whole in the connection again. Some of us never do and instead battle in the darkness alone.

I would say ANXIETY has a new purpose now. No need for to it to tell us there’s a oversized elephant about to trample us to death. I believe it now tells us we have to make choices about the way we choose to live, about the values we choose to live by, about how to cope with the challenges we are faced with.  

When, in a world twisted by fake truth,  a person tells us what they think we need, takes away our ability to be who we are, our ability to be true to our nature, we have to nurture it back at whatever price it takes. We then strive to settle the ANXIOUS child within us, to once and for all be whole, be accepted and valued, we forget that our spirit, our madness, is there to remind us where we belong.  The land is key to our wellbeing. We belong back with the land.

tmp_31965-2017-09-17 23.10.43-1151712715

Wenderlynn Bagnall

Permaculture Practitioner

Believer of the inner truth

 

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Time For Change

In August, we passed the year mark since moving down to Devon.
Now seems like a fitting time to look back over the last year or so, and consider what we have achieved.

Of course, we have continued to build up our systems at Wishtree Agroforestry & Permaculture Centre, planting several hundred trees and numerous edible and useful plants, while reinforcing our own knowledge, and putting into practice some theory.

The first year has been our first full observation year, and with a ludicrously wet winter we were given the opportunity to learn how the land deals with such high rainfall. But, despite the terrible winter, we have still been able to harvest 14 different types of fruit since the Spring, as well as countless other crops.

Over the last 13 months, we have run Permaculture courses, provided Permaculture design consultations, run market stalls selling edible perennial plants, and given talks on Permaculture and creating edible food forests.

In the community, we ran a little shop for a while, volunteer in our local Ruby Way visitor centre, and we are developing relationships with local schools and charities, to provide both land-based and social Permaculture services.

So, all good.

Unfortunately, last week we had a visit from a planning enforcement officer regarding our living in our caravan residentially. This is disappointing, and could well cause us some upheaval. Where that will lead, we do not know yet, but we appreciate the opportunity to assess our wants and needs, and examine our designs with even more scrutiny.

Curtsy of http://www.permaculturaitalia.com/images/bill_mollison.jpg

Just as we are processing this, we heard the news that Bill Mollison had died, the co-founder of Permaculture. In honour of his memory this is now the Time For Change.

Consequently, we have spent the last few days going back to some basic Permaculture principles:

How we can achieve the greatest effect for the least input – where should we direct our energies?

The problem is the solution – how feasible is it to consult with local councils to advise and inform them on planning issues relating to low/positive impact projects such as ours? Even if it doesn’t help us, it could help others in the future.

Catch & Store Energy
This sudden, uninvited intervention into our lives, even at this early stage, has led us to very strongly question the transparency and logic of the planning system. Now we are going through this process, we will aim to direct any feelings of anger, injustice etc that we may encounter, into affecting change. There are numerous groups involved in pushing for planning reform, and we may look to support this work in the future.

Every Important Function Is Supported By Multiple Elements (redundancy) – if we, ultimately, are unable to live on-site 24/7, how else can we meet our needs? We have been discussing this at length, and will continue to do so.

Perhaps most relevant here is Creatively Use and Respond to Change.
“Vision is not seeing things as they are but how they will be…the butterfly, which is the transformation of a caterpillar, is a symbol for the idea of adaptive change that is uplifting rather than threatening”. (David Holmgren)

It is a shock to have a stranger climb over your locked gate question your lifestyle and to some extent, integrity, but we will be aiming to use this experience to help us to transform into the butterflies that will bring greater beauty into the world.

In the year that Muhammad Ali died, it may be apt to consider one of his most famous quotes: “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

Those who float like a butterfly, can also sting like a bee.

ali

The Prime Directive

“The only ethical decision is to take responsibility

for our own existence and that of our children”

~ Bill Mollison

Bill Mollison – Image – permaculturaitalia.com

I wonder if there could possibly be a more succinct, thorough and apt phrase by which to live our lives. This, to me, demonstrates the genius of Bill Mollison. We have heard many criticisms of Permaculture, but these are always criticisms of the efficacy of people’s application, or queries regarding someone’s interpretation.

A good friend of ours once said to us “Permaculture is just common sense”, and although there is probably a grain of truth to this comment, it ultimately demonstrates a lack of understanding of what Permaculture actually is. A lot of the principles and techniques that have come to be associated with Permaculture could be described as common sense, but it is the conscious, deliberate, considered application of these principles as part of a design process, that makes Permaculture effective.

But for us, the brilliance of Permaculture is in its ethical underpinning. Any design must pass through the filter of its three ethics – Care of the Earth, Care of People, and Set Limits to Population and Consumption. Again, we have heard criticism of the ethics: primarily that they are too vague, too easily interpreted in a way that can excuse unethical behavior.

The Prime Directive addresses this concern, by teaching us to make decisions based on the principle of taking responsibility, not just for our own lives, but also for future generations.

I am reminded here of the ancient Greek proverb:

“A society grows great when old men plant trees under whose shade they know they shall never sit”

Both this proverb and the Prime Directive demonstrate an important truth: sometimes we must make short-term sacrifices, for long-term gain.

Indeed, the very word sacrifice is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as

“An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy” and this is something that we have become more aware of as we transition to our own Permaculture life.

The word sacrifice has negative connotations, as we tend to concentrate on the “giving up” aspect, rather than the reason for doing so.

We are now facing a reality, that we must leave huge quantities of fossil fuels in the ground, in order to prevent potentially devastating climate change. Such a decision could have enormous implications for modern society across the globe: economically, politically, socially.

But this is an example of a sacrifice that simply has to be made, whatever the cost, as the alternative is suffering on an even greater scale.

The wording of the Prime Directive is very clear: “the ONLY ethical decision…”

I do not think any sensible, rational person would take this to mean that we should immediately switch everything off, ditch all our cars and planes, and reject all of modern society overnight.

But it is important and useful to be mindful of the concept when making decisions, as it is easy to get caught up in the moment, and let ourselves be led by our immediate needs and desires. So we can use the Prime Directive of Permaculture as a set of design “blinkers” that we put on ourselves occasionally, to ensure that we are able to look further down the road, and implement our designs accordingly.

Last week we bought some little Monkey Puzzle trees from a small local nursery. Even if these trees survive and successfully bear fruit, we will be very fortunate if we ever taste the nuts that they produce: that is a yield for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

“The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children”
“The only ethical decision is to take responsibility
for our own existence and that of our children”

We were also given some Maidenhair trees last year, which we understand can take 20 years to bear nuts, so this again is a long-term design element, and when we put all these trees in the ground next week, we will very much be planting for the future, and can look forward to watching them grow into mature trees as the years pass by.

In his lovely Observations film: https://vimeo.com/54175192, Ben Falk explores the idea of “harvesting time” and discusses the non-material yields we can experience by planting trees, and the pleasure we can derive from enjoying seeing their growth.

We experience this pleasure when we plant something like wild garlic on our land. It is wonderful to know that this will spread and become abundant, and with each passing year we will take joy from seeing its growth.

There is a huge amount of spiritual satisfaction that comes from this thought. The beauty in planting a living legacy for future generations is unique and intangible, and it is something to cherish.

Such actions can even give a purpose and enjoyment to the ageing process itself and allow us to enjoy the passing of time, rather than lament it.

By Iain Bagnall

 

Connections

Last weekend brought our first snow of the winter.Only a light dusting really, enough to excite my inner child, but not enough to cause any problems.

With a visit down to Devon planned for the following weekend, there was work to be done on our allotment in preparation, plants to divide and pot up, so snow or no snow, we had to get out there. We arrived to find that were the only allotmenteers on our 150 plot site, probably unsurprisingly given the icy conditions, but we could not enjoy the tranquility of our solitude – unfortunately the peace was destroyed by the drone of a tractor, slaughtering the hedges alongside the allotment.
Hedgelaying Workshop

We are planning on doing some hedgelaying in Devon next week – traditional hedgelaying, using a billhook, with the sounds of the birds for company.
Quiet, skillful and thought-provoking work.

 

 

Such a contrast to this violent, noisy modern version. For a couple of hours, the drone went on as the tractor tore its way up and down the hedgerow.

Finally it was done, and we were left to contemplate the devastation that this modern marvel of efficiency had left in its wake. Its brutal power has no regard for wildlife or the countryside: the muddy ground had been ploughed into deep furrows by its wheels, and the hedge was left both ragged and angular.

This is a strange combination of devastation and tidyness: from a distance, an unnaturally neat, square pattern, but zoom in and the details show bark and branches hanging limply in defeat. This seemed to us to be a metaphor for modern life.
Tractor

While our society has the overall appearance of control and civilisation, if we look a little closer, we see the underlying damage we are causing to ourselves. We are broken. We spend our lives living in boxes – houses and flats, cars, offices are prison cells of our own choosing.

We have lost our connection to the natural world, and it is time to re-establish the link.

This doesn’t need to involve a lot of effort. Thomas Schorr-kon’s article in Permaculture Magazine No. 80 (Summer 2014) suggests using a Sit Spot:

“Find a spot nearby that you can visit each day. The aim is to visit the spot at different times of day and night over the course of a long period of time. We observe what is going on in our backyard and therefore build a clear picture of the life of birds, plants, animals, insects and the weather. We build a map of behaviours and interactions that spand different times of day and even the whole year.”

The more time we spend outdoors, the more we feel the connection. Of course we need shelter and warmth for our survival, but we also need to be outside, feel the wind on our faces and the grass under our feet. And we do not have to reject modern life in order to do it – simple tools such as the Sit Spot can enable us to regain our relationship with the earth, whilst living our 21st century lives. As George Monbiot (1) says:
“We don’t have to give up our washing machines and computers and spectacles and longevity to shed our ecological boredom and recover some measure of the freedom that has been denied to us. Perhaps we do need to remember who we are”

(1) http://www.monbiot.com/2015/01/19/a-small-and-shuffling-life/

Creatively Responding To Change

CREATIVELY USING AND RESPONDING TO CHANGE

The last couple of visits to Wishtree Wood have been our most productive yet. At Easter, for the first time in nearly 3 years we experienced the longest period of fine weather, giving us the opportunity to excel in the tasks we did. Implementing our ideas has lovingly become nicknamed as dot to dot, gradually bringing each section of the land together.

There was an initial plan to the acre clearing but by looking at what elements already exist, such as fruit trees, we decided to adapt it. This is David Holmgren’s 1st principle “Observe and Interact”. Without intention we realised we were organically bringing things alive, each part giving a purpose to what will become a whole.

We looked at natural patterns to “design from patterns to details”, the 7th principle. We found exactly this when we discovered a seasonal stream, digging out the path it took to help it along. We could ‘see’ where we should open up pathways through the wood, the edge of a tree line guiding us.

Some areas we will look at and discuss what it could be, a growing space or a place where we should place an element. We’ll do this for months before one of us will have a eureka moment and through further discussion and drawings, we will finally give it a purpose.

A very good example of this was using the 12th principle “creatively respond to change” . In order to plant a productive forest garden, we had decided on certain trees we would replace more edible ones with, bird cherry was one of these. For about 18 months we had decided a particular bird cherry would be removed to make way for a fruit tree. Then…this Easter we were very easily persuaded by Gaia that this shouldn’t be the case. It took us nearly 3 years to decide that bird cherry was in fact a species of tree to be revered.

We observed the insect life that buzzed and hummed amongst its beautiful flowers. We were intoxicated by the seduction of its scent. We were in awe of its ability to sucker and layer itself, making it a great hedging variety, growing quickly. We succumbed to the comfort it offers in providing us with warmth as an excellent wood for fuel, seasoning quickly and burning hot. Now we are accepting this wonderful feedback and changing some of the plans to the forest garden design.

Larf Trees

May bank holiday, we arrived with a van stuffed full of trees to be planted, kindly donated by Willis Lane Sustainability Centre (Pennyfield Permaculture). We used these to bridge the gaps of woodland, placing a few of the more ornamental trees around our camping area, to enhance the aesthetic appeal of this part of the site. We tried to get as many trees in as possible in the short time we had, adapting our design as we went along. Occasionally the heavy rain stopped us, giving a good excuse for that all important coffee break or pause moment as we like to call it.

Very few of these trees were a part of our original plans for our Forest Garden, and some were a complete surprise to us, but the opportunity to have them was too good to miss, and so our growing agroforestry system is now some 35 trees richer.

We had a few that fitted perfectly with our plans for the forest garden, and after much scribbling and crossing out on our design; we were also able to incorporate some medlars, black walnuts, plums and pears.

Beyond that, we had to get inventive. We had previously discussed putting more trees down at the lower end of the wood, where we plan to site our bees in the future. Our initial thoughts were for this to be more of a food hedge-type arrangement, but we walked around the area, had a chat about our options, and after some thought, decided to make this area into a small apple orchard, with 8 trees of mixed varieties scattered either side of the ride.

Our other main task for our May trip was to prepare for our first LAND (Learning and Network Demonstration) Centre assessment, and we had spent some time going over the assessment criteria in anticipation. However, the day before the scheduled visit, we discovered that our tutor would not be able to make it.

Obviously this was disappointing, but we had just received a message from one of our donators, asking if we were free for a visit. Due to the cancelled LAND assessment, we were, and so spent a lovely couple of hours walking the site and having some lunch.

We now of course have longer to prepare for the rescheduled visit, and were able to sit back in the beautiful sunshine on Sunday afternoon, watching the swallows swooping overhead, and enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that our weekend of adaptation had given us.

Not only have we been more productive this year, so far, with implementing and observing on the land but we have been inspired by the people we have met and the lessons we have learned. Our visits to local permaculture projects both in Devon and London have indeed inspired us, not forgetting our participation in a skill share event in Somerset.

Our Devonian neighbours have been important too. Offering us a chance to share in their skills and knowledge and to accept and welcome us into their homes has been wonderful.

This year is our year for momentum and change, transitioning to the next stage of our journey. As our daughter prepares for a career in teaching, our son settles into his new family life and we prepare for whatever new adventures await us, we think of how far we have come and how lucky we are to have the opportunity to live the right livelihood.

Responding creatively to any change, even if it appears to have obstacles at the time, can in fact give way to new ideas and opportunities.

Each Man’s Action Is a Seed…..

I love to write.…at school I would get welcoming complaints from the teachers that my creative writing stories were always marathons, with the comment,

“ Well done Wenderlynn, another marathon.”

The criteria was always for one double sided sheet of A4 paper, which usually ended up in twice the amount. They must have liked my stories according to my grades which I’m proud to say were usually A or A*s in those days.  In writing my stories, my muse usually came after 40 minutes sitting on the toilet; yes this was the place for my inspiration. I would lock the door and sit, do the usual and…write.

Creative writing was indeed something I loved but I never carried on with it when I left school. I did succeed some years later in getting one or two poems published but I’m certainly no Pam Ayers or Thomas Hardy.

museI find my days filled with ideas of what to write in the blogs here, the main idea was for a blog post every time we made a visit to the project. That started off ok but somewhere my muse was lost, even the numerous visits to the toilet have not been inspirational. Perhaps the toilet paper needs changing.

Lately every time I start a blog, the muse seems to be there and then…..it goes as quickly as it came. I want to share with you our thoughts, our hopes and fears but it seems that my writing is blocked by some imaginary beast, refusing to let it go any further than a paragraph or two.

Yet here I am writing about why I can’t write, there is some irony in that I suppose. My blogging was meant to be, as I said, about the project and our experiences but perhaps this mental block, this writer’s block, is just as relevant as anything we are actively doing.

Our minds are a crucial part of our existence……obviously I hear you say. Without them we couldn’t eat or drink or speak or think.  But do we ever really take the time to understand how connected our minds are to our bodies? The actions we carry out everyday are a seed planted by a thought.

We take for granted our minds and overload them with numerous tasks that we don’t really need to do. We don’t listen to our bodies when we have thoughts of pain or discomfort yet are minds and bodies are one.

If we took the time to pay attention to our thoughts perhaps our bodies would not become so weary with dis-ease. Perhaps we would not feel the need to scream and shout to make ourselves heard and would instead think about how to communicate with others and listen to their needs, in turn learning our own.

Our thoughts and actions are all connected. If I cannot think of what to write how then can I use my fingers to type out my feelings to connect with you. The funny thing is I picked up the laptop to check  twitter  and suddenly without thought my fingers made the choice for me. They wanted to write. There was no premeditated thought about writing this post, just the need for my fingers to be active and write, write anything.

So do our bodies control our minds or do our minds control our bodies? I believe they are one and the same. Our thoughts exist in every state, good or bad. We make choices on which one to carry out. We choose what to eat and drink, whether it is good or bad. Each thought has an action, each action has a consequence. Without thought there is no action. Without action there is no thought; for each man’s action is a seed for another’s thoughts.

Perhaps my inspiration to write should not just come from the activities of the project but from those around us who have inspired us to create the project, to make it a reality and to those of you who one day had a thought and with body and mind made your thoughts a reality.

Perhaps tonight my muse was set free……..

Councils please don’t be bribed by the

Councils please don’t be bribed by the bullies who want to frack your communities to death. It may bring jobs but Britian will not have a future if there is no clean air, food or a healthy environment for our future generations. Our children will know nothing except disease, concrete and malaise. Wildllife will suffer. Please for once take a risk and say no. Be a shepherd and not a sheep. You might be surprised at the positive changes it will bring, sincerely North Devon Permaculture.

Amuse Me

I love to write. At school I would get welcoming complaints from the teachers that my creative writing stories were always marathons, with the comment,

“ Well done Wenderlynn, another marathon.”

The criteria was always for one double-sided sheet of A4 paper, which usually ended up in twice the amount. They must have liked my stories according to my grades which I’m proud to say were usually A or A*s in those days.  In writing my stories, my muse usually came after 40 minutes sitting on the toilet; yes this was the place for my inspiration. I would lock the door and sit, do the usual and…write.

Creative writing was indeed something I loved but I never carried on with it when I left school. I did succeed some years later in getting one or two poems published but I’m certainly no Pam Ayers or Thomas Hardy.

museI find my days filled with ideas of what to write in the blogs here, the main idea was for a blog post every time we made a visit to the project. That started off ok but somewhere my muse was lost, even the numerous visits to the toilet have not been inspirational. Perhaps the toilet paper needs changing.

Lately every time I start a blog, the muse seems to be there and then…..it goes as quickly as it came. I want to share with you our thoughts, our hopes and fears but it seems that my writing is blocked by some imaginary beast, refusing to let it go any further than a paragraph or two.

Yet here I am writing about why I can’t write, there is some irony in that I suppose. My blogging was meant to be, as I said, about the project and our experiences but perhaps this mental block, this writer’s block, is just as relevant as anything we are actively doing.

Our minds are a crucial part of our existence……obviously I hear you say. Without them we couldn’t eat or drink or speak or think.  But do we ever really take the time to understand how connected our minds are to our bodies? The actions we carry out everyday are a seed planted by a thought.

We take for granted our minds and overload them with numerous tasks that we don’t really need to do. We don’t listen to our bodies when we have thoughts of pain or discomfort yet are minds and bodies are one.

If we took the time to pay attention to our thoughts perhaps our bodies would not become so weary with dis-ease. Perhaps we would not feel the need to scream and shout to make ourselves heard and would instead think about how to communicate with others and listen to their needs, in turn learning our own.

Our thoughts and actions are all connected. If I cannot think of what to write how then can I use my fingers to type out my feelings to connect with you. The funny thing is I picked up the laptop to check  twitter  and suddenly without thought my fingers made the choice for me. They wanted to write. There was no premeditated thought about writing this post, just the need for my fingers to be active and write, write anything.

So do our bodies control our minds or do our minds control our bodies? I believe they are one and the same. Our thoughts exist in every state, good or bad. We make choices on which one to carry out. We choose what to eat and drink, whether it is good or bad. Each thought has an action, each action has a consequence. Without thought there is no action. Without action there is no thought; for each man’s action is a seed for another’s thoughts.

Perhaps my inspiration to write should not just come from the activities of the project but from those around us who have inspired us to create the project, to make it a reality and to those of you who one day had a thought and with body and mind made your thoughts a reality.

Perhaps tonight my muse was set free….

A Personal Winter

Ever get that feeling that you’re stagnating….in a lull…flatlining, whatever you want to call it? It’s like your own personal Winter when everything slows down before you get that rush of fresh Spring energy and enthusiasm again to finally get back into gear.

Sometimes you can’t do anything about it except wait and….as I have been doing…get frustrated. I’m impatient, always have been.  I like to be on the move. I always have to be doing something, planning, tidying up, driving, walking, sleeping, tidying up, on the phone, tidying up, gardening….oh the list is endless!

winter blog
Winter can be calming

The trouble is what I want to be doing; what we both want to be doing is working the land, and we get frustrated when we cannot progress with that. I’ve learned there are always things which can be done in order to keep a connection with our project. What helps is having a focus, a purpose. We all need to be needed and there are plenty of people that are happy to make use of that neediness.

A few years ago my role as a mother changed, I wasn’t needed so much. I had to find a new role which kept me busy, which filled that void. Joining our Transition group was a big help. It gave me the purpose I was looking for, being part of a community. Don’t get me wrong, my kids still need me and so does Iain but there’s not much demand for ‘mum’ these days now they’ve become independent.

For me the commitment to being a parent has always been strong and it always will be. That’s why we wait so patiently for our children to build the foundations to their lives and make the choices they need to, then when they are ready to move on so will we.  There will always be a place for them wherever we go but for now they have chosen to follow their own paths and we thoroughly support them in their journey.

The thought of this keeps me focused and stops the stagnation as we build our current online community. Planning for the day when we can meet them, or some of them at least. I love being a mum, I love caring for people and celebrating life. Bringing people together and seeing what they can achieve is a fantastic experience.

The last event we organised for our Transition group was Apple Day. I got a buzz out of speaking to the local businesses and asking them to support our raffle, making those all important connections with the local community.  I enjoyed it when people came up with ideas for the day and my heart swelled when the mayor wrote a piece on her blog about it. It was a wonderful feeling knowing we had all pulled together to make the day a success and raise money for the group.  We had worked as a team…a community. I only usually get the lump in the throat moments when I see this kind of thing in a film….you know, when everybody pulls together at the end and everything’s all right;  well Apple Day was a lump in the throat moment for me.

So we continue to welcome people to our facebook and twitter communities, read Permaculture books , work on designing the land, keeping our regular maintenance visits up to Devon whilst staying connected to our children.

Sometimes though when you wait patiently, things begin to happen and time itself moves you, then you see there was a need for the slight pause in your life. There had to be for that motion to move again. Things usually sort themselves out in the most amazing ways.

For us the motion was our daughter finishing university. Ever since then everything seems to have sped up.  People who know what our dream is have come forward with donations of items they no longer use or need, the most recent being a very large donation of items from a local guide and scout group. Things that we had thought we would have to wait years to be able to purchase have fallen on our lap. A visit to our local car boot sale finally unearthed tools that we had been looking for for some time; it didn’t matter they were second hand. That’s what we do.

We’re very grateful for all of this, for the people who have become a part of our dream in whichever form that might be. They are always welcome to our piece of paradise and have a left a lasting mark on our hearts.

People have said how they envy us or would love to do what we are doing…….we say to them and people like them…do it! Not own a piece of land perhaps but whatever it is you want to do there are no obstacles…only your imagination and fear. Yes there are risks but if you want something bad enough, then those risks are worth everything when you come out the other end, living the life you really want to. For every challenge you come across it will teach you new things about yourself and whether what you are doing is the right thing for you.

You’ll never know if you don’t at least try…..and what then?

We know the pace will slow again…and….perhaps it needs to. It needs to in order for us to reflect back and take stock of what we have achieved so far and to make the most of those precious moments with our family whilst we still have them around us.winter blog2

So perhaps a few weeks or months of stagnation, or being forced to slow down isn’t a bad thing. Put into perspective we all need to take a moment to look at our lives, the direction we are taking and make sure it is what we really want. Relish those winter moments if you have them.

by Wenderlynn

Lessons of a PDC

It was difficult to decide what to write for this blog post as there was so much I wanted to say. After studying Permaculture for several years and having some insight to the majority of what was delivered on the course I chose the things that made the most impact on me and were, I felt, the most important;  communication and facing my own fears…

From the moment I left home I began to change, my fears of being out of my comfort zone and a desire to succeed were uppermost in my mind.  I was leaving my husband and everything familiar to me to do my Permaculture Design Course (PDC). I was on the edge of my comfort zone.  I was going to spend 2 weeks with people I had never met before. I was also looking to reconnect with a part of myself that I’d lost somewhere in this displaced society or…..discover something new.

I’d heard how life-changing a PDC can be. This was definitely the case for me, both from now being recognised as a permaculturist, and spiritually. I’m not sure I would have found my Permaculture eyes if I hadn’t done a residential course, not to say online courses aren’t worthwhile but the essence of community can’t be captured through a keypad  or computer screen, at least that’s what I believe. You can’t capture people’s feelings and nurture relationships effectively this way.

Globally we have become unconsciously dependant on an economy run on built-in obsolescence and an age where technology has become the new pacifier for our children. http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/2013/06/06/parenting-in-the-age-of-digital-technology/

How long could you go without your iphone?
Do you panic if your computer crashes?
How much time do you really spend playing outside with your children?

Yes it is possible to pick up the phone to call your friend or skype to the distorted image of your child at university but there is nothing like the look in someone’s eye when you know they love you, or the touch of their fingers on your face to confirm it. Technology doesn’t do that, it never has done and it never will. It has no nerve endings, no ability to feel. You can’t make these sensory things virtual.

In any setting where people are involved, group dynamics can either gel people together or become dysfunctional. A large majority of us feel so stressed with social or work related pressures that we forget the most important things around us are people. We need people. We can’t do without them. So…..communicating is an integral part of any group dynamic whether it’s family, business, globally or a PDC.

Take away our dependence on technology, which plays a very big part in how we communicate, and how do we get along? iphones and laptops make it easier to communicate with people 24/7 it’s true. People can be bought together from across the ocean or across the street if you’re feeling lazy but they can’t tell us what someone is feeling.

We have emoticons that can give a suggestion of being happy or laughing or a few xxxs at the end of a text message, a gesture of some kind of sentiment, I’m not sure what but they didn’t teach us how to smile, or frown or use our bodies the way that for millennia man has come to recognise as the simplest and most effective form of communication.

http://www.uefap.com/writing/exercise/report/nonverb.htm                         http://www.study-body-language.com/body-language-communication.html

Silence activity
Non verbal activity.

We have lost the true art of communication or at least we are in jeopardy of doing so.

Our ability to connect with the online world was reduced thankfully at Ourganics by our host encouraging us to only use the bare minimum to contact loved ones, solar power being all too precious. Ironically there was even an element of Gaian intervention as signal strength was weak making it harder to connect to the outside world regardless.

There was no TV. Instead our entertainment was governed by watching our fellow graduands as they engaged in frolics with Sam, the Ourganics pet dog. We shared our own skills on our days off building cob ovens, giving Reiki or enjoying a swim in the sea or playing croquet: I think I won?

DSCF8455
Sam

I come back for a short moment to my fears of meeting new people. I wondered how they would perceive me or whether I would live up to their expectations, or even they to mine. In fact I was in awe of all of them, each one relaying experiences that I wished my fractured family life had not prevented me from doing.

I felt inferior and that my lack of shared knowledge or experience would in some way prevent me from getting the most of the 2 weeks.  This only reinforced my longing for familiarity making leaving early a desirable option in the first few days. But……. as time went on and we shared these activities, the magic of Ourganics gave me a new comfort zone and wisdom and the outside world slowly dissolved away as each one of us became more connected.

I’m pleased to say that for some of us our ability to communicate with each other was difficult. Why was I pleased? If it had been easy we would have not learnt the importance of communicating our concerns to each other and at the same time recognising our differences. We wouldn’t have felt comfortable holding someone’s hand when apologising for an action or word we said or did, which we later regretted.  I’m not sure if this is how all PDC environments are, I can only tell you my experience.

As the days went on we shared our lives with each other, we learnt, we cried, we laughed, we learnt a bit more, we made a few puns and we occasionally got irritated but never angry. We hugged and comforted through voice, hand gestures and facial expressions, none of which you can experience the sincerity of through online interaction.  These are all patterns we recognise and interact with as human beings whichever belief system or culture we are part of.

So did we actually learn anything besides how to communicate with each other? Yes we did.  Our end designs were excellent ones, even with their spelling mistakes. [I admit to spelling Sloe worm as a species instead of Slow worm and this was before the party. ] We had shown that through all our differences, there can be a positive end result.  We learnt that all said and done, the collective, the integration rather than segregation, is important.

“the connections between elements are as important as elements themselves”           People in Permaculture, Looby Mcnamara.

How did we get there? By changing our own patterns of expectation. By reaching out beyond our edges. I can’t speak for my fellow graduates but my edge increased. I found existing elements within a bigger system that fed my need to obtain more of a yield from my life.

If you are thinking of doing your PDC then I recommend you do it as a residential. I believe

your experience will be more rewarding with the continuity it will bring. By no means do I judge online courses, in fact I can’t comment. People such as Patrick Whitefield and Geoff Lawton have given people an opportunity that they might not have had, if they had not put their PDC online.

Nonetheless my instinct tells me that to physically interact with people is to continue the infinite evolving pattern that is Permaculture, [to change the pattern so it becomes even greater.]

My PDC was the university experience I never had.  I loved every minute at Ourganics. Pat for her ability to let people be themselves and Aranya for drawing us into his web allowing us all to find our way knowing that we would.  My fellow peers without whom I wouldn’t have belonged, but most of all my husband for being the only constant in my life and for allowing me to be me.

Certificates v3
Permagrads Ourganics 2013

Wenderlynn

“I am an amateur writer. I write from the heart. Don’t judge me.