Extract from the EPT Midterm Report: specific results & challenges

This is an extract from the midterm report that all partners had to hand in to their respective NAs before june 30th 2013. The full report can be downloaded from here.

Concrete results have been

Escherode (Germany) August 1-7, 2012:

  1. We spread information about the Partnership to newcomers and on the newly established website: https://permateachers.eu
  2. We presented partner organisations to each other,
  3. We implemented a structure of organisation (based on the “Viable Systems Model” by Stafford Beer) for the Partnership,
  4. We worked out more details of the work-programme for the 2 years,
  5. We formed teams for the different tasks and functions of the Partnership,
  6. We met at a permaculture site as a practical example.
  7. A short slideshow of the meeting was produced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMAbqS1IM_I

 Trenta (Slovenia), October 21st to 25th, 2012:

  1. We gathered questionnaires on educational structures from: Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Canary Islands,
  2. We made SWOC-analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Constraints – and Solutions) of different educational structures,
  3. We looked at “lessons learned” from this meeting and made a design how to better organise the next meeting,
  4. We visited a permaculture farm and a bee keepers’ museum.

 Vale da Lama (Portugal), March 25th to 30th, 2013:

  1. We collected various course curricula, different formats of courses, session plans and an overview of the content that most teachers teach.
  2. We worked on the clarification of the structure of the Partnership so that it is more easily accessible for newcomers.
  3. We decided to focus on the a WIKI (wiki.permateachers.eu) as the main place where the outcomes of the Partnership will be published and started to work out templates to upload information.
  4. We stayed on the site of a permaculture project and got involved in practical work here, and visited 2 more permaculture projects on the last day of the meeting,
  5. Video interviews of attendees at this meeting was produced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP9CDfzPeXo

 Leeds (England), May 27th to June 1st, 2013:

  1. We organized a Creative Teaching Methods training course as an option before the actual meeting in Leeds,
  2. We exchanged about Pedagogy, methods, stories of success and failure and apprenticeships in teaching,
  3. We had a talk by Jon Walker, consultant, on the Viable Systems Model, to further improve our working structure,
  4. We saw presentations about various Permaculture projects in Leeds, visited a local sustainable & affordable housing project, a nearby permaculture farm and community garden.
  5. We worked with Open Space Technology to enable as many people as possible to participate in exchange of information, knowledge and learning processes,
  6. We did a World Café Method to collect wishes, ideas and visions for the continuation and development of this project beyond July 2014 and created a group to work out details,
  7. We started to fill the WIKI with content and results.

What challenges have you met in the implementation of the Partnership, if any? How have these problems been solved?

Managing the diversity of perspectives within the project has brought a number of challenges.

A major challenge has been balancing the desire to widen participation and include as many people as possible (which supports the objective of forming a network of teachers) with the practical need to maintain enough continuity within the project to deliver the other objectives. In particular, during the 3rd meeting, we observed that newcomers to the project had high expectations and felt frustrated by certain aspects of the way the project was run and details of the programme (specifically they wanted more focus on content and less on discussing details of “how to manage” the Partnership); meanwhile “old timers” who had been involved in the project from the beginning felt that their contribution to the project had not been recognised or honoured.

We have responded to this by conducting more thorough inductions for newcomers to the project at the beginning of meetings and by splitting the groups so that people with different levels of information can participate without frustration. Also, the participants from each country made extra efforts to brief new attendees prior to the meetings.

 Another challenge that we have faced has been how to enable some degree of participation for unfunded partners: those organisations that contributed to writing the application, but did not receive the funding from their national agency (Italy and Latvia), or potential partners that failed to engage in time to be included in the bid process (e.g. Permaculture organisations in Czech Republic, Croatia, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Ukraine etc). We decided to facilitate unfunded partners’ participation by reducing their event fee and inviting partner organisations to make donations to subsidise them.

 A major challenge has been (and remains to be) for the participants to stay in touch in between meetings, especially in the working groups, as these have been formed by interest rather than proximity of participants to each other. Using the Internet to collaborate with a multi-lingual group spread out over several time zones and countries is one of the major learning experiences! The partners try to move towards getting the work done at the meetings themselves, plus there is usually time allocated to the question of “how will we stay in touch and work together until the next meeting?”. The solution for that issue was the decision made for all to have regular Skype meetings using Team viewer and start adding (again on a regular basis) their input to the WIKI.

Last but not least it turns out that the funded partners seem to have not communicated enough during the application period and before the start of the project about how certain outcomes were going to be financed. Due to this, the partners have made budget-plans which do not allow for printing all of the material that has been planned. Although there was awareness of the “Accompanying Measures”, the partners did not have the resources to apply for this funding. The solution for now is to focus on online publication of the results and the various products that have been planned on a WIKI-platform.