This past October the Permaculture Association of the Northeast (PAN) organized a deep and vibrant gathering of 27 teachers from the up and down the Northeast United States and Canada at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. We gathered over many meals, fires and facilitated spaces to support permaculture teachers to continue improving the quality and outcomes of educational offerings and experiences, and to continue building a culture of mutual aid and reciprocity. Below you will find an brief report back from the gathering. Click here for a full version of the notes from the first day of the training including a resource list and detailed notes on retelling the permaculture origin story.
The goal for this event was to increase the resilience of the Northeast region by strengthening the regional permaculture network and facilitating access to relevant education and resources. We recalled at the 2014 North American Permaculture Convergence (NAPC) there emerged requests from the People of Color Caucus to center the topics of social justice, racial justice, anti-oppression and equity within our work. During the first day of this capacity building and professional development gathering we responded to those requests with a day long diversity training with Relational Uprising. Through unpacking dominant narratives, physical movement and sharing our own stories we learned that we don’t gain justice by merely increasing representation through tokenism, or shaming individuals for systemic problems. We gain justice from learning how to cultivate a culture shift in our community, deconstructing oppressive beliefs and stories and coming to embody our shared values. You can view a copy of the slides from the training here.
A delegation from this one day training is going to continue building on what we learned and network with other activists, organizers, movement builders and changemakers from diverse fields to build healthy, interdependent, relational culture in a four day training this December. Look for future report backs from this event.
We spent the second day exploring more connectivity and alignment between permaculture teachers in our region by brainstorming community-derived standards for permaculture educational quality. We did this by first getting an overview of what processes other countries and regions use to decide who can be permaculture teachers. We also heard a report back from a board member who was a part of a conversation around teacher qualifications at the recent NAPC (North American Permaculture Convergence). We then built on earlier conversations on how our region could take a bottom-up collaborative approach to defining quality standards for teachers in our region. We broke up into small groups and brainstormed answers to four questions: 1) Why is a system of standards important or useful 2) What content considerations should be included in a quality standard? 3) What pedagogical (how we teach) or ethical considerations should be part of a standard? 4) How might PAN best implement and maintain a voluntary community-created system?
During our February organizers retreat at D Acres in New Hampshire (February 24th and 25th) we will continue to winnow and come up with a draft round of voluntary standards that teachers will be able to pilot in 2017. We would love your feedback and input on these questions. You can see the results of the questions and add your own feedback here.
The remaining part of the gathering was reserved for creating space for professional level peer-to-peer sharing and cross-training on quality educational and organizational practices for the permaculture community.
- retelling the permaculture origin narrative from a social justice perspective
- tips on how the Resilience Hub organizes successful events
- playing the new-to-print social permaculture principles card game
- how to tie in social permaculture by co-creating a problems mind map
- …and many others.
We closed our gathering with several announcements including that PAN is hiring a part time virtual assistant and is looking for new board members. Information and a job description is available on our website.
We thank everyone who was able to devote their time and resources to this event. For PAN members who could not attend, we invite feedback on community standards for quality permaculture education in our region.
If you are not yet a member, please join PAN today to keep supporting our network with events like these and our upcoming winter retreat at D Acres.
We hope to see you in February,
Jesse Watson, Lisa DePiano, Steve Whitman, Taylor Rae Shuler, Lisa Fernandes, Keith Morris, Jono Neiger