Monday, 5 October 2009

Back from PDC Melbourne

spreading the wings (by Elena)

I would like to start the posting with a few words from Marcel Proust, which characterize pretty much my experiences during my stay in Melbourne:

The real journey of discovery is not to seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with new eyes.

That's what Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton did with their stories and teachings: opening our eyes so we can look at the world around us from a new perspective, the permaculture design perspective, which is based on the 3 ethical pillars for any action: caring for the earth, caring for the people including oneself and using any surplus for the latter two. Just imagine if every family grows their own food in a sustainable way. Healthier and more nutritious food, healthier people, less transportation and storage needed, less energy consumption and pollution, healthier environment, less stress, less aggression, less greed, happier people, more peace....Why not try? Why not here and now? Why not you and me? That's what Bill and Geoff made clear on the first day of the course: it is time to act, time to become part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. Our planet probably faces the biggest challenges in her history, but at the same time humanity had never such a vast knowledge and so many hearts and hands to heal. In the course we were 84 highly motivated students from all over the world, all age groups, various cultural and social backgrounds, all sharing the same vision and there are many more out there already designing, digging swales and building dams, reafforesting, gardening, composting, teaching etc. These are the good news. The bad news are that we are really in serious trouble with climate change and all its effects about which you hear in the media daily. We are in trouble NOW! So every one of us is important however small or big the contribution is. JUST DO IT!
Today I just want to give you my overall impressions and some highlights from the course. I have a full notebook with details and drawings which I want to study further in the next weeks and put in postings from time to time. I am still very busy on our construction site preparing for the rainy season.
The course covered basically the contents of the Designer's Manual enriched by many stories and project experiences from Bill and Geoff. Here are some websites that might interest and inspire you:
- magic in melbourne by Craig Mackintosh with picture of Bill
- Banana Circle Recipe to cut waste

As you can imagine with 84 students from all over the world there was much more to learn than "only" what was taught in the classroom. So actually there were 86 teachers and students. Bill's wife Lisa and some helpers in the back pampered us in the morning and afternoon breaks with delicious snacks which saved me the money to buy lunch, quite expensiv in Melbourne. One banana at the SevenEleven costs 1.20 AUD, 1 kg apples almost 7 AUD, more than a worker at our construction site earns in a day.
The first eight days of the course were filled with lectures and mainly listening. On day 9 in the afternoon we were randomly grouped and each group received a brief from a pretended client to design the empty 4000 m2 area just outside the lecture theatre. Quite challenging for me first to find my place in the group, then to apply the various methods of design, come to a result and then present the result in the class. It was great to have Elena as room mate in these times, relieving my stress in just listening to my worries and telling me that we are here to learn from our mistakes and not to be perfect. After the presentations it was party time which meant performance time. Challenging me again beyond my habitual behaviour so that I was tempted to sneak out and escape. But Julia gave me a warm brazilian hug and talked me into staying. So thanks to her I stepped over another of my limitations and danced the life of a butterfly for my fellow students who all did awesome performances. What do we need TV Shows for when we all have such amazing talents!
The last day of the course was dedicated to receive the Permaculture Design Certificate from Bill and Geoff and then everybody told the group what will be her or his next steps and intentions towards a more sustainable life. May we all find the courage and the energy to realize our beneficial intentions!
Thank you, Norm and Elena, for inspiring me to attend this great course! And my husband Johann, who supported me with his good wishes and love.

receiving certificate from Bill and Geoff (by Elena)

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