PAN 2016 October Teachers Gathering: Report Back
This past October the Permaculture Association of the Northeast (PAN) organized a deep
and vibrant gathering of 27 teachers from up and down the Northeast United States and
Canada at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. We gathered over many meals, fires
and facilitated spaces to support permaculture teachers to continue improving the quality
and outcomes of educational offerings and experiences, and to continue building a
culture of mutual aid and reciprocity . Below you will find an brief report back from the
Image Dan Schenk
The goal for this event was to increase the resilience of the Northeast region by strengthening
the regional permaculture network and facilitating access to relevant education and resources.
We recalled at the 2014 North American Permaculture Convergence (NAPC) there emerged
requests from the People of Color Caucus to center the topics of social justice, racial justice,
anti-oppression and equity within our work. During the first day of this capacity building
and professional development gathering we responded to those requests with a day long
diversity training with Relational Uprising . Through unpacking dominant narratives, physical
movement and sharing our own stories we learned that we don’t gain justice by merely
increasing representation through tokenism, or shaming individuals for systemic problems. We
gain justice from learning how to cultivate a culture shift in our community, deconstructing
oppressive beliefs and stories and coming to embody our shared values. You can view a copy of
the slides from the training here.
A delegation from this one day training is going to continue building on what we learned and
network with other activists, organizers, movement builders and changemakers from diverse
fields to build healthy, interdependent, relational culture in a four day training this December.
We spent the second day exploring more connectivity and alignment between permaculture
teachers in our region by brainstorming community-derived standards for permaculture
educational quality. We did this by first getting an overview of what processes other
countries and regions use to decide who can be permaculture teachers . We also heard a report
back from a board member who was a part of a conversation around teacher qualifications at the
recent NAPC (North American Permaculture Convergence). We then built on earlier
conversations on how our region could take a bottom-up collaborative approach to defining
quality standards for teachers in our region.
We broke up into small groups and brainstormed
answers to four questions: 1) Why is a system of standards important or useful 2)
What content considerations should be included in a quality standard? 3) What
pedagogical (how we teach) or ethical considerations should be part of a standard?
4) How might PAN best implement and maintain a voluntary community-created
During our February organizers retreat at D Acres in
New Hampshire (February 24th and 25th) we will
continue to winnow and come up with a draft round of
voluntary standards that teachers will be able to pilot
in 2017. We would love your feedback and input on
these questions. You can see the results of the
questions and add your own feedback here.
The remaining part of the gathering was reserved for
creating space for professional level peer-to-peer
sharing and cross-training on quality educational
and organizational practices for the permaculture community.
● retelling the permaculture origin narrative from a social justice perspective
● tips on how the Resilience Hub organizes successful events
● playing the new-to-print social permaculture principles card game
● how to tie in social permaculture by co-creating a problems mind map
● …and many others.
We closed our gathering with several announcements including that PAN is hiring a part time
virtual assistant and is looking for new board members. Information and a job description is
available on our website.
We thank everyone who was able to devote their time and resources to this event. For PAN
members who could not attend, we invite feedback on community standards for quality
permaculture education in our region.
If you are not yet a member, please join PAN today to keep supporting our network with events
like these and our upcoming winter retreat at D Acres.
We hope to see you in February,