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Planetary Permaculture Pilgrimage – Day Five

by Tamara Griffiths and Delvin Solkinson

The ultimate compliment to a teacher is when your students make you redundant. — Geoff Lawton.

Day 5

The day started with storytelling. With twists and turns, laughs and
straight faces, Geoff tells us a bit about the origin of permaculture,
steeping us in a history rich with challenges and successes.

It was a wonderful yet exhausting last day. We all were to do 10 minute presentations but with 27 students and transition time this ended up taking more than 6 hours. A storm was brewing outside while the day stretched on, building a climatic climax to the experience here at Zaytuna.

It was 11:11:11 that day so at 11:11 am we joined people across the planet and meditated for peace and sustainability, praying that permaculture be empowered to do its work in the world.

It was amazing to see how many of us had been empowered and supported to grow through this dense week of training. Truly the people coming out of the course were not the same ones that went in. We had been upgraded and tooled to go back to all our different communities and to travel to places of need to help contribute in whatever way we could to advance permaculture education and practice.

Delvin realized that day that the Planetary Permaculture Pilgrimage is stacked in space and time. We hope that many of you reading this blog will seek out a teacher training here in Australia with Geoff or anywhere else in the world. The world needs more teachers and it is only through students empowering themselves to become teachers that we will create collective change to collaborate on building a more sustainable place for ourselves along with the soil, plants and animals of our ecology.

When asked what is permaculture? Geoff said: “Permaculture is a system of design that provides all of human needs in a way that is beneficial for all of nature” and “Permaculture is an ethical design science.”

Delvin and Tamara snuck out near the end of the day to join one of the exceptional humans here at the Permaculture Research Institute: Alex. This amazingly outgoing, hilarious and knowledgeable guide took us on a fast tracked tour of the farm out into the zone 2, 3 and 4 systems that we had not yet seen. This was an incredible climax and highlight of our time here. Seeing some of the permaculture systems up close was just what we needed to really anchor in our experience here.


Alex was in charge of firing up the rocket stove – for warm showers.
Thanks Alex for the great tour!

Final thoughts

The course was amazing, recommended to anyone who already teaches as well as anyone with a PDC that wants to learn more about how to teach it. Whether you are going to teach a full PDC or just be more able to communicate to friends and family, this course brings a firm foundation into the curriculum as laid out in the Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison. It also empowers teachers with new techniques, strategies and toolsets for the novice permie or experienced teacher.

Geoff’s style is a formal ‘chalk n talk’. He packs a lot 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.

Our evening 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. In addition, instead of facilitating the time limits of our talks, he allowed some people to stay 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.


Inspired to teach and teach and teach –
Tamara and Delvin with Geoff Lawton.

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.

Tamara found herself wishing to model some creative processes at the end of the week, to expose the student group to some alternative techniques and to show that they can be as worthwhile and convey as much content as the lecture style. She hopes that the students find some more methodologies to teach permaculture with.

The Planetary Permaculture Pilgrimage was specifically designed to give participants a wide range of teaching techniques by studying with teachers who do very different styles. We feel deeply that this is our mission – to empower the generation of teachers coming through with a toolbox to take them through the adventures our teaching will bring.

Inspired to teach and teach and teach – Tamara and Delvin with Geoff Lawton

You still have an opportunity to take Geoff’s upcoming teacher trainings:

In addition there is still space in Robin Clayfield’s creative community decision making and governance:

  • November 21, 2011

PDC teacher training with Rosemary Morrow:

  • November 24-28, 2011

For info email Tamara at Tamara (at) moonrisepermaculture.com.au

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