All posts by Sandra Campe

EPT-intro brochure finished!

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We are proud to present version 1.0 of our “General Introduction Brochure to the EPT”!

Only 2 weeks after the funding period of the Leonardo Da Vinci-Partnership has ended we proudly present our EPT intro-brochure-brochure!

This brochure provides an overview of the project and contains loads of links to the respective content on the permateachers.eu-website. Hopefully it will be a good starting point for many people to find out more about the EPT Partnership!

Several partners are working on translating this brochure to their countries’ languages to make the project more accessible. These will hopefully be available at the beginning of September. Translations that will definitely be available are:
spanish, finnish, dutch, ukranian, german
If you are interested in translating this to your own language, please get in touch so that we can provide you with the source documents and style guides – or just translate and edit it!

Please note that all URL addresses in the document have been embedded and are not explicitly spelled out, except the main URL for the permateachers.eu web site. When making a printed version for your translation you may want to deviate from this policy and include direct links to material that is translated in your own language.

Please feel free to submit comments and / or corrections. We will consider any feedback for publication in the next version of the document – suggested update frequency is every three months, unless there are no comments.

European Permaculture Federation

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Navigation, our group that focuses on strategy and how we relate to the outside world, hosted a couple of sessions exploring the future direction for the EPT. Throughout the Learning Partnership we discussed the possibility of a network of European Permaculture Associations and teachers, and at the meeting in Denmark a conversation cafe was held to look at what a network could do and what the next steps would be to progress it.

Some of ideas for the purpose of a network included the need to maintain a platform to ensure good communication between us and to foster the quality and standards of Permaculture education in Europe. Facilitating the sharing of job opportunities in Europe, coordinating the European LAND projects and offering peer support to teachers were also identified as important functions of a future network.

The next steps identified were to explore the possibility of the the European Permaculture Council hosting an alliance or federation of European Permaculture Associations and for the EPT to present and launch the idea at the European Permaculture Convergence in July 2014.

Read the article “Federation or Foundation” by Steve Hart here.

Weeds or Wisdom? Latvian Eco-Health Farmers on the Road to Resilience

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by Guntra A. Aistara, Central European University

July 4, 2014

Condensed summary of chapter published in Environmental
Anthropology Engaging Ecotopian Imaginaries: Bioregionalism, Permaculture, and Ecovillages for a Sustainable Future,
Berghahn Books, 2013.

On a tour of organic farms in Austria in 2006, one farmer proudly showed off her raised garden beds brimming with a diversity of herbs, medicinal plants and vegetables, explaining that these were permaculture beds, whereby plants reseeded themselves, grew where they “felt best,” and worked in ecological systems with neighboring plants. Some of the Latvian organic farmers on the tour were shocked and amused, however, by their first encounter with permaculture, and what they described as “farming amidst weeds.” “Well, in that case I have permaculture everywhere in my farm…” muttered one farmer. Another commented that it all depends on how you present things to visitors: “When you come visit me, and I explain to you that this is permakultūra…don’t criticize it, because it comes from Eiropa (Europe).” Others insisted that permaculture meant farming as wisely as nature does, and that we might learn from it. Continue reading Weeds or Wisdom? Latvian Eco-Health Farmers on the Road to Resilience

Communication is key

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How stay in touch – and how to spread the word? Two questions that kept us busy.

Internal communication in-between meetings

In such a large Partnership, whose actors are spread out across Europe, how to organise communication in between personal meetings is a crucial question.

Being part of a global sustainability movement, there were some ethical concerns whether to use (and thus support) free services from big global corporations (like Google). We did test some other options but decided to stay with:

  • Google Drive – document editing and sharing with different levels of access and editing
  • Google Groups – multiple mailing groups for project workgroups (using delivery settings depending on the level of involvement) and for the whole EPT-Partnership
  • Google Forms – for surveys on a variety of topics
  • Doodle – finding optimal meeting times
  • Skype – regular online meetings in between physical meetings

Inclusion

The EPT is designed to support permaculture teaching across Europe so we kept access to Partnership documents and mailing groups open. Anyone could follow simple instructions of Welcome document to join and follow the Partnership activities.

Continue reading Communication is key

Facilitation for smooth group work

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Facilitating our process

The Process-team both ensured a good flow of the meetings, using a number of techniques, and enabled newcomers to facilitation to learn, practice and improve their skills.

Some of the facilitation techniques we used are listed here:

Circle Work

The first session of each EPT meeting started in circle, this allowed us to reconnect with each other and to focus our attention on the topics set for discussion. The purpose of working in circle is to create a level playing field, one in which every person is equal to all others.

Open Space Technology

Using the Open Space approach participants create an agenda together around a question or topic. Participants put suggestions for conversations or workshops forward and a market place of options is created of topics to be discussed. Although a number of conversations take place at the same time participants are free to employ the “law of two feet” any time, which states that someone is not bound to any one session for its entirety. One may choose to leave and move to a different group to contribute as desired. Each session is written up and contributes to the overall documentation harvested.

World Café

A World Café consists of a number of rounds of questions. Participants are seated around tables with paper to write, doodle or draw on as they discuss the questions that has been posed on this table. Each round lasts for approximately 20 minutes and after the round participants move to different tables, with the exception of the table host, who leads the discussion and remains at the table for all rounds. The World Café methodology is a simple, effective, and flexible format for hosting large group dialogue.

Our Working Structure: Based on the VSM

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Why we use the Viable Systems Model

Initially at the kick off meeting of the EPT in Germany (August 2012) the group found great difficulty in deciding how it would work and move forward with delivering the stated outcomes of the Learning Partnership. Davie Philip from Cultivate Ireland suggested using the Viable Systems Model (VSM), as a way to structure the work of the partnership.

The study of ecosystems and the way muscles, organs and the nervous system of the human organism interact, were the inspiration for the Viable Systems Model, which was originally developed by the English management cyberneticist, Stafford Beer. The VSM is used as a tool for diagnosing problems in social organisations, and to help to improve their functioning.

As both the Irish and UK partners had been using VSM in their own organisations and were familiar with the model, and as the other partners were interested in learning and applying a new approach to structure an organisation, we decided to host a workshop exploring how we as a Partnership could adopt this model to structure our work.

How we implemented the VSM

In the workshop the first step was to ask: “What are the operations that do the things that justify the existence of the Partnership?” The partners identified its “Primary Activities” or what we need to DO from the project application to Europe and set up working groups to focus on these outcomes. People then gathered in the areas that they wanted to work in and discussed the work that would need to be done in each activity, including identifying their “5 top tasks”.

Continue reading Our Working Structure: Based on the VSM

What is “microteaching”?

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(…) Invented in the mid-1960s at Stanford University by Dr. Dwight W. Allen, micro-teaching has been used with success for several decades now, as a way to help teachers acquire new skills. (…)

Micro lessons are great opportunities to present sample “snapshots” of what/how you teach and to get some feedback from colleagues about how it was received. It’s a chance to try teaching strategies that the teacher may not use regularly. It’s a good, safe time to experiment with something new and get feedback on technique. (…)

For more information, go to http://www.microteachings.com/

(excerpt from Wikipedia)

Evolution of Educational Structures

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In May 2014, we did interviews with all Partners that filled in the Educational Structures Questionnaire in October 2012. This interview was supposed to show if and how the Educational Structures in the different countries have developed since 2012.

The full interviews for each partner can be found on the respective country page in the Educational Structures menu.

When asked, the partner organisations said that in general, more educational offers (courses, training, online-material and tutorials) are available in 2014 than in 2012 and that the number of teachers, pupils and accredited Permaculture designers has doubled or even tripled.

Countries with emerging structures of Permaculture education have greatly benefitted from the Partnership, through the display of already existing structures and models in other countries permitting them to start designing their own Permaculture organisation and Diploma pathways. Also, the confidence and capacity building of their few permaculture teachers has greatly improved through exchange and learning teaching and facilitation techniques at the meetings themselves.

Continue reading Evolution of Educational Structures

Strategies to Widen Participation : Survey Results

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For this small survey, responses were given by only eight EPT partner countries (ES, GE, FR, BG, SLO, CZ, NL), whose educational activities are conducted in more than 17 countries in Europe and other parts of the world. Spain is exceptional in this case with reaching people in 4 continents through on-line teaching.

Educational activities are mostly focused on urban and suburban environments with rural context represented rarely. The activities mostly take form as a short workshop (e.g. 0,5-1 day long), public talks and PDC courses. Not so often as longer (e.g. 2 days long) permaculture courses, diploma pathways and other forms as property development, full vocational. Academic permaculture education school establishment, spreading of printed info, environmental awareness activities, FETAC students in Ireland etc.

The questionnaire asked each responder to describe the strategy they use in the specific country and to answer the questions: ‘Which target groups is this strategy designed for?’ and ‘Which groups of society this strategy does not reach?’ The summary of results shows that the most popular target groups are:

Continue reading Strategies to Widen Participation : Survey Results

Template for Session Plans

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Session Plans are needed to structure the time available with students and to become clear about outcomes and activities.

Here find a template that can be used to create a session plan: DOC  |  PDF

To learn more about how to fill in such a template, please refer to the microteach session by Cat: How to Create a Session Plan.

If you have session plans that you would be prepared to share with the EPT-network, please send them to compost@permateachers.eu