Here and There

Reports from near and far

PDC on-line PDC Bury education Angus Soutar Jakub Drew Pam Dugdale

Still stuck in a bit of a drift?

From Angus Soutar

at the Northern School forward observation post

It has been a frustrating time for us recently, although I'm glad to say that we can count some successes over the last year. Both our PDC's running in 2020 have continued successfully over Zoom and they have now worked through to their completion. We have been heartened by the excellent quality of the design work carried out by the year's "graduates" which gives us some encouragement, for both their future and for ours. And we now have an effective on-line PDC which is progressing really well.

However, it's the postponement of the end-of-course celebrations has hit home to me. Most of us are experiencing some degree of isolation that can never be fully addressed by remote communications. To date, I have been too busy rising to the challenge of remote working itself, which has not allowed me the time to consider "if only..." (which is usually a pointless diversion, in any case). But we are becoming bereft of the celebrations and the simple interactions that we had taken for granted before the recent emergency started. Patience is required.

ethics cake
Bury course 2018

However, using the isolation time given to me, my winter reflections have been deeper this year, and more appreciative as a result. At the Northern School, we all owe a huge debt of gratitude towards the individuals who have come forward to deliver this important training under challenging circumstances. It is a tribute to them all that we have achieved much over the past year. I am heartened that they have given up any idea of immediate reward, other than the work itself. We have gone forward in a climate of shared work, often fun, to confound the gloom of the pandemic and the frustrations of working on a far-from-perfect internet.

Hu-uge thanks are due to:

  • PDC Online team: Teresa, Marie, Suzanne
  • Bury course team: Andy, Estelle, Sara, Nicki
  • not forgetting those not so visible but carrying out key roles. including Krysia, Saleema and Rashid

With our plans for going forward, we continue to be mindful of our "people care" ethic, as we have been from the very beginning of the outbreak. We have been observing, and adjusting plans, and as soon as the current lockdown is over we will get active in securing meeting places to our own safety standards, managing the risks as we describe in detail in our update on the outbreak.

Another of our innovations has been the series of evening talks on-line. This continues to run, as you can see in our What's On section.

Thanks are due to all our stellar contributors so far: Edwina, Marie, Teresa, Paula, Suzanne, Sara, and Elsa. Particular thanks go to Teresa for her hard labour at the screenface in pulling us all together.

As befits the general mood of our times, my contribution is a thread entitled "Into the darkness". I started by proposing that the current system of governance in the UK will continue to underestimate the threats that are arising. Malpractice and corruption are likely to increase, in the short term at least. My sessions so far have concentrated on learning from history and finding ways forward that don't replicate the mistakes of the past. The relationship between our Society and Technology features strongly. The recording of the first session seems to have disappeared, well, into the darkness. However, two recordings are available to date At the Crossroads - Towards a digital future? and Lessons from the Luddites

wise cat
The internet of kittens?
See At the Crossroads

Jakub Drew writes from the Czech republic

I have been meaning to write to you all for months now, ever since we moved into our new property, but unfortunately I have been as busy as ever. We have had floods in our village, pandemic lockdown due to corona and vehicles failing for fun. We have done reconstruction of our static caravan in which we live, reconstruction of our future house, a newborn baby girl, also new job for local council (that's why I was standing in first line of all these struggles). Yes, it’s a completely NEW LIFE!


Armed with permaculture thinking, it's all bearable and, most of the time, fun. Every day is new challenge, until now we have been living without drinking water (bringing water in from outside). We have a new-drilled well and we are gonna test quality this week (fingers crossed).

Jakub 2 Jakub 1
Jakub 3 "Winter is here"

Also we have started loads of earthworks. Building roads and the planning of our property is a never-ending process. I am in middle of building three ten metre long, one metrewide hugelculture beds. I’ve got loads of pictures and planning presentations of the build I can share with you all, if you would be interested.

Here are some aerial views of the site captured with some clever technology.

Spring Summer

I could carry on for hours, telling you how much permaculture is changing my life and how often I am thinking about you all in the UK. A big “hello” to all my friends there!

I just hope, you are all safe and healthy and you will go through this unpleasant situation with minimum stress and losses.

Jakub sends this video of a peaceful afternoon in the hills

“You can spend your whole life travelling around the world searching for the Garden of Eden, or you can create it in your backyard.” ― Khang Kijarro Nguyen

News from Dr Pam Dugdale

Dr Dugdale

I keep planning to write something for Northern Edge but I am currently somewhat busy supporting my parents at this difficult time. I did however write a blog for the Women’s Engineering Society in which I discuss embedding sustainability in engineering education, and also moving beyond sustainability towards a more systems-thinking regenerative design approach (something that I became interested in whilst completing my PDC). The link is here.

I hope that you all get some rest over the holiday period and look forward to a brighter 2021 when we might be able to meet up in person again.

New recruit to the Northern School team

New recruit 1

The Northern School Zoomology Department is pleased to announce the appointment of Sooty who will be in charge of Normative On-line Work Training (NOWT). He has, however, been given the role of internal investigations and disciplinary procedures officer (II-DPO). The first job in his new post is to investigate why there is no "From the Archive" section in this edition of "Here and There"...

Send in reports: projects, events, updates

We invite you to send in reports and articles for publication, no matter how short. When you read through Northern Edge, remember that you are a producer as well as a consumer! You can contact us here

Connect Around the regions