Scratching the 7 Year Itch: An Exciting Time for Permaculture Education

It's hard to believe that I've been the learning coordinator at the Permaculture Association for seven years. In that time we've achieved a lot in education.

Together with our members and partners, we have:

  • Awarded 3,000 Permaculture Design Course certificates.

  • Delivered the Learning and Network Demonstration (LAND) project's group visit scheme

  • Created open introductory course materials

  • Delivered numerous events:

  • Established the Education Working Group, who have:

  • Implemented the Association's formal accreditation provision

  • Organised a second edition of the Permaculture Teachers' Guide

  • Written and collated the temperate climate section for a second edition of Outdoor Classrooms

  • Established the European Permaculture Teachers' network (connecting over 150 teachers in more than 20 countries)

  • Delivered a bursary scheme to help over 25 aspiring teachers to access training

  • Funded two teachers to lead specialist courses in Europe

  • Hosted numerous groups of European peers

  • Submitted funding applications totalling over £2m, securing over £400,000.

 

But there has always been something missing: an itch that still needs scratching.

Because my role has always been funded by grants, or income from events, the development of the educator/teaching community has had to play second fiddle to delivering obligations to funders, or breaking even on events.

So our achievements in this area have not met the scale of the ambition we set out in the teachers' meetings back in 2010-2011.

However, due to careful cost management during prior projects we've been able to build up a small surplus that we can now invest in building a truly engaged, inclusive and collaborative teaching community.

I have some dedicated time for the next 12 months, and a small budget for web development and other capacity building. We have a one-off opportunity to decide how we'd like to work together to create a collective permaculture education social enterprise.

We know that our educators, teachers and tutors are capable of great things individually. And we believe that together - with a democratic and transparent structure that enables collaboration, and pools our skills and resources - we can create more resilient and sustainable livelihoods for all. And this in turn will help to achieve our aim of promoting permaculture.

To move this forward, we need to know who's serious about collaborating more closely. So we're creating a new 'educators' membership type to give more clarity about who's in this community and therefore has a say in it. We want your views on what that membership type should look like.

And we're holding a teachers' meeting the day before the 2016 convergence to revisit our vision, mission and aims, and explore collective initiatives.

The Association is investing around £15,000 and the skills I've gained in my seven years of experience into this collective venture. What will you contribute?

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