My boyfriend and I were out hiking for the last couple of days and began discussing the idea of a non-profit Permaculture Scholarship organization that will connect young people or those without the means to permaculture education and resources with donors who are stoked about permaculture. It would also serve as an Advisory to help connect people with opportunities that suit their needs, within the permaculture world.
I began thinking about this after pondering the Permaculture Voices Conference coming up, feeling like I should be able to go to this, but also not being able to justify spending my money while I am pinching pennies to save for land. I am a few years past college now but I have often thought that if I were 18 again and I had $100,000 I would probably choose to spend the money differently, like: go to EVERY permaculture class, workshop, conference, and internship I could to become a highly-qualified permie. There is plenty of free information out there, to be sure, but I don't see why scholarship money shouldn't be sent toward the incredible paying opportunities as well. Not to mention, send some funding to the many permaculture educators out there. I went to college and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree, and I would have to say that the time I've spent after college WWOOFing, traveling on my own, reading permaculture books, listening to Paul's podcasts, and going to workshops, has taught me more than I learned at my university. But I would never have been able to go to college without the innumerable scholarships and grants available, and I often wish that type of money would be available for the more unconventional, permaculture-related educational opportunities that are out there. I'd like to go study with Geoff Lawton in a 10-week internship, get my Sepp Holzer certification, intern with Joel Salatin, learn from Dave Jacke, go to the Permaculture Voices conference etc. And I'm sure there are plenty of other people out there who would like to do the same. Maybe there is a way. And I am willing to get the ball rolling.
Jack Spirko recently said about the Permaculture Voices Conference that: "The education this will represent would put a year of college to shame, this is all the stuff that actually works and has been proven to work." If this is true, then there should be scholarship money out there that can support these types of opportunities! There has to be a way to connect sponsors who support the spread of permaculture with the next generation of Permaculture Leaders. And the opportunities out there can rival a college education. I would like to see there being a surge of educational scholarship money to promote this style of learning.
My thought is that it would require starting a non-profit organization, finding donors, and developing an application process to distribute the money to those who need it. This would not be intended to reward the lazy, but reward those who are serious about permaculture who don't have a way to pay, whether that's paying for a PDC or sending them to intern with Geoff in Australia. This would also require developing a database of information, like: all the PDC's available, internship opportunities, workshops, conferences, and even volunteer jobs.
There would be a screening process. Say, if a 19-year-old applied who is new to permaculture, I would advise them to go WWOOF for a year, and maybe provide the $40 fee in scholarship money and tell them to report back to us a year later. At that point maybe we could help pay for a PDC. There may be others who would greatly benefit from completing the Sepp Holzer certification, or a Geoff Lawton internship. I can also see a portion of the funds going toward purchasing books, videos and other materials to distribute to those who can benefit from them. This will support the authors, and spread knowledge.
The idea here is to train up the next generation of Permaculture Leaders by providing the means and direction to do so, while at the same time paying educators what they deserve. This could not take the place of a college education and degree, but in my mind it is certainly a great alternative. It would provide incentive and education to send people off to fill niches in society or start their own farm. There has been talk about older generations wanting to find younger people to hand off their land to. There would also be an emphasis on trying to connect these people with one another and finding jobs for others in their field of interest.
I am a few years out of college now, but would like nothing more than to have the opportunity to study with some of the Permaculture Greats and I am sure there are others out there as well. I'd like to see a wave of people with the means to take advantage of some of these opportunities. Like the 4-day conference that would put a year of college to shame. I'm just not exactly sure where to begin, if this would work, or where to find the donors, but I'm willing to put some time in. My expertise is that I can understand what value this type of education can offer, and I have been a part of many different programs. I have wwoofed all over the world, been a part of conservation corps, applied for lots of scholarships, and have a degree in print media communication. We need help! What do you think? Will this work? And where do we begin? The intention would be to begin small, by serving as advisors and developing our database of permaculture educational opportunities, and would eventually hope to get some donors on board so we can begin sending people to some bigger events.
Sorry I'm coming to this thread late, Emily - I am right on board with your vision. I want to do a similar thing on a smaller scale in the urban center of our township. I think you've laid out a great concept plan, and I found it just as I'm starting Geoff Lawton's PDC...I'm sure I'll gain more insight into how to implement that goal as I progress thru his course. Let me know if you've had any more development on your idea - I'd love to hear about it.
Hi Jennifer. Great to know that you have a similar vision. Maybe we can help one another make something happen. I have done some research on starting a 501-C3 and am thinking that at this point, I do not have the time or resources to start this on my own. It would require appointing a lawyer, someone who can handle finances, a board, and all of the organization of coming up with an application and logistics. I know it will take an incredible amount of time, but I have not given up hope and will continue to think about the best way to see something like this happen. I believe the biggest hurdle will be finding donors. I do not want to spend too much time starting a non-profit until I know there are donors out there who are interested in this type of thing. I may begin with this.
I also learned that on the Permaculture Research Institute's website there is a growing database of projects around the world to find out about classes, opportunities, and also be able to share what you are doing. This is what my partner and I were thinking we'd need to do as part of the vision, but that is already happening. That way we'd be able to connect people to relavent projects, workshops, and classes. There are also of course more local resources in each region etc. The link is here.
Will update with more ideas, and please share your vision too!
I know that this was posted quite a while back but I found this conversation and this site when searching google for exactly what you're talking about creating. I would love, love, love to help make this a reality. I am a current college student but at the end of high school I did a month long internship with a local farmer who taught me about permaculture and then I took a gap year and wwoofed in New Zealand for 3 months where I learned even more, I've taken a semester course on it during college and try to implement it into my life as much as possible. I constantly struggle with the decision to leave college or not because all I really want to do is buy land and start a homesteading permaculture community and I have many friends who want just the same. If you can help make this a reality for me and together we help make this a reality for others and help spread the ways of living of permaculture I would feel forever accomplished. Let me know if you're still working towards this goal!
I think this is a worthy goal and I also think that there are some resources out there already.
Yes - you can fundraise through various crowdsource applications. You can also contact those folks who have classes you want to attend and ask them directly if they have any work trade options.
Financial need is not limited to the young and there are more than a few folks on this board who find themselves with limited means. This could be older people or people with disabilities (myself), etc. As an example, I was able to do a work trade situation for my first PDC here locally as well as the for (most of the) cost for the Water Harvesting Certification program in Tucson. I've done everything from write scripts for Youtube videos, to blasting social media, documenting projects and organizing events.
Also, you might check out permaculture institutions in your local area and partner with them under their 501c3 (if that's how they're set up). This is called a "fiscal partner relationship". In this way a mature non-profit mentors a start-up non-profit. And you don't have to go with a permaculture organization. For instance, here in Phoenix many of the community gardens are associated with our local permaculture guild. However, the fiscal partner for these gardens is a local low income health initiative organization. Through this partnership, the gardens can apply for grants and other funding that's out there that they wouldn't be able to do on their own.
Subtropical desert (Köppen: BWh)
Elevation: 1090 ft Annual rainfall: 7"