This year's PDC at Bury has started, to the relief of everyone concerned. The small team of committed volunteers, (Jack Wright, Mike Kelly and co) have overcome many hurdles to re-open the Manchester Road Community Centre after its "mothballing" during the pandemic.
We timed our opening session well, just as government restrictions were lifted. Our risk assessments have led us, for the time being, to deliver the course under cover, but outside in the old school playground. The first day was a bit damp. as our pictures show but recently we have been able to appreciate some sunshine and fresh air. In true permaculture style, facilities and comfort have improved rapidly since our first outing.
We have also taken the opportunity to explore the neighbourhood and make good use of the Great Outdoor classroom. It is surprising how much of Nature can still be discovered in suburban areas.
Once again we are sharing our knowledge with a lively group of talented people, bringing us renewed enthusiasm for moving forward together
We have recently finished our first full (72-hour) PDC delivered entirely on-line. I will immediately admit to being ambivalent about the process and, latterly, quite fatigued with it all.
On-line training is not the same as real-world training. As Marshall McLuhan pointed out years ago, every medium shapes communication and the society around it. Intermediation, whether by people or by technology, distorts the interaction one way or another. This is particularly true with the Internet. And I always find talking on-line a more tiring experience than face-to-face with people.
On the other hand, remote courses can suit some participants. There are people who are isolated geographically. There are those who are not comfortable with the "rough 'n' tumble" interactions in the Northern School classroom; they can benefit from a bit of distance. I am happy that we can now overcome those barriers with some of the people who want to study with us.
In the final event, the proving of the permaculture course pudding must lie in the eating of it. By the end of the course, my mood had changed from that of a jaded, wingeing old cynic to a much younger version of myself, amazed at the power of permaculture design and heartened by the people around me.
The end-of course presentations have provided excellent examples of how to do permaculture design. As well as being important for the learning, the design projects provide us tutors with the feedback that we need. This time, they also gave us all some deeper insights into what it means to be a permaculture designer, including:
We saw a great display of skill and talent from people who we can trust to go on and achieve great things. And maybe we may even get to meet some of them them in person one day ...
It is always a measure of success when the students look like they will soon surpass their tutors. I have to congratulate everyone on the teaching team: Teresa, Marie, Suzanne, and latterly Paula, for creating an effective learning environment, all at extremely short notice.
Now that the course is complete, we would like to run it again. However, we will spend some time on a good redesign, re-thinking the format and look at further ways to reduce the pressure (in particular on the teaching team).
Meanwhile, we will take the experience back into the classroom and make further progress there.
It's really great to catch up on the activities of the Northern School. After years of working with Live Wild I have recently been inspired to get back into Permaculture thinking. You may be interested in my podcast. Its called connection matters and is a series of conversations with people who are bringing connection in all its forms to the world. I'd love to talk about practical permaculture and how we can apply the lessons and principles in these times. Such time of shift and potential!
Jakub reports that a new squad of helpers arrived on site on May 30th and immediately made themselves at home.
|Preparing the ground at Třemešek|