Meaning making using a series of tools as filters to make sense of the information we gathered in our survey/observation phase


Earthcare – I have considered the environmental impact of working digitally and used Ecosia as a search engine, to reduce my impact. I’m learning more about  how ecosystems work in the process, and aim to explore how tools express ecological principles.

Peoplecare – Self-care around time management during the design, not going too hard on myself for taking longer than I would have liked. Learning that emerges as a result of the design is potentially enriching, moving me forward in my self-actualisation.

Fairshare – I’d like this learning to be available to others who are involved in the diploma. I sense that other apprentices struggle with learning the tools, what I have learnt may be useful. Once I’m finished, I’ll share my design in the Diploma Facebook group and add it to Carla’s resources folder. 


I wanted to begin the design with looking at the principles, so this was the first activity I undertook when I began the design. 

I weaved the principles into the design by ascribing them to each aspect of the process, going by what felt like the best fit. You can see these at the beginning of each section with blue hashtag

Observe and Interact – What are tools? What’s their purpose? How are they used? Where in the design process are they used? What can we glean from using them that moves on and deepens the next stage of the design process?

Catch and store energy – Having tools in an easily accessible place, so in subsequent designs I can easily see what’s available. Using information that already exists, rather than coming up with my own, which requires more time and energy

Obtain a yield – trying out a number of tools to see how they work, learning measured over course of design, insights gathered, website that can be easily shared, spreadsheet of tools

Apply self-regulation and accept feedback – doing enough, learning from others around use of tools

Use and value renewable resources and services – the design and its yields will exist entirely in a digital version. I’m aware that searching the internet with an eco search engine can reduce carbon footprint, but I’m so embroiled entirely in Google, it’s hard to change. Our hosting is also pretty standard, not a green company. Lot’s I could do better here. Change feels hard, I have a way of working that works well for me. I’ll reflect and research on this more. I’ll talk to my husband about switching to green hosting. And do some research about other ways to have less of an impact when working digitally, using the Something Club as a resource bank. When I use paper, I’ll only use what I already have, use it both sides, reuse it for a different purpose if I can and recycle it. I have a lot of paper! Ideally I’d buy beautiful recycled paper to use, but, the most sustainable thing is the thing you already have, so… If my life gave me time to do creative things, I’d make my own paper from the paper I use. I’ve thought about that in quite some depth, it’s not going to happen at the moment. 

Produce no waste – I’ve wasted a lot of time on this design, making it about something entirely different, then through the process realising that it was actually really about tools. I want to continue with it as I’ve put a lot of energy into creating the structure on the website for it. And there’s been learning too, so not all wasted. 

Design from patterns to details – I see now that the framework for the design is the pattern, the tools, elements, techniques and strategies are the details. Hence, this design focuses much on the details. I feel confident that I understand frameworks, so this feels appropriate for my learning.

Integrate rather than segregate – Wholes. The design process as a nested whole, within the wider wholes of my other designs, the diploma, the permaculture movement and the wider world. This design feels like a further unfolding and expansion of my grasping of the design process. I’m integrating new learning. 

Use small and slow solutions – Micro-goals, doing a bit at a time to make progress, using SMARTER goals along the way, supported by Carla and the design forum. Also, learning about using the right tool for the job, right tool, right place (like right plant, right place!). The unfurling nature of the learning, like a fern frond, a spiral, spirally outwards. 

Use and value diversity – range of tools used in this design, range of tools used across the portfolio. Having a document with information about all the available tools I have discovered in one place will help with this. It’ll also help me see tools I use often, like mindmaps, and tools I haven’t yet tried. 

Use edges and value the marginal – using tools from other disciplines, in a relevant way, to help expand and deepen understanding, creative tools for instance. Also, being sure to use little used tools.

Creatively use and respond to change – this design as a whole, from its beginnings as something entirely different, to its unfolding as a tools unleashing activity, perfectly epitomises this! It’s also about how using a toll in the process brings forth new insights and awareness, then how I respond to that in the next stage of the process.

In the observation phase I learnt what tools are and what the concept of tools means in the permaculture design context.

New information leads to new insights…

In the course of my learning activities, I stumbled across four documents that clarified and concentrated my thinking around tools. 

At this stage I felt I had learned enough about tools to begin really thinking about how I was going to make all this learning useful.

Assessment Criteria