Permaculture Introductory weekend Course design - Transition Town Moretonhampstead phase.

I had sat in at an introductory weekend that Aranya taught in Bournemouth in the summer of 2006, and decided it would be fairly easy and gentle to get him to come and co-teach a weekend with me, copying his design of one day inside doing theory, and one day outside seeing permaculture in practice. He could support me as i found my feet, and i would get valuable convening, teaching and session planning experience. I decided early on that i could also get another yield from this by doing the course design as one of my 10 designs for my portfolio, showing how permaculture can be applied to non-physical systems too.


I ran through a list of my resources - Proper Job resource centre, friends' houses and Steward Wood (venues for the permaculture in practice sessions), Aranya, the Permaculture teacher's guide, my past session plans, Transition Town people, Aranya's 2006 introductory course timetable, my ToT apprentice contacts and the course convenor's guide.

I also made a list of my wild ideas - find out what people want to learn about, plan the course using Tuckman's Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing process, derive principles from a woodland walk, do a peak oil and climate change blurb, where now session at the end (an open sesion, i prep ideas and resources), harper's scale of personal lifestyle intervention efficiency, physical activity during saturday sessions, this course as pc example, tour buildings in particular ('half of permacculture in temperate zones is about shelter'), practicals - warm spaces, ethics sessions.


And i looked at Aranya's learning objectives and half copied, half changed his list to -

Students understand what Permaculture is.
Students are inspired to learn more about PC, are aware of their options for doing this, and start to use PC in their lives.
Students see the effects of their choices in the global web of trade.
Students take away 3 simple things they can do in their own lives.
Students can connect into local initiatives.
Students understand the value of applying PC principles and ethics to daily choices.
Students start to see ways to alter their houses and gardens to be more sustainable.

I also wanted to create a good learning environment for the participants. My learnings from ToT told me that for this it was important to balance -

Visual-Audio-Kinaesthetic learning activities.

Information sessions and time to process the information.

Session styles (voice, film, discussion,tours, music,games etc).


My personal objectives with the course were -

To build a local network of permaculturists - To earn money - To promote non-land-based permaculture - To learn about teaching and convening - To get more people for the Summer design course at Steward Wood.


I also spent some time thinking about the tours on the sunday. The objectives for these tours were -

People see Permaculture in action.

Ideas start to flow about ways they can design their own lives.

There are spin off benefits for Proper Job and Steward Community Woodland - money, custom, beneficial connections made.

The principles and design ideas get reinforced.

I made a mind map of various issues to do with the tours as well.



I then moved onto a bit of Analysis, pondering what principles to teach, as this seemed to be a core part of the course, and there seemed to me to be lots of different systems of principles. I was most familiar with David Holmgren's latest batch, but Aranya had taught a different set on his introductory weekend. And an article i read by Roy Harper brought in more yet... I would need to make my own shortlist from the many principles on offer, as trying to get too many across would lead to overload and probably a shallow understanding. I came back to this issue a few months later on...

Publicity seemed the most pressing issue, to get people interested and booked up for the course as soon as possible. As my target group was people from peak oil/climate change netorks, I needed a title that would appeal to those people, who may never have heard of Permaculture. I worked through a few ideas, and tried them out on people who were involved in the local theatre group with me, and eventually settled on the humorous 'How to make a cup of tea after Peak Oil' heading. It was inspired by Aranya's vegan reworking of the tale of two chickens, wherein Aranya compares an industrial, global, fossil fuelled cup of black tea with a local herb tea cooked on a woodstove. I thought i could sprinkle the course with lots of different ways of making tea too, (storm kettle, wood fired rayburn, electric kettle, open fire...) and then compare them to gently get people thinking about the sources of their everyday items, and the environmental impacts of that. And it meant i could have lots of nice teacup logos on the posters too.

With my strapline worked out i made a poster/flyer and a blurb to go in the local News in Moreton magazine, and the Transition Town Moreton newsletter. I also added the advert into one of our SCW emailouts, and put the flyer up on the SCW and Transition town websites. i booked the Community Club Hall in Moretonhampstead, and waited for the bookings to come in...

So what happened next?