THE MOON & THE RIVER
Accreditation, Performance & Celebration

Invitation

Before we begin, let’s have a moment to arrive in our bodies, a moment to be here now. If you have brought a candle, let’s light them together. A symbolic gesture to hold the children’s fire as we gather, to extend a warm welcome to each of you.

If you feel comfortable, close your eyes. Take a long deep breath in, and a long, deeper breath out. 

Sending your attention for a moment to the land you find yourself on, and the beings who dwell with you.

A call to the ancestors who hold the knowledge of how we can begin to live together well, as we move into an uncertain future.

Casting a wish to the future ones, whomever they may be, that they may be well. 

Take another deep breath in, and out, when you are ready, open your eyes.

Thank you everyone. Now, to begin…

In January 2020, after happening upon permaculture in the course of a Transition project Mike Erskine and I did in 2019, I committed to design our garden using Permaculture Principles.

In April 2020 I did my first PDC with Sarah Pugh from Shift Bristol, arranged by Poppy Nicol from Global Gardens. And my love affair with permaculture began…

In January 2022, I pledged to deepen my relationship, signing up for the Diploma.

For the next two and a bit years, I danced keenly with ten designs, writing in the early hours, fuelled by tea. Diving intensely into the deep sea that is permaculture design process…

Intro

I am a woman of the sea. The river flows from the top of the valley at Llanwonno down through the land into the Taff and out of the barrage into the estuarine sea. Where we meet, with my body, immersed.

I started as a community grower, and came out a performance poet. The journey has been wild and deep. Let me carry you through it, if just for a moment. Because you have been part of it too. And for that I hold the deepest gratitude. 

Honouring the past ones, Sarah Pugh and Dan Palmer, for I have learnt from them richly. What gifts they’ve left now they have gone back into the earth.

Back into the cosmos…

Back into the energy cycle that creates more life.

The moon cycles that have elapsed…

The family stories that have been lost, as lives have passed and moons have waxed…

Gerrie, Dorothy, Esther, Ellen – a woman who signed her name with a cross. Who lived on the land by St Gwynno’s Church, a sacred well and the Clydach river, in a row of terraces no longer there. She came to the sea, through me. 

The trickster crow came first at The Kymin. Then at the Gathering out West. Where we met the land in a circle cast, with hope for the future in the Children’s Fire, held by the littlest one.

It was the gulls that spoke through me, at the sea, as I weaved the world with words. For I too am the Old Woman who weaves the world. I am a daughter of the witches who did not burn.

I began with a Story to Now, and a deep yearning for a community garden in the place I call home. And a desire to imagine the future we could have, if only we could change. Mary Oliver asks ‘What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’

The books, the book people. The words that have nourished my soulmind as I’ve wallowed in them. Stretching into the realm of ideas, beyond the bounds, and into the future:possible.

Deep care for the earth showed up young. Deep wounding from all the hurt the two-leggeds inflict. But we don’t seem to be able to stop. The social change I crave eludes us. So I carry on with my tales of the gulls and the moon. Whilst the world burns and war unfolds. Because it’s all I can do.

Whilst I look for belonging in community, to regenerate our relationship with the living world. And do what makes me come alive, I ask:

What does a good life look like?

How do I want to spend my days?

Experiments around creativity and change have punctuated my life so far, a continuous loop of small and slow interventions in the urban fabric. As I carry on weaving the world with words.

Dancing with complexity, cavorting at the edges.

Edge-dwelling is a lonely place sometimes.

Reconnecting with ourselves, each other and the earth. Doing the best I can to live now in the 20 minute neighbourhood, as I curate the future with my kith and kin.

What did I learn? 

What has been revealed to me in the highest highs and darkest depths of the movement? As I moved through the process…

Unveiling, unfurling, unfolding, whole.

Permaculture, what have you been for me? Designing my way into the future, to land in the continuous unravelling of each present moment.

To land here now, with you.

One

FRAMEWORK: MSCEADE (Sarah Pugh) Map, survey, consultation, explore parameters, assimilate, design, evaluate

TOOLS: Basemap, Sector analysis, community consultation, zones, needs analysis, planting plan, structural plan 

ETHICS: Caring for the Earth, Caring for each other, Sharing

PRINCIPLES: Holmgren, Mollison & Slay, Mollison

DOMAINS: Land & Nature Stewardship, Health & Spiritual Wellbeing

It was here, right at the very beginning, that I got a sense of design process being iterative and incremental in nature, building through each phase on what had gone before.

And so the continual process began, getting familiar with the cycle of observation, action, evaluation and reflection, as we built and planted our wild food garden. 

We increased biodiversity at The Kymin, and explored our relationship to this land as a commons. It’s in the name, Kymin in Welsh is Cymin – which means Common.

Creating meaningful connections, deepening relationships and community involvement, responding to changes as they happened.

Supporting each other, working together, reconnecting to the living world in the place we call home. 

We witnessed the flowering of us as a group, and we are so grateful to all the people who offered the gift of their time to make it all happen.

It was clear from the outset that I was never going to be designing, then implementing, because that just doesn’t fit reality. 

I wanted to better capture and communicate the emergent stream of events and happenings in the process as it unfolds, harnessing patterns and cycles as they ebb and flow…

Two

FRAMEWORK: SADIMET

TOOLS: Inout/output analysis, client interview, roses, buds, thorns, functions of plants in guilds/interconnections, action plan

ETHICS: Caring for the Earth, Caring for People, Sharing

PRINCIPLES: Rosemary Morrow’s design, strategic and attitudinal (from Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture)

DOMAINS: Land & Nature Stewardship, Health & Spiritual Wellbeing

A deepening into my relationship with plants as I explored guilds and functions of plants in an ecology. I encountered resistance, and then the context changed and I was free to progress. 

Pushing at the edges of what is possible in public open space, learning more about our relationship as stewards of this land, learning that food forests are one way for us to feed the future, engaging local people in that learning too.

I aimed to learn as much as I could about food forests by creating one, and involving local people in that process, as a way to deepen relationships.

In design 1, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was just following the framework gifted to me by Sarah Pugh on my PDC. By now, I was really getting to grips with what a framework is, and why it’s a core aspect of a design. 

Much much later, I heard Pippa Chapman say that for her, a framework gives her the structure she needs in order to let her creativity flow, and she knows she will get a good design at the end of it. 

In design 1, I wasn’t clear on the difference between frameworks and tools. By the end of design 2, I was very clear. 

I still had so much more to learn about tools. I’m still learning. As time went on, I became fluent at reshaping land-based tools for people-based designs and vice versa. I began seeing tools as key for informing design decisions. 

I read a design by Jessie Scantleberry and wished I’d used tools that were more suitable for uncovering the relationship dynamics between people. However, I did learn richly about the relationship dynamics of plants here, and they are persons too, right? 

I started looking outside permaculture for theory to inform the process, I began looking at Field Theory. 

The idea of becoming indigenous appears in this design, with the Sky Woman quote from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass

Skywoman says “Use your gifts and dreams for good”. ‘For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it.’ 

Although the idea of becoming indigenous did come up in my early learning pathway writing with some quotes from Penny Livingston-Stark and Toby Hemenway, so really it has been there all along….

Intermezzo

Design 3 went through two large iterations before it settled and came into being. The 1st iteration was about Living Streets, and it needed to be composted. The 2nd iteration – Tools Unleashed, still feels alive and like it wants resolving.

I lavished in learning about design process during this period. I learnt that insights always come in moments of pause.

I listened to Dan’s Making Permaculture Stronger episode with Bridget O’Brien. Their discussion of the limits of a linear design process made me realise I needed to modify the frameworks I’m using.

A new question emerged that I still carry with me now, through a wordsift of the principles :

How can we change the energy of the system?

I learnt that Donella Meadows’ work on leverage in systems is mechanistic, and that there’s more to learn…

I dared to dream my diploma differently, by welcoming in a diverse range of perspectives, having designs assessed by different tutors. I was innovating.

I’ve had designs assessed by Carla, Liz, Katie, Nim and Jo, and Lusi did the crucial work of my FPA 2. Thank you to each of you for your support and encouragement. It’s been wonderful to be in the process with you all.

I made a generalisation, based on my skill in applied process in my arts practice – that permaculture designing is art. And I remembered I am an artist.

Meanwhile, the world burned a bit more, the war raged a bit more. The rate of change was achingly slow. I looked one way, and I worried about what the future will be for my child. I looked the other and I saw a world full of people exploring the alternatives.

I met Satish Kumar at Schmacher College. He touched me with eye contact for an interestingly long moment.

I watched Rebecca Hosking’s video ‘Sharing the land with all life‘, and it shifted my perspective.

Wordmaps really started to show up as a method in my designs, to express the complexity and interconnectedness of my thinking.

x

On 15th August 2022, at around 4pm, everything changed when I happened upon the work of Carol Sandford. 

All of a sudden everything in my permaculture learning so far fell way short of even beginning to comprehend the complexity of our living systems.

All the plates I was holding fell, smashed to smithereens and scattered to the outer edges of the universe. I had to reintegrate all my thinking when this new information about how the world lives, and how things change, came into my awareness.

I got all caught up in my thinking. What I needed was to turn to an embodied way of understanding and knowing. To find balance. I didn’t come upon Dan McTiernan’s work around ‘Embodied Permaculture’ until almost a year later. 

For me, Permaculture is about the choices we make around how we live our lives. How might I come to experience this in a more embodied way?

I happened upon the many inquiries Dan made, and landed on the blog ‘Christopher Alexander’s Neglected Challenge to Permaculture’.

There I found life.

I began pushing at the boundaries of the possible.

I’d been pondering how to bring the edges of my art/creative practice and my growing/permaculture practice together in this unfurling of interdependent community I was immersed in.

And then, design 3 settled, Wild Ceridwen was born…

Three

FRAMEWORK: Observation, Purpose, Surroundings, Connection, Resilience, Future (from Think Like a Tree)

TOOLS: SPELLS Goals, client interview, context mapping, sectors, 4 words, creative thinking/exploratory writing, Business Model Canvas, Spheres of Influence, stepping stones, exercise to generate ideas

ETHICS: Earth Care, People Care, Future Care

PRINCIPLES: From Sarah Spencer’s ‘Think Like a Tree’

DOMAINS: Land & Nature Stewardship, Education & Culture, Health & Spiritual Wellbeing, Finance & Economics, Land Tenure & Community Governance

As is the way with most of the important things in my life, Wild Ceridwen began with a happenstance conversation with Mike and Cam. I’d been thinking of creating a social enterprise since around 2016.

The journey took Cam and I from the commons in Usk to the undulating streams of the Dart, across Guy Watsons land, following his deer trods, like Elen of the Ways. 

Into regenerative community with a big group of like-minded folks and into our hearts as we came together exploring our wants, needs and gifts and talents. I felt in tune with my sense of purpose, clarity emerged around my desires to bring performance poetry into the world. 

We incorporated on the spring equinox, March 20th 2023.

The intentions we documented offer us a springboard into our work as it evolves in accordance with our changing conditions and context, as we grow and shape change, it feels rooting. 

We are breaking new ground as we learn to work collaboratively, welcoming Elen Robert in to the story too, as we form our approach to regenerative business.

I made a rookie error when comparing the Think Like a Tree framework I chose with SADIMET. I began to perceive SADIMET’S linear limitations.

The need to tend to my own self-care came through strongly here. Something I am still working on.

I continued to learn about the ways in which our ethical responsibilities unfold in our actions.

I linked the Prime Directive, through which we are urged to take our individual responsibilities seriously, to ‘Spheres of influence’, and Gandhi’s oracular, ‘if you want to change the world, start with yourself’. 

I began my inquiry into the root of the principles. If the principles offer us a way into understanding how the living world lives, in what way do they demonstrate the living?

We involved ourselves in a co-produced process, although the write up was an individual pursuit. It wasn’t until much later when I collaborated on a design for Liz Postlethwaite’s PDC that I really got to understand what a co-produced write-up is.

In a moment when I was struggling with the demands of designing in the midst of having lots of paid work to do, Liz suggested that the best approach is to ‘design what you are doing’. This shaped everything from this point on, the first gift from Liz. 

The second morsel of wondrous wisdom from Liz came much much later….

Designing what you are doing, or ‘living the design’, means that what I am creating in the world is permaculture! That felt very regenerative, and very nourishing and gratifying. It felt like a somewhat breathtaking insight on my learning pathway.

I plotted a route for the rest of my diploma that involved designing all the work I had for the year ahead.

And then, I’m not sure I was ever again able to differentiate between the work and the designing, in a magnificent way the boundaries melted into one, and my work became designing and designing became my work. Integration arising!

Four

FRAMEWORK: James Chapman’s Simplest Design Process

TOOLS: 4 Stage Observation, DAFORM, list/food in Penarth and beyond, Boundaries, Needs and expectations, Client Dialogue, Maindmap, Principles (as evaluation tool), Canva

ETHICS: Earth Care, People Care, Sharing & Solidarity, Transition, Change & Adaption

PRINCIPLES: Mollison & Slay

DOMAINS: Land & Nature Stewardship, Tools & Technology, Education & Culture, Finance & Economics

This design is tied into my involvement with our Sustainable Food Places network, Food Vale, and the business hack event I attended with the Food Vale Coordinator Louise, where we hatched a plan for a community kitchen. 

It also involves a long held desire for a local food market in Penarth, something local people call for endlessly, but the ripe moment for that to emerge eludes us still. 

Interestingly, as I write this, Food Vale have been awarded a pot of funds to carry out a Community Kitchen Feasibility Study for Penarth, Llantwit Major and Barry. Our efforts are rewarded, it’s coming to life. 

It was here that my understanding of the difference between evaluation and reflection emerged. I began a particular way of approaching each that I then carried through the subsequent designs. 

In design 4, I felt like I had grasped the process of designing holistically – I get it!

The model and the report offer a number of opportunities for creating small projects over time that change the energy of the system. When Rachel Baker approached us in winter 2023 with her Perllan Penarth/Orchard Penarth project, I could see this really beginning to come to fruition.

I found a framework that really works for me, James Chapman’s Simplest Design Process. I love that it works when you push into the brief, ideas and survey phases to have the design emerge in the ripe ecotone in the centre. I found myself in flow. The model I created can be viewed as a set of nested wholes – Sandford’s work is really starting to shape my designing.

The fourth ‘hidden’ Transition ethic appeared here and supported me to ponder ‘enough’. 

I finished Design 4 feeling like I had thoroughly grasped permaculture design.

In April 2023, I started Liz’s PDC for artists and creatives. I was feeling like I wanted a taught element on my diploma, Liz’s course feels like it offered that. It also got me thinking more deeply about what it might take to run my own PDC in the future.

Five

FRAMEWORK: CEAP

TOOLS: Client brief, thinking through drawing, mindmaps, 5 activators of wellbeing, flowchart, H.C.E.P, Canva, Principles, pattern observation

ETHICS: Earth Care, Equity

PRINCIPLES: Holmgren

DOMAINS: Education & Culture

Once again the project came through a happenstance conversation. I designed and delivered an event series as a form of collaborative climate action which brought people together in Conversation Circles. This culminated in the production of a spoken word poem, and performance event.

This was the first formal work I had done with our social enterprise, Wild Ceridwen. I was delighted to have a chance to develop the performance with Sara Drysdale, it was a brave and bold adventure for us both. A space for deepening and widening connections was created.

I really got into using wordmaps as a key tool in this design, where I used them to explore Holmgren’s principles. This illuminated the fact that I spend much of my time in my head space, there’s an airy, ideas quality to my work. The feeling that I needed to be more embodied, grounded, emotional and intuitive in my focus came forth once more. 

The hopes, concerns, expectations and priorities tool was a turning point in the writing of the poem, where its use emerged a fundamental aspect of the poem. 

I was really getting into tools as methods for generating insights to move the project forward

I used the ethics to uncover rich learning about equity and diversity. I experimented with merging Earth Care and People Care, as a way to imagine ourselves re-embedded in the living world. 

This revealed the tricky, messy intricacy of People Care and how we are in our interrelationships.

The torus emerged. I was trying to find a way to visually express how the design process feels to me. I included an image of the torus. It was only later that Liz pointed out Bill’s enjoyment of the torus in his core permaculture process model. I was intuitively tapping into the source, just magic.

Carla gave some useful feedback in her forum. I had been talking about how by trying to make the write-up of this design shorter I was feeling like I was losing some of the beautiful story quality in the write-up that I enjoy. She said ‘don’t make the write-up smaller, make the design smaller’, very helpful indeed! My challenge was to simplify!

On 19 July 2023 I reached IPA, which flowed without too much aplomb and a little celebration, as I immersed my body once more into the sea….

Musical interlude

An invitation into embodied presence. If you feel comfortable, turn off your camera, stand up and enjoy moving your body to the sounds and rhythm of the music. 

Six

FRAMEWORK: OBRADIMER (observation, boundaries, resources, assimilate, decisions, implement, maintain, evaluate, reflect)

TOOLS: Starhwak’s Nine Ways of Observing, Collage, Consultation, KT Shepherd’s % Elements Design tool, mindmaps, PNI, SPELLS Goals, Canva

ETHICS: Earth Care, People Care, Future Care

PRINCIPLES: Starhawk’s Common Sense Principles

DOMAINS: Education & Culture, Land Nature Stewardship, Health & Spiritual Wellbeing

In order to simplify, I set myself the challenge to complete this design in one day (8 hours).

I deepened my permaculture learning no end in this design. I do always find that the best way to learn is to teach. By the end of this design, I felt confident and competent, able to talk fluently about Holmgren’s Principles and what permaculture design is.

The sessions were another chance to deepen and widen connections. With a small group, it was intimate and nourishing.

I started thinking about aims, goals and functions here, an inquiry I carried with me over the next two designs. 

The pattern I evolved, where each session aims to deepen participants’ connection with the living world sits gently now in my way of being. I can see how it will inform how I design an intro and PDC. I’m dreaming of a PDC for City Dwellers and the land-less many.

One of the participants said the experience had opened up a completely new way of thinking about the world for her. That’s enlivening for me to hear.

I chose just 5 of Starhawk’s Common Sense Principles in the design, a break away from my usual of attending to all in the set. The consideration of the principles brought forth many of the design decisions that were necessary to implement the design. 

I came upon my own framework to experiment with, which I deepened into in design 8.

This was the first time I used ‘Thinking through Collage’ as a generative method, in which I make a collage and let thoughts come in the process, which I jot down on paper as I’m making.

KT Shepherd’s 5 Elements design tool was hugely useful and generative. I really enjoyed the witchy/earth-based spirituality quality of this, even though I used it to make some pretty functional decisions. Katie said she was delighted with the way I’d used it.

Seven

FRAMEWORK: GROWER (goal, reality, options, what/where/when, evaluation, reflection

TOOLS: Vision, SPELLS Goals, basemap, Jasmine Dale’s Elements Survey, sun sector map/overlay, design web, principles, lists, McHarg’s Exclusion Method, Materia Medica spreadsheet, planting plan, Phasing – Now, Soon, Later, Ethics, wild plants as soil indicators

ETHICS: Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share

PRINCIPLES: Principles of Nature from Isla Macleod in ‘Rituals for Life’ book

DOMAINS: Education & Culture, Land & Nature Stewardship, Health & Spiritual Wellbeing, 

My intention was for this to be a quick design, it had the lowest word count yet. I was getting to grips with simplifying, for now anyway.

Another chance for me to deepen my connection with plant allies, as I began pulling together my own Materia Medica. I have a large collection of edible perennials in my garden, so it was useful to begin documenting them.

Knowledge of plants feels like a simple way we can grow our connection with the living world. Having plenty of tea in my garden to share with people who I interact with feels like a good way to help others deepen their connection too.

As I write this in April 2024, I am starting to feel a deep knowing about how our connection with plants offers a way to root us into a sense of belonging to a place.  

In this design, I learnt more about aims, goals and functions. I like to get going with a design thinking about aims, to set the intention, and sense the direction. But, I prefer it when the goal setting happens after the observation, in the analysis/assimilation phase, once I have established where I am, then I can work out where I want to be. 

I used my SPELLS Goals method for the third time, I really ought to share it more – an opportunity to share it came up recently in a MOG with Katie, people were interested! 

I also used the design web as a thinking tool, for uncovering more depth, this was very successful. It enabled me to uncover the functions of design in relation to my wider learning.

Eight

FRAMEWORK: Creative Design Process (intending, observing, visioning, sensing, creating, forming, cultivating, integrating, contemplating)

TOOLS: 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.

ETHICS: Earth Care, People Care, Fair Shares, Self Care, Future Care

PRINCIPLES: Carol Sandford’s Seven First Principles of Regeneration

DOMAINS: Education & Culture

This design felt like a peak experience, a coming together of all my learning about design process, and a big expression of who I am. It was complex, deep, nourishing and profoundly moving.

I hadn’t quite yet found a framework which fits with my sensing of the cumulative, developmental nature of design process, where you plan, act, and reflect. Where the next thing grows from and builds on the last thing. And that often these things always happen at the same time, in an unfolding whole. I got a bit closer here with creating my own creative design process framework. 

I identified that a framework is a holding pattern for a design. I made a Russian Doll.

Eight was big and labyrinthine. A constant process of observation – probing, sensing, responding, through doing and writing, and reflecting. It was wonderful to be involved in the process. And I have so much gratitude to Jo for holding me though it, I sense it was big for her too!

I came to know patterns which generate life – that life is made up of just a few, that each individual expression of that pattern is unique, like a snowflake, or fingerprint, like snail, wolf, bear, cactus, nettle. I came upon me. I found the richness of the living world in principles, in complexity. I found breadcrumbs for the future in my poems. I found my potential.

I identified playful projects as a source of income.

I learnt about Dave Snowden’s Frozen 2 principle around ‘sensing the direction, next right thing, looking again’

The tide comes in, and again goes out, as I move into the rhythm and surrender to what’s next.

Design 8 was immense. 

Nine

FRAMEWORK: Appreciative Inquiry

TOOLS: client interview, mood board, basemap, elements analysis, biotime diary, spreadsheet (indepth financial analysis), SIMPLE Action Plan, PNI, reflections, SIMPLE Decisions, wordmap, SWOC, plan for weight loss, Four Questions

ETHICS: People Care, Earth Care, Fair Share

PRINCIPLES: Holmgren

DOMAINS: Health & Spiritual Wellbeing, Finance & Economics

Nine was different.

The most useful design for the way it infiltrated our lives and never did stop, we are still working on it, shifting and changing our ways with money and food. 

I enjoy the way it deepens into our relationship with food, zoning in on the food system I explored in design 4, focusing in from a zone 0 perspective. Food is a big part of my permaculture story. It’s important to me, and is intricately tied into the ethics.

The design got me on the pathway to thinking about Personal Degrowth, learnt from  Diana Finch. This feels like something to grasp onto and grow into, a niche perhaps. A thread I’ve deepened into in my Substack writing.

Once again I used an acronym, SIMPLE – like I did in the SPELLS Goals. What is it with permies and acronyms!

The design is another example of how small changes over time add up to make a big difference.

The design supported us to reduce our spending hugely, getting really clear about where the money energy in our home economy is going, and shifting it, in response to the cost of everything going up, meaning that I can hold on to the affordance to buy mostly organic food and my project-based lifestyle.

Nine was a functional design. It wasn’t flowery or overly creative, there was no critique. It is a good example of permaculture design to me, it was very action oriented. It got me, and my family from where we were, to where we wanted to be, and it has changed our lives for the better.

Intermezzo

The day before I started 10, Liz shared her second morsel of wonderous wisdom. I’d been getting myself all caught up in the perceived flaws of permaculture design, after listening again to Dan and Gordon White talking at a Permaculture Tasmania event online.

I’ll carry Liz’s wisdom with me now, just like I have her call to ‘design what you are doing’, and that is about ‘carrying on in the face of the critique, because so far there isn’t a better way to make regenerative things than permaculture design So we stick with it, call out the weaknesses and get on with making our positive contribution to the world‘.

The other thing I’ve started getting a deeper sense of as time goes on is around following the love. As I get older and see time getting shorter as my hair greys and my body changes, I sense that I want to put my precious life energies into things that conjure feelings of love. I have had so many experiences in my interactions with permaculture people where I feel emotional resonances of love, as long as that continues, I will continue. 

Ten

FRAMEWORK: Design Web

TOOLS: wordmaps/design web anchor points, holistic decision making, 8 forms of wealth, input/output, cultural emergence core routines, reflective journal, four questions

ETHICS: Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share

PRINCIPLES: Principle 0, Cultural Emergence, Patrick Whitefield, Designing Regenerative Cultures principles

DOMAINS: Health & Spiritual Wellbeing

Ten was a struggle with small, a lesson that I haven’t seemed to be able to learn. A very large design became two, as I worked through three iterations of the write-up to unpick and unpack, and find what was really important, in a deep process of distillation.

I learnt that the words tools and toys are semantically linked, which brought a breath of fresh air to my thinking. With tools as toys, there’s a welcome invitation to playfulness. 

Ten was a lesson in how change happens in complex systems. A lesson in how difficult it is to change deeply embedded cultural patterns, supported by Looby’s Cultural Emergence work. I explored this through a range of decisions and actions around how to reduce my caffeine intake, with the intention of going caffeine free. I haven’t go there yet…and I still want to write into the other half of this design, which was more about becoming indigenous.

I was lurking at a boundary crossing, the edge of change, and finding it an emotionally and physically hard place to be. Pushing at the edge of change doesn’t work. Change needs something more subtle, a slow and tender approach to changing the conditions I find myself in so something different can emerge.

I had a bit of an opening within my mind and my conceptualisation of the ethics. The penny dropped in this final hour, I get it. A design is supposed to be an expression of the ethics as they play out in action, wholly. It doesn’t matter so much where you put the ethics in the design framework, as they are all encompassing, and stand as the strong, unchangeable underpinnings of any permaculture design. 

I was particularly interested in using metaphor. Branching & pollarding came to have much significance. I asked what is it that propels trees to grow in different directions? This got me thinking about my hormones and their place in the bigger picture of what’s going on for me in my body, as I learnt more about the conditions I find myself in. 

Furthermore, what I have learnt from Nora Bateson, and her work on Warm Data Labs, is that you can’t change a system by working on one isolated part of it. To move more deeply into the change I seek, I must now take a wider perspective, and look at all the other systems around me that are having an effect on my Zone 00.

What next?

I’ll pick up on many of the threads I have left loose and weave them into new stories and inquiries, as I deepen into my writing on my Substack.

I’m interested in learning more about:

  • regenerative design
  • a systems and complexity approach to social change
  • becoming indigenous to place, becoming animal
  • juicy tools
  • personal degrowth
  • growing my relationship with plant allies
  • evolving permaculture

I’m looking forward to:

  • Rowe Morrow’s Teacher Training with Alfred Decker and Jen McConachie
  • Getting out into the garden, learning how to propagate all my perennial plants, cultivating the seedlings I’ve sown and hatching plans for a plant sale to contribute to a right livelihood
  • Developing our offer around ‘social arts and permaculture’ with Wild Ceridwen, I notice myself teasing around Transition- a coming full circle really. Transition feels like Urban Permaculture to me…
  • Doing a couple of sessions with Poppy Nicol, at Global Gardens and at CoedFfest
  • Sharing the performance poem Amanda and I made as part of her ‘Space to Grow’ project
  • Learning about the process of Re-evaluation Counselling with Pat Gregory, what she describes as ‘therapy for revolutionaries’, what’s not to love? A  sense that healing needs to be a thing we do in community emerged for me in design 10…
  • Enjoying being part of the productive, vibrant steering group of Paramaethu Cymru – maybe we will see some of you at the Wales Gathering at Three Pools near Abergavenny in September
  • Sharing the fruits of the collaborative design I did with Sarah Hymas as part of Liz’s PDC

I’ll unpick all my learning and find ways to pass it on through teaching. That’s what my great, great grandmother, Ellen called for me to do.

I couldn’t have done this without the support and encouragement I found in Carla’s Design Forum – it’s been a joy to be with you all there.

And an extra special thank you for Carla, for all your support and encouragement. For asking the right questions, always at just the right moment, for reading all my words and the rigour with which you approached the assessment of my designs. So much learning came from our interactions around the feedback, it’s been so rich. I’ll miss that. Thank you.

It’s time to let the fabric unravel.

It’s time for the trickster crow to come with his work, and then I’ll pick up the thread once more, and carry on weaving the world with words, into each future possible.

As I relax into every present moment as it arises.

Thank you for listening!