In my experience as a teacher, artist and designer, I have seen a well-structured group of people turn an abandoned industrial site into a food production paradise. I have also seen a group acquiring a paradise, but damaging the landscape because they could not agree or get along with each other. Strong connections between people in a work group are crucial for the success of a project. A vehicle for those connections is found almost always within patterns of communication.
A method that was developed that connects human interaction with the permaculture principles, which guide our interactions with nature.
- Pattern to communication and conflict mediation
- Observation: “When I see this…” “I noticed that…”
- Events in our life make us feel a certain way
- Feelings: “…this makes me feel…”
- All feelings are a result of a basic human need that is either being met or not met.
- Needs: “…because I need security/peace of mind…”
- Everyone has the right to have their needs met by others, all they need to do is ask.
- Request: “Would you mind…?”
- A true request is one that will not argue with the answer “no”
There exist plenty of games and exercises that I weave into group design projects that help cohesion among team members so the project goes more smoothly.
- Method of project development that came about after an in-depth sociological survey of projects from all over the world. John Croft noticed that all sustainable projects followed this process:
- Dreaming – the members took time for uninhibited visioning of what they wanted their future to look like. First individual dreaming, followed by collective dreaming.
- Planning – bringing the ideas and items within the dreams into tangible forms. Questions asked, materials sourced, setting goals, schedule planned.
- Implementing – Making the dreams into reality with frequent adjustments based on logistics and interactions with the environment.
- Celebration – celebrate all lessons through perceived successes and failures. No matter the outcome of any project, there is much that was learned, therefore, it is crucial that you celebrate this.
- Asking yourself: what am I good at?
- Going back to careful craftsmanship – learning an art and teaching it to others
- Using arts and crafts as a tool for ritual and social cohesion
- WORKSHOP EXAMPLE: "Tipi Living -- a practical way to dwell closer to nature"
- For more information on the "Tipi Living" workshop, please download this file.
- Each event integrates games and exercise with many layers of purpose
- Observational – to allow the teacher and organizers figure out the existing social dynamics within a group by watching them interact during a game
- Ice-breakers – helping newly introduced individuals assimilate into the group through breaking up the social space with some fun and games
- Collaboration – challenging the groups with a common goal and presenting them with a moral to the game once the goal is complete
- Educational – presenting information in an active and dynamic way
Other methods of social permaculture:
Imagine the relationship between you and your computer right now. Think of this relationship as a collaboration. It is doing something because of you that it cannot otherwise do on its own, and likewise, you also. It is helping you view and read the content on my webpage. Neither of you are at this alone. A computer is a functioning apparatus, but it lacks organic molecules. While you may think it has a mind of its own, its molecules do not replicate… it does not grow. The relationship between you and a tomato plant for example is much more complex, needless to say, also between you and your pet. Now, consider the complexity of the relationship between two entities that think, feel, grow, move and speak and are 99.999% genetically the same.
We are our own biggest challenge. We cannot accomplish any of our goals without some help from others. Permaculture is just as much about your relationship to others as it is as your relationship to this earth.