Diploma Reflection

Four Action Learning Questions

My Learning Pathway reflection section is also in part a reflection on my learning journey (copied from there):

  1. What went well?
    • The Back Garden design has been really satisfying as a long-term learning and tweaking project. Four years after starting this design I feel that it is really working well for us, and that the permaculture design process has been a major factor in achieving that success.
    • I am really thrilled with our Solar Panels and Shoe Cupboard, as are the others in the household.
    • I finished on time! It has taken me just over two years to complete the Diploma.
    • The Zone 00 was a useful way of looking at some issues in my life. I also feel that I’ve learnt a lot about myself and what I want to do over the two years (for example, learning that I am not actually that keen on practical gardening, or on leading workshops!).
  2. What has been challenging?
    • The Galleywall Summer Events were very hard work. Running those sort of public events isn’t a strength of mine, and I expected too much of myself. This year I’ve made sure to spread the work over more people.
    • Katie and Paul’s allotment was a big project to take on so early in my diploma journey. I think I’d do a better job of it if I did it now (sorry guys!).
  3. What are your long term visions and goals?
    • I would like to sort out the porch and balcony on our house.
    • I would like to spend more of my time writing (see my Writing, Activism, & Right Livelihood design).
    • I would also like to look at installing a compost toilet in my own en-suite bathroom, and possibly if that works well in the ground floor loo (Earth Care).
  4. What is your next achievable step?
    • Set some fiction writing goals for the rest of the year now I have finished up my Diploma work.
    • Buy a water butt for the balcony and sort out a hose to it. (The lack of water on the 1st floor is one of the big problems with maintaining plants on the balcony; we can’t save rainwater there, filling a water butt weekly from an upstairs tap will make this much easier to manage (People Care).)
    • Begin gathering information for the compost toilet: toilet options and measuring up the space available.

Discursive Reflection

I also sat in my back garden in the sunshine (Catch and store energy) with some peppermint tea as I finished writing up, and thought about what I’ve got out of the last two years.

On a practical level, our household is more sustainable, thanks to the Solar Panels and Back Garden — a design which over four years has turned a bare concrete garden into a productive food garden with space to enjoy it comfortably.

As a designer, I feel that I have improved significantly. One thing I’ve really realised the importance of is considering the maintenance and long-term sustainability of a design. An ambitious design that no one has time or energy to implement is no use. I didn’t consider this sufficiently in my design for Katie and Paul’s allotment; I did better but still overestimated my own time and energy in the Galleywall Summer Events design, and I finally did a much better job when looking at implementing the Shoe Cupboard design and at realistic Zone 00 changes.

I think in some ways I’ve become less ambitious over the course of my diploma journey, but I don’t see that as a bad thing (Use small and slow solutions)! Perhaps a better way of seeing it is as becoming more realistic; seeking to make significant changes (such as my next steps plan of eventually removing 2/3 of the toilets of our very urban house from the mains sewage system) slowly and sustainably. Thinking about permaculture design processes has helped me to slow down and really think clearly about solutions to problems; and about which principles really fit in a given situation.

I don’t, at present, envisage myself becoming a permaculture designer or teacher, but I think the Diploma has really helped me to get better at solving problems. I’m particularly pleased to have worked out a design process of my own that really fits the way I tend to work. I think this will carry on being valuable in the future. I’m also aware of the value of documenting designs and design thinking; while I don’t anticipate writing my designs up quite so thoroughly post-Diploma, I may well continue blogging about them, or just keeping a design journal of my own, to support myself in continuing to apply a thorough but practical design process.

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