Permaculture Teachers Training at O.U.R. Ecovillage ~ Silvia’s Experience

I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

1014073_10152280425903898_3171763470883320402_nI can’t believe it has been more than 24 hours since I came back from the PTT at O.U.R. with Jude Hobbs, TA Anthony McC. and 15 other participants from BC, Ontario and US…

Part of me is still trying to process the transition between a magical place where every single move has a meaning, to this manicured world where we can –sometimes- forget the monster we have created.

I have been dealing with this in funny ways: yesterday and after hugging my two boys and my dog for hours (the cats don’t like hugging that much) and after checking the status of my seedlings and the emerging garden, I spent four hours watching LOTR first movie (The Fellowship of the Ring) and longing for The Shire…today, it has been a roller-coaster of trying to do all the practical things (such as cleaning a house after men have been in charge, paying bills and checking the 300+ emails from work/community groups where I’m involved)

If I can summarize the effect that Jude’s PTT (and an entire week sharing community at O.U.R.) have in my life the words would be: “slow and positive revolution”

It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot

Un-learning and awakening

I am not a teacher but an awakener.” ~ Robert Frost

10246758_10152280404668898_4324269945756558608_nThe process was (for me at least) one of un-learning and un-packing the burden of stories, “knowledge” and misconceptions we all carry everywhere we go.

As a psycho-pedagogist with more than 15 years of combined experience teaching adults, children and youth, I was more than familiar with learning/teaching theories as well as the technical side of teaching and delivering the message: I have specialized in curriculum and lesson plan development and implementation and lately, with online courses development and delivery. I have taught computer applications, created a model Linux-based of “with, through and about” computers in the classroom that was copied by many other schools in Latin-America, taught and developed the curriculum for the tourism and geography department of a college, shortly worked with special needs children, guided youth (and immigrants) through career planning, developed online workshops and a course on food security, taught emergency preparedness and first aid to community groups, developed training materials for my current workplace and for the Red Cross, and so on…

However, all this has been done under the current Western paradigm and approach. I have never taught Permaculture, and while I’ve been reading a lot about transformational learning and non-oppressive approaches, I have never experienced any of those myself.


Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We had classes every day, starting Sunday March 30. Classes started at 8:30 am and went to 5:30 with breaks for lunch and snacks but we also had speakers and presentations after dinner, so most of the days we went till 9 pm or even later. Everybody had chores and I helped with coffee making and breakfast most of the time.

We explored facilitation skills, learning/teaching theories and how to create curricula and lesson plans. We explored different teaching strategies, from hands-on, outdoors and games to more structured activities and everybody had the change to apply and practice by presenting Permaculture modules at three different moments of the course. But the most helpful “activity” was that Jude was continuously providing feedback, using teaching moments and doing what may be called as “meta-teaching” (teaching about teaching, or bringing the teaching to the conscious while teaching)

Beyond myself: sharing experiences and being with creative-caring and proactive-positive people

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

There were many highlights from last week experience. One of them were the participants: each one of the 16 (including me), plus Jude and Anthony (Jude’s TA and graduate from last year’s PTT) is involved in extraordinary projects, all related directly or indirectly to Permaculture: there were a few farmers or farm apprenticeships, natural builder specialists, gardeners, alternative medicine and yoga practitioners and community or farm-programs consultants. Including me, three were from Transition movement groups as well…meeting all these like-minded people and having the opportunity to share with them was probably the best of the course and a great and humbling learning experience.

One never reaches home,’ she said. ‘But where paths that have an affinity for each other intersect, the whole world looks like home, for a time.” ~ Hermann Hesse

The like-minded

Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand, For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” ~ W.B. Yeats, The Collected Poem

I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

1010593_10152280353653898_6757209010756320056_nFriday’s evening was particularly special: we had two permaculturists visiting and presenting their projects and ideas to us: Javan from Permaculture BC who presented on his upcoming online course (and career exploring model) “Exploring your Function and finding your Niche(s) in Permaculture” and Jeff from on story-telling as a way of sharing your knowledge and inspiring change.

After their excellent presentations, both Javan and Jeff stayed after dinner for a salon-style conversation around the fireplace on the Taj2 building…it was a magical and truly emotional experience: in this artificially entertaining, busy, isolating and subtly oppressive world we have created we barely share and speak up the truth of our hearts: those of us who don’t just “know” but also “feel” and “get” what is going on in the world (socially, economically, environmentally…) rarely find real opportunities to talk and listen to people who are at the same level of awareness and suffering for the world but, at the same time, engaged in creative and positive Permaculture-like practices…

When I came back to my room (cob-built, skylight through which I could see the stars) I just sat at the border of my bed…wow! I was speechless, touched, engaged, grateful, in love, lost and found, all at the same time!

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.” ~ Jim Morrison

It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined.” ~ Henry James

Therapeutic Yoga

May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

1621863_10152280353423898_641226553992897961_nAnother highlight (for me) was chatting with my dear friend Satiya and attending her yoga class on Wednesday evening: how long it has been since I don’t connect with my own body and who I am…

Coming back from the communal yurt (yoga-studio, library and quiet-space to just relax) at 10 pm and under those stars was already worth the trip to my dear O.U.R. Ecovillage.

Satiya encouraged me to truly explore “self-care” and re-connect with Yoga, something I abandoned more than 20 years ago…it is never too late and we are never too busy to take care of zone 00 (ourselves)

Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.” ~ Laozi, Tao Te Ching


Play is the highest form of research.” ~ Albert Einstein

10169245_10152280425363898_2313734624366646675_nOne unexpected surprise was seeing children around us. They were the boys of one of our classmates and they brought sunshine and life to our hearts.

How many times we are too tired, too busy, too something to be 100% with children and like children just are: in the present, feeling deeply, expressing deeply, loving deeply: they connect with animals and people without prejudice, without intention or thinking: just for the fun of connecting, learning, loving, sharing…

During our stay at O.U.R., other type of children were born: two little lambs!

On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

O.U.R. Ecovillage

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ~ W.B. Yeats

1208746_10152280353563898_9092133283480668312_n 1798081_10152280353473898_4804603258699733322_n 1977084_10152280353343898_8067769853659086180_n 10006987_10152280353748898_2919927671598006197_nThis was my fifth visit to O.U.R. Ecovillage and the time I spent longer. My first time was part of the BC Food Systems Network Gathering in 2013, I visited with my family twice and I also spent four days of my PDC there…since then, I decided to become a sustainer: if I am donating money, I want to know that that money is used for causes I believe in and by people I know and not some obscure, oppressive and bureaucratic “helping” organization lost somewhere in the world. I rather give my own effort, time, companionship and expertise than money. But money, in this world, is still needed to pay for certain things, like a mortgage on the land, or completing natural building projects, or putting together courses and internships that benefit the entire community. And that is part of what O.U.R. does: O.U.R. is not a perfect finished ecovillage but a project in design and sustainable living: a living example of an evolving Permaculture site and community…and a magical place where the heart of those who live there and those who pass through are always giving their best to others.

How I wish to live some time at O.U.R. and share the space, the chores, the community life with all those who I care so much about!

It was painful to learn that O.U.R. is having a difficult time and that Brandy, one of the pillars and initiators of this great place/project is not well. As a sustainer, occasional O.U.R. blogger and friend I would like to ask those who can, to donate monthly (or whatever you can) to O.U.R. Ecovillage. If you are close, come and visit the place…and if you are looking for a transformative learning experience, check out the many opportunities and courses offered this year here.

It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ~ Mother Teresa

The future – Permaculture Pathways

1609984_10152280425958898_7608923735529611601_n10176232_10152280299763898_7498189154915281905_nHow the future looks like? What is the next step? I still need to digest all what I learned this past week, all the ideas and plans and projects running through all participants’ heads and hearts…

For sure, some of the plans will include things I have already started:

Some projects I will start this year:

  • Start the online course with Javan on “Exploring your function and finding your niche”.
  • Presenting a Permaculture intro for the Grassroots Yoga Festival in White Rock
  • Preparing EP/DM (Emergency Preparedness/Disaster Management) and FA (First Aid) free workshops Permaculture-based for the crew and visitor at O.U.R. Ecovillage (June? July?)
  • Preparing curricula and lesson plans for a two-hour, one-day, two-days intros and two week full PDC
  • Design my own career change towards a more “Right Livelihood” career path

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I– I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” ~ Robert Frost


You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” ~ Dr. Seuss

10170974_10152280353138898_6986079977015639171_nWe are told many lies since we are born. One of the most pervasive (and damaging) is the story of the “one love”: that we have to find “the one” who will perfectly complete us as we are always lacking another half…

While being deeply in love with somebody is one of the most beautiful experiences in life, I have learned from this visit to O.U.R. that we can be continuously in love with not one, but many people…even with a place, an animal, a process, an idea.

Having experienced the deep sharing with some of those attending the PPT and my current and past PDCs, and having lived the experience of community (even if for a brief time, but a time that reminded me another experience long time ago, before I was suddenly and painfully detached from it) I know that love includes many: those whose hearts and minds are singing the same song of pain for the world, interconnectedness and care for everything…

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” ~ Rumi

 What permaculturists are doing is the most important activity that any group is doing on the planet. We don’t know what details of a truly sustainable future are going to be like, but we need options, we need people experimenting in all kinds of ways and permaculturists are one of the critical gangs that are doing that.” – David Suzuki, International Environmental Advocate

May you live every day of your life.” ~ Jonathan Swift



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