My permaculture diploma pathway

I started my diploma back in mid October 2013 – three whole years ago! One of the first things that I was advised to do was to work on my ‘pathway‘ The aim of this was to really consider why I was doing the diploma and what I wanted to achieve from doing it. I did some work on this in various sketchbooks and notepads, but never wrote any of it up for my blog and never really set myself a solid pathway to map a route through the diploma.

After taking almost a whole year off the diploma while I concentrated on other things, I’ve been quite wobbly recently and wondered if I should continue my diploma at all. My life has gotten so full of other things that are constantly calling for my attention. My permaculture diploma had slid to the bottom of the pile and I was working hard on ignoring its calls for help! However, after some thought and discussions with my husband and my tutor, I’ve decided to continue. So this seemed like a good time to really get to grips with the pathway.

I’ve decided to use the design web to structure my pathway design. I worked through each stage as a brainstorm. The following photos of brainstorms show how I used the design web to PLAN how I would structure this design.

My planned vision for the pathway design is to create a design that both reflects on my learning achieved and designs completed so far and plots a path for the future, leading to achieving my diploma in 2017-18. 

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Other than in the initial planning stages, I intend to use the web in a random or web-like format, dotting around the stages as feels appropriate rather than working around the circle in a step by step manner. This will be a new way of using the web for me, so should throw up some interesting learning. I am using the design web in a flowing way, so when I see a direct link to one stage of the web being covered in this write-up I will highlight which stage in BOLD CAPITALS.

Now that I have worked once around the design web and have developed a clear plan for how to proceed with this design, I thought it would be useful to start with some REFLECTION. I’ve started by spending a morning going back through my many note books and photographing all the doodles, diagrams and scribbled notes that I’ve made over the years that relate directly to my pathway rather than to specific designs. This took me ages but I was pleased to find lots of suitable work, so it looks like I actually have done far more pathway work than I had initially thought. This is a reoccurring problem (theme?) for me, I forget that I’ve done the work, only to embark on it again and recall part way through how familiar this feels and that maybe I’ve already covered this!

I’ve collected lots of materials that show how I have approached pathway work. These are presented here in vaguely chronological order, the year is indicated.

2013

IDEAS for diploma designs were drawn up

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I brainstormed what was important in my life now ( late 2013) and what I wanted to achieve by 2017 – when I hoped to complete the diploma. img_4393img_4394As I write this post in October 2016- it’s really interesting to read what I had aspired for myself and to see that actually quite a lot of it has been achieved. I have had another child, I am still happily married, I have found fulfilling work and my family are well and happy. This really gives me PAUSE to REFLECT and APPRECIATE how far I’ve come in my journey.

I found a note where I have the IDEA to start this blog!img_4378

and brainstorms of some ideas to be covered over the first few months of this blog. Planning my IDEAS using time limited brainstorms is something that I’ve often come back to. It HELPS me spring into ACTION and fulfil my VISIONimg_4380

So back to design pathway plans, in 2013 I had started 3 designs and planned another 3 as shown on the photo below. I eventually completed and wrote up 3 of them for the diploma. Some of the others were abandoned for various reasons and some are still to happen at some point. On this planning sheet I thought about what technical skills I would need to develop to carry out a particular project. i think this was a good idea, as it records progress and ensures I am furthering my learning and improving my skill set. I can REFLECT on this and APPRECIATE it as being a good idea that I will use in future design planning. img_4381


2014

At the beginning of 2014 I drew out this rough timeline, plotting when various designs would happen. Having a PATTERN, however rough is something that I like to use to keep me on track. Of course, life throws up unexpected events, opportunities and challenges and this timeline pretty much went out the window! Buts it is interesting to REFLECT on how I had envisaged the diploma looking as I began my journey. img_4382

This second timeline was created later in 2014 and shows a few tweaks to the initial plan and a bit more detail about what the 10 designs were likely to be. img_4390

I had also drawn up a timetable for how I planned on INTEGRATING to work into my life, planning certain activities each month to keep to MOMENTUM. I often use tables like this to spur myself on, especially thought the winter and early spring months when I generally have more time available for diploma work. This yearly PATTERN has been an interesting one to note. img_4383

Here is another PATTERN that I set for myself. I looked at one of Holmgren’s principles per month for the duration of 2014 and 2015. It really HELPed me to learn about the PRINCIPLES of permaculture. You can read my blog posts about each principle by searching ‘Twelve principles for twelve months’ in the search bar. img_4384

I struck upon the idea of using the PATTERN of a honey comb to structure my plans. I loved the link with bees, all working together for the greater good. I also liked the interlinking of the shapes, to reflect how my designs are interlinked too.  I think this drawing shows the first time I used the honeycomb idea. This drawing also shows how i thought about scale, staring with a small project and then rolling it out to larger project once my skill and confidence level increased. At this stage I thought to focus on 6 areas of interest; designing, building, community, teaching, personal development and growing food. I have returned to this IDEA of 6 areas time and again. The numbers 6 and 12 seem to resonate more for me than 5 and 10. So throughout the diploma I’ve often planned to do 12 designs, giving me a chance to reject or abandon 2 in order to submit my final 10 for assessment. I think this HELPS me to LIMIT the pressure that I put on myself for each design to be perfects, as I know that 2 will not make the final cut! img_4385

A more developed honeycomb design exploring some of my design ideas from 2014img_4391

I spent some time looking at Zones as explained in the image below. I thought about zones as areas in my life and how I’d like my designed to be spread across the zones. I thought about starting from the centre, zone 00 and working outwards; Fixing energy leaks at home and in myself than more time and energy will be available to work outwards into other zones. This led me onto begin one of my biggest designs around my health and wellbeing.img_4389

This list shows how I’d progressed with my diploma by the end of 2014.img_4392


2015

At the beginning of each year I like to spend some time setting intentions for the year ahead. This brainstorm shows my 2015 brainstorm, not purely about the diploma, but its clear to see here how embedded into my life the diploma had become. Again I used a PATTERN of six areas to base my thoughts around. img_4398

I looked at the areas of concern as stated in Permaculture diploma literature and considered how my design ideas fitted within this. img_4395

I continued my twelve principles for twelve months blog series and looked at Mollison’s principles over this year. I tried to link these in with the diploma work that I was involved in each month – with varying success. img_4413

I also continued my monthly garden updates but in 2015 I linked this in with my growing interest in the special points of the year in the Pagan calendar. img_4401

I decided that for 2015 I would concentrate my efforts into 4 designs. img_4400

These are the criteria that I used to help me decide which designs to focus on.img_4402

Which led me to this updated list of 12 designs (designs 1-4 were underway and the rest were planned) img_4403

So by now we have reached spring 2015 and something came up which threw me off course for my diploma but opened up a whole new career path for me. I’d been wanting to do Forest School leader training for years and then the possibility came up to do the course locally throughout 2015. I jumped at the change and spent every spare minute of 2015 working on this. It was all-consuming, I created another whole blog for this which acted as my portfolio. https://emilycrofton.wordpress.com/  You need a password to view it, so message me if you want to take a look. I ran my six practice sessions in a local woodland which has led me onto doing that on a permanent basic and making Forest School a big part of my career. So my permaculture diploma was put on PAUSE until 2016. I really APPRECIATE that this opportunity presented itself for me and I can REFLECT that putting permaculture diploma work on hold was a good decision, I set myself some sensible LIMITS.


2016

As always I started the year with some forward planning. This time I chose 12 areas to look at as shown in the photo below. I took these from a life balance exercise given to me by my health and nutrition tutor some time ago. img_4414img_4419

I was aware that I was likely to be short on time for the diploma this year too, with completing my forest school training and developing my Muddy Boots business. So I set myself a few achievable diploma aims for the year. I also reviewed where I was (5 completed designs) and where I wanted to get to by the year’s end (work started on a further 3 designs) Setting my self these aims really HELPS me to stay focussed, REFLECT on what I’ve achieved to date and consider how to INTEGRATE diploma work into my busy life.

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Sorry this is a very scrappy drawing but it show well how I used planning, by breaking down each design into the steps still needed to complete it. You can see by the circles and ticks that I have mainly focussed on completing my health and wellbeing and food group designs. I never did tackle the ‘using permaculture in my forest school training’ design. I think was probably a mistake, but it just felt too big, I definitely did use permaculture to help me complete my training and to run my sessions. But explaining HOW this happened seems like too big a project to undertake right now! I need the remaining designs to be small and manageable in the little chunks of time that I have available for them. Taking a PAUSE from diploma work last year has shown me that it’s really beneficial to be realistic. img_4415

I revisited how progress had been to date (early 2016) looked at 13 potential designs and considered how they were interlinked. img_4417

I looked at what steps I still had to take to complete each design and wrote lists for work to be done over late autumn and winter 2016 when I know I’d have time available. img_4420

I considered how the ethics of Permaculture would be integrated with my pathway design and activities. img_5222

I picked 4 permaculture principles at random and considered how they would be used in my pathway.

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I thought a bit more about PRINCIPLES and how useful or otherwise they could be and just for fun came up with my own 12 principles that I use in my life and in my designs. img_4406

I created a spiralling timeline looking forward and backwards and plotting when each design fell spaced over the 6 years from when I did my PDC in 2012 to when I hope to accredit in 2018. Pushing my self-imposed deadline back to 2018 HELPS to create a more manageable diploma pathway for me to feel is actually achievable. img_4421

I revisited and defined my aims for the diploma and what learning outcomes I wanted to achieve.

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I reconsidered my areas of interest and came up with 4 over-arching themes for my diploma; Art, Nature, Education and Health.img_4424

I looked at the 4 areas detailed above and thought about the skills that I had when I started my diploma journey and skills I’d already developed and/or would like to develop by the time I’d completed my diploma. img_4425

I revisited the honeycomb PATTERN and INTEGRATED into it my 4 areas of interest and possible designs leading from these. img_4426

I then rather fell in love with the honeycomb design and used it to illustrate the ETHICS and PRINCIPLES of permacultureimg_4404

To fit in with using the number’s 6 and 12 and to work well with the honeycomb design, I upped my 4 areas of interest to 6; Nature, Art, Health, Self, Education and Career. These seemed to fit in well with the designs that I have done to date and those that I have planned for the future. I worked these 6 areas into a honeycomb design and looked at their INTEGRATIONS

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I then narrowed this down to 12 designs, each design links back to at least 2 of the areas of interest and is placed in a suitable spot in the honeycomb to show what it links to. For example, designing the Muddy Boots garden links to both nature and career. My health and wellbeing design links to both self and health and planning my accreditation event links to self and education. I am feeling pretty happy with this as a pathway design for this stage of my diploma. But I am open to new IDEAS and PATTERNS as I progress towards the end of my diploma. img_4410

So to clarify with where I am at in my pathway right now (Oct 2016) this is where I stand with my 10 diploma designs. Completed or almost completed Still to do

  1. Pathway design
  2. Designing the Muddy Boots garden / Muddy boots re-design 
  3. Food from my garden
  4. Developing Muddy Boots from a hobby into a business 
  5. My health and wellbeing
  6. South Leicester food group
  7. Forest school parties
  8. Self care following natures patterns
  9. Finding land/ developing Muddy Boots
  10. My accreditation event
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