by Delvin Solkinson, Ali Ma and Tamara Griffiths
It was a beautiful day on this conscious community land. Kangaroos bounced by the window while all manner of tropical birds celebrated the sun with a chorus of beautifully orchestrated songs. We are staying in a bunkhouse which is clean and comfortable despite massive spiders that seem to go unnoticed by the locals.
Stumbling down to the common building we find a spread of delicious fruit, breads and spreads, tea, coffee and cereals. The day begins with a check in — we are all asked what kind of tree we felt like! Robin has us do a very interesting revision process where we all write memories of yesterday on small scraps of paper. On the floor she places cups symbolizing breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner and we all place our little papers across the board in a representation of the day and when things happened. It’s amazing to see so many memory fragments spread out across the floor. This also gives us a sense of the highlights as things like our incredible thai dinner the night before are celebrated by many different scraps of paper.
We collectively built trust in the group through a series of trust games that glued and bonded our circle. A valuable key to facilitating dynamic groups that allow a powerful platform for deeper inner works, and allows a progressive group atmosphere that can encompass lateral and logical blocks of information to land and sink in authentically, gaining exactly what each member needs from what is presented.
We wove in creative processes to incorporate in our teaching — ritual, quizzes, song, movement, chalk ‘n talk, puppets/role play, small group work, pin board and using sensory awareness, amongst many others.
Our triad presented an offering. We led people down the path, ritually collecting natural objects from the ground on the way down. At the bottom near the community gathering place we circled under a huge Jacaranda tree. Tamara introduced us, Ali Ma sang a beautiful sundance song while Delvin walked around the ring with a clearing stick of Paolo Santo. We talked about pattern language in nature, culture and art then break off to collect more altar items and build a land mandala sun symbol as an offering to the community and demonstration of pattern application on many different levels. The group comes to understand that everything around us and everything we do is a pattern and when we model healthy patterns we can inspire such patterns in others. The ritual ends with a wide open offering of gratitude to the sun that dapples our small learning ring.
The afternoon sees us using ‘sticky carpet’ to explore concepts around the three jewels of course construction: site, content and creative presentation processes.
It’s incredibly hot and Robin raises the energy with a series of music and dance related facilitation strategies before we started a needs-based learning process where people used slips of paper to write out what we wanted to learn more about. This is a very inclusive brainstorm as everyone gets to have a go. We put similar topics together and then did a process with dots to decide which ones we would do. We picked 10 topics. They covered lots of awesome stuff like Edward De Bono’s six thinking hats, teaching 2 or 3 three students, how to creatively teach parts of the PDC, 7 intelligences and how to deliver boring content.
At last the clouds returned and the 33 degree heat wave dispersed to a cooler clime. After showering in rain water at the bunkhouse we wandered by the ponds and lush tropical plants towards the eco-classroom.
The day began with bringing in a natural object to describe how we are feeling and make a collective altar for the day. The morning was made from group presentations where different groups of two had a chance to apply and practice the incredible toolkit that Robin had bestowed upon us.
Tamara did an awesome one exploring the 7 intelligences and adding nature, animal and spiritual. It was a very energized and inspiring 20 minutes which included auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning. She enjoyed the fun and laughter that she had with Tonia coming up with the lesson.
Delvin and Ali Ma introducing card games in permaculture
Ali Ma and Delvin shared an offering about using card games in teaching permaculture. They opened up the circle with an oracular card game Ali Ma had created spontaneously the night before in which symbol cards cued people to communicate something about the landscape from which they had come. This icebreaker, trust game and getting to know each other game led into our plethora of uses for card gaming in permaculture.
Zoe, Bruce, Tonia, Julie and Kirsty describing
where they come from during the icebreaker
They then used natural objects, sticks, a chunk of wood and a blanket to form a landscape playground on the beautiful wood floor and surrounded it in a ring of permaculture token cards. We talked about permaculture design, zones, sectors, guilds, relative location, aspect, climate and other topics encouraging people to use the token to explore and apply their understanding of permaculture design. With awesome music playing everyone created a collective permaculture design on the floor. We then gave out blank tokens and had people create their own extensions of the game, placing them on the board where they seemed appropriate to reflect permaculture design.
Design game with Delvin’s awesome card deck he uses
with all his students and his own designs.
The session ended with us giving out commemorative tokens as keepsakes and encouraging people to make their own permaculture games, encourage students in-class to make games as well as purchasing and developing games they could use in advance.
The afternoon included sessions on conflict resolution which featured puppet shows, role playing, brainstorming and class discussions. C is for conflict (resolution), and is a call to change. Robin said in 70 groups only twice did conflicts arise. She believes this to be mitigated by dynamic and creative processes within groups. Naming the conflict and allowing the group to process naturally what comes up, empowers all members to take on this responsibility together.
This day we got a chance to have a long inspiring visit with Robin, one of our heroes in a deep way. It was incredible to learn more about her dedicated life and see what beautiful work she was doing across the world to help save our planet and bring creativity to education.
Dinner was fabulous once again and you could feel how all the students were connecting deeper and deeper with each other through this bonding experience. Spontaneous percussions had started breaking out – and dinner was no exception. We had table and utensil rhythms going before jumping up to dance to “Salt n Pepa” and MC Hammer. Tamara loves music and movement and had such amazing time with Ali Ma joining in to sing and dance.
Spontaneous dinner percussion!
It was another awesome day on the permaculture pilgrimage.
It was a beautiful day at Crystal Waters and we have acclimatized to this hot tropical environment.
We began with a fun recapitulation, a memory game where we did live theatre to create ‘living photographs’ of our memories of the day before. It’s great that Robin does a comprehensive ‘revision’ of the day before so we comprehensively review and remember everything done the day before. This is a great part of our learning process and essential in accelerated learning practices.
Today Tamara and Delvin gave a presentation on post-PDC learning and teaching including Accredited Permaculture Training (much like TAFE in Australia) information. They used mind map brainstorming to get the group’s input, each gave talks about more formal post-PDC learning pathways and had everyone write a letter of intention to themselves about next-step permaculture after this course which Tamara will mail to everyone in one month’s time for a post-meta reflection and affirmation.
Ali Ma dropped the science with a presentation on abundance and right livelihood. This presentation was very clear and balanced, a transmission with confidence that empowered us on our paths of manifestation. She touched upon right livelihood, ways we can barter, trade, use LETS and micro economies to exchange our current skills now, while heading towards our goals. The affirmation is that we are totally abundant and supported by the universe.
Robin shared something about how to critique with respect. Coming from a heart place, filming presentations for self-critiquing and using non-violent communication.
Next we delved into the art of instruction, highlighted in exercises in clear communication. It was noted in many presentations, how we often can’t hear the exact articulation of what is being communicated. This can arise from many reasons like different learning styles, volume, distracting background noise. For some people it is important to have written instructions on sticky carpet as well as verbal instructions – it all comes back to the learning styles – be they audio, visual or kinesthetic. We fine tuned our skills and provided valuable feedback to each other, as we refine our ability as facilitators.
We examined patterns in nature — inspired ways how we can creatively incorporate nature’s patterns into permaculture design work. We were encouraged to go out into nature and make a connection to an element that had pattern infused in it. Then we were encouraged to create a permaculture design based on this pattern in nature.
At the end of the daytime sessions Tamara took a very peaceful closing — a bird one. Birds have been hanging around all day and all week cheering us on and she thought it would be nice to give thanks to the birds — so we acted our favourite bird and walked out to the lawn and released our birds to the sky. We stayed out there talking as a group in our circle and soon there were so many birds flying through our airspace – white herons, white cockies, parrots, a crow and a whole flock of swallows, perhaps 60 of them swooping around each other as though getting insects in the air. It was so beautiful and we all felt it. When Tamara went back outside after packing up, all the birds had gone. Lovely.
We ended with an evening session with a special connecting ritual called ‘Windows to the World’. 50 postcards were placed face down, and we slowly turned them over, examining them, looking through windows of the world until they were all opened. We then each picked one card linking our story with that of the specially selected image, sharing this in small groups. Next we all held personally meaningful cards, and told an unbroken story going round the circle from beginning to end that included us all. It was a truly beautiful process.
We have learned so many processes on our journey to take back to our communities and rejoice in creativity.
We still have room in Rosemary Morrow’s course for anyone wanting to join us on the Planetary Permaculture Pilgrimage.