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Foundations of Regenerative Design, January 11-25 Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Posts: 47
Location: Tzununa, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, Central America
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JANUARY 11 - 25, 2020
Explore regenerative design through the lens of Permaculture and Natural Building. Over two weeks, participants will gain a thorough understanding of regenerative design theory and practice through hands on practical work, dynamic classroom presentations and workshops, engaging group discussions and activities, and epic field trips. Week 1 focuses on Permaculture, from the guiding principles and ethics to strategies and techniques for site design, soil building, holistic animal management, integrated water systems, social permaculture, and much more. Week 2 is all about Natural Building and covers design process, site analysis, natural building modalities, a wide variety of materials, appropriate technology, and more.

Regenerative Design is a holistic design process which understands that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. By working with the patterns and tendencies of nature, we are able to create integrated, harmonious designs which meet our current needs while providing a sustainable foundation for future generations. This course focuses on the possibilities provided through Permaculture and Natural Building, both of which offer potent strategies and techniques for achieving these ends.

During the first week, we will explore the foundations of Permaculture. There are literally hundreds of definitions of permaculture and as far as we are concerned, they are ALL VALID. A more technical approach to permaculture suggests that we mimic nature and natural patterns to design and implement ecosystems that meet our collective needs. A deeper definition considers the whole of human culture and suggests that permaculture is a tool for designing new ecological culture, considering the whole of the earth in all of its strategies.

Week two is deeply focused Natural Building and how the structures we inhabit can be designed to unite us with the natural world, rather than separate us from it. We will explore the larger implications behind Natural Building, such as how our homes can aid in the reduction of waste through the use of recyclable and renewable resources, and how we can create homes that are healthy living spaces. We will also dive into the nitty gritty of working with various Natural Building materials and techniques including adobe, cob, rammed earth, light clay straw, bajareque, and more.

*Class is 1/3 practical, 1/3 lecture and 1/3 field trips.

*Begin with the Permaculture ethics and Principles, as well as the design methodologies, which form the foundation of Permaculture education.

*Move on to earthworks and water, where we learn how to reharmonizes the relationship between land and water.

*Learn composting, soil building, and other fertility techniques to convert you waste into Black Gold.

*Plant propagation, cuttings, grafting, vegetable planting will turn you into a true plant ninja.

*Hands-on practical work in the community. Give back and leave a lasting impact while learning practical skills.

*Integrated animal systems and holistic care. Chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits, and more!

*Field trips to Mayan Permaculture sites, including a 1,000-person, 400-acre Mayan Permaculture paradise.

*Lectures and group activities on social Permaculture, biological businesses, and Permaculture in community.

*Class is a balanced mix classroom activities presentations, hands-on work, and excursions and workshops.

*Kick off with an introduction to natural building modalities, revisioning of home activity, and working with the elements.

*Learn how to handle and build with several different traditional natural materials, including adobe, cob, rammed earth, bamboo, light clay straw, bajareque, and more.

*Lessons in building structures from foundations to roofing systems.

*Natural building walking tour of Tzununa and San Marcos with builder Charlie Rendall.

*Work on a variety of sites throughout the community, interacting with the local community and exploring a variety of way to incorporate natural building into any site.

*Learn how to enhance your space with natural plasters and finishes.

*Create and present your own natural building design project.

During the course participants will stay in the Bambu Guest House, a super beautiful eco-hotel in the indigenous village of Tzununa. Built from all local and natural materials, the Bambu embodies the principles of Permaculture and Natural Building. All guest rooms are big and bright, and come equipped with private bathrooms with hot water, wifi, comfy beds and balconies with hammocks and amazing views of Lake Atitlan and the volcanoes. The Bambu’s farm-to-table restaurant is supplied by Atitlan Organics and other local producers and serves 3 fresh, delicious meals a day plus snacks, dessert, tea and coffee. The Bambu Guest House proves that luxury and sustainability can go hand-in-hand!

The price of the full 2-week course is $1,195 and includes all course facilitation, field trips and excursions, and meals and lodging at the Bambu Guest House. Participants also have the option to register for only 1 week of the course (either Permaculture or Natural Building focus) for $695 per person.


Ashley was born on occupied Anishinaabe and Dakota land referred to as Minnesota. Her life at this time shifts with the seasons as she collects teachings, weaves communities and spreads the seeds that she has been given to sow. As a student of permaculture for the past 9 years she has had the privilege of learning from land based people throughout the americas, engaging with both traditional ecological knowledge and permaculture trainings. While immersed in the teachings of permaculture she found her niche in her practice as a Natural Builder. Ashley approaches this practice with respect for the elders and traditional cultures whose exploration of ecologically responsible construction offers her the modalities she works with today. Her work combines both the modern and ancient into a building practice that aims to create community based resilience through bioregionaly appropriate construction. Drawing from experiences in both the permaculture and natural building world she approaches sharing these skills from an informed place of pattern. With deep reverence for the natural systems that support our lives Ashley weaves song, story and practical knowledge into educational opportunities in the form of workshops and classes. If you would like to know more about Ashley, her studies and work, please contact her at roottorisedesign@gmail.com

Shad has 15 years experience in organic and commercial gardening and farming. He is certified in Permaculture Design and has over 6 years experience in holistic site development and homesteading. Shad originally set out to study mathematics and work in big business, but long ago had a change of heart. He can now be found dancing in his garden in Tzununa. Aside from all of this, Shad is an enthusiastic teacher who truly believes in the work he is doing. Human resiliency cannot be erased from the landscape and now, it is coming back with a gentle loving caress.

Neal is from an Irish family with a background in dairy farming. He has worked in agricultural projects all over the world, including Australia and Colombia. He came to Guatemala four years ago to study write a thesis on the relationship between permaculture and traditional agricultural practices of the Mayan people. He has been here since and now works as a facilitator for Atitlan Organics and has founded his own Permaculture farm, Granja Tz’ikin. He specializes in combining the teaching of permaculture with a focus on wider socio-political issues, and on encouraging students to develop new ways of thinking about old problems. His interests include gardening, music, philosophy, cooking and laughing.

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