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Communication and Education

Last October we hosted Circle Permaculture’s, permaculture design course(PDC). I was lucky enough to be a participant in the course. The course was two weeks long and gave a thorough introduction to permaculture. Throughout the two weeks we learnt the twelve Holmgren principles of permaculture. These are twelve guiding principles to creating a strong permaculture design.

As we were learning these principles, I couldn’t help think about how I could apply them to situations outside of permaculture. So, I have picked my top 5 of the Holmgren principles and will explain how they can be applied to life in general.

1. Observe & Interact

In permaculture it is important to first observe the area you will be working on. This step can last from a few days to a few years. We observe an area to understand the natural patterns and flow. It is imperative we take this time before making any big changes to ensure we are working in the most effective way. We must also interact to learn how an area/environment reacts.

The majority of us live such fast paced lives that we barely have time for this observation and interaction phase. A lot of us will jump straight into action without taking the time to step back and observe how a system works. We are bombarded with information and stimulus so we are compelled to act quickly without taking time to understand our actions.

Let’s slow down and observe and appreciate our surroundings. Let’s slow down and interact with others, in real life, not through technology.

2. Obtain a yield

To obtain a yield in permaculture this means designing a system that produces something that can be used. This is most commonly thought of as food but can also be many other things such as shade, protection, balance etc. Effective permaculture will produce the most yeild from an area using resources in the most efficient way. It is up to us the designers to understand the needs of an environment. We can then use this knowledge to optimise the rewards.

In life, we can work to obtain these rewards. The rewards can be either intrinsic or extrinsic, these rewards need not be strictly financial. Perhaps the reward is making a customers day a bit better or making your coworker’s day a little bit easier.

Whatever the reward, we should strive to obtain a yield from as many situations as possible. Rewards are not solely positive, sometimes we get the greatest yield from a negative outcome.

3. Self regulate & accept feedback

In any situation it is important to accept feedback and especially in permaculture. We must adapt to this feedback by self regulation. This may be as simple as not planting a bush because we have seen the affect it has on other areas, or it might be complex like removing a tree that further down the line will become invasive and take over the area.

Self-regulation or self-control allows us to be accountable and it empowers us. It is a life long skill to practice and is aplicable to almost all areas of life. Feedback should be seen as a gift, it helps us see things we may not have seen before. This new vision helps us improve our ability to perform.

We need to practice the skill of self regulation and accepting feedback. This will help us become life long learners and improve exponentially over time.

4. Integrate rather than segregate

Modern agriculture is built on segregation. Just take a drive in the countryside and you will see monocrop fields as far as the eye can see. We have isolated certain crops and need to artificially add what nature provides in an integrated environment.

By integrating and creating diverse environments we can become more sustainable and resilient , as well as more productive and efficient.

This principle translates perfectly in how we should all live in harmony with each other by integrating everyone into our communities and valuing diversity.

5. Use small and slow solutions

It is very easy to speed through decisions, sometimes we need to slow down and think about what we have to do. It is also very tempting to jump right into a big challenge, sometimes it is best to start off small and build to that big challenge.

Permaculture uses small and slow solutions because they are easier to manage than bigger solutions and they allow for the use of local resources leading to more sustainable outcomes. While this may not always be feasible, sometimes we need big and fast solutions to solve some of society’s greatest problems.

I hope you enjoyed my top 5 principles. I also hope you have learnt something about permaculture and how you can apply Holmgrens principles to your own life.

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Communication and Education

Something inspiring and powerful is being born. We are building another world with our hands and we are transforming ourselves in the whole process. Education, communication, networking and solidarity are vital elements for our transition to a better state of living, in harmony with nature, ourselves and other fellow humans.

The Contact Making Seminar (CMS) for the setting up of the Sustainability Transition Network (SUSTRANET) was realized on 7-15 September 2017 at Vlachia, Evia, Greece. The networking event was organized at the premises of Stagones (stagones.org) by iliosporoi network (coordinator) and hosted in total 33 youth workers and trainers from seven different counties (Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Latvia, Belgium), representing at least 10 organizations.

The CMS had as a primary focus to gather organizations involved in sustainability transition with the core objective to exchange experiences and best practices and set the basis for the establishment of a network of cooperation. In parallel, local trainers organized a thorough programme of learning activities to build the capacity of participants on project development and EU funding issues, as well as, on non-
formal education/ experiential learning methods.

During the course of 8 days, participants jointly carried out a programme of mixed activities (info sessions and presentations, debates, participatory seminars, practical workshops, simulation exercises, energizers, team building exercises, outdoor and social engagement activities) that enhanced their skills and competencies and allowed them to experience a multicultural simulation of living in an ecological
community. Project partners realized a mapping of their capacity and expertise and with the active involvement of their youth workers they will form a pool of trainers on sustainability transition that will transfer the acquired knowledge to other European regions and localities.

The CMS gave project partners the opportunity to engage participants in an intensive and participatory learning process that enabled them to get actively involved in a non-formal educational process for training of sustainability trainers and multipliers at local/ national levels. At the same time gave them necessary knowledge and tools to develop and manage projects, to develop networks of collaboration and undertake deliberative decision making.

Youth workers were able to develop skills and competencies on inter-cultural training for sustainability, including but not limited to: team work, leadership, self-awareness, analytical and creative thinking, visioning and participatory planning, project management and conflict resolution, monitoring and evaluation. In the long run these will contribute to their personal and socio-educational development and
will improve their employment prospects.

The project was carried out as a follow up to the successful implementation of SUSTRARES that was flagged as a best practice by the Greek National Agency.

SUSTRARES (Sustainability, Transition and Resilience) was a 10-day intensive training course for youth workers that focused on self-sufficiency, community building and sustainability transition issues through mostly practical workshops. SUSTRANET CMS focused more on team deliberation and building of concrete project ideas and proposals.

The main deliverables of the SUSTRANET CMS project include a dissemination poster for publicizing the network and attracting new members, a website (https://sustra.net), a short aftermath video (https://youtu.be/zRZpzLxbCxw), a networking reflection stories video (https://youtu.be/n0_I3LrqStQ), and a training report (soon to be published). The main outcome of the project was that participants
as a final exercise they split into two groups and developed two concrete proposals to be submitted in the Erasmus+ programme. One of them is a Youth Worker Mobility on Zero Waste and the second is a Strategic Partnership for the establishment of sustainability transition hubs and an international pool of trainers.

The future is now, the present is ours. We learn how to become self-sufficient and aware, skilled with all the necessary competencies to create our own frugal abundance by developing and implementing a new paradigm and a new imperative of an emancipatory transition to sustainability.

Project partners and SUSTRANET founding organizations:
Iliosporoi Network (Coordinator, Greece), La Fabbrica Del Sole Onlus (FDS) (Italy), Gaia (Portugal), Arci Chieti (Italy), SEYN (Belgium), Agronauten (Germany), Ecobytes (Germany), The Latvial Permaculture Association (Latvia), The School Of The Earth ‘Nea Guinea’ (Greece), Sunseed Desert Technology (Spain). Funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

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Communication and Education

On Saturday the 25th of March a group of 55 students from the University of Almeria came to visit Sunseed in order to learn about our project and the environment that surrounds us. This was possible thanks to the “Arbol de las Piruletas” which is a non-profit association that develops activities aimed at promoting awareness for the conservation of the Environment and that can luckily participate this year in the Project Ecocampus Almeria as Technical Secretary. This is an initiative of the Consejeria de Medio Ambiente y Ordenaciòn del Territorio and the University of Almeria, founded by the European Union (80%). The students were from two different university courses: Environmental Science and Education.

After their arrival they had a Sunseed general tour in order to have a deeper understanding of this reality and our structures and goals. In each departments the respective coordinators gave a general explanation about their work and about the activities they can offer to volunteers. After a delicious Sunseed lunch prepared with local products, the Drylands coordinator guided the walk to the Nacimiento, the spring of Rio Aguas, the important river that many villages (including ours) rely on for the supply of water which is in serious danger.


The walk was an opportunity to speak about the Ecocide (the death of an eco-system) going on in this area and that this is the exact cause of why the river and all the villages that rely on this flow to survive are in so much danger. Because of an intensive agricultural activity due to olive plantations between Tabernas and Sorbas, the river is being overexploited by over 300% and the water flow is reducing quickly. It was measured by Professor Maria Calaforra of Almeria University and the reduction has gone down from 17 litres per second (in April 2015) to 10,4 litres per second (in july 2015). This will cause, firstly, a lack of water in some tracts of the bed of the river and so many species are now risking extinction because of the entrapment, as they won’t have vital space to move.

On the human side of the issue, many people have the opportunity to live in this area thanks to the water they can take from the river. The human consumption has always been respectful and sustainable so that, even in the driest periods, the water is still flowing. Due to this overexploitation, caused by the intensive olive plantations, the future of many people and the rare species in this area are at risk. The water here is fossil, which means that it has been locked underground for thousands of years and is not easily renewable, instead has a very small recharge from the rainy water, which in the area is very limited.


We were all very happy we could share this information with the students of the University of Almeria as they shared much interest about this issue and also about the whole Sunseed project. We hope more and more people will be aware of this situation and will come together to stop this abuse.

You can read more (in spanish) about the visit in two local newspapers: La Voz de Almería and Ideal.

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Communication and Education, Courses and Events

Last week a group of 68 geography students from the Liverpool John Moores University spent an afternoon with us at Sunseed. They had the chance to visit the place where we live and to see how our community is living sustainably.

They walked the path that runs along our irrigation line and met the people who are working to restore it after the storm, allowing them to understand how important it is for the existence of our village. They also saw how the ram pump works: this system provides the whole village with running water without using any energy apart from gravity.

The students also shared a nice tea break with us and visited our gardens and the arboretum, a nursery where local plants are grown to repopulate the dry slopes around us. Here is where we investigate the interactions between the local flora and different species of fungus that can help it to face adverse climatic conditions. Other aspects they had the chance to discover were our waste water system and our solar panels.

Most of the visitors were impressed by the fact that such a lively community is able to live off-grid in this impressive and hard landscape. For us this was a grat opportunity to get all the team and volunteers together to welcome them and to share the valuable learnings we have here.

Sunseed, as an educational center, welcomes visits from schools, universities and individuals interested in learning from our experience of more than 30 years living sustainably in a semi-arid region. If you are interested in our activities, please contact us!

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Communication and Education

In this workshop we explored the Nature around us which we are a part of, marvelling at the wonders of Gaïa, and reconnected to our own Human Nature, our instincts and raw emotions. Members of the off-grid, self-sustainable learning centre, Sunseed, came together in our peaceful meditation garden, and through a series of activities, we remembered Nature.

We first interacted with the space through an unguided observation, where we tried to refrain from making any judgements, letting Nature speak to us freely.

We moved into learning some basic bushcraft skills, such as walking delicately and silently, feeling the earth with our feet. We discovered the depth of sounds with the ‘deer-ears’ technique, and finally explored how wide our peripheral vision could be.

We became more aware of our presence, and of our environment.

Once we had remembered these powers of ours, we partnered up, one person leading the other that had closed eyes. As the viewer found an interesting element, they would orient the blind and tap them to open their eyes – suddenly revealing the singled out element chosen for them.

Remember Nature workshop 2

These few seconds created strong sensory moments, revealing minute patterns and details previously overlooked.

Finally, sitting back to back with each other, we sang in harmonies, letting air flow in and out of our lungs, connecting with each other and our environment.

Remember Nature workshop 3

We left feeling relaxed and refreshed, noticing we had connected with our environment, ourselves, and each other.

Find out more here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1297666623584204/
WordPress: https://remembernaturegustavmetzger.wordpress.com/

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Audio and Video, Communication and Education

Bruce Charles also known as Bill was born in 1928 in Tasmania, Australia. He is known as one of the first people to discuss the idea of permanent agriculture. He founded the Permaculture Institute of Tasmania to teach others how to live sustainably. His ideals correlate to the goals of Sunseed. For example,

Screen shot 2014-09-18 at 12.01.24 PM

His most popular text is …

PERMACULTURE+A+Designer´s+Manual+-+Bill+Mollison

Summary video in English here –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOh4pPSvvZg

There are free versions of the text in PDF form with full color pictures on the internet. The book is available on Amazon for 78 euros to 311 euros for the collectible.

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Next Course organised by our partner association Cultura de la Tierra – Earth Culture is

Permaculture Design Certificate Course – 90 hours . From 17 to 31 October 2014

This course will introduce ways of using permaculture design in your life, to re-design aspects of your personal life as well as to create sustainaible and resilient human environments. Permaculture can be applied to where do you live, work and play. 90 hours course with PDC International Certificate.

More info and bookings www.culturadelatierra.net

Poster PDC October 2014

Permaculture offer us new ways of thinking, doing and being that can be use individually and collectively to create sustainable human cultures in harmony with nature.

The course program includes: ethics and principles, design processes, basics of ecology, water management, soil building, plants for permaculture systems, ecobuilding, energy, new economies, with regenerative ideas for: home, garden, neighbourhood, community, region….all supported by practicals, and additional topics such as deep ecology, Dragon Dreaming design, Ecovillages, Transition,….

During these 2 weeks we will have the opportunity to experience Permaculture alive in our day by day, as we will be living in an off-grid low impact “eco” village Los Molinos. We’ll be part of a community of teachers, participants and collaborators, creating spaces for inter-conexion, skills exchange and self organise workshops; and also spaces for dreaming and celebrating together!!

Teachers: Monika Frank, Kirsty Heron, Mark Biffen, Jef Carrick y Patricia Cañas.

Other guest facilitators to confirm…

Investment:

575 € booking before 31 of August

605€ booking after 1 of September

That includes all sessions, materials, the Certificate in Permaculture Design , all meals and accomodation in low impact projects– Sunseed y El Mirador.

Concessions

We would like to offer a reduction to one person with low income that is involved in environmental or social projects. We will only be able to confirm this after 18th September.

We are also open to exchanges, reductions for help before, after and during the course, for one or two persons that can’t afford the course full fee.

Venue: Los Molinos del Río Aguas – a low impact off-grid village located in the Natural Park of Karst en Yesos de Sorbas – in Almería Province (South Spain)

Organized by: Cultura de la Tierra – Earth Culture

in collaboration with: Sunseed, La Pita-Escuela y El Mirador.

For further information and booking: www.culturadelatierra.netinfo@culturadelatierra.net – phone 0034 639842719

BOOKING DEADLINE 15 SEPTEMBER 2014

FURTHER INFORMATION…

This course will introduce ways of using permaculture design in your life, to re-design aspects of your personal life as well as to create sustainable and resilient human environments. Permaculture can be applied to where do you live, work and play.,

The course includes the 72hours curriculo recognised by the internatinal permaculture community plus more than 18 hours extra that will enrich the experience, such as:

* Introduction to Dragon Dreaming –participatory design process;

* Transition Towns;

* Ecovillages – sustainable communities,

* The Work that Recconects from Joanna Macy – deep ecology,

* regenerative techniques for arid lands

There will be practicals in organic gardening, eco building and/or other practicals of sustainable living.

During the course we’ll have several guided tours.

One to the Sunseed project (gardens, technologies, low impact); other to the village of Los Molinos and other to the Pita-Escuela project (working with agave wood from the desert).

In this course you will learn how to design or to refine your design skills, through practical and enjoyable exercices under the guidance of experienced designers.

You will learn skills in observation and reading the landscape enabling you to develop a deeper understanding of a place. You will learn about map drawing and interpretation, about understanding and using patters in nature to use in the designs; and why and how to take care of the soil, the water and the air.

You will learn how to design food production systems and water collection systems at different scales; bioregional strategies, forest garden growing, alternative economic systems, renewable energies and design of healthy homes and buildings, domestic liquid and solid waste treatment.

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Communication and Education, Courses and Events
DSCF1975Sunseed was recently at the reggae festival Rototom in Benicassim to communicate the project and spread the word. We were there for a week publicising Sunseed and interacting with people interested in coming to Los Molinos. We used the Sunseed Yurt for the first time this year and brought with us again our Sunseed models and games. A big thank you to everyone who helped !Here are some images of our stall. DSCF1984DSCF1990DSCF1987DSCF1989DSCF1985
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Communication and Education, Courses and Events
DSCF1558EtnoSur en Alcalá la Real, Jaén By Andreia EtnoSur is a cultural festival which is place for a variety of artistic expressions, like dance, theatre, performances and cinema, in the joyful atmosphere of ethnic music. This festival has also an ecological and educational component, so the activities developed on it are appropriate for a diversity of ages and styles. For the same reason its important and interesting for Sunseed to be there again this year, for us to share our experience of living sustainably, and invite people to visit us and experience a more Eco Side of life. DSCF1600 DSCF1632Sunseed’s stand was so charming and with plenty of creativity : interactive games that we made recycling materials, like La Rueda de la Sostenibilidad- to learn for example about seeds, composting and trade economics. DSCF1553DSCF1582DSCF1575For the first time we had these lovely handmade models, of the most important elements of Sunseed and living sustainably: the compost toilet, the solar oven, the solar parabolic, the solar panel and the mini huerto. DSCF1562DSCF1593DSCF1565 DSCF1568It was a challenge to stay in the stand representing and presenting Sunseed to Spanish people, considering that none of us are fluent, that means that EtnoSur was a great opportunity to improve the language for us as volunteers. To enjoy the festival as much as possible we shared the responsibility of the stand together as a team. DSCF1625DSCF1631Being at EtnoSur was a nourishing and successful experience because the public was curious and interested about this respectful kind of life we are promoting, and all the team had a really good time! DSCF1627DSCF1628

DSCF1558EtnoSur en Alcalá la Real, Jaén

Realizado por Andreia
Etnosur es un festival cultural que es el lugar para una variedad de expresiones artísticas, como la danza, el teatro, performances y el cine, en la atmósfera alegre de la música étnica.

Este festival tiene también un componente ecológico y educativo, por lo que las actividades que se desarrollan en él son apropiadas para una diversidad de edades y estilos. Por la misma razón es importante e interesante para Sunseed estar allí de nuevo este año, para que podamos compartir nuestra experiencia de vida sostenible, e invitar la gente a que nos visite y experimente un más Eco Side de la vida.

DSCF1600DSCF1632El stand de Sunseed era tan encantador y con un montón de creatividad: juegos interactivos que fabricamos reciclando materiales, como La Rueda de la Sostenibilidad-para aprender, por ejemplo, sobre las semillas, el compostaje y la economía comercial.

DSCF1553DSCF1582DSCF1575Por primera vez hemos tenido estos modelos artesanales encantadores, de los elementos más importantes de Sunseed y vivir de manera sostenible: el baño seco, horno solar, la parabólica solar, el panel solar y el mini huerto.

DSCF1562DSCF1593DSCF1565DSCF1568Fue un desafío permanecer en el stand, representando y presentando Sunseed al pueblo español, teniendo en cuenta que ninguno de nosotros es fluido, lo que significa que Etnosur, para nosotros como voluntarios, fue una gran oportunidad para mejorar el idioma .

Para disfrutar de la fiesta tanto como sea posible, compartimos la responsabilidad del stand juntos como un equipo.

DSCF1625DSCF1631Estar en Etnosur fue una experiencia nutritiva y exitosa porque el público era curioso e interesado sobre esta manera respetuosa de vivir que estamos promoviendo, y todo el equipo ha desfrutado un monton.

DSCF1627DSCF1628

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