Exploring client needs & wants


I used Aranya’s template for the client interview. You can read it here.

This process led to the discovery that:

*I want to understand tools better

*I always want to push the edges of my learning, to learn more. I’m always pushing at the boundaries of what I feel is possible, going beyond the defined, because that’s how I learn

*I haven’t yet a found a document that clearly expresses tools, how, where and why to use them, so as is my pattern (I can’t find what I am looking for in the world, so I have to make it), I’ll make one that’s useful to me, making it meet my needs for feeling clever, creative, juicy and innovative (mmmm, what’s that about?)

What are tools anyway? 

Writing a Basemap

What is a tool as used in a permaculture design context? And what goes into the permaculture designers toolbox?

Firstly, I looked at the Climate vs info on the Something Club to see which are the greener search engines, Ecosia seems like a good option, they plant trees for searches. Then I searched “What are tools?” Read the findings in the appendix here.

 In summary, a tool is:

*a device or implement, especially one held in the hand, used to carry out a particular function

*a thing used to help perform a job

*something (such as an instrument or apparatus) used in performing an operation or necessary in the practice of a vocation or profession

*a means to an end

*to shape, form, or finish with a tool

*Tools are essential and make life easier. Care for them, maintain them regularly. Have an organised place to store them.

*Using the right tools for the job. Let the tools do the work.

Next, I searched ” What are permaculture tools?” You can read the findings in the next  appendix here. Key findings from this reveals:

*Humans use tools to change their environment  (everything gardens, everything is an intervention)

*In People and Permaculture, Looby Mcnamara says ‘tools provide us with varied ways of gaining insights

*How can this design enhance ecosystem health, create surplus, be purpose-driven and goal-oriented?

*We, as designers, work with the information that we can gather around us. And then we use tools to help unpick that information and make it useful for us…

*We need to ask ‘what is the problem we are solving?’, and how can we use a tool to solve the problem?

*Ask questions about what insights came after each use of a tool, this learning often informs the design decisions phase


The learning of permaculture is not just learning the tools, but also the best way to apply them in space and place to improve ecosystem health and produce a surplus.

*What is a tool within permaculture? Well, anything can be, subject to context..

*I need to do a function analysis of tools! For this I could imagine the design as an ecosystem, and begin to identify the function of each tool within. So, what’s an ecosystem? A community of interacting organisms (phases of the design perhaps, parts of the process, SADIMET for example) and their environment (context) and their interrelationships.. Actually, thinking of a design as an ecosystem is pretty useful, and feels like a good insight. An ecosystem meets its own needs from the resources within it, each part of the ecosystem plays a role in the creation of the whole. The design expresses itself as an ecosystem in the way I have chosen to present it using webpages that are all interconnected. How do the tools live and interact with each other and with the design as a whole?

‘and all that craftsmanship has its basis in knowing how to use tools’…

Then, I found this from Graham Bell https://www.permaculturenews.org/2020/08/10/check-out-your-permaculture-tool-box/

I notice I’ve come upon a differentiation between physical tools and intellectual tools. My father is also a master craftsman, and he didn’t pass on his manual/hand/craft skills to me. But I developed my own tools for working in the world, tools for social organising and thinking, creative tools, tools for understanding our social reality, and aiming to influence change within it. Permaculture is another layer in crafting my art as a social change agent. I may not know how to use tools to craft wood or metal (not entirely true, I learnt to work silver well) but I know how to craft events, workshops, gatherings, I know how to craft social space. Am I then an engineer of the social fabric? I think I may well be. I have a masters degree in social science, so it’s likely true for me to be able to say that.

Bell says “Permaculture is not really about a pocket full of answers – it’s much more about the questions you would ask yourself to lead you to the right answer for this time, this place and the resources available to you, right now. So: everything that we use as an element in a design has needs. It provides us with outputs. It creates by-products. It has certain characteristics. It has predators. It has a community in which it functions well.

When I ask this of tools, I get some interesting answers. Tools need to be ‘sharp’, ‘well lubricated’, and ‘current’. I use inverted commas because sometimes these may be metaphorical rather than literal. They need to fit well with the user. Using tools long term requires this. The tool is supposed to make doing the task easier. If it doesn’t, it’s the wrong tool…Being conscious of and learning about tools reduces our work load and takes us to our goal more quickly, more safely and hopefully, happier.”

Mmm, lots to think about there, the applying of practical tools used in a metaphorical way…what are the metaphorics I seek that can help with my understanding? 

Seeking a nature metaphor for tools…mmm more good stuff is coming from my writing. Writing is a tool for me, it takes me to my goal, which is to uncover understanding, to bring knowing into conscious awareness, it is also a process of reflection. So writing must be in my toolbox. That feels like there’s space for learning and growing into, adding depth and richness to my use of language for understanding and communication.

Assessment Criteria