Delvin Solkinson 's Profile

Delvin Solkinson


  • Joined: 08/02/2011
  • Last Updated: 08/02/2011
  • Location: Elphinstone , British Columbia, Canada
  • Climate Zone: Cool Temperate
  • Gender: Male
  • Web site: www.gaiacraft.com

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    Heart Gardens Gaiacraft Institute




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Permaculture Diploma Process Part 1 : Studying Education

Posted by Delvin Solkinson about 3 years ago

Part 1 to my Diploma Process and including the courses that I took during the Diploma.

Permaculture Diploma Template Part 1 : Studying Education

Climbing the Mountain

I burned incense, swept the earth, and waited for a poem to come...

Then I laughed, and climbed the mountain, leaning on my staff.
How I'd love to be a master of the blue sky's art:
See how many sprigs of snow-white cloud
I've brushed in so far today.

Yuan Mei

Gaiacraft Permaculture is about the way we create and maintain sustainable relationships. We work on building templates that reflect not only paths of learning, but paths of teaching, not only examples of work done but also templates for doing that work. Here is a narrative tutorial illustrating how one might approach the development and recording of a two year Permaculture Diploma….

 (photo : Jacob Aman)

Permaculture is a dynamic educational platform for inspiring awareness about the real implications of our actions on the extended ecosystem into which all life is interwoven. By recognizing the role and place of humans in the web of life we may better understand how to navigate through the transition that we are experiencing; as individuals, communities, cultures and civilizations. Cultivating an earth conscious ethic and paradigm through permaculture practice and education will help stabilize the planetary ecology and our wild civilization.

(photo : Jacob Aman)

In the traditional Permaculture Academy Yearbook model one takes a 72 hour or more Permaculture Design Certification then manages their own time for two years of integrated study and practical application. Creating an illustrated journal of all your permaculture work in any area of design, consulting, teaching, aid work, education, media development, site development, organizational work, green business, anything relating directly to permaculture.

This is what I started doing here. In 2012 the Permaculture Academy USA came up with new diploma requirements that include over 2000 hours of logged in time, and in my case since my focus in education, doing another PDC and a teacher training as part of the course. 

Though the auspicious of permaculture legend Larry Santoyo and the Permaculture Institute USA, I am putting together this Permaculture Diploma. Larry Santoyo suggested my work have some kind of web presence, so here I post it to share with anyone who is interested in doing a Diploma so they can see how I approached this creative task.

I dedicate this work to my dear mother who has inspired, supported and deepened my practice at every step of the way. 

Although my permaculture work will take me all over the world, the focus of my Diploma is the Heart Gardens, an all ages permaculture education initiative in my little coastal rainforest mountain village. Special thanks to Don, Lorinda and Mark van Kleek for their amazing support over the years in creating and maintaining this community garden classroom space.

This diploma included all my permaculture work doing a two year period, its a mosaic of education, community, travel, and doorstep work at my own home. To give it focus i will feature work done over a two year period in the Heart Gardens, a community demonstration site and living classroom intended to teach people about native plants, bioregional ecology, and ethnobotany as well as organic gardening, permaculture and sustainable development. The staple food and medicine plants of the First Peoples are a huge part of achieving any kind of food security and reflect an inspired ecological conservation ethic. These are also teacher plants for the peoples of the land, with much to communicate to us. A major intention of the Heart Gardens is to help conserve these key plants while educating people about them and promoting their use. Currently the gardens share cuttings, seeds and plants with students and community gardens. In some version of the energy decent future scenarios the Heart Gardens could become an important genetic source for creating the foodscapes of the future, helping to relocalize our four season diet.

There are 250 species of food plants, 150 of which are staple food-medicine and tool plants of the Coastal First Peoples.

Through social permaculture networking, the gardens have opened relationships with all levels of local government (Community Association, Advisory Planning Committee, Official Community Plan Committee and Sunshine Coast Regional District) and received their support. The gardens are also supposed by every community school in the district, the Alternative School, Waldorf School, Capilano University and School District 46. In addition the gardens have support from eco-education organizations throughout Cascadia. Besides hosting regular tours, classes, courses, PDCs, Diplomas, and weekend workshops, the gardens promote eco-education in local media while stimulating dialogues about sustainable development and conservation between government bodies, educational groups and non-governmental organizations.

The main mandate of the gardens and my diploma is to facilitate educational experiences and develop media for people of all ages, educational backgrounds and geographical locations about permaculture and native plants. The Heart Gardens will be a featured site and the Gaiacraft PDC and Advanced Course will be feature educational projects. 


Keeping track of all your work requires staying organized. I summarized my journals into seasonal reports, although you could choose to do monthly or even weekly entries to help you stay on track.

Autumn Equinox, September 21, 2010

It is a cold equinoxal day at Melliodora, the home of permaculture co-founder David Holmgren in Helpburn, Australia. Back at home its Autumn equinox but here it is actually Spring Equinox! I am here doing an advanced permaculture training with a focus on community resilience and disaster preparedness. Having just completed my Masters Degree work, I am now engaging my dream of getting a diploma through the Permaculture Institute USA. Out here on the land of one of the originators of permaculture, it seems appropriate for me to begin a two year journey into permaculture education. 

(Photo Camassia : Robyn Hume Photography)

(Painting from my dear and much loved grandmother Wynn Dennett)

Winter Solstice, September 21, 2010

Its a beautiful snow blanketed Winter Solstice and I just came in from watching the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse on the land where I am staying in upstate New York. This autumn was totally inspiring. I got to take the entire PDC course with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton at Trinity College in Melbourne, a deep adventure into learning. Following this was a week 'Up, Close and Personal' with Bill and Lisa Mollison,  a dream come true! I spent the rest of the autumn integrating my learning while I gardened in my little village on Mt. Elphinstone and beginning two new 15 month long permaculture design courses.

(photo : poxin.org)

Spring Equinox, September 21, 2011

It's day after the super full 'perigree moon' and the sun is shining in an open blue sky. Today I met with the new All Seasons Advanced Course group, 11 students who i will lead through an advanced curriculum and support them to all do 2 year diploma projects so they too can gain this valuable certification. It was a wonderful winter season in which I studied biodynamics and continued to settle into a regimen of teaching that includes 2 once a month PDC groups and 2 twice a month PDC groups in addition to the new Advanced Course. With Tamara who I met in Australia last November I have begun planning a 'Permaculture Pilgrimage' including a series of back to back advanced teacher trainings in Australia. I am very inspired about the spring to come. This year I have renewed my connection with photographer Robyn Hume who will help take some pictures of the heart gardens this year. The following Gummy Gooseberry was the first flower to bloom in the heart gardens only a week ago.

(photo : Robyn Hume)

Summer Solstice, June 21, 2011

Its a beautiful summer day, the sky is clear and I awake at dawn preparing to teach the soils unit in one of my PDC classes. Its been a whirlwind spring and amazing that summer has arrived again. I left my home this last season and am beginning to set up again in a 700 square foot suite in the heart of the heart gardens, feels like an appropriate place to anchor in my permaculture practice to a deeper degree. This season I taught my weekend course through Capilano University and the Dean came! I also started two new urban-rural 14 month PDC courses. With my friend Tamara who I met at Tagari Farm when I was with Bill Mollison last autumn, I have been co-organizing a planetary permaculture pilgrimage to take back to back teacher trainings from some of the greatest permaculture teachers in the movement. I am deeply grateful to have this diploma process to help anchor in my practice and look forward to meeting the legendary Larry Santoyo, who this diploma is being created through, at his teacher training in August. My goal is to become a sanctioned permaculture teacher of the Permaculture Institute USA, able to give out their certifications to my students if they would like a North American certificate. Traveling to Boston Bar, BC in the interior mountains I went to a festival and gave a multimedia presentation including permaculture content.


Autumn Equinox, September 23, 2011

Its a beautiful autumn equinox in upstate New York on a 40 acre arts community. The trees are just starting to turn and the cool hints of fall are in the air. I am here celebrating the release of the last global arts journal I helped make here including a feature article on Biodynamics. Today we are talking about the first PDC to happen here, it will be a new seasonal model where i teach for 3 or 4 days once a season for a year. Its been a great summer with rain until the end of July the gardens and forest were more prepared for a hot August than in previous years. I am truly grateful for this diploma process which is helping me to stay organized about what I am doing and the larger applications of that work. The diploma is helping to inspire me to continually evolve my permaculture practice and strive towards a understanding of how all the small things I do fit together into a larger whole system. The spring began with an extremely inspiring advanced teacher training at the Regenerative Design Institute with the amazing Penny Livingston-Stark and one of the grandmothers of the movement : Robyn Francis. Newly landed in my new home at the heart of the Heart Gardens, I spent alot of time getting the gardens in shape and helping take the property to the next level.

Winter Solstice, December 22, 2011

Eagles fly overhead where the bright blue cloud kissed sky meets with the ocean in a sparkle of light as i sit out on the Pier in the Pacific Ocean half a block from the Heart Gardens. Its been a super inspiring Autumn including initiating two new PDC classes, a Capilano University intro weekend and the Planetary Permaculture Pilgrimage to Australia to take teacher trainings and advanced courses with Rosemary Morrow, Robin Clayfield, Geoff Lawton and David Holmgren. The Heart Gardens project has grown steadily. The plant community is healthy and happy. Currently some major changes to the surrounding downtown area with bikepaths, plantings and community places that I consulted for is being implemented.

Spring Equinox, March 20, 2012

Its a beautiful blue spring day waking up in the Heart Gardens with the equinoxal sunrise. Two buses, a ferry and a ride gives me the time to write some of this entry. The Winter was both beautifully uneventful and yet filled with learning and outdoor time. With 7 different year long PDC's all running at once, alongside the feature All Seasons course the winter was full of amazing site visits and much learning. At an inner city urban farm on a tour with permaculture extraordinaire Sara Dent, I realized that winter gardening and market farming is a key abundant niche for any NorthWestCoast permie.  In the depths of a pretty mild winter I went on a fieldtrip with participants from the All Seasons advanced group to Cortes Island and Linnaea Farm, an inspiring model for a working permaculture farm institute. At long last the permaculture workbook was released in a more accessible form after intensive edits and ugprades by myself, Tamara Griffiths, Jacob Aman and Ali Ma. The printable files are free online and promoted to the global community and its available for purchase as softcover and hardcover direct from a print on demand printer. This winter I have begun to development a Seasonal PDC model to run in New York an an Arts Center starting this spring. Unlike my low cost flexible PDC's, its a high cost and not so flexible model which i will fly myself out to do and volunteer to facilitate. Surely it will be an incredible learning experience for all involved.

Today I teach 'cool climates' at UBC farm, an on campus university farm just west of Vancouver. In two days I will initiate many of my new advanced course participants. 

Summer Solstice, June 20, 2012

Waking up with the sun I feel so grateful to be living in my apartment in the middle of the Heart Gardens. A mere block from the rainforest trails and ocean beach. It was an amazing and incredibly busy springtime. I started two new PDC's and an Advanced Class in my tiny village, enjoying meeting another 40 people interested in permaculture and becoming more conscious planetary citizens. In addition I began to volunteer teaching a new format PDC in New York where we meet for 3-4 days every season for a year. The heart gardens expanded significantly with many new gardens including a new food micro-forest and community garden. I also began replacing treated wood on the heart gardens site with small scale, consciously harvested, locally milled untreated cedar. The most inspiring part of the spring was studying with a most inspiring new teacher : Toby Hemenway. It started with a day long introduction in Vancouver and evening talk. Before I knew it was in Calgary for a 3 day workshop and 2 evening presentations. Inspired beyond words I signed up for a PDC in Portland with Toby and many amazing guests and began to take my second in person PDC there. This season also saw the development of more permaculture principles cards. With six months left on my diploma process I am helping organize a teacher training with Scott Pitman and Larry Santoyo of Permaculture Institute USA as an integrative climax and completion to this Diploma work.

Autumn Equinox, September 21, 2012

It's a blustery day in New York as I prepare for an equinoxal gathering featuring mushroom extraordinaire Paul Stamets. Its been an amazing climactic season of my permaculture diploma and I have learned a huge amount. The Portland PDC with Toby Hemenway was incredible and learning from Jude Hobbs, Mark Lakeman, Michael Becker and finally, at long last, Larry Santoyo was a profoundly inspiring process. I have been doing intensive work on the heart gardens including updating the Heart Map, teaching many classes and working on completing the Permaculture Principles Cards. Two years ago at David Holmgren's place I wrote my first report and now in a small arts community where I have been teaching permaculture it seems like an appropriate time to complete this work. I have loved the structure and organization of this diploma and would recommend everyone with a PDC follow up with two years of applied permaculture work as part of a Diploma process through the Permaculture Institute USA. The climax of this experience came with a trip to the new Atlan Ecovillage to learn from my kind friends, guides and teachers La and Keala. Here I also met with the Gaiacraft core crew including Lunaya Shekinah and Jacob Aman to meet about the future of the gaiacraft website. As I write this report I prepare for one final process, a Teacher Training with the incomparable Larry Santoyo and Scott Pittman where I plan to present my Diploma Report in person. 

(photograph of ladybird on valerian by Shel Neufeld http://www.shelneufeld.com)

2.0 Courses in Learning

A big part of doing a Diploma from a distance is doing some in person classes, workshops, courses, trainings, tours or talks. This way the teachers you meet that share about permaculture become the teaching staff for your relocalized diploma, and the classrooms you visit are the learning school grounds for your work.

Here is a list of courses that i have taken as part of my learning pathway for this diploma project. 

a. Permaculture Principles and Planning Tools, Hepburn, VIC, Australia : Saturday 18th to Tuesday 21st September 2010 

Advanced Permaculture Principles and Planning Tools 4 day course with David Holmgren
This course is targeted at permaculture practitioners, designers, activists and teachers, Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) holders and other suitably experienced people, who are looking to deepen their understanding of permaculture and improve their conceptual skills and tool kit for design and action.

In this intensive course, David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept (with Bill Mollison), provides an insight into permaculture as a set of design principles for reshaping how we manage land, our lives and our livelihoods in a world of energy descent. Using a combination of free flowing lectures, visual presentations, case studies of his own work, structured group discussions, observations and a site design exercise, David breathes life into the design principles which link the diversity of permaculture solutions. The core of this course is the presentation and workshopping in groups of the format of design principles from Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. Additional presentations and group work focus on Reading Landscape, Landscape Mapping, Energy Descent Scenarios and Community Mapping. This 4 day format allows participants to gain experience in using the design principles in an extended small group site design exercise. 

Rolling off the 30 hr journey I slept for 5 hours with a new friend in Melbourne who took me in and then made the drive up to Hepburn, a small town of 300 located a few hours from Melbourne. Together with a beautiful group of 20 others, we explored permaculture principles, reading landscape, community resilience, disaster preparedness and did much work imagining energy descent scenarios and how we as individuals and communities can respond if things turn sour down the road. 

Some of the classes took place at an elementary school a block from David and Sue's legendary permaculture property.


We ate our meals at David and Sue's hearth, eating all local organic food from the land or down the road. The integrated permaculture homestead reflecting the deepest level of permaculture ethos and sustainable lifestyle. Here I learned what it truly means to live permaculture.  

I got a bit of one on one time with David and partook in delightful wisdom teachings from one of my most respected teachers.

b. Permaculture Design Course, Trinity College, Melbourne 

Gathering with almost 100 in a classroom environment at the Seminary School of Melbourne University was a fascinating experience. An incredible combination of wisdom stories from Bill Mollison, fast paced, high energy, on point lectures from Geoff Lawton and well crafted teachings from Greg Knibbs. Going through the entire curriculum in less than two weeks was astounding! I also comprehensively reread the entire designers manual during this time as well as integrating my learning into my teaching notes for the 14 month PDC's that I teach. This course surpased by dreams of how amazing it would be.  

I got only a small amount of one on one time with Geoff Lawton and would love to take his teacher training in November 2011. If anyone out there wants to help fund me, I would be deeply grateful. I believe this trip is a key part of my evolution as a Permaculture Teacher and an essential part of my path.  

It was a life changing course and a transformative meeting with Bill and Lisa Mollison.  

c. Up, Close and Personal with Bill Mollison and Lisa Mollison

The small plane to a little town in Tasmania started a grand adventure. Spending 5 days on the famous Tagari Farm with Bill and Lisa was absolutely incredible. The farm is less than a decade under Bill's care but still reflects an amazing design intelligence.  

(photo spread : Nick Mann) 

I had some great one on one time with my hero and ultimately loved and respected teacher, Bill Mollison.



Waking up with the sun I got to live the farm life.

(photo : Nick Mann) 

I learned alot about Australian permaculture, woke up at dawn to feed all the animals and made many new friends.

Here is Bill's dog. 

Here is Lisa's Horse. 

Here is the black pig. 

(photo set : Nick Mann) 

It was awesome to be with Jeff Knibbs and Bill exploring the local area of Stanley.

 d. Planetary Permaculture Pilgrimage

Working with Tamara Griffiths who I met at Tagari last Autumn, I am co-organizing a global pilgrimage to Australia for back to back teacher trainings in November. Here is the media platform.

Advanced Permaculture Teacher Training
Robyn Francis and Penny Livingston-Stark
June 5 - 12, 2011

I arrived under a wide open blue Calfornia sky, driving north from San Francisco up to a small valley of hawks, mountain lions, pheasants and foxes. Tucked between two scraggy hills is a full activated permaculture farm and institute complete with a diverse group of gardens, free ranging chickens, cob cabins, solar showers, humanure composting toilets, greenhouse classroom and yurt gathering place. Gathering in the thick wet fog at 7 am each morning we moved through a dynamic curriculum of teaching techniques and tools, learning games and facilitating methodologies lasting until 9:30 pm at night. Penny Livingston-Stark was an incredibly wise host and beautiful presence sharing songs, wisdom teachings, practical ideas and a complimentary collection of offerings and facilitations that built trust and inspired the class in all ways. Robyn Francis help the space as a true elder, confident and knowledgable, guiding the group through all sorts of edges with songs, interpersonal games, talks, discussions, charettes, brainstorms, mind maps and break out groups designed to explore and create feedback loops about learning and teaching permaculture. The highlight was a talk about Robyn's accredited vocational training certifications and diploma in Australia, the first example I have heard of completely legitimate government sanctioned programs giving advanced trainings for credit. The week ended with presentations from all participants as well as an emotional outro as peoples paths led them out into the world to practice and teach permaculture.

PDC Teacher Training
Geoff Lawton
November 7-11, 2011

We arrive at the Permaculture Research Institute / Zaytuna Farm on 27 hectares in the Channon in Northern New South Wales, Australia. Its a lush permaculture farm of easterly slopes with forested valleys and open grazing for chickens, goats, ducks, horses as well as dairy and beef cattle. The farm is entirely solar power with no energy inputs from outside. Gathering together in a hexagonal cob classroom are people from Australia, North America, Caribean and Asia. I was pleased to meet 3 other Canadians in the course. 

Geoff's style is a formal 'chalk n talk'. He packs alot of information into well organized and designed presentations using a wide variety of techniques and strategies for successfully sharing permaculture in an inspiring way. Perhaps if less of the course was spent on practice presentations we could have learned even more from Geoff (and Nadia too!), but the practice was definitely a huge challenge, evolution and help for everyone involved. Some of our evaluation processes were not facilitated by Geoff which created some chaotic process with such a large group having trouble choosing a collective approach to this important independent experience. Instead of facilitating the time limits of our talks, some people stayed on the mic way after their time answering questions or telling stories, the result was the timing of our course running over on most days. Getting in front of a group that you become increasingly comfortable with, and accepting constructive feedback was a successful way to empower our teaching practice.

The days were very well timed with 4 sections of 1 1/2 hour teaching modules broken up by wonderful and healthy meals and tea times. Very relaxed and easy going with things, Geoff facilitated our large group with mastery and great success. When the new student facilities are implemented and faster internet for larger groups is achieved, this incredible institute will be even more of an incredibly inspiring setting to learn about permaculture in practice and spend time on the ground of a fully functional permaculture farm site.  

The focus of the course was on presentation skills, blackboard use, organization, and developing a diverse collection of teaching styles. The jewel of the course was a pattern language and design kit of techniques, strategies, and approaches to becoming a better communicator, organizer, teacher and designer.

Dynamic Groups, Dynamic Learning
Robin Clayfield
November 14-19, 2011

After a 5 am awakening before sunrise and a long drive we arrived at last at the fabled Crystal Waters Community. We had moved from sub-tropics into the tropics and got there just in time for the 9 am start of class.

We were learning in a beautiful rammed earth classroom overlooking the valley of crystal waters. This intentional community space was created more than 20 years ago by a team of permaculture people. Its the largest permaculture community design ever made. 

It was an evolutionary course in learning, very activating and full of practical, inspiring and accessible processes to help facilitate in a creative way. My teaching and learning toolkit got an incredible upgrade during this fantastic experience.

Most of the course was immaculately relevant and accessible to all, however in a few small instances the course crossed over into the new age / self help realms. We did lots of practice presentations to apply the things we learned, which was greatly beneficial. The feedback on these presentations was almost entirely positive and supportive with very little critical feedback, a missed opportunity to push people a bit to out evolve themselves. The creative processes were incredibly awesome and very helpful in addressing many different learning styles, the only issue was they used a large amount of paper including felt, sticky notes and other mainstream art materials. 

Robin's masterful facilitation made for an engaging and inclusive course. It was a dream come true for me to study with one of my hero's who wrote the incredible resource book 'Teaching Permaculture Creatively' as well as 'You can have your Permaculture and Eat it too' and designed a series of wonderful learning-teaching card games that I have found super valuable in the PDC that I teach.


Creative Community Governance and Decision Making Workshop
Robin Clayfield
November 21, 2011

We met with a group of 15 in the fantastic rammed earth and wood eco-classroom. After a short opening and introductory round, Robin passed out trees which we wrote our intentions and hopes for the class to come. 

After a day of creative facilitation for large groups, Robin talked about this class in relation to Social permaculture. She noted that community governance is about design and facilitating design and that it highlights the importance of creative design in all the invisible structures and processes that forge foundations for community development and group action. Using maps and patterns to anchor in processes and experiences before they happen, we are able to model permaculture approaches. Robin also explained how this related to creating new successful patterns using patterns that work and avoiding patterns that don't work in group decision making and community building. Social permaculture is about co-operation between different people and elements and community governance helps organize and place the right people together in the right way to create healthy and harmonic systems. It was inspiring learn how all community governance strategies, processes, methods and toolkits enhance our ability to design and apply creative processes to group meetings and collective decision making.

This course was a great expansion of our toolkit. This one day long course did not allow for much time and Robin's playful interest in letting the students be the facilitators really limited how much time she had to share her creative experiences and incredible potent advice. Having inexperienced students take turns being teachers created some slow moments and took up valuable time that could have been spent learning, but anytime Robin jumped in we were given key insights into facilitating group decision making processes. Robin's incredible potent talk about social permaculture in relation to the day was a beautiful capstone on our process.

Permaculture Design Certificate Teacher Training
Rosemary Morrow
November 24-28, 2011

It was a beautiful spring day in this incredible eco-village when we met with our hero, the inspiring and resilient godmother of permaculture. Teaching and traveling since March, Rosemary Morrow seems to tirelessly teach with little sleep, choosing to teach in the most intense wartorn and disease riddled locations on the planet like Etheopia, Uganda, Cambodia and Afghanastan, bringing permaculture to countless global nodes to set up a strong grassroots permaculture web taking root across the far reaches of our planet.

Certainly this was the pinnacle moment in my permaculture study. Morrow is truly the grandmother of the movement, an entirely inspiring and dedicated Quaker, whose selfless work for our world in some of the most devastated parts of the planet has transformed my perspective of permaculture in deep ways that I am still in the process of integrating. Her course was a masterful middle path between information heavy 'chalk and talk' and the sometimes information sparse 'creative facilitation' methods. Anchored in a lifetime of hands on work in wartorn and diseased biomes across Africa, Asia and Oceania, her knowledge of the permaculture paradigm is astounding. Unlike any of the other teacher trainings I have taken, Rowe has a fully facilitated evening session each night, so our day starts at 9 am and goes until 9 pm. Not only this but all the tea breaks and mealtimes Rowe's teaching continues with special stories, vignettes and rich information sessions as valuable as the formal classtime.

In addition I noticed she took the time to give personal attention to each student in the class. I was touched to have almost a couple hours of one on one's throughout the week together, incredible! Critiquing this course is more challenging than any other since it was run with such grace, wisdom and tolerance. We were assigned 3 short teaching projects at the same time as a masterful project to collectively build a curriculum for a PDC. With only a short time to prepare for our short presentation, little attention was given to the group project which did not end up being completed. The presentations were responded to by Rowe in detail, however like the other teachers, her comments were short on constructive criticism and high on supportive comments and inspiring affirmations. The days were filled with laughter and learning, and I was absolutely fascinated with all the course content, surprisingly it was quite different from all the other teacher trainings. The more I learned about this incredible human, the more admiration I had for her and for the permaculture path. By the time the course had finished I felt more dedicated than ever to become a permaculture teacher. Truly this course was a life highlight for me.

Advanced Permaculture Principles
David Holmgren
November 30 - December 1, 2011

We met up at Melliodora for a breakfast of biodynamic rice porridge with preserved fruits and nuts from the land. It was a circle of 30 people including 20 men and 10 women, a nice change from the almost entirely female courses at Crystal Waters.

At one point I ask David "In light of the relocalization of the world community, what do you see is the future of permaculture education in relation to getting it out to areas that don't already have existing permaculture teachers?"

David responds : 
" There are different ways to extend surplus capacity. Clearly there is a long lineage in permaculture in the sense of it being really useful in poor and underdeveloped places. Permaculture has been part of this whole extension process. I think this issue is really important and allot of people have been great work but its fraught with problems. Sometimes in the permaculture world there is this sense that things have done badly in the past because people have come into it from a difficult point of view. In a global interlinked world any action has ripples. When we make a purchasing decision,  it has effects through the global economy. The whole thing of acting locally is still effecting globally. When we act locally we are having a global impact. When we do something on a local scale we are giving the most powerful message that we can in a positive way to the world. The future of education is having permaculture teachers and designers going to actually join other communities and become local instead of just popping in to give a course.

The two power packed days at Melliodora with David Holmgren will always be remembered. His depth and breadth of knowledge was stunning and coupled with his organizational thinking and way of synthesizing complex concepts into simple digestible chunks. He did well balancing talking himself, inspiring students to learn and share information and giving a voice to the land itself. The group was a bit bigger than could really be facilitated, an astounding 30 people, so some people missed allot of the fascinating information on the tour of Melliodora and the main reading the landscape hike but no one seemed to mind. The food was utterly amazing, almost entirely from the property itself, but due to the large class size allot of the special condiments were eaten long before the end of the line hit the food table however the food was so good again people did not at all seem to mind. The combination of David and Steve's facilitation was excellent. I learned an incredible amount during this short full power course, understanding that at the heart of David's practice was an applied ethical understanding of permaculture principles and reading the landscape. Through a comprehensive inner knowledge of the principles David could talk about any aspect of permaculture, in many ways these were the threads that wove it all together. Similarly by walking around nature, David has access to endless information that was hidden in the sights, sounds, smells and feelings that nature conveyed about not only the present but the entire past as well..

e. Designing Resilient and Regenerative Cities and Suburbs, Toby Hemenway, Vancouver, BC, Canada

March 25-26, 2012

It was truly awesome to get a chance to take this one day course and evening lecture with Toby Hemenway in Vancouver. The class was full of people open to new learning and Toby's graceful and charismatic facilitation left us filled with inspiration to take back into our communities. He used a combination of discussion, group activities and slideshow driven talks to share an introduction to permaculture as well as talking about the Portland model for urban permaculture. Toby shared alot of amazing information about doing permaculture in cities versus rural areas and I was transfixed by his intelligence. The evening lecture aptly named "Redesigning Civilization" was also incredible potent, this one about the history of agriculture and permaculture approaches to redesigning the way we approach food production and human community design. The awesomeness of this inspired me to take a longer course with Toby in Calgary.

f. Turn your Garden into Gaias Garden, Toby Hemenway, Calgary, AB, Canada : March 31- April 2, 2012

I arrived in Calgary rereading the second Edition of Toby's book that I use for my courses. It was no long before I was at the public library to see a talk Toby gave called "Designing the Ecological Garden". This was a very inspiring slideshow accompanied lecture on gardening the permaculture way with plenty of inspiring stories, funny annedotes and an inspiring call to action for people to get more food secure using local organic means.

For the following three days I commuted across town to do an incredible course with Toby Hemenway at a Church. We explored foundational permaculture concepts as well as discussing the climate and conditions in the Prairie around Calgary and how the city and its rural farming outskirts could be redesigned to be more sustainable. This great mix of group work, short lectures, outside activities and class discussions was awesome and Toby held the space for more than 100 people like a serious pro. It was an evolutionary few days and sparked my passion for permaculture in whole new ways. At the end of the time I asked Toby about his PDC in Portland. He said he would support me to do the course if I needed and so I was granted a scholarship to cover tuition. I imagined I could start a new PDC course to pay for the 6 flights I would need to Portland. At this climactic moment in the Diploma Course I am feeling empowered and evolved by this course of learning. I hope everyone who takes a PDC considers deepening their work with a Diploma!

In Calgary I also met an amazing new friend, Kym Chi, who was signed up to take my PDC in New York but who was also already an advanced designer and social permaculture activist.


 g. Permaculture Design Certificate with Toby Hemenway, Portland, May 19, 2012It was a dream come true to take a full PDC in Portland with Toby Hemenway and some of the great elders of Permaculture in North America. Since I began the Diploma studying with the elders in Australia, it seems very fitting to finish the Diploma studying from some of the great elders of the North American Movement. The course was profoundly inspirational. Toby Hemenway was a masterful facilitator and brought countless new things to light. He was a super passionate speaker and took the 50 or so students on a journey of transformational learning. I took endless notes and incorporated them into my PDC core curriculum, the Principles Deck and the Permaculture Workbook. Leonard Barett was one of the guest teachers and had much to share beyond his age!I was also joyed to learn from Jude Hobbs who taught us about trees and forest gardening.I was so excited that Toby brought in another of my greatest teachers, Tom Ward who i consider the grandpapy of permaculture in North America. A life changing weekend was had when two honest to goodness heroes came to share teachings with us. Michael Becker andMark Lakeman. I was so touched by this experience I vowed to take full courses from both of them in 2013.Each of the 6 trips to Portland to take this PDC were super inspirational and motivating for my work. By taking the PDC from amazing teachers I was able to keep my passion and excitement about permaculture on full power. I always had new stories to share with my students and high recommend people take two or more PDC's just to get different perspectives about how people teach. Indeed Toby Hemenway was right in his recommendation to do at least two.The final class was historic and an epic climax to the experience. Here I got to study with the incomparibly awesome Larry Santoyo who has been the mentor for this Diploma Process. He taught me more in a day than I learn in season both with his information and with his passion. I am still in the afterglow of this experience and so looking forward to the teacher training which I am taking from Larry Santoyo in November as the final capstone of this Diploma Process. Here is the map and design i did as part of my group project. The graphic design was done by Lunaya Shekinah ofwww.lunaya-shekinah.com . My part of the final group presentation was about composting. We were redesigning a site that had an apartment built on the sun side creating alot of shade. We imagined it would become a fertility garden so i designed an upgraded compost with hugelkultur, vermiculture, biodynamic compost teas and compost amendments. 


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