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what would you want in a permies women's retreat at wheaton labs?

 
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We've been at wheaton labs for 5, going on 6 years.

A lot of energy here has gone in to building things:  rocket mass heaters, skiddable structures, wofatis, roads, couch balcony, junkpole fences, rocket ovens, berm sheds, giant hugelkultur berms and more.


(Native shooting star wildflower growing out of volcano road when it was brand new in 2016 at wheaton labs base camp.)

The last thing I want to be is sexist...and yet building all these things has attracted more men than women to wheaton labs. Which translates to my/our world being full of a lot of guys and construction talk over the last 5+ years. On top of that, I've been so busy that I've lost touch with some of my girlfriends from my previous life/lives.

I really miss having women to talk to. And the guys miss having more women around, too.

There are some long-term plans we have in order to remedy this bit of imbalance here; and I don't want to go in to that in this thread. This thread is about a different tactic.


(Peace rose painted by my mom, Judy Fletcher)

In the short term, and as part of creating a different vision that I can lead/own/manifest here,
I want to plan/create a wheaton labs women's retreat.

Maybe it could be a workshop, or maybe not even anything that focused.

Probably over a weekend, or a long weekend. Or would a week-long retreat be better? Probably within this year (2019) some time, though I think we have just missed that late winter, cabin fever time frame which could be good, too.

To further frame the brainstorming, and since for now I'm thinking it would be me hosting or coordinating:  
  • permaculture and homesteading topics rank far higher than fashion or more superficial or trendy topics
  • low-key and healthy (no pot, tobacco or drugs allowed at wheaton labs), though some drinking would be fine
  • perhaps more on the brown side of permaculture than purple, though some purple or non-denominational spiritual topics would be welcome
  • crafty or artsy or textiles are not as much my things, though I'd be open to ideas
  • food/nutrition, ferments, cooking, gardening, natural remedies and herbs are all high on my list of fun and learning.

  • That said, all of that is just for explaining a bit about me and my interests in a retreat, though I'm open to things outside my own box, too.

    So tell me you permaculture women out there, what would make a lovely, enticing retreat to you?

     
    master steward
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    As someone short on funds, as well as an introvert (and having kids), I'd never make it to a women's retreat (never been to any of the one's my church has hosted, either, and they're even near by!). But, to get the conversation going, here's some things I'd enjoy in a Women's Retreat.

  • Privacy: Some span of the day in which I can go hide somewhere and stare at nature and think and be alone. I get VERY LITTLE of that sort of time as a mom. Maybe set up an hour or two during the day when the introverts can all disperse without any pressure. Like, "This is reflect and recharge time. It's a time for introverts and extroverts to find some non-pressured time to be alone. If you are still itching for social interaction, meet in the _______ for tea and chatting. If you'd like your tea to go, here's a thermos!"
  • Plant Id: I'd love to learn about different plants and how to use them, either medically or in the kitchen or in crafts
  • Crafts! I do like crafts. They give me something to look at and do while talking to someone. Makes eye contact much less of a problem.
  • Maybe fun cobwork? I've seen some places make cob saunas or other buildings out of cob. From what I understand, cob is arty and fun and you make something useful. I like pretty things that are useful (my 30+antique oil lamps decorating the house is not at ALL indicative of this!)
  • Choose your own adventure: Kind of like camp. You can choose to do cobwork, or to learn to pickle, or to sit and drink tea and discuss theory, or to go for nature walks, etc.
  • Making pretty garden beds: Herb spirals, raised beds with sitting areas, decorative edging (curved, wattle fencing walls, mandela shaped, etc), planted with pretty edible/medicinal/pollinator-type flowers. Making identifying signs for the garden. There's something fun about doing other people's gardens without any sort of obligation. You can do the fun stuff, without worrying that since you're doing fun stuff, you're not working hard/fast enough on stuff you "should" be doing elsewhere.


  • So, I'm not the person really to ask about these kinds of retretes, because I wouldn't probably make it to one. But, it's fun to throw out ideas!
     
    pollinator
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    I`m probably also a bit out of your target area, but then again I do like to go to retreats and I`m actually planning one for my colleagues that will start the day after tomorrow (EEP!). My field is mostly comprised of women, so while it is not a women`s retreat, it is 90% women in partipants and organization, and I think I can fairly say that the planning is probably more female-friendly than other events I have been to.

    I love the idea of OPTIONAL mixing and alone time if needed. Retreats are when strong development takes place and sometimes you just need to be alone and think, especially if you are in a beautiful/peaceful setting, to make progress.

    For an activity like an icebreaker where mixing is necessary, a task is useful, whether this is physical or intellectual. This gives introverts a bit more help.

    I think cob building or some other productive activity is also a fabulous idea. One thing I have not liked at other "women`s events" I have been to is that there are often specific preassumed ideas of what women are, like, etc. If someone gives me a flower I am almost certain to immediately give it to someone else, and pink things make me stabby. I was at a medical event a few years ago (again, mostly female participants) where all the raffle items were makeovers, hair things, makeup things, and weightloss/tanning stuff. It was exceedingly awkward. Those of us who don`t fit in the stereotypical female boxes maybe hope that these events will offer a break from jerky commentary and dirty looks, so to feel like an outsider among other women can be exhausting. I don`t expect people to assume I would much rather get a new blade for my sawzall than a lipstick, but it`s nice to keep in mind that there is a lot of variation. (**not saying that you are guilty of any of this, Jocelyn, not at all. Just talking out something that has been on my mind for a while.).

    In planning my event we have asked people more about the challenges they face in their life roles and what tools they need to meet them, and gone at it that way- I`m pulled in 6 directions as main breadwinner, parent, and farmer, for example, I need help with time management. Or I`m physically not as strong as I need to be for some tasks, what tools can I use. I think it is even more useful in permaculture, as this group tends to add in homeschooling, animal care, independent businesses, and a million other tasks.

    PS. mind is blown with the purple vs. brown. What a clean way to define something so nebulous and messy!
     
    pollinator
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    My cousin operates an herbcrafting school off of her property in the Texas hill country, and although I don't think they discriminate against men, they seem to have a largely female membership. They have a strong female focus where it relates to empowerment through natural remedies.

    I don't know how they, specifically, would fit, if it came to a visit to Wheaton Labs, as they are spiritual Wiccans, by my reckoning, which is not a bad thing, but is definitely on the purple end of things. That said, it takes absolutely nothing away from the knowledge base, or the efficacy of the treatments.

    Perhaps that might be an avenue to explore?

    -CK
     
    pollinator
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    I am just starting out on my land and my permaculture adventure so I am not interested in things that are off-topic. I think it would be lovely to have a women-only building week and  build a small hyperadobe Roundhouse. Hyper Adobe, like cob, is low tech and more about cooperation than strength. And for those of us who live in tornado areas it's safer than cob, especially when combined with tornado resistant building techniques. I attended a women's only building workshop 25 years ago and it was great fun. We fed ourselves, we played in the creek, we hung out at night and played music and danced, we went off by ourselves and wandered in the woods, and we gave somebody a good start on a little cob house.
     
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    Yes! a retreat to build a retreat...like some of those quiet spaces Jocelyn started a thread about?

    I always wanted a 'Josephine's cabin' ( Frank Duveneck built the cabin in 1940 for his wife, Josephine, who used the cabin for reflection and inspiration) https://www.hiddenvilla.org/programs/catalog/68-josephines-retreat/region-HV/.  It is now used as a rental at the hostel at Hidden Villa at Los Altos.  It's original intent was so wonderful and inviting.  We stayed there once on a train trip and it still has a special feel.  

    I do like the idea of a 'women only' building workshop (I think I got in trouble for that opinion a few years back ? )

    Chris's herbal gathering sounds wonderful also...

    I'm afraid after two false starts to have Paul and Jocelyn's a stop on our train trip, me going on my own is even less likely?  

    I do like all of the ideas mentioned so far....from planned to unplanned...although myself, I lean towards the looser plans and schedules.

    I suppose those who do sign up would determine what's what in the end.



     
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    I love this idea and would definitely want to attend if my schedule allowed.  I would be more apt to attend in the spring or fall when it's lovely but not too hot or snowy and my "feet are itchy" to hit the road.  MT isn't too far away either.  :)

    I like the ideas outlined so far - especially Nicole's.  Agree to focus on women energy, not "girly" stuff.  (Also not into facials and makeovers - but I kind of can't see that being a focus for permaculture women in general.)  I'm also into the kitchen / herb / fermenting / garden crafts.  Plant/mushroom ID yay.  Not very good at things like cross-stitch and beading but I always plant along if it's what everyone's enjoying.  Like the idea of a cob or small RMH build - both things I've learned/heard about intellectually but haven't participated in directly and would love some hands-on instruction with someone experienced.

    I also really value the alone times.  Love to get together for meals and learning / building and have solo nap/walk/journal/breathe solo time where I don't feel like I'm missing out for taking me time.

    One retreat I went to had a drum circle which ended up turning into a dance too (it was impossible to resist starting that) and that was very fun.  I think that could be fun women only or comingled.  I don't have a drum and haven't drummed other than that time - I just thought it was great.

    As a female, I would want to know that my needs would be taken care of if I happened to arrive during my "time of the month."  Is there bathroom privacy or just the outhouse with no running water to rinse out a cup or dispose of related products?  If the retreat was a week is there laundry services we could use to wash same products or clothes if needed?  Is there fridge space for those of us who aren't omnis/gf and might need to bring some of our own food?  What would the sleeping facilities be like?
     
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    I attended a mud girls workshop a couple years ago; they are a group of female cob builders. Their workshops don't generally exclude anyone, but I was the only guy present at this one, and this didn't seem unusual.

    I had a great time, the tone was different than many, I do think this was partly a gender thing. It also felt less commercial than some; yes people were paying/getting paid, but this was not the whole point.

    It wasn't excessively purple for my taste; I lean fairly strongly to the brown side of things.


    A few things stood out, logistics wise:

    1) It was darned cheap compared to many workshops; they are specifically aiming for inclusivity and cost is a part.

    2) Free child care; they hired a dedicated kid-wrangler. People with kids did not pay extra, this was baked into the price.

    The kids came by the building site for an escorted visit I think once on each day, otherwise they were a few hundred metres away, very well supervised.

    3) Free camping, and meals were included. Simple, cheap food; attendants all helped with misc chores. Shifting logistics from attendants to organizers makes it easier for busy people to attend.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:

  • Privacy: Some span of the day in which I can go hide somewhere and stare at nature and think and be alone. I get VERY LITTLE of that sort of time as a mom. Maybe set up an hour or two during the day when the introverts can all disperse without any pressure. Like, "This is reflect and recharge time. It's a time for introverts and extroverts to find some non-pressured time to be alone. If you are still itching for social interaction, meet in the _______ for tea and chatting. If you'd like your tea to go, here's a thermos!"


  • Great idea, Nicole! Some times workshop or retreat schedules are so packed that we forget to leave time to just be.


    Tereza Okava wrote:
    I think cob building or some other productive activity is also a fabulous idea. One thing I have not liked at other "women`s events" I have been to is that there are often specific preassumed ideas of what women are, like, etc. If someone gives me a flower I am almost certain to immediately give it to someone else, and pink things make me stabby. I was at a medical event a few years ago (again, mostly female participants) where all the raffle items were makeovers, hair things, makeup things, and weightloss/tanning stuff. It was exceedingly awkward.


    This. I had a similar reaction to a "women's business" event. It was all makeovers, botox, shopping, and fashion things. Urgh.
    Funny, pink things usually make me feel stabby, too, and here I used two pictures of pink flowers for this topic! And you still replied! ;-) Thank you.


    Tereza Okava wrote:In planning my event we have asked people more about the challenges they face in their life roles and what tools they need to meet them, and gone at it that way- I`m pulled in 6 directions as main breadwinner, parent, and farmer, for example, I need help with time management. Or I`m physically not as strong as I need to be for some tasks, what tools can I use. I think it is even more useful in permaculture, as this group tends to add in homeschooling, animal care, independent businesses, and a million other tasks.


    Hm...this sounds like a very good focus to me.


    Chris Kott wrote:My cousin operates an herbcrafting school off of her property in the Texas hill country, and although I don't think they discriminate against men, they seem to have a largely female membership.


    We've noticed herbal courses seem to attract more women than men, and have thought a lot about offering herbal courses here. And that might be the more practical way to go, from some of the feedback I'm receiving so far.


    denise ra wrote:I am just starting out on my land and my permaculture adventure so I am not interested in things that are off-topic.


    Very brown permaculture to keep it something real, building a small house, and being productive. Thank you for another vote in that direction.


    Judith Browning wrote:Yes! a retreat to build a retreat...like some of those quiet spaces Jocelyn started a thread about?

    I always wanted a 'Josephine's cabin' ( Frank Duveneck built the cabin in 1940 for his wife, Josephine, who used the cabin for reflection and inspiration) https://www.hiddenvilla.org/programs/catalog/68-josephines-retreat/region-HV/.  It is now used as a rental at the hostel at Hidden Villa at Los Altos.  It's original intent was so wonderful and inviting.  We stayed there once on a train trip and it still has a special feel.  

    I do like the idea of a 'women only' building workshop (I think I got in trouble for that opinion a few years back ;) ? )


    Oh, gosh. On one hand, I do like the idea of building more quiet spaces as in my Less **and** More thread. Plus, a Josephine's cabin would be just fantastic here.

    So here you are with another vote for building something really cool, Judith. And here I am feeling a bit done with being in a construction zone. Hm. Maybe there is a way to make it different though....

    Sort of akin to the conflict over a 'women only' building workshop, I wondered if my idea of a women's retreat might seem like it would be excluding men. That is not at all my intent. The way I've described women's groups in the past is that I see it as similar to having a Celtic festival, or a Black History month, or any other thing where you are sharing and celebrating certain cultural aspects of a group of people. Not trying to get over in to a cider press aspect of women's and men's rights, just trying to explain my brainstorming with this idea.


    Sonja Draven wrote:I love this idea and would definitely want to attend if my schedule allowed.  I would be more apt to attend in the spring or fall when it's lovely but not too hot or snowy and my "feet are itchy" to hit the road.  MT isn't too far away either.  :)

    I like the ideas outlined so far - especially Nicole's.  Agree to focus on women energy, not "girly" stuff. (Also not into facials and makeovers - but I kind of can't see that being a focus for permaculture women in general.)  I'm also into the kitchen / herb / fermenting / garden crafts.  Plant/mushroom ID yay.  Not very good at things like cross-stitch and beading but I always plant along if it's what everyone's enjoying.  Like the idea of a cob or small RMH build - both things I've learned/heard about intellectually but haven't participated in directly and would love some hands-on instruction with someone experienced.  


    More interest in building things. You women impress and inspire me.


    Sonja Draven wrote:As a female, I would want to know that my needs would be taken care of if I happened to arrive during my "time of the month."  Is there bathroom privacy or just the outhouse with no running water to rinse out a cup or dispose of related products?  If the retreat was a week is there laundry services we could use to wash same products or clothes if needed?  Is there fridge space for those of us who aren't omnis/gf and might need to bring some of our own food?  What would the sleeping facilities be like?


    This. This is a great aspect to bring up for a female attending where most people camp in fairly rustic/rural/wilderness conditions. And some times these things aren't very well explained up front. Such very good points!

    For the record, our Willow Bank at wheaton labs base camp has been augmented with water and other things to accommodate menstrual cycle needs. We have a hand operated washing machine if needed, and clothes lines at base camp. Fridge space isn't usually available for our larger events, though for a smaller group, or if we are not providing the food, we might be able to have some fridge space available.

    Camping is always included with our events, though we also have some very limited cabin spaces, or could use the couch balcony or Cooper Cabin for a slumber party if desired.

    Lots and lots of really great feedback--thank you!!

    Keep the ideas coming!

     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Dillon Nichols wrote:I attended a mud girls workshop a couple years ago; they are a group of female cob builders. Their workshops don't generally exclude anyone, but I was the only guy present at this one, and this didn't seem unusual.

    I had a great time, the tone was different than many, I do think this was partly a gender thing.


    I like the idea of gearing an event toward women, yet not having it exclude anyone as you described. That is very cool--thanks for sharing Dillon.

    Dillon Nichols wrote:
    2) Free child care; they hired a dedicated kid-wrangler. People with kids did not pay extra, this was baked into the price.

    The kids came by the building site for an escorted visit I think once on each day, otherwise they were a few hundred metres away, very well supervised.


    I've so enjoyed the freedom of being an empty nester that I now tend to forget about childcare needs.

    Some times, as a parent, getting away for an event is a welcome break or respite from the demands of parenting. Other times, it is more feasible to go if there is onsite childcare. I'm leaning toward not providing childcare for something like this initial idea (for a multitude of reasons), though I'd love to hear what others think.
     
    Dillon Nichols
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    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

    Dillon Nichols wrote:I attended a mud girls workshop a couple years ago; they are a group of female cob builders. Their workshops don't generally exclude anyone, but I was the only guy present at this one, and this didn't seem unusual.

    I had a great time, the tone was different than many, I do think this was partly a gender thing.


    I like the idea of gearing an event toward women, yet not having it exclude anyone as you described. That is very cool--thanks for sharing Dillon.

    Dillon Nichols wrote:
    2) Free child care; they hired a dedicated kid-wrangler. People with kids did not pay extra, this was baked into the price.

    The kids came by the building site for an escorted visit I think once on each day, otherwise they were a few hundred metres away, very well supervised.


    I've so enjoyed the freedom of being an empty nester that I now tend to forget about childcare needs.

    Some times, as a parent, getting away for an event is a welcome break or respite from the demands of parenting. Other times, it is more feasible to go if there is onsite childcare. I'm leaning toward not providing childcare for something like this initial idea (for a multitude of reasons), though I'd love to hear what others think.



    I think perhaps 40% of the women took advantage of the childcare, and it seemed like it was a fairly critical attendance enabling factor for most of those.

    But... the mud girls were able to hire a known experienced minder, and I think would have hired more if there were more kids. If I put on a workshop here I have no connections with people with those skills.. I would be nervous arranging for one stranger to look after other stranger's kids on my land!

    It may be significant that my general area is much more densely populated than around the lab. Some participants came from far away, but I think a much higher percentage were within a 3 hour radius than would be the case there.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Dillon Nichols wrote:
    I think perhaps 40% of the women took advantage of the childcare, and it seemed like it was a fairly critical attendance enabling factor for most of those.

    But... the mud girls were able to hire a known experienced minder, and I think would have hired more if there were more kids. If I put on a workshop here I have no connections with people with those skills.. I would be nervous arranging for one stranger to look after other stranger's kids on my land!


    Yeah, this is our problem, too.
    A. I (currently) don't have someone to hire for childcare
    B. our property is not very child friendly - in too many ways to list

    And that said, 40% is a lot....
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

    Nicole Alderman wrote:

  • Privacy: Some span of the day in which I can go hide somewhere and stare at nature and think and be alone. I get VERY LITTLE of that sort of time as a mom. Maybe set up an hour or two during the day when the introverts can all disperse without any pressure. Like, "This is reflect and recharge time. It's a time for introverts and extroverts to find some non-pressured time to be alone. If you are still itching for social interaction, meet in the _______ for tea and chatting. If you'd like your tea to go, here's a thermos!"


  • Great idea, Nicole! Some times workshop or retreat schedules are so packed that we forget to leave time to just be.


    Tereza Okava wrote:
    I think cob building or some other productive activity is also a fabulous idea. One thing I have not liked at other "women`s events" I have been to is that there are often specific preassumed ideas of what women are, like, etc. If someone gives me a flower I am almost certain to immediately give it to someone else, and pink things make me stabby. I was at a medical event a few years ago (again, mostly female participants) where all the raffle items were makeovers, hair things, makeup things, and weightloss/tanning stuff. It was exceedingly awkward.


    This. I had a similar reaction to a "women's business" event. It was all makeovers, botox, shopping, and fashion things. Urgh.
    Funny, pink things usually make me feel stabby, too, and here I used two pictures of pink flowers for this topic! And you still replied! ;-) Thank you.



    Pink makes me stabby, too. Especially the bright "breast cancer" pinks and the bubblegum pinks and many pastels. I will admit that part of of the reason I didn't find out my son's gender when I was pregnant, is so that I wouldn't end up with a bunch of pink baby clothes. Of course, my daughter has decided pink is one of her favorite colors...I just try to guide her to pink clothes that don't make me stabby.

    Your pink flower, though, was not one of the horrid shades of fake-pink that I abhor. It's natural and painted and it makes me happy, not stabby! Your mom does lovely work ♥

    I am now grateful that I've never been to a women's retreat if they are full of facials and makeup and fashion. I'll never forget the time I made the mistake when I was in high school and we had a youth group retreat at Whistler, BC. Since I couldn't ski, I decided to hang out in the town with the other high schoolers that chose to explore it...and they spent the whole time looking at stinky candles and clothing. I very much understand that many women like those kinds of things...but they make me stabby. I refused a purse for YEARS, and my current "purse" is actually a tactical bag...

    Interestingly, though, I've always liked full length skirts and long hair--they remind me of epic homesteading and medieval women who were strong, skilled, and resilient.
     
    Tereza Okava
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:I've always liked full length skirts and long hair--they remind me of epic homesteading and medieval women who were strong, skilled, and resilient.


    My family knows that if I am in a skirt they should call the police, because I am being held against my will, but my hair is indeed down to my waist. I see it more as an "epic people got stuff to do" kind of convenience; if I were a man I'd have a beard down to my navel, no doubt.


    Jocelyn, I would never disparage a painting by anyone's mom. No matter what colors it involves! Just the idea of having art made by one's own mom has me here smiling like a fool. what a blessing.
     
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    I love team building exercises...funnily enough I can't think of a single one right now! Though there was one once i almost remember,  something about a rope that you all hold and it twists round a bit so you have to undo it to straight without anyone letting go? Building personalty, confidence, team strength, trust, patience, acceptance, facing challenges.....

    Also building physical things is great, learning to use a chainsaw and/or other tools you have never used, breath exercises, advice and exercises for engaging different muscle groups for safer lifting, tasks, etc.


    I love pink clothes, but only for 9% of my life so far!
     
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    I also love discovering. Most permies do I hope. So, I would love to be wandering on that rocky volcano road and finding that pretty little flower. Bush rambling, discovering new and known plants. Even better if I can eat or use them (is the star flower edible?)
     
    pollinator
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    Like Elanor Pog, I'd really like to learn how to use some basic homesteading tools and machines like a chainsaw, carpentry tools and a tractor. I'd want to learn how to use them with other women/ a woman instructor.

    Apart from that, I'd just enjoy the chance to chat to other women in a relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps cook something simple together and hang out in a comfortable setting.

     
    Chris Kott
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    It occurred to me to wonder how much the mechanics of the female form affect ergonomics. I mean, and correct me if I am wrong, there are physiological differences, such as the jointing of the elbows, for instance, due to either childbirth-related accomodation or because of the more pronounced difference in musculature between men and women.

    I suppose I am wondering how much, and to what extent, these differences could influence not only ergonomic tool design for women, but ergonomic techniques involving normal homesteading and permacultural tasks that might look at female physiology and indicate better, more effective movements for normal labourious tasks.

    This could offer support for the decision to focus on female instructors, and offer appeal to a female-centric audience in a solid, brown permaculture sort of way. Who might know better about leveraging the strengths of female body mechanics than actual female instructors who engage in natural building or shovelwork, or any number of things.

    -CK
     
    Elanor Pog
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    Chris Kott wrote:It occurred to me to wonder how much the mechanics of the female form affect ergonomics. I mean, and correct me if I am wrong, there are physiological differences, such as the jointing of the elbows, for instance, due to either childbirth-related accomodation or because of the more pronounced difference in musculature between men and women.

    I suppose I am wondering how much, and to what extent, these differences could influence not only ergonomic tool design for women, but ergonomic techniques involving normal homesteading and permacultural tasks that might look at female physiology and indicate better, more effective movements for normal labourious tasks.

    This could offer support for the decision to focus on female instructors, and offer appeal to a female-centric audience in a solid, brown permaculture sort of way. Who might know better about leveraging the strengths of female body mechanics than actual female instructors who engage in natural building or shovelwork, or any number of things.

    -CK



    Chris, It will be good if somebody who knows about this thoroughly would reply here! But my 2 cents, is that any differences are not necessary to be focused on when talking about physical activities. The main difference I think would be, males tend to have their strength based in the upper/thoracic body, and females tend to have strength base in the hips and core area. Each person is different of course. But if you cant hold a chainsaw at arms length and use it, but you can comfortably hug the lead elbow into your hip and 'shoot straight from the hip' well you are going to know right away what ability you have.
    In the yoga classes my SO and I attend, the teacher does not make any separatism between sexes in the exercises, and she has a degree in some biology muscle thingy, (sorry but I have a mental block to any schooling information!), in class she constantly explains which muscles we are using and how/why/what they do, using latin names and pointing them out on herself.
     
    pollinator
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    I love th idea but too many obligations to travel that far at this point. But it’s been fun thinking about it!
    I would love to hike around the Lab and base camp and see all the projects we have been reading about.
    Would love anything about herbs, plants and soil building.
    Also people’s experiences with food presentation, ferments and cooking/nutrition.
    Crafts of whatever kind attendants are interested in. Myself I want to learn to needle felt.
    Time sitting around the camp fire talking would be wonderful.
    Some self care could be fun if everyone was comfortable. Massage, scented oils, acupressure or what people find helpful.
    A cob project/team building could be fun but I honestly wouldn’t want to work too hard for too long cause I do plenty of that at home.
    Hope you all can make this happen! Would love to come to a retreat in the future.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Wonderful responses! I'm thinking of two different options based on the input here...kind of a different focus than where I started.

    1. getting our wheaton labs tours set up quarterly. We could piggyback a potluck or herb thing or something with a sleepover/camp out/slumber party in Cooper Cabin before or after or in the middle of a tour weekend. I think if it were piggybacked on a tour date, that I'd want that to be open to anyone (not exclusive to women).

    2. planning something that's not called a "women's retreat" but might be something that is more likely to attract women, such as fiber arts or dyeing, herbs, food preservation, etc. Again, this kind of event would be open to anyone, not just women.

    Maybe down the road a women's retreat or gathering might develop, or grow out of ideas seeded here, though this is how I'm leaning for now.

    The thing is, I've said a loud "NO" to being our event coordinator the last couple years. This is because I have, in essence, three part-time jobs which add up to more than full time responsibilities, so adding in events on top of all of that is kind of crazy to consider. Though we've had some positive shifts at wheaton labs, plus I've had some positive shifts personally, so I can almost see some sunlight-peeking-through gaps in my future schedule. Mostly, I want more events that interest me here. Plus some balance in the force, so to speak, would be nice. So I'm trying to figure out how to make it happen.

    What do you all think of a shift to options 1 or 2 above?
     
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    Some of my thoughts:

    Going with a blend of both options, I would suggest deciding on an overarching theme for the year and then basing your quarterly "something" around it. For example, you might decide that 2019 is the "Year of the Medicinal Plant". At the Spring tour, learn about cultivating herbs and then plant some. At the Summer tour, build a solar dehydrator to dry medicinal plants. At the Fall tour, use medicinal plants to make salves. At the Winter tour, blend and use medicinal plants to make different teas. Or maybe make it a slightly longer event (4-7 days?) twice yearly (Spring & Fall) focusing on building/planting in the Spring and then preparing/using/repairing in the Fall.

    Potential themes:
    Honeybees/Pollinators - planting to maximize forage through the year, building beehives and pollinator houses, caring for bees and harvesting honey, making things with beeswax and honey (candles, lip/hand balms, food wraps, etc).
    Food Preservation - planning out how much food you need for a year, building racks to hold canned goods, building a simple outdoor/summer kitchen, building potato bins, building root cellar/cold storage, braiding garlic, learning preservation methods (water bath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, fermenting, curing, etc).
    Fiber Arts - prepping raw fleeces/fibers for further processing, carding fleece for spinning, building a drop spindle, building a loom, building a spinning wheel, building a lazy kate, dyeing animal and plant fibers, working with yarn (knitting/crochet/weaving/felting), repairing knits & woven goods.
    Needle Arts - dyeing fabric/thread/ribbon, mending clothing, altering clothing to fit, learning embroidery stitches, creating new goods from old (quilts, patchwork clothing, etc), building a quilt rack, building an indoor drying rack.

     
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    I'd love to include a build of Donkey's batch box stove in the red cabin! That is about the right size for me to want to work on, its parts are modular enough that I think I could tackle it, and working with women on it, I feel I'd have more of a chance to get hands on.
     
    pollinator
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    First off, I absolutely ADORE this idea. Not to exclude or alienate men, but I think there's something about women specifically getting together to encourage, uplift, and support each other. And also as a single woman homesteader I've really found there are a lot of women who subconsciously feel like they "can't do" things they actually can, because oftentimes it hasn't occurred to them that they can. I hope that makes sense.

    Some very good points being made that I agree with:

    1. childcare available would make a huge massive difference for a lot of women.
    2. keeping things more brown would be key. Religious / spiritual women's retreats are pretty common but I have never heard of a women's retreat type thing that was not spiritually based, which would be wonderful.

    I love a lot of the topics that have come up, to be honest I suspect a lot of what women would be interested in, is the same as what men are interested in. Building stuff, using equipment, herbal stuff, bushcraft, food preservation, etc. Or, in other words, I personally would be interested in most of the same things most guys would be interested in.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Katie, I want you to be our event coordinator! ;-)

    gani, I'm surprised a bit because I really have no interest in building an RMH. Maybe because they are all around me, I suppose. That is not to say that it wouldn't happen, just expressing my individual oddity in that space.


    Bethany, thanks for that perspective. You're right - women's or men's retreats are common through church groups, so this would be different from that.

    I'm so happy to hear from you all - thanks so much for all the great feedback and support!

     
    gani et se
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    Jocelyn,

    I mostly troll here for heaters. Which I have been doing heavily recently, because we were relying on our backup wood heater for 16 days of being involuntarily off grid (I'm not a homesteader or prepper). As normal wood stoves go, it's okay, but I ended up really wanting a batch mass heater, because I had to stoke that thing way too much. I have a smallish support plinth, so a bench heater won't cut it, but Donkey's batch box looks like just what we need.

    I'm definitely not looking for a spiritual experience, and I can do enough arts/crafts here. Also, I hate fermented food. I have tried to like it, but yuck! I also hate beer and wine, same thing.

    Maybe the focus needs to be on having women lead events, and see who comes? I don't know enough to comment, but what's the ratio of women in the organization? What efforts are made to make all events women friendly? Do facilitators make an effort to see that all people contribute? What's the feedback from women who do attend?
     
    pollinator
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    Hi Jocelyn.
    Today I listened all three parts of podcasts on Paul's and your 'wishes'. You said something on your thread on a women's retreat. So I searched for it. And here I found it.

    Probably I'll never ever come visit you there in Montana, much too far from here. But I can tell you about what I like, being a woman.

    1. I never go to meetings or activities 'only for women', I prefer mixed groups: women, men and children of all ages.
    2. I prefer activities that don't have any 'purple' in it, because most of the time they are 'spiritual' in a way that is very different from my view on spirituality.
    3. I would like to learn some of those 'typical men's skills': carpentry and other woodworking, welding, building a wofati, etc.
    4. I like sharing what I know about textile hand crafts and 'creative cooking from scratch' with others.
    5. Wild edible / medicinal plant walks and cooking with those plants, I like that too.
    6. Singing and playing folk songs together and maybe even some dancing (but not 'purple', see 2.)
     
    pollinator
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    I'm also never likely to show up, (distance) but I'm very similar to the previous poster. no purple, no woman only (always seems to be purple and fluffy) I really could do with learning to weld, I do do textiles and how to make the thread from scratch would be very interesting, I also do edible and medicinal plants but only those with scientifically proven uses. I'm sure some women want to be with only woman but I am not one of them.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Thank you Inge and Skandi for your feedback - I SO appreciate it! Even if you wouldn't attend, just hearing what you might be interested in helps us think about workshops to offer.

    Coco (another woman - yay!) has been helping us get some things rolling for events and rentals. We have a long way to go still, but here (from this post in our event calendar thread) are the basic events so far this year:

    Coco Newlon wrote:2019 Events dates for Wheaton Labs are here:

    Tours of Wheaton Labs

  • May 19, Sunday
  • June 15, Saturday
  • September 29, Sunday

  • PEP1 Certification workshop/gathering/event May/June 2019
    --May 20th-June 1st

    PDC
    --June 16th-29th

    ATC
    --July 1st-12th

    We are working towards having a RMH jamboree in the fall (early October) too. More details will be posted when we have them and more events. :)


    I'd like to add some events before or after the tour dates, a bit like Katie suggested previously - hers are great ideas, plus we're thinking wild/medicinal edibles plant walks, getting near to zero waste, scythe workshops and more! Though we've pretty much missed the announcement window for the May and June tours - which leaves September.

    What's holding us back is that I am still recovering from a brutal month with my accounting business (not what you might think, but not worth explaining) and Coco is still learning the ropes. We'll get more events added as we're able.

     
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    I would offer training to come into deep meditation.Soil and soul.
     
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    I am perhaps odd in that I wouldn't want childcare. I would want my children with me. They are well behaved and generally interested in whatever I happen to be up to. Now, I've been around a lot of kids in other Mom's groups that I wish were with a sitter, so that'd be a hard thing. How to determine which children are fit for adult company and which aren't.

    Food preservation, Wild crafting and general "manly" things would interest me. I HATE HATE HATE when I'm trying to learn something and the man I'm asking questions is speaking down to me. To find an environment where I can ask questions and observe without being made to feel lesser would be great!
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    A few updates:

    We added a tour date - June 30th is also a tour.

    Speaking of kids at events, some of you might be interested in my responses to Kay about bringing her daughter to this year's PDC starting with this post here.

    I once attended an event where a mom, who was a guest/attendee, was sitting by as her 4-year-old boy jumped up and down on the living room couch as hard as he could. She obviously saw what he was doing but made absolutely no effort to re-direct him to a more gentle or safer activity. He bounced harder, and harder, as high in to the air as he could, and then he launched himself from the couch, on to the coffee table. At that moment, we all learned that the coffee table top, was not attached to the legs, and since he landed on one end, the tabletop worked as a catapult, throwing the pizza that was on the other end of the coffee table, in to the air across the living room.

    Thankfully, the boy was fine. Not a scratch. Though I was horrified. I had already been hugely uncomfortable that a guest in someone else's home would let their child jump on someone else's furniture like that. I didn't say anything because it wasn't my home and I didn't know the woman very well. Then to have the end result was just over the top. Sheesh.

    So yes, some kids are easier to have around than others. And there are spectrums of what kind of behavior is fine to one person and not fine to another. And some times you really don't know until you try.

    When my kids were younger, I had precious few breaks from parenting, so I would have really grooved on a workshop without my children, despite how much I enjoyed them.

    Now that I'm an empty nester, I love the freedom of not having to worry about kids (or their activities) and I'm able to do so much more with my day. It's awesome! I feel a bit spoiled in that I now have an expectation of not being interrupted or inconvenienced by the needs of little ones. I am so spoiled and geared toward adults these days, that when kids visit here, I don't take much time for them at their speed. Kids enjoy it when adults match them at a kid's pace - sitting down to watch a bug, reading a story, playing a game, whatever. I know this, and yet I don't usually do it. It's just not my thing. I'm usually too much on a roll with all the  other things on my plate.

    With kids around a workshop, I think it really can be perfectly fine and happy. And for me, especially in facilitating a quality event for adults, I think the ideal situation is to have some resources in place so some kid doesn't end up feeling like they need to catapult pizza across a room to get noticed.




     
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    My first response to seeing this was excitement, then trepidation. I think like many have said here, I'd love something for women that isn't stereo-typically "girly". I want to get dirty and tired and learn stuff and make stuff then sit around a campfire drinking beer.

    I have been to women's retreats and women's clubs and women's gatherings and they have all turned crazy or petty. I am nearly half a century old now, don't have children or siblings and was bullied relentlessly by other girls growing up for being weird and not wearing dresses or make-up and just being a tomboy...but I've always wanted a mom and sisters and girlfriends. I still dream of a women's space that would have me as a member.

    That said, I still might try.
     
    elle sagenev
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    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
    I once attended an event where a mom, who was a guest/attendee, was sitting by as her 4-year-old boy jumped up and down on the living room couch as hard as he could. She obviously saw what he was doing but made absolutely no effort to re-direct him to a more gentle or safer activity. He bounced harder, and harder, as high in to the air as he could, and then he launched himself from the couch, on to the coffee table. At that moment, we all learned that the coffee table top, was not attached to the legs, and since he landed on one end, the tabletop worked as a catapult, throwing the pizza that was on the other end of the coffee table, in to the air across the living room.

    Thankfully, the boy was fine. Not a scratch. Though I was horrified. I had already been hugely uncomfortable that a guest in someone else's home would let their child jump on someone else's furniture like that. I didn't say anything because it wasn't my home and I didn't know the woman very well. Then to have the end result was just over the top. Sheesh.

    So yes, some kids are easier to have around than others. And there are spectrums of what kind of behavior is fine to one person and not fine to another. And some times you really don't know until you try.



    I taught pasta making at my house for a group of Mom's and was completely overwhelmed when the kids started pulling the floor boards up. I didn't even know that was possible. I get ya!

    I work full time so I always feel like I'm missing time with my kids. That is why I would want to have them with me.

    I totally get that not being possible though. You don't want to find out your floor can be pulled up, after all.
     
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    I've pondered how to bring women to places such as yours and Crestone Colorado.

    I do know of a place that was soley dedicated to RN's who wanted wilderness solitude and marketed their service to hospitals across the country.

    There are also many young women who are interested in living off grid but have no crowd to feel safe in to try it; I know cause I talk to them....I believe they realize that raising a family without any land or funds in the current USA is a daunting task...market to them on this alone!

    There are women who have suffered in our society in many ways including ghettos; maybe a woman or two of this background experience might be acceptable.

    Personally, if I had a community and I wanted to attract women to it I would:

    -dedicate three cabins to female RN retreatants who need to rejunvenate from shift burn out and instead of American hospitals, I would focus on EU hospitals (money with long vacation times and higher education standards).
    -I would then dedicate one cabin for a woman from the underbelly of our society (target only those interested in a non-city different life style...too many people who need healing at once would be overwhelming)
    -I would then choose a woman who would visit colleges and community colleges for women who have hand skills and smarts but aren't doing well in those systems;
    -I would also find other contacts for those young women who have no intention of behaving in our current system preferably before crime finds them -ISIS did it and they clearly are known to make their women wear all black, share their husband and not drive.
    -I'm not sure how to reach all the young women interested in off grid living...each will have their own motivations and they might not be the same as yours.


    All I know is that Michael Reynolds of earthship fame found some of his crew to make Earthships sleeping at the greyhound in ABQ...his crew ended up paired off in couplets...so you might actually ask him how he did that successfully cause he did that on purpose.

    Make a female nest for a female to fly into, give them the right excuse to come visit, and with enough volume of females, some are bound to stick if the men are there too.

    Tamera.org has alot of women....ask them how they do it and invite 3 or 7 to visit!

    ....honestly, I believe if you solve this problem, you will solve Paul's community problem.  I dunno....create a culture there like the Mu women have?  Marketing slogan: come make your seduction chamber here! Invite men in for just a night without guilt and have your pick of men!
     
    Kali Hermitage
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    Orin Raichart wrote:
    There are also many young women who are interested in living off grid but have no crowd to feel safe in to try it; I know cause I talk to them....I believe they realize that raising a family without any land or funds in the current USA is a daunting task...market to them on this alone!

    There are women who have suffered in our society in many ways including ghettos; maybe a woman or two of this background experience might be acceptable.

    Make a female nest for a female to fly into, give them the right excuse to come visit, and with enough volume of females, some are bound to stick if the men are there too.



    Wow Orin, what a wise post. I resemble a lot of what you have mentioned here...my life was saved when I was a teenager by a middle aged woman in Northern Idaho that that listened to me and made me feel safe. I was a homeless, high school drop out from the Los Angeles area passed from person to person and ended up in that small town for a while, I still can't believe what she did for me and the love and respect and opportunities she gave me.

    Anyway, I don't have any answers anymore. I wish every lost little girl had a "Sally" or a safe place like you describe. I wish I had the resources to provide it. I'm just glad someone else sees it.

    Thank you.
     
    Tereza Okava
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    Even though I live in Brazil I still am on a lot of mailing lists in the US for things I used to participate in. I just got this invitation in my mailbox and thought it might give you some food for thought:

    "Join us for our first annual workshop for women landowners interested in learning more about why and how to take care of their forests.

    Topics will address forest health, best management practices, financial benefits of protecting the forest, including forestry stewardship plans and stewardship assistance programs. Learn about native woodland plants, holistic restoration, butterflies and insects, alternate treatment for invasive plants, practical applications and more. This women-only workshop will be held at a private property with 142 acres of land in Hardwick NJ and begins at 8 am."

    Explanatory video of the women-focused program here, they talk a little about why they are targeting women specifically.

     
    pollinator
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    I'm coming into this conversation a bit late, but I wanted to say one important thing:

    Jocelyn, you are a truly unique and wonderful person and thousands on Permies love your quiet wisdom and kindness...so I think you should do a retreat on whatever topic inspires you and makes your heart sing. The people will follow you because YOU are YOU and I don't think you should do a workshop on anything that you're not super interested in. You deserve to have a lovely experience running a women's (or mixed gender) retreat, so just design it for yourself.

    What are your favorite things to do?
    What would you love for someone to do for YOU in a retreat?
    What would you appreciate having set up for you? Amenities, quiet time, etc.
    Roll out the red carpet for yourself and then if it is feasible to do so, design the retreat around that.

    Is this making sense?

    I just had to say this because no matter how much people say "I want to learn building techniques or RMH stuff", if it's no fun for you then what's the point?

    A lot of what I'm saying comes from reading that glorious book "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert...she really pushes the reader to do what inspires them (assuming that you can afford to do so!). Sooo worth a read by the way.

    Glad to hear that Coco is giving you a helping hand, Jocelyn! Blessings to you and hope your retreat (or whatever it turns out to be) is fun and relaxing for you as well as the participants.
     
    pollinator
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    As a child, I was brought along on a few retreats/weekend meetings that were definitely for adult women (my mom founded and operated a battered women’s shelter, and worked to organize them on the regional level). I was often alone, one place there was another boy that lived there.

    I was a precocious child, did what I was told, without asking twice, sat quietly when asked to, could occupy myself for hours with drawing...

    I was maybe 12 years old at this one with the other boy, and we had a great time wandering the yard and woods, exploring and playing make believe. I was also just old enough to pick up on the undertones of “why the fuck is this kid/ boy/ future man-enemy-creature here?!” from a few of the attendees.

    So, the children in tow idea is as much about the individual child, as about the other attendees willingness to have them at all. (Feel free to read as deeply as you like...)
     
    pollinator
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    I'm also late to this, been so busy with the new property.

    I would consider attending a women's retreat, or even a primarily women't retreat. I am interested in many of the things mentioned, herbalism, foraging, natural building, cooking, preserving the harvest, gardening. I'm not much interested in RMH, primarily because it's not that cold where I live, I like a cold house, and this property already has wood stoves.

    Being in southern Oregon and enjoying a road trip, I would even be willing to pick up people on the way. Look forward to hearing more.
     
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