Social Permaculture: PDC Reflections [Part 4/8]

This series of eight blog posts by Melissa Ott about the Santa Cruz Permaculture fall-winter 2017 Permaculture Design Course was originally posted on the Green Gal blog in April 2017.

Weekend Three: December 3-4, 2016

The third weekend of the Santa Cruz Permaculture Design Course took place shortly after the presidential election, which provided a fitting opportunity to explore the “people care” ethic of permaculture. We focused on social permaculture principles, nonviolent communication, Open Space Technology, the Work that Reconnects, issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how to foster resilient communities.

Mandala made with leaves, flowers, branches

We spent the morning with Palika Benton and David on Saturday learning about the Spiral of the Work that Reconnects. After diving into concepts like The Great Unraveling and the Great Turning, we participated in a series of pair share and reflection activities that allowed us to experience the four “gateways” of the spiral: 1. Grounding in gratitude, 2. Honoring our pain for the world, 3. Seeing with new eyes, and 4. Going forth. It was a powerful experience and remains for me one of the most memorable activities from the course.

Later that day, we practiced nonviolent communication with Rick Longinotti of NVC Santa Cruz. The recent election provided a relevant opportunity to practice some real-life scenarios, including how to speak with and really connect with folks on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

Palika and Rick, like all of the guides in the course, are wonderful teachers whose unique passion, experience, and presence make the PDC course content come alive.

Students in the PDC sitting in a tent in a semi-circle with instructor Rick Longinotti standing and explaining the activity.

On Sunday, we explored social permaculture principles, how to design for mitigating disaster, and participated in an Open Space Technology session. Open Space allows participants to create the agenda, lead discussions, and host on-the-spot workshops on topics of their choice. I hosted a session exploring how to build neighborhood community resilience. We discussed what it looks like and feels like to know your neighbors, the value of spending time in our front yards, and how simple gestures like inviting neighbors over for a potluck can initiate long-term friendships with those who live nearby.

Another student from my cohort, Kelsey “Kiki” Ringenberg, shared the following about the weekend: “I would really like to speak about our workshops that happened in December, Joanna Macy’s The Work that Reconnects and also the Non Violent Communication. These two workshops were rather special to me because I think looking inward and focusing on our role is vital in making a change in our community. As the conscious ones, we are the warriors, and as warriors it is important to continue to look inward in order to build beauty on the outside.”

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