poetry, practice, patterns, principles, process

She came here with nothing but a handful of seeds and the slimmest of instructions to “use your gifts and dreams for good,”
Skywoman, Robin Wall Kimmerer (Braiding Sweetgrass)

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman, Author, theologian and civil rights leader


date: 12 July – 21 September 2023
status: implemented
Site/context: Penarth Pier, Penarth’s Outdoor arts festival, poem
Collaborators: elle kate edwards, circus director, Splatch CIC, Audience, Story sharers, feedback givers, Seagulls
domains: education & culture
Framework (holding Pattern): creative design process 
ethics: earth care, people care, fair shares, Self-Care, future-care
principles: Seven first Principles of Regeneration, Carol Sandford (Whole, Essence, Potential, development, nestedness, Node, Field), known as the regenerative life principles for short

Performance Poem Project – as an ‘experiment’ method, Writing – using a web of Google docs, Perceiving Wholes, Regenerative Life Principles, Thinking through Making, Zones of Interaction, Word map (Mollison’s Principles),  Ethics, Intuitive Observation, Four Questions.


Technical Tutorial with Jo Barker, previous experience of performance poem in design 5, poem from creative writing workshop with Taylor Edmunds, poem in Liz’s Zine, and Letters to Tomorrow project, facilitation and workshop planning skills form work/life experience, Carla’s Design Forum, RSA Regenerative Futures resources and blogs, Geoff Lawton’s Pattern Understanding video, Nora Bateson’s How nature works and how people think video, Dave Snowden videos, Deep Dive into Patterns doc, Feedback and support from Jane, Mike and Cam, stories from Julie, Rich, Gerrie, Kersty and Elen.


The design is an opportunity to create a space to learn about my creative arts practice, through a practical real world experiment – writing and delivering a performance poem at the ‘To the Sea’ Outdoor Arts Festival in Penarth, produced by Elle and her business partner Esther at Splatch, with funding from the Arts Council and Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Shared Prosperity Fund.

The poem offers a context for defining and developing my creative arts practice and a deepening of my understanding of patterns, principles and design process.

I am interested in defining and developing my creative arts practice because an emergent outcome of our setting up Wild Ceridwen CIC ( see design 3) is the idea of calling ourselves artists. As an artist, the idea of a practice is implicit – I better define what that means for me, and how my artist nature is expressed through my work in the world.  


intending |The Seed…, Project Proposal

observing |Deep Dive into Patterns, Perceiving Wholes, Regenerative Life Principles, Thinking through Making (basemap)

visioning |Aims, Goals and Functions, Sense of Direction

sensing |Zones of Interaction, Word Map

creating |Devising and Delivering the Practical Experiment

forming |Design Decisions from Principles Exploration, Post-Performance Reflection, Ethics

cultivating |Pattern Sensemaking, Defining my Creative Arts Practice

integrating |Intuitive Observation, Bringing it all Together – Developing my Creative Arts Practice, Evaluating the Content

contemplating |Reflecting on the Process, Discerning Wisdom


We begin with the moment of inception, as Bill Mollison calls it in his core permaculture process, the event horizon – the seed of an idea, the origin.

The Seed…

…came in a happenstance conversation with Elle about a different sort of event altogether. It rose into the fizzy excitement that a new idea often creates in the body. And in that moment the idea for a performance poem project, the ‘Promenading Poet’ was born. Conceived initially as ‘birdwoman’, but shifting and changing as the dreaming went along, coming into the world in the end as ‘Gull Stories’.

The intention for the design is to use this performance poem project as an experiment through which to explore creative arts practice, patterns, principles and process.

Notes from meeting with Elle. 12 July 2023. Emergence of ‘Promenading Poet’ idea.

In the days ahead I gathered a project proposal together, submitted it to Elle and then awaited her confirmation that we could go ahead. 

On Friday 28 July, Elle confirmed that they would indeed like to go ahead with the proposal. And then the dreaming began in earnest. 


The gathering in-formation began with a deep dive into patterns. I read and made notes from a variety of books in which I knew the topic of patterns had been covered. I will explore the significance of patterns later on in the design. Here, I was able to articulate my understanding of patterns in my own words.

Perceiving Wholes

The invitation from Carol Sandford’s Regenerative Life Principles is to come into awareness of wholes. I noted the ‘nested wholes’ I perceive in the people and place involved in the performance poem experiment.

Then, I made an experiential drawing of how that feels. The Ecology of the Nested Wholes. Sally Hughes. August 2023 (pastels, felt-tip pens)

Regenerative Life Principles

I began exploring the Seven First Principles of Regeneration early on in the design, as I wanted the whole design to be informed by them in some way. I came back to them again post-performance. I enjoyed bringing together a number of documents in the process, including: Principles Exploration, Principles Mapping, Respondings and Principles – Resonance, Connection and Application. For the exercise in which I mapped the RL principles to the permaculture principles, I brought together  all the principles I am interested in here

I have summarised the  insights and learnings I have gleaned from the work I have done to understand the principles in this context from these documents, and present the design decisions that came out of the exploration in the forming phase of the design below.  

Thinking through Making

I made a collage of the pier using the shapes and patterns that came into view from an overhead Google Earth image. I made a note of the thoughts that arose in this process, which I have articulated below.

Basemap of Our Contemporary Reality. Sally Hughes, Collage. September 2023

The collage is a visual representation of our propensity, given our current mechanistic worldview, to take things apart and put them back together again. In this way, it is a basemap of our contemporary reality . It also symbolises the assembly method of designing, where you gather lots of elements together, rather than differentiating wholes in context. The assembly method does not lead to the creation of generative wholes. You can’t take a frog apart and put it back together and still have ‘frog’, its core, or essence has gone. We lose the sense of aliveness. (See Christopher Alexander and Dan Palmer for more on this.)

This notion, for me, exists as a counterpoint to what happens in the creative process, especially when I’m working with collage materials. Clearly, I have taken an image apart and put it back together again to make a new whole. But images are not living beings, so it’s different. 

The lesson here is that to make generative and regenerative things in the world now, we must be approaching from a living systems view of life, not a ‘world as machine’ view, which is inherent in some of the early systems thinking. That is why I have chosen the Regenerative Life Principles, and why I chose to deep dive into all the work of Nora Bateson and Dave Snowden. My wish is that the poem expresses something of the essence of this thinking, where the concept of ‘mind’ with which to think is situated in our relationship to the whole world, as expressed through the work of Gregory Bateson in ‘ Steps to An Ecology of Mind‘. 


The project proposal defined clearly what I intended to ‘do’ in order to achieve the overarching intention of this design:


The ‘doing’ in this context is a medium for deeper explorations into principles, patterns, process and my creative arts practice.

To articulate how this exploration would proceed, I described the functions of the design and set about creating a sense of direction (goals), which enable the aims in the project proposal to be achieved, and expands into a deeper awareness of the learning I was hoping for as a result – to better understand patterns, principles and design process and define and develop my own creative arts practice.


Through the design I hope to be able to:

*Articulate my understanding of patterns

*Deliver the project proposal

*Discern the learning from the performance poem experiment to; 

*Define my Creative Arts Practice

*Develop my Creative Arts Practice

*Develop my understanding of design process

*Evolve my approach to principles


Zones of Interaction

The zones identify the levels of interaction with the living world in my creative arts practice and generative design process, which I have observed in relation to the Regenerative Life Principles. They are the spheres in which emergent possibilities for generative transformation occur. It’s about how creative practice, poetry in this instance, integrates inner and outer, and where and how change can happen in the different levels of interactions with the living world.

Word map

For generating more awareness of the positionalities, practices and methods involved in my creative practice, I used Mollison’s principles as a source of inspiration for uncovering insights and developing sapience (the capacity to be self-aware). 


Gull Stories

Devising and Delivering the Practical Experiment

Observing how my creative arts practice shows up through writing and performing Gull Stories.

I wrote a review of what had happened to bring Gull Stories to life, which you can read here. The insights that revealed themselves in this writing include:

*When I was performing, I experienced the moment, and the way time seemed to stop, as transcendental flow

*My process/pattern for writing poems is becoming more clear 

*Offering the gift of the paper birds was one of the best bits of the whole thing. I’ll definitely do that again, so making a gift for the audience becomes part of my practice

*I will develop this idea of art-making as a ritual practice

*Doing the practice with the Dawnstalkers was a fantastic idea, it got my nerves out, so on the day I was ready and open and feeling alive.

*I have very little idea of the effects and impact of this work, I’ll need to open space for an intuitive response

The first fold in the making of the origami paper seagulls. Image credit: Sally Hughes

Hand drawn seagull image for the sticker. Image credit: Sally Hughes

The sticker. Image credit: Sally Hughes

Putting together the display for Griffin Books. Image credit: Sally Hughes

The display in the window of Griffin Books. Image credit: Sally Hughes

More paper folding, my hands busy, my mind wandering into systems and complexity. Image credit: Sally Hughes

The display in Foxy’s Deli window. Image credit: Sally Hughes

Practicing with the Dawnstalkers the Wednesday morning before performance day. Image shared on Dawnstalkers Instagram.

The display in Penarth Pet Shop window. Image credit: Sally Hughes

The display in Jo’s Organics window. Image credit: Sally Hughes

One of the stickers on the trail, all roads lead to the sea. Image credit: Sally Hughes

Birdcage display. Image credit: Sally Hughes

Seagulls suspended on the avairy in Alexandra Park. Image credit: Sally Hughes

Birdcage in situ on performance day. Image credit: Sally Hughes

Lane, trapeze artist performing in the trees behind me as I delivered the poem. Image credit: Sally Hughes

Lots of people in the crowd!. Image credit: Sally Hughes

Gull Stories, in the performance circle, with Lane on the trapeze in the background. Image credit: Sally Hughes


Design Decisions from Principles Exploration

Once the creating phase was complete, I took time to consider what had happened in the experiment, and came back to the design decisions I had made during the principles exploration and in the post-performance reflection, which I present here as an action plan of sorts, in their order of priority: 


  • Use some of the words from this Principles Exploration in the poem
  • Identify the ‘wholes’ in the poem project, draw them, nested
  • I need to identify myself as a whole, become aware of my essence, who I really am, look for the potential and find places in which I need to grow (in Post-Performance Reflection)
  • Figure out what capabilities you need to build to get you more aligned with your sense of direction (in Post-Performance Reflection)


  • Open a space for intuitive reponce. Go to the pier, have a being-to-being encounter with seagulls. Use Morrow’s ideas about pattern observation to inform that. What would it be to be in ‘active dialogue’ with seagulls?
  • Gather the information about the history of the pier (DONE, in Pattern Sensemaking)


  • In ethics – refer to Jasmine Dale’s ideas about discernment (DONE)
  • Use the patterns from CA’s Pattern Language as a way of generating ideas (DONE)
  • Reframe the  ‘A note on Aims and Goals’ inquiry from the perspective of potential


  • Find the India poem, showcase your poems on your website 
  • I need to develop a good online portfolio
  • I need to be writing, honing my craft. Sharing my writing in the world. I am still seeking recognition
  • Read through your old writing and see what it tells you about your essence and potential


  • I need to find ways to feel myself more connected to people
  • Work on your ability to generate better quality thoughts for yourself, developing consciousness – self-care

Post-Performance Reflection

You can read the full document here, below is the summary with the key insights:

What did I learn about my creative arts practice?
  1. I love being engaged in menial work with my hands, listening to podcasts about big deep things, like when I was making the birds, like when I’m propagating seedlings.
  2. It was interesting to note that on rereading the pamphlet ‘Topia’ that went with my Fine Art degree show (20 years ago), my themes are almost identical, just deeper, and more nuanced after all the more years experience. 
  3. I love doing performance poetry. It’s interesting to note that my ‘poems’ defy definition, they aren’t poems, prose or stories. What are they? Performance poems? 
  4. My creative arts practice is about personal, social, cultural & ecological change, it’s a generative & regenerative practice. Permaculture design is a process I use to develop projects and actions in the world that shape fields, changing the energy of the system, and creating conditions for emergence.
  5. It’s about communication, poetry is a way of communicating my inner worlds, giving my inner world outer expression.
  6. When I find ways to express who I really am (through creative arts practice) and make a contribution to the larger whole (through generative & regenerative design projects), then I am fulfilling my potential.
  7. Performing is a bit like a drug, I yearn to experience that moment of being in flow, of transcendence, once more. 
Becoming aware of whole – my contributing roles
  1. I am beginning to define new roles for myself: artist, wordsmith, gardener, events curator (witch)
  2. I learnt that curation is The act of curing or healing (archaic). See CURATION AS A SOCIAL PRACTICE 
  3. I feel called to be an artist, and writer. 
  4. And there’s a lingering around opening and holding spaces for learning, but that might be just that it’s a pattern for me because of my training and experience. What other training and experience could I involve myself in now to expand that pattern?
  5. Becoming a wordsmith – Elle and Neill both said it about me during the poem project
Becoming aware of essence – who I truly am
  1. I am curious about how change happens. I always have been. Because I love the world, and I can’t bear that we are destroying her (big gush of emotion in my body as I wrote this).
  2. I really enjoyed the day I spent in the kitchen at Mike and Cam’s winter supper.
  3. I find myself more interested in storytelling, climate, biodiversity and social change
  4. I love forest gardens.
  5. I notice that I find myself less concerned with the future, and more concerned with the present moment.
  6. I have become more clear on my essence – I am an edge-dweller, curator, I enjoy pursuing learning and shaping fields
  7. All this time in my life with all my experimenting, what I have been doing is looking for my essence – see Story to Now. Who am I? Where do I end and you begin?
Becoming aware of potential – what I could do, given the right conditions
  1. I do have a good collection of perennial plants, I need to take care of them, and could benefit from propagating them. 
  2. The Kymin is emerging once more as a place of possibility.
  3. I’ll keep my bodyworld open to new opportunities for poems. 
  4. It would be possible to develop a schools climate/nature poem project with Sara Drysdale. 
  5. I recognise that I’d find better research opportunities for my book (Design for Social Change) by being a diploma tutor than I would by being involved in Paramaethu Cymru, but PC is interesting! Chris Dixon would be a good person to talk to.
  6. The idea of an Evolving Permaculture substack and podcast was on my mind again as I was falling asleep last night (25 Sep). The two projects for next year, CommonLAND and Food Forest Garden Collective could be the beginning of this inquiry. Now that would be interesting. The creative evaluation course would really help with this (and learning more about measuring impact), though I don’t have capacity to engage with it until after my diploma https://www.janewillis.co.uk/creative-evaluation
  7. I have something about a school garden and an outdoor learning space that’s been brewing for a while

Becoming aware of development – what capabilities need to grow?
  1. I’d like to learn more about the art/performance/social change world in Penarth and Cardiff. Or is it that I’d like to weave myself into it?
  2. I long for connection, hence my enduring work to bring people together and grow community. I spend a lot of time alone in the house, I’d like more time in deep connection with people. I spend a lot of time on the computer, I’d like more time out in the world doing stuff with people. My desire to be more connected to other people is coming though strongly. What actions do I need to take to make that so? E. talked about getting a job to be around people. 
  3. I’m keen to rewrite the a note on aims and goals from the perspective of potential, rather than identifying all the problems – this has potential to be the first couple of Evolving Permaculture inquiries on Substack. 
  4. I still think it would be useful to do some sort of coaching training – what about the Transpersonal Psychology coaching that Dan McTirenan did? 
  5. I still think it’s worth thinking about being a diploma tutor. 
  6. I’m not aware as I would like to be of the effects of my work – need to do more thinking around measuring impact
  7. I could do with being more focused on my audience, understanding audiences better (see Clare’s marketing info for how to do audience for the arts), it’s about the central importance of considering others – ‘Successful businesses learn to understand and respond to the lives and evolving aspirations of the people and groups they serve’. Carol Sandford. 
  8. Curve ball – maybe I could  become an ecstatic dance teacher and do a weekly class – well, I’d rather just find a weekly class!


I used the ethics as a sensing tool ( see notes on Radical Wholeness), a medium through which to reflect on the ethical underpinnings of the process I have been though in the entirety of this design, as a way to activate bodyworld intelligence, to make sense of what happened, and to feel into how earth care, people care, fair share, self-care and future-care resonate within and inform my creative arts practice and design process. 

You can read this sensing in a document in here, and below.


Pattern Sensemaking

I aimed to make sense of the deep dive I made into patterns in the observation phase and identified the relevance for this design, and the ways I interweaved and imbricated patterns as part of this process: in the structure of the poem, and in the patterns of my own behaviour that make up my creative arts practice, and my approach to the design process as part of that practice.

A few things have come into my awareness as an outcome of this Pattern Sensemaking process:

Another thing I notice is my pattern of leaving little traces, breadcrumbs, or indeed, seeds of intention around action I believe is required in the world now, in my poems. As if they are maps for future working for myself, they offer insight into where I should put my energy. I wonder if they are sites of pre-emergence, and therefore ripe…

  • In Gull Stories it’s the ‘gathering in dream circles to find a common language’.
  • In  Woman at the Top of the World it was ‘be like standing stones, strong, rooted, together’.
  • In  Letter to Tomorrow it was ‘I avow to you sweetly to do all I can, to bring back the old ways and live with the land’
  • In  Holm Oak it was ‘Let me help you remember into our becoming once more as One’.

Themes emerge in my work! That’s a very obvious thing to say, but has been a huge insight. Perhaps a good thing to do now is look at my past writings to tease out the themes I am working on in my practice. I’ll do that when I am making my online portfolio. Maybe the themes will keep emerging until they are resolved somehow in my way of being, and achieved through my action in the world. It’s great to have this come into my awareness.

Defining my Creative Arts Practice

From the sensemaking process above, it became clear that my creative arts practice emerges from the patterns of behaviour that I repeat, so I wrote down all the activities I do regularly. 

Therefore, it is true to say that my practice includes:

  • writing – inquiries, stories and performance poems
  • making lots of one simple object, like the paper seagulls
  • collecting words from books and research
  • being site-specific and context-based (which is likely why I never do the same thing twice)
  • making/collecting/assembling artefacts
  • making word maps
  • assigning objects and images with meaning and significance, often attached to my way of being in the world or my imaginings of the future, or our contemporary reality
  • making installations and performing within the space I’ve created
  • playing with materials, making experiential and experimental drawings mindfully with different media – charcoal, pastels, pencils, paint, palette knives, collage, found and made objects
  • gardening, my community growing and other projects, events and workshops, taking photos, tending my sketchbooks, movement, reading, experimenting with printmaking, social media, websites and cooking
  • the creative design process that I have developed through my diploma designs


Intuitive Observation

I went to the pier, and had a being-to-being encounter the seagulls. I used Morrow’s Pattern Observation Method to inform that. What was it be to be in ‘active dialogue’ with seagulls? – as a way to intuitively observe the effects and impacts of my work in the field. This is what happened. I learnt that the answer is simple, ask people close to you for feedback! I learnt that my poem conjures beautiful imagery, and is emotionally intelligent.

Bringing it all Together – Developing my Creative Arts Practice

On the way to this point in the design, I have learnt many things about how I would like my life and practice to be. Here’s a summary, another action plan perhaps, and another set of design decisions to set me on my way as I continue to grow and develop in my practice, drawn from all the documents I have produced in the design, and Growing Capability:

evaluating the content

Were your project aims met through the design solution created?

Yes they were! I achieved everything I set out to do with the design!

Through the design I hoped to be able to:

*Articulate my understanding of patterns – this has been achieved in the deep dive into patterns and pattern sensemaking

*Deliver the project proposal – yes, I have done that

*Discern the learning from the performance poem experiment to; – achieved in post-performance reflection

*Define my creative arts practice – achieved in cultivating phase where I note the patterns of behaviour I repeat

*Develop my creative arts practice – design decisions for future working are identified in integrating phase, in Bringing it all Together

*Develop my understanding of design process – I approach this in the contemplating phase, where I reflect on the process

*Evolve my approach to principles – throughout the design, where I have used the principles as tools for discovering insights

Did the design work? How do you know that it worked?

It worked for me! I enjoyed the unfolding, layer upon layer of deepening as I explored the different aspects of poetry, practice, principles and process. I know it worked because I have a clear picture of what my practice is now, and a lot more learning about principles, process and patterns to draw on to inform my approach to permaculture design. 

I have identified two projects to work on in the year ahead – ‘Food Forest Garden Collective’ (WC) and ‘CommonLAND’ (PGC), through which to refine my practice and design process.

What went well?

The process of gathering in-formation, processing it through filtering, editing and gleaning key insights. I enjoy going to the edges of my thinking through writing, then drawing back in to get more specific.

I love the way I weave a web of interconnection with the links to documents and sources. 

Using creative tools, like the collage and word map to observe where I am at with my thinking. The zones, that was rich with learning.

The insights! Some things have come into my awareness through this process that have been extremely helpful, the way I leave breadcrumbs, for instance.

The personal growth that has come from the whole process, the effects of which I will experience in time.

I like that another design, to design my online portfolio, has come out of this. And the ideas for projects for the years ahead, that’s helpful.

I feel like I have hit the crux of something that’s been bubbling inside for a long while now with the writing of ‘ A Note on Aims and Goals‘. I’m looking forward to pushing in to that more.

What was challenging?

Presenting the copious amount of writing in a format that was accessible, it took so much time, but was enjoyable.

Getting caught up in the problems I perceive with permaculture design process, there’s work to do around how I communicate there, and how I shift now to see the potential. 

What would you do differently next time? 

I would say I still need to simplify my design, again it’s too much, but I think I say this every time. I seem to need the deep learning that comes from these complex, entwined and unfolding processes I immerse myself in. Carla shared a poem with me on being too much. It’s just perfect. 

Maybe do one of my last two designs more on paper, I have spent a lot of time at the computer in this design, because I find it easy to shift in-formation around using digital tools, in fact, that’s one of the parts of my process I enjoy most.

I think I need to bring a bit more academic rigour to the way I present my sources, referencing better. This would improve my inquiries. 


reflecting on the process, discerning wisdom


I enjoyed playing around with this new framework as I was forming it. It resonates with my sense of being in the creative design process. I drew inspiration from a variety of existing frameworks , including appreciative inquiry, the design web, the field process model and Dragon Dreaming to formulate it. I don’t think I have got the shape of the model quite right.

The realisation emerged that the flow of the design fitted with the design process Dave Snowden articulates‘sense the direction, next right step, look again’ (shown in the illustration above). There’s the pre-creating phase of sensing direction, then creating is the next right step and all phases after are concerned with looking again, but this isn’t communicated visually well enough for me. It looks like you go back through creating again after contemplating, but you don’t, you go from contemplating to intending again.  I think it should look more like an hourglass, with creating in the centre which the other phases flow through. 

However, it’s not like when designing I was working on one phase at a time, I flowed through them all, all at once (more like the movement of energy you can imagine from ripples on water, as they reverberate back and forth, from inner to outer, like I have illustrated in the Zones, but not diminishing over time in this case). I just had to find a way to present the design for write up, which might make it seem linear. However, the timeline is all over the place, if I plotted the things that happened in a time line, it would look quite different, this is interesting to me. 

I think I could merge some phases so there are only three on each side of creating. I enjoy frameworks that have less steps, like James Chapman’s Simplest Design Process.  I’ll work on a better solution for this. 

In terms of using framework as a holding pattern for the design, it worked extremely well. It feels to me like the explorations in each phase were suitable for what I was working towards achieving. I find the framework beautiful, I feel it expresses my essence. 

I was trying out not referring to SADIMET as a tool to make sure I had included everything in the design I was supposed to, instead I used the  assessment criteria as a checklist. It seems common (as observed in other designs shared in Carla’s design forum) to map unfamiliar frameworks onto SADIMET, but if the process you use to create a design is linear, then the outcome is linear too, so I want to avoid doing that. I wanted to create something that feels like an unfolding whole, I feel like I have achieved that.


I am still thinking about another word for tools, as I find ‘tools’ mechanistic. I also find the idea of a ‘toolbox’ feels rather masculine to me, and I’m keen to participate in rebalancing  the feminine energies in permaculture design. Here I have started using ‘methods’. The tools/methods add detail to the design, here I take each in turn.

Performance Poem Project – as an ‘experiment’ method

This worked extremely well as a playful space in which to unearth how my creative arts practice shows up. I enjoyed the learning from doing. In a way, it was a small  action research project within the wider design – I enjoy how the design is a bit like a Russian  doll.

Writing, using a web of Google docs

Writing is a method I use to get to the bottom of my thinking and bring it forth into the world. A means of communicating what is going on for me, it acts as a mirror so that I can see what’s happening in the reflection. It’s very effective for me, although I recognise the copious amount of words is not a format that is for everyone. I have tried to draw out the key insights, and present them in a way that makes them accessible, using the text images (although I know this is not accessible for screen readers, hence always including the link to the doc).

Perceiving Wholes

Using a mind map followed by a drawing feels like an effective way to communicate my experience  of ‘wholes’ in this context.

Regenerative Life Principles

The exploration of principles turned out to be huge, and forms a major part of this design. The exercise to map RL Principles onto more commonly used permaculture principles was interesting, it increased my understanding of how the living world works, which is what the principles are supposed to be a way into. It also led to the first set of design decisions, which demonstrates how the principles put thinking into action.

Thinking through Making

Utilising the enjoyment of being in a state where my mind is wandering whilst my hands are busy is a very effective method of getting deeper insight into my thinking.

Zones of Interaction

The best method in the design! I feel very satisfied with this, it worked extremely effectively to uncover how inner and outer are integrated in the process of creating change in the world, through the the levels of interaction. 

Word map (Mollison’s Principles)

A go-to method for me, I find it so useful to use a map like this to bring awareness to things. I like the idea of developing these word maps into a distinct art form as part of my practice.


Used as a sensing tool to reflect on the process as a whole and draw learnings, which worked well. I notice that I pretty much always use the ethics as a reflection tool. I could try using them as a planning tool, to see if that’s different.

Intuitive Observation

This was a beautiful, and effective way to bring things into awareness!

Four Questions

This method was helpful for observing where I am at now at the end of design 8, and working out what’s next.

Design Process

I see now that this creative design process that I have been working on is part of my creative arts practice. It is in itself a method that I use! I am looking forward to consolidating my learning around design process as my writing goes on. In the podcasts Dan did with Looby, ( here and here) they talk much about resisting defining an end goal, but remain open to the emergent possibilities. I have enjoyed Dave Snowden’s articulation  of that in his ‘sense the direction, next right thing, looking again’ process, and how neatly my framework seemed to fit into that. This design has been a constant process of observation – probing, sensing, responding, through doing and writing, and reflecting. It’s been rather wonderful!

‘Each project needs to start from the essence and wholeness of distinctive living entities – which is why observation is key in the design process – we need to bring awareness of essence and wholeness into our thinking before we start to make a decisions. This observation helps you identify the potential, which enables you to see what development is possible in the context. Action is framed around the development that is possible, given the specific conditions of the context you are working in.’ Carol Sandford

Four Questions

What’s going well with your diploma?

My continued learning about design process. Starting the Children in Permaculture Intro with Nim and Lusi. Liz’s PDC – loving the immersion in it all.

What’s been challenging?

My involvement with Paramaethu Cymru.

What’s the long-term vision?

I did a thorough investigation into whether my long-term ambitions were the same now as they were at the beginning of my diploma in  Long-term Direction.

What are your next steps?

  • Have a break – do some gardening, go to the sea, to lose my mind, and find…
  • Finish writing-up design 9, find an assessor
  • Make the function of design 10 to explore ‘tools’
  • Use the ethics as a planning tool, so early on in the design
  • Have a tutorial with Carla to work out what I need to do now as I come up to FPA.