It’s a new year, and a great opportunity to take your alternative education to new heights so you can pursue the life you are passionate about and make money doing it. Here are the top 5 ways to accelerate your permaculture and sustainable living education in 2016.
1) Take a Permaculture Design Course (or other sustainable living workshops)
The first very obvious step in upgrading your permaculture hard drive is taking a Permaculture Design Course (PDC). A PDC is a 72+ hour educational course that trains you how to design permaculture sites and teach permaculture. The courses typically takes place during a two week period at a permaculture farm or ecovillage. Most courses are taught with the required 72 hours of classroom time, but also include lots of hands-on experience “in the field”. Here is a good resource to make sure you choose the right PDC for you.
Although PDC’s are the “un/official” prerequisite for working professionally as a permaculture designer, there are other courses, such as permaculture intensives or apprenticeships, which can be very helpful as well. Many times, you can find these opportunities under the “intern” or “apprentice” tab on the websites of various permaculture farm websites. You can find some of these opportunities, such as the Paititi Institute’s Shamanic Permaculture Immersion, in the opportunities section of NuMundo. Another example of a PDC-equivelent course is Starhawk’s Earth Activist Training.
After you have taken your PDC or PDC equivelent course, a Permaculture Teacher Training is a very valuable course to take. This course empowers you to educate your community, teach your own PDC, and begin to make a living as a permaculture practitioner and educator. Jude Hobbs teaches a great teacher training that comes highly recommended from many successful permaculture practitioners.
Depending on who is teaching the course, the length of the course, and where it is being held, these courses can be anywhere from about $800-$2500. This price typically includes meals and room and board for the duration of the course. Sometimes, however, there are work-trade opportunities or scholarships available that can cover most (if not all) of the course cost.
More affordable day-long or weekend workshops can be found on subjects as Rainwater Catchment, Composting, Mushroom Cultivation, Natural Building, Coppicing, Food Forestry, and so many more. A simple google search with any of these keywords will yield quite a harvest. Remember to do lots of research on the teachers and venues of any given course or workshop to verify legitimacy.
Be creative and find the permaculture education course that suits you best!
2) Start your Degree or Diploma Program at Gaia University
Gaia University is an online epistemic community that actively works to equip people with the skills to become successful permaculture or ecovillage design professionals. I am currently enrolled in my Bachelor’s Degree in Integrative Ecosocial Design at Gaia University, and I must say, after only 4 months in the program, I have already been given many tools for empowering myself for a successful permaculture career.
If you don’t have 2-4 years to spend on your education, the Diploma in Action for Resilience or the International Diploma of Permaculture Design last only 1-2 years.
“A main theme in Gaia U is exposing and eliminating the Patrix (the Patriarchal Matrix) that so badly distorts our personal and cultural spaces. “ The orientation process for every student is a six month cultural deconditioning process that takes you on a journey through your life, your most transformative experiences, and un/learning oppressive patterns that are holding you back. You then move forward into the future of your career, supported by the Gaia U network of peers and mentors.
The founders, Liora Adler and Andrew Langford, have been practicing permaculture and ecovillage design for decades, and are invaluable people to be connected with if you want to uplevel your permaculture career.
The most important part about Gaia University is that it is an accredited university that is independent of governmental or private influence. There are no financial influence from other parties in any aspect of gaia University, which allows it to be a very radical and world-changing training program.
Visit their website to learn more about their philosophy and the fascinating history of the world’s most cutting edge university.
3) Enroll in a Learning Journey at Mycelium School
Mycelium is a personal acceleration school based in Asheville, NC. The program is similar, but also very different (complementary, even) from Gaia University. Mycelium offers its students a transformative learning journey over the course of 12 weeks of intensive mentoring, group dialogues, webinars, in-person retreats, and personal project business acceleration. You can use a learning journey while enrolled in a conventional university, while working in the field, or while starting your own business.
The most exciting part about Mycelium is that you get to meet your colleagues and the founders of the school in person during 4 day retreats at the beginning and end of your learning journey. I was lucky enough to attend Mycelium’s closing retreat at the gorgeous Mount Madonna retreat center in Santa Cruz, California, last year. During this retreat, students engaged in dynamic group exercises, and world cafe exercises, and facilitated Open Space discussions. By working side-by-side with peers, mentors, and guest speakers, students are able to catalyze their growth, both individually and collectively.
Mycelium also offers a great Internship program that allows you to exchange your work for educational webinars, mentorship, and hands-on experience in the alternative education field.
Follow Mycelium on Facebook for updates on their next Learning Journey to register for this life changing experience.
4) Attend Permaculture Conferences
In addition to taking courses and enrolling in alternative education programs, attending permaculture conferences and convergences is a great way to learn a lot. By attending workshops, talks, and panel discussions, you can get hours of educational material in a single weekend. More importantly even than lectures and workshops is the opportunity to meet permaculture teachers and innovators in the field in person. This is one of the most valuable aspects to attending these conferences. It is one thing to watch a Dave Jacke lecture online. It is completely different to have a one-on-one conversation with him at a Conference. A few of the conferences with legendary speakers and networking opportunities are the International Permaculture Convergence, Convergencia Latinamericana de Permacultura, Bioneers, and Permaculture Voices.
There are so many more conferences and convergences worth attending. Stay tuned for a separate blog post about the best conferences to attend in 2016.
5) Volunteer or Intern at a Permaculture Farm or Ecovillage
One of the most resource efficient ways of traveling, learning, and growing your permaculture education is by, you guessed it, working on a farm or joining a community. There are a number of websites that allow you to search their network of farms, ecovillages, or eco-education centers. The most popular of these is WWOOF, Global Ecovillage Network, Fellowship for Intentional Communities, NuMundo, and Permies.com. Some of these websites require a paid membership to use their network, and some of them are free to use. The organizers of NuMundo and have visited each of the farms and centers and can personally vouch for them being safe and truthful in their advertisement. With any of these websites, it is important to research a farm or community that you intend to intern, visit, or live at VERY THOROUGHLY before making travel plans. I would suggest getting at least three positive recommendations from people who have lived there, worked there, or visited for at least one day and night.
I have hundreds of friends who use these networks as the main way they are able to travel the world. I have done it, and it is an amazing experience if you find the right places with which to spend your time and resources.
If you have any questions whatsoever about any of these topics, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org