Category Archives: Forests

The Peace of Wild Things

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
~ John Muir

Sleeping In The Forest
I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better
~ Mary Oliver, Twelve Moons

Big Maple branching out to the sky

Big Maple branching out to the sky

Day after day I take the bus, the train, then walk and back all over again

The test says I’m cut for it and therefore I should stay

Certificates, degrees, status, formalities

I never really cared

Deadlines, assignments, commitments…

My heart is somewhere else

Me and teacher Maga...and the amazing forest

Me and teacher Maga…and the amazing forest

Four years old, already in love with the forests and the trees: the old giant ombu, the incredible eucalyptuses, the laughing poplars…

Everyone else playing sports, chatting about nonsense and me, the child of the woods, laying under a tree, hidden in the forest, playing with twigs, worms and leaves

The Monster comes closer and sometimes screams, but I’m no longer afraid

I’m not afraid of the eternal cycle of return and rebirth, in a way, I look forward to it

When things go wrong, when all starts to fade, I return

My friend the Big Maple

My friend the Big Maple

The loneliness creeping higher, the many ghosts hiding…

And opposed to the human world, my tree friends never disappoint…

Autumn walk into a forest path

Autumn walk into a forest path

“When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

~ Wendell Berry – The Peace of Wild Things


Reposted: From a Place of Connection to a Place of Isolation

From my alternative blog: Live as if others really mattered:

We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.” ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

I could be calling this post many other ways:

“From a place of regeneration to a place of destruction”

“From a place of caring to a place of detaching”

“From a place of inclusion to a place of loneliness and despair”


That is how I feel on my fourth day after coming back from my Permaculture Teachers Training at O.U.R. Ecovillage…but, as a Permaculturist, I also feel inspired, rejuvenated, regenerated and eager to start my next project…

At home, my little dog who may live ~12 years (from which she has already lived 6) is sitting somewhere waiting for me to come back…how does she spend the day? Outside is sunny and bright, spring is sprouting everywhere, but she can’t run freely, not even when I come back: we are surrounded by houses in a suburban area…running unleashed is dangerous for a dog…

My two boys will come back from school to an empty house. Their mother doesn’t show up until 5:30 (with luck, if I can catch the earliest bus); meanwhile, I’m keeping myself busy behind a computer screen and longing to have my hands dirty in the soil…

At O.U.R., a concert of frogs and crickets would escort me when leaving to my room at night and all kinds of birds, a rooster and a flock of noisy but friendly wild turkeys would wake me up and sing all my way from the room to the eatery and through the forest…

I could see the moon and more stars than anywhere else when going to sleep: even through the skylight located at the cob house where I had my bed…the light would slowly come in through it and the clear windows in the morning…

Here, I can’t go to sleep because car after car park or leave from my house front (I live in a townhouse)…when “silence” is finally achieved, I have no frogs, no crickets but a shallow electrical sound coming from everywhere around me…

In the morning, garage doors and cars start as early as 4 am…I can barely discriminate the sound of one or two bird types still coming to my yard…

The monks’ response was to climb into their curraghs and row off toward Greenland. They were drawn across the storm-racked ocean, drawn west past the edge of the known world, by nothing more than a hunger of the spirit, a yearning of such queer intensity that it beggars the modern imagination.” ~ Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

At O.U.R., chores were simple and repetitive, but part of a bigger picture: all what you did would have direct consequences on the environment and other species and human beings. We didn’t take more food, water or paper than what we needed. You had to clean after yourself: wash your dishes, dry the shower room, organize and collect what you had messed with. You had to collaborate with community chores; there was always time to share a smile, a hug, a little pat on the shoulder or a deeper conversation. No TV, no radio, no big computers around, the Internet was fast and strong enough to connect for a few minutes a day…we even lost the interest on following the “news” or checking emails…

In nature nothing exists alone.” ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

I grew up in a big city, loving coffee shops and book-stores, the convenience of the corner store and the local bakery. Shopping malls were not yet invented (I feel lost and confused in them) and mom didn’t want a TV and wouldn’t buy soft drinks for us. We had a small car that caught fire after a camping trip and no money to buy another, so we happily jumped in city trains and buses…credit didn’t exist (or we were not eligible for it) and as soon as she could, mom bought some land outside the city boundaries and, with the help of friends who would come for potluck and “asados”, we slowly built a small, two-room brick house with an outhouse as a bath and shower room…we had a vegetable garden and no fences. Every night neighbours and friends would come and share a “mate” or some drinks. I was lucky enough to attend an after school program at a somewhat “fantasy land” in the middle of Buenos Aires: the I.N.T.A. (National Institute of Agro-Technology) had plenty of forests and botanic gardens and was used for study, experimentation and observation of different natural systems. As the child of one of the employees, I spent many days walking, building “refuges”, exploring, playing and just wondering around pines, eucalyptus, ombu trees and daisies…

To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” ~ Rachel Carson

Before the world turned upside down for all of us, childhood was wondrous. For those of us didn’t have a perfect childhood (monsters are hidden behind many “happy” walls), Nature offered a way to escape a crazy, isolating and abusive world. Nature was always my preferred refuge. School (believe it or not) was my second: I was blessed with a very unorthodox, explorative and transformative system as all the schools mom sent me to where “pilot” of innovative approaches. Unlike other less fortunate children, I loved school: I could be myself, free, creative and curious and teachers would expand the boundaries of my mind allowing me to stretch beyond the obvious.

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.” ~ Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder: Stories of Work

At O.U.R., I feel in control of my life. I feel grounded and settled, like coming home…

It is a strange feeling, because I used to think of myself as somebody who needs privacy and doesn’t really work that well in teams: not because I don’t like people (social justice and community work are my terrain), but because group-work paralyzes me: I usually need space (and time) to digest things and create…the noise caused by the presence of others (even loved ones) creates chaos and a sense of powerlessness. But at O.U.R. I actually enjoyed being with others and I didn’t feel their presence as invasive or depriving.

Suddenly, the longing for connection disappeared because I was already connected.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

This fifth visit to O.U.R. and the Permaculture Teachers Training was more than just “training to teach”. It was a training on other aspects of Permaculture within Permaculture: beyond the garden, beyond growing food, beyond the homestead or farm dream…Permaculture is a way of life, a philosophy based on working with Nature instead of against it…a philosophy where each one of us is made completely aware of their presence and impact on the world and therefore, responsible for the consequences of every choice we make.

Jude, our teacher, graciously walked us through this landscape: teaching Permaculture while living Permaculture. How can you teach Permaculture without demonstrating (with every cell of your body) that you care for the Earth, care for the people and share fairly?

Unlike here, where our choices are hidden and withered by layers and layers of middle-men, institutions, stories we tell others about ourselves and stories others tell about us…so when we take more than we need or deserve, we are not made accountable for the portion we are robbing others, and when we throw things “away”, somebody out there is making sure we don’t see the damage, the pollution and the suffering, even the extinction we are causing…

Self-facilitation was the key to stay in the “now” and aware of ourselves. To make us accountable of how we allow ourselves to use other people’s time and learning space (not just ours)

In much of the rest of the world, rich people live in gated communities and drink bottled water. That’s increasingly the case in Los Angeles where I come from. So that wealthy people in much of the world are insulated from the consequences of their actions.” ~ Jared Diamond

Billions still think (and feel) they are different and separated from Nature. That we can achieve independence from other species and Mother Earth through the use of science and technology…they have forgotten that their own bodies are ecosystems for microorganisms , that they need air, water, food and love to survive.

And we have created a “science” which studies our brains and tries to understand why there seems to be an epidemic of loneliness, stress, depression and all kind of mental and emotional illnesses. And we have created another (science) which studies why our bodies are becoming unfit and achy and prone to so many diseases.

Disease and pests, says Permaculture, are the symptoms of an imbalance in the system: something is going off in us when we become sick: either we have too much of something, or we have too little.

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Transition (the fourth Permaculture ethic) asks us for acceptance of the imperfection in design (around ourselves, our lives, the landscapes and systems we design) as we transition from a terribly unsustainable world to a more just, connected, resilient and truly sustainable one.

Accepting the imperfection of our own transition stages doesn’t necessarily mean leaving it like it is.

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease”. ~John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)


Free Introduction to Permaculture and PDC following

Free Introduction to Permaculture : Delvin and Kym Chi April 12, 11 am – 5:30 pm : Langara College, Vancouver
Come meet both the facilitators of the upcoming Langara Permaculture Design Certificate : Delvin and Kym Chi. They will facilitate a creative and engaging day exploring permaculture ethics, principles and foundational concepts. We will adventure by skytrain to a community garden, share a potluck lunch, watch permaculture movies and learn interactively with group games and activities.
We are happy that our upcoming Langara course has been given another chance to run, and the beginning date has been pushed forward. The Permaculture Design Certificate Course now starts April 26 The course is flexible and missed classes can be done at no extra cost with Delvin’s other classes and there is no time limit to complete the certification. We also have another free intro to permaculture day at Langara on April 12. 
Langara Permaculture Design Certificate Course
Connect with others who want to become more conscious global citizens, deepen their understanding of how nature is designed, and learn how to become more empowered designers. Together we will learn how to map and design our homes, communities and lives, plan for emergency, grow more of our own food in all four seasons and work to build a regenerative future. The certification granted upon completion of the course will empower participants as permaculture designers, consultants and beginner teachers, able to use the word permaculture legally in their practice, business or project. This sustainability education eco-training certificate is a practical path for greening your life, resume and portfolio. Graduates can choose between internationally recognized certificates from Permaculture Research Institute Australia or Permaculture Institutes USA.
The course offers a unique perspective on nature’s design system through a well designed  curriculum that includes short lectures from the original permaculture lineage in combination with inspiring site tours and dynamic integrative games based on the 14 chapter curriculum.  field trips include visits to  farms, forests, gardens and parks like Means of Production Garden, Loutet Farm, Strathcona/Cottonwood Gardens, City Farmer, Kits Community Gardens, Brewery Creek Community Garden and numerous other locations.
This low cost, 9 month, weekend urban model offers accessibility and ease, running over 14 days and saving time and energy in travel and missed work. It is very flexible for busy lives and organized modularly. There is no time limit to complete the course and if you miss any classes you can do them in the future with other Gaiacraft permaculture design courses at no extra cost.
Delvin and Kym are a diverse and creative male/ female teaching team offering many perspectives on Permaculture design.
Course Topics include :
design methods * patterns * soils and composting * water * trees * animals * design for cool , tropical and arid climates * social permaculture * native food and medicine plants of the Coastal First Peoples and much much more. We have worksheets, permaculture design gaming tools, an online social networking and educational support platform, as well as hundreds of gardens as our living classrooms.
We will have large focus on cool climate, urban and suburban design, with a well rounded information base also touching on design for rural areas and on other climates.
*learn natures language *become and empowered solutionary *engage with your community *familiarize yourself with Vancouver’s most inspiring places *meet other like minded people.
april 26 Pretro
may 24 & 25 Intro and Design Methods
jun 28 Soil
jul 26 Water
aug 23 & 24 Trees and Animals 
sept 13 Climate
sept 27 & 28 Cool Climate and Tropical Design
oct 25 Dryland Design
nov 22 Integral Permaculture
nov 23 Social Permaculture
dec 6 Graduation
We still have spaces available and you must register to ensure your spot.  Please contact Langara to register today!
email  for details or questions.
Facilitator Delvin Solkinson has done a PDC, Diploma and Masters Degree in Permaculture Education with Bill Mollison and done advanced trainings with David Holmgren, Robyn Francis, the Bullock Brothers, Tom Ward, Jude Hobbs, Michael Becker, Robin Clayfield, Geoff Lawton, Larry Santoyo, Scott Pittman and Rosemary Morrow. After taking a PDC with Toby Hemenway and completed a second Diploma through Permaculture Institute USA, he is currently doing a PHD. Delvin is an accredited teacher through PRI and PI USA. His passion is making free, open source learning and teaching tools for permaculture which are used in design games and activities in the course.
Facilitator Kym Chi is a passionate, creative and dedicated educator, inspired by nature, art and self empowerment. Kym has completed a PDC through Verge in Alberta and Gaiacraft in New York and is currently doing a Diploma in Education through the Permaculture Institute USA. Kym offers Permaculture design and consultation and education including intro and design courses. Kym’s mission is to spread Permaculture through creative education, ecological design, regenerative creation and holistic healing. She also makes free, open source learning and teaching tools for permaculture that will enhance the course experience and transform lectures into games.
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