All posts by Charlotte Langdon

Nordic Permaculture Festival

text and photos: Kurt Holm
translation: Charlotte Langdon

The Nordic Permaculture Festival, Jondal, Norway- it’s over and now I’m here summing it all up- I’m thinking especially about why you should allow yourself the pleasure of taking part in the Nordic Permaculture festival, which by the way will be held in Denmark next year.

There has already been written some fine articles by Cathrine Dolleris, Karoline Aaen and Charlotte Lou Langdon,  that tell about the content of the festival and workshops, so I won’t be delving into that here.

The Nordic Permaculture Festival is not just all party and bright colours- it’s more of a place where permaculture practitioners meet, and hear new things, swap ideas and experiences, take part in meetings and workshops, eat healthy food and get cosy with likeminded people from the Nordic countries and in fact individuals from around the world. All this and it doesn’t need to break the bank. Accomodation choices ranged from tents and dormitorieson the cheaper side, to individual rooms at the more expensive. The travel could have been better planned… twenty-five hours on buses and five changes (You can imagine I was numb from sitting down, but it was all worth it)

The thing that makes it so special for me, is the experience of the different countries. Each year we change country and the hosting country work hard to make sure you get a really “local” experience with local food, local features and the local culture can really be felt.

Between the many participants, younger and older, experienced and beginners, is that common postive permaculture attitude of meeting other others, listening and talking with each other without prejudies and judgement. You can feel the common ethics (care of the earth, care of people and fair share of resources) It’s a bit like meeting old friends.

You don’t have to be “something special in permaculture” This year there was actually a larger group of people, that weren’t already a member of any permaculture association, but had that “green” interest. It was nice to speak with that group, since it gives a good picture of where we are heading. Alltogether it gave a real boost/kick of new energy and motivation to have been a part of the event.

If you’ve got a bit of GO in you, and you’ve now become curious, then take a few days off, to come to next years Nordic Permaculture Festival, you won’t regret it.

Best-permaculture-wishes, Kurt Holm

 Hardanger Peace Academy, which beautifully hosted and framed the Festival, was situated out to Hardanger Fjord- and a great place to go swimming!

Erasmus+ mobility- Job Shadowing a PDC in England

Text: Charlotte Louise Langdon
Photos: Aranya

Job shadowing for Aranya and Caroline Aitkens PDC course this spring has given me a great deal of inspiration for developing my teaching. This I would like to share with you here.

We were about 18 people who spent two weeks at High Heathercombe Centre: this included a teaching team of 3, plus me as the shadow, 2 working in the kitchen and 12 participants.

Here I have collected some of the things that made the teaching on this course so effective.

  • What we teach- is the content relevant?

Questionnaire was sent out before the course beginning- covering participant’s previous knowledge of permaculture, their interests, expectations and future plans for using permaculture in their life. The teaching group read through the questionnaire replies together, on the day of arrival. This meant we were able to see who in the group had previous knowledge and who were beginners. This helped in organising groups and making the content relevant to all participants.  Other methods could be a show of hands, where educators ask the group about their interests.  The questionnaire also helped to flag up and unknown circumstances like health problems, shyness or learning difficulties.

 

  • How it’s taught- is the process engaging and interactive?

Course days were filled with activities and opportunities to relay content to suit many learning styles.  Visual learners were met with slideshows, free standing pictures, as well as pictures and clear mind-maps on the whiteboard. Linguistic learners could talk it out in pairs or groups, kinaesthetic learners got the opportunity to move their bodies and complete practical activities, audio learning was aided by discussion and presentations. Participants were invited to work in groups, in threes, pairs and often came back to the whole group presentation in order to share the individual experiences from the activities to the whole class. This meant that the course felt dynamic, but also that participants could compare their own findings to the findings of others, thereby broadening their understanding.

 

After-lunch sessions were particularly reserved for practical and outdoor activities, since this is usually a time of low-energy when sat in a classroom situation. Activities included soil-testing, observation of natural systems, water audit for the teaching centre, measuring slope with bunyip and A-frame.  Handouts meant that it was possible for small groups to go and work independently while still receiving guidance from the educators. On the handouts were questions which should be filled in for later presentation to the whole group. How is the soil where you have taken your test? How does this compare to the other test site?

 

 

It was very clear that the educators had been inspired by multiple intelligences, the Action Learning Cycle and Accelerated learning in their teaching. (Participants are prepared by offering a safe group working environment and building on previous learning. The content is presented creatively and interactively and the participants then have the opportunity to practice the learning in real-world situations. They are then offered insight into their performance through peer support, coaching, personal observation, evaluation and feedback)

 

 

  • What relationships does this information make with our
    existing knowledge- does it connect with previous learning?

 

Reviews of the previous day’s content were carried out by each of the groups in turn. They would prepare a review for the rest of the group and were offered inspiration for how to do this with some “idea cards” The idea cards were based on the multiple intelligences- so it invited the review team to refresh their peers memories through mime, logic puzzles such as word scrambles, kinaesthetic activities including recreating the forest ecosystem with their body poses. Linguistic methods were also used in reviews where the participants could talk about their memories of the previous day with a partner. One fantastic review was auditory/musical and consisted of the group singing some very funny songs about the previous day’s content.  Very memorable!

 

End of week reviews consisted of the whole group drawing in image form, what we had learnt throughout the week, trying to match the memories to the day that we covered the content.

 

  • How does it lead us forward- what can we do with this new knowledge?
    The educators gave many practical examples of how the new knowledge could be used by the participants, introducing them to agroforestry methods, small-scale home sufficiency, national and global organisation and alternative economy. There were 3 visits to sites where practical examples of the course content could be found. Martin Crawford’s forest garden, LAND matters community and Odd-Job community recycling station.

The teaching crew had a library of relevant books on the subject matters covered. They would lay the relevant books from the library on the floor, so participants could see them, have a flick through or borrow them to read while staying at the centre. This gave a great deal of inspiration for further reading and where to go next. Participants also got the chance to go deeper into what they feel is relevant for them, outside of session time.

 

Participants gained the ability to actually start designing whilst on the course, presenting their design to their peers and receiving feedback from the educators and teaching apprentices. Achieving this learning outcome was made possible by the creative presentation of course content, group dynamics and support systems, and opportunities to practice design techniques.

A good example of this is the presentation of principles of permaculture (in slideshow form) and principles of ecology through drawings on the board and discussion, always asking the participants to contribute. “What is the difference between these two ecosystems?” Through inquisitive questioning, observing the image and thinking, the group cement the principles in their knowledge.

After being introduced to the key planning tools, participants were given a small design exercise to work on in groups, starting with a simple problem solving exercise: where to place a compost bin in a small garden. The course culminated in detailed group design work and finally presentations, feedback and celebration.

 

  • Teaching styles, individual sessions and the course as a whole were reviewed, both between the teaching team (when participants were busy with practical activities) and by the participants themselves through the opportunity to write feedback on post-it notes and pin them up- while the teachers were out of the room.

 

 

Design of Teaching Structures

What else can we learn from seeing, interactive, well-planned, quality practical and theoretical courses that are held in the UK. Part of the learning can come from looking at the course itself: teaching techniques, tools and the fantastic online and print learning resources available to students.

But we can also learn from the overreaching structures that support these courses, in the form of teacher’s guilds, mentoring opportunities and common teaching resources which make it possible for a group of educators to offer the same high quality education and worth to participants across the country.
Aranya is part of a teacher’s guild called “Designed Visions” which consists of Looby Macnamara, Chris Evans and Hannah Thorogood. They have worked with creating course materials, course timetables, improvement of courses and teaching, support, inspiration and peer review. They also have a common webpage where courses can be posted publicly.

Caroline Aitken had been working under a skilled mentor: Patrick Whitefield, where she had learnt many of the interactive teaching skills and techniques that came through on the course. These strategies make a great deal of sense, especially when working with permaculture. We know that an integrated system is more resilient and stable than segregated elements (The group outlives the individual)

So on your next workshop or course, don’t forget:

  • Prepare well with lesson plans and learning outcomes
  • Prepare the learner by creating a comfortable and relaxed learning environment and nurture a cooperative group culture.
  • Find out about participants previous knowledge and make the content relevant to their needs.
  • Allow opportunities for group, pair and individual working.
  • Keep the course dynamic by including lots of different teaching methods.
  • Get the participants to review and refresh content often.
  • Guide participants to actually start putting the learning into practice, and offer feedback or peer-2-peer sharing following these exercises
  • Cater to the multiple intelligences

Nordic Meeting 2018!

Nordic meeting2018 will be held at Stiftelsen Holma-
in Höör, Skåne (Sweden!)
From Friday the 9th Feb -. Sunday the 11th Feb

We will visit Holma Skogsträdgård (Holma Forest Garden) and there will be a presentation “Holma Folkhögskola- from idea to reality”

You can find the full program from january, on : www.permakultur.se

Registrations here!

Höör is easily reachable by train. (They go from Malmø a few times every hour) When you get to Höör station, it’s just 2,3km to Stiftelsen Holma. (takes a little under 30mins to walk)

For practical info, and sign-up
Contact Kicki
0046-46140667
kickibobacka@gmail.com

For the program and questions about diploma accreditation
Contact Hans
0046-7361014
hans@hans.ryding.net

 

Scholarships to the IPC in India!

Did you know that when you take a PDC, you’re also supporting scholarships to the International Permaculture Convergence? These scholarships are given to permaculture practitioners from all over the world, so that they can afford to travel and take part in the IPC. For every participant who takes a PDC course here in Denmark, 100kr is donated to the cause.

This year we donated a total of 5.100kr! (That means we can also celebrate the fact that there are over 50 new certificate holders here in Denmark!) Thank you to all the teachers and participants who were involved.

There have already been applications for scholarships, from over 60 people, from Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Cameroon, Malawi, Gambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Belize, Ecuador, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba, Argentina, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India

Why do we support this cause?

It’s really important that even those who don’t have the financial means to attend, still have the opportunity to take part in the IPC. This campaign allows them to be there, so their voices can be heard. It enables farmers and community leaders to come in contact with other permaculture practitioners, in order to gain support, inspiration and ideas- that they can then take home to their local communities.

What is the IPC?

The IPC is held every two years, and is an opportunity for permaculture practitioners from all over the world to get together, share knowledge and shape the future of the permaculture movement. This year’s theme is “towards healthy societies” and there is a particular emphasis on women as agents of change. There will be many speakers, giving talks, presenting their projects and sharing practical solutions through workshops and talks.

The conference takes place over two days,and this year it covers topics such as

  • sustainable resource management
  • revitalising and preserving traditional farming practices
  • permaculture and climate change adaption
  • women as agents of change.
  • Grassroots permaculture in action
  • Permaculture as a social responsibility.

The convergence is a five day residential, experiential learning forum with a focus on networking, knowledge sharing, hand-on practices and celebrations.

Learn more about the IPC in India here

Find the crowdfunding campaign and donate here

Launch of the European Day of Sustainable Communities

This conference brings together policy makers and representatives of the thousands of community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability in Europe in order to launch the first ever European Day of Sustainable Communities (EDSC) that takes place the following day.

The conference aims to engage European Union (EU) policy-makers and stakeholders in Brussels by demonstrating how community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability have a vital role to play in achieving climate targets. The potential of community-led action is significant, and the EESC is delighted to work together with ECOLISE to promote local action on sustainability. The event will also contribute to the action week that celebrates the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.

To mark the European Day of Sustainable Communities on 23 September, communities across Europe will be showcasing their pioneering efforts to create new models for sustainable living. Ecovillages, Transition initiatives, permaculture projects, the agroecology movement, and many others will open their doors and invite the public to observe, discuss and be inspired by a diverse range of projects, covering everything from community energy, to local food, sustainable mobility, resource management and much more. You may find events close to you by consulting the European Day of Sustainable Communities events map.

During the conference at the EESC, there will be a live video link-up with the organisers showcasing a selection of these Europe-wide events. The latest information from the ECOLISE network will be shared with conference participants, including research findings on the status, impacts and challenges of community-led initiatives in Europe in achieving climate targets, preserving natural resources and biodiversity, and creating a fairer and more equitable society.

Participants at the European Day of Sustainable Communities launch event will include EU policy-makers such as the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, Members of the EESC, government representatives, and community leaders, including ECOLISE members, partner organisations, associations and NGOs.

Please register here to reserve your place. A draft programme is now available. Visit our website for further information. For any question, please email sdobservatory@eesc.europa.eu.

Folkeavisen is here!

Climate change threatens our future and it is necessary that we make a transition to a sustainable lifestyle, within just a few years, if we are to survive as a civilisation- that is, a maximum of 20 years according to climate research.

Already, this transition is taking place- companies are converting their production, towns are becoming transition towns, countries, governments and municipalities are beginning to take climate change seriously and the UN has made 17 World Sustainable Development Goals. To top it all off, 196 countries are included in the Paris Agreement, which focuses on a global transition in order to counter climate change.

Initiatives are spreading, but are unfortunately they still aren’t sufficient. It’s for this reason that Danish green organisations came together to create a “Folkeavis” (The people’s paper) for the upcoming local elections here in 2017. The paper is an appeal to: take action, create a new path and make the transition to sustainability on all levels.  This can mean sustainable development of the Danish society, carried by the public, the municipalities, and companies.

This paper has been written by 36 green associations and people from civil society. In it you will find a long list of solutions and suggestions, on how we can create sustainability within 9 important areas. These are simple solutions- straightforward to implement, that have been tried and tested.

These aren’t party politic suggestions, but an attempt to formulate THE COMMON GOOD (Det Fælles Bedste) for ourselves and our future generations. The paper is intended as a green agenda for the local elections. We hope it can be used by local citizens and politicians, to find a new way; to create local debate for voters and municipal meetings; to gather organisations in shared activities and action; as the starting point for election of politicians in your municipality.

At this moment, it is especially the civil society (rural towns, organisations and citizens) that are active for transition. But an increasing number of companies can see, that in the near future, the best business lies in sustainable production. They can also see, that there is an abundance of possibilities, and the business sector in future, will only consist of green and innovative companies.

The municipalities have an important role to play in transition and some are already taking action. They have the possibility to implement sustainable actions, together with the people and local businesses. Energy, transport, food, homes and business. As one municipal chairman says in the paper “We can lead the way and inspire, instead of just coming behind. There are so many possibilities, it’s just a matter of getting started.”

We hope the paper can inspire people to get started. We hope to create a dialogue about the future. Choose the politicians that understand the importance of transition, and can see all the possibilities in it.

Enjoy reading!

You can read the (Danish) virtual version of Folkeavisen here

You can also find it on www.okosamfund.dk and www.detfaellesbedste.dk

Det Fælles Bedste is made up of 4 green associations: Permakultur Danmark, Landsforeningen for Økologisk Byggeri, Omstilling Danmark and Landsforeningen for Økosamfund. Plus a network to over 60 green associations and a secretariat.