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paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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This is one of those "poll threads". I want to present a situation, and then folks can give a thumbs up on all the stuff below that seems to fit.

So: we took a BIG bite this year. And we had shit happen. Several times. Which is to be expected.

We set up a few workshops with the idea that we would have bart professionally video them. Maybe we could do a kickstarter and maybe the kickstarter could be funded.

We expected to sell all the tickets in just a few days and use that cashflow to do stuff, plus we would know how many people were coming and .... ticket sales were very small.

We decided to move forward with workshops despite the lack of cash flow and unpredictability of the number of students until the last minute.

And to deal with the problems, my brother Tim tried to OWN ALL THE PROBLEMS and he is now pretty used up and ready to flush down the toilet. I know I'm exhausted. I think everybody here is a bit pooped. August will be a month of recovery and mending the list of broken things.

Speaking just for myself, the last few months seem to have been loaded with jobs that need to be done ... I think the primary motivator was "think of kids dying of cancer. we MUST optimize our forward velocity on a shoestring." And now I'm thinking that it is past time to transition back to something more like "hey, you know what would be cool?"

The hardest part of all this is to get massive food systems in place so that everybody can be fed. The trick is feeding all these folks until the food systems are pumping out food. So the first couple of years are about priming the pump.

We just started the wofati workshop and the rocket mass heater workshop/event in september is the last thing scheduled. There was some other stuff that was talked about, but right now I think we need to repair/optimize all the things we have, get our wood in for the winter and put a lot more focus on beauty, aesthetics and creating a soul-building environment.

I am guessing that the low turnout for workshops was that people thought "I'll just wait for the DVD." And to make good decisions over the next year or so, I need to get a clearer idea of what's going on.

For each of the posts below, click on the thumbs up for all that seem to express what's on your mind. Feel free to add more possible answers to this thread.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Click thumbs up on this post if your thinking was:

I might have come to a workshop, but since it will probably be on a dvd later, I thought I would just wait for the dvd.
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 22367
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Click thumbs up on this post if your thinking was:


i saw that workshops were offered, but it was too-far/too-expensive/too-something. If it were closer/cheaper/something I would have gone.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Click thumbs up on this post if your thinking was:

the workshops offered were just not stuff i'm interested in taking a workshop in.
 
Joe Braxton
Posts: 320
Location: NC (northern piedmont)
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"I would like to be there but can't spare the time away."
 
wayne fajkus
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Your train of thought is everyone might, but....

I can say I never had interest and never looked at what was offered. I don't fit any category.

I did look back on some postings to see if I could get some insite.

Money and travel would be legitimate, but I would think housing above anything else you mentioned. Creature comforts- air conditioning, private bath and bathroom being at the top. The thread I read indicated a person could bring an rv but likely could not run a generator. That one statement may have turned off dozens, none of who will admit they want their running water.




 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Your reach through permies is global, but a workshop will always - by its nature- be a local event.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22367
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I think some of the workshops we offered were, indeed, local. But I think some of the workshops we put together were designed to be something for people to fly to.
 
Kim Hill
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Maybe you are right to concentrate on getting the food flow going right now. Everything seems to be in a whirl wind rush to get workshops and DVD's out. I understand the need for cash flow but sometimes you need to sit back and concentrate on what is most important for your current life and food is one of the very basic of all needs. Maybe a different workshop concentrating on getting the food programs into effect? A call to arms for people to come out to help get those systems going?

You have accomplished a lot compared to most people setting up such an endeavor! I have enjoyed watching and learning from your experiences. If I was not working full-time and had more than a week a year off work, I would gladly have come to some workshops or even would come out the help plant. But until such time that I am not changed to a full-time job, all I can do is follow what is going on.
 
Kevin Murphy
Posts: 41
Location: New Jersey Shore
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Hello,
I was interested in several workshops but when I looked at the cost to travel it almost doubled the price.
I know that this is not your problem but mine, but it did influence my decision.

-Kevin
 
Rob Read
Posts: 88
Location: Poplar Hill, Ontario (near London) - Zone 6a
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Speaking for myself - the workshops all sound amazing, and very well priced. They are very far for me to travel to, and even if funds allowed, I've got a young family, a full-time job, and numerous fingers out into permaculture livelihoods/volunteerism locally, and the time away isn't feasible for practical reasons as well.

The DVDs, supported through Kickstarter, are an awesome option for me to be able to support the empire, and get some amazing content too.

A pattern friends of mine have seen locally is the move towards registered for workshops REALLY late - like, day before. So, the event might have already been cancelled, but didn't need to be if people had signed up ahead. This seems to be a growing problem for people all over the place who want to share permaculture through workshops.

What about the idea of a 'position' on your land where the person spent part of their time in a role that did practical work and learning, and part of their time as workshop planner or dvd developer. They could do all the admin side of things, so that your role could be just to contribute at planning meetings, and show up in front of the camera. This could be an alternate way to get on your land without the $$ investment, but with a really clear labour investment required.
 
Cory Allan
Posts: 61
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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Hi Paul, I gave a thumbs up to too-far/too-expensive/too-other. I'm just one person, but I feel obliged to give you more of my perspective, at least, in the hope that it helps you in your strategic initiatives towards your goal of world domination .

The work you are doing is truly noble and inspired and it shows in your dedication, as well as those who are there on the land with you putting in the hard yards.

I try to contribute to every permaculture effort that I feel is worthwhile, but I need to prioritize my limited time and resources towards those that I believe provides me with the best tools for where I am at this time put information to action. Sometimes, it's your kickstarters, DVDs, podcasts, or simply the (often free) information available in your articles and forums, for which we are all truly grateful. Other times, there are other initiatives going on, either locally, such as a rocket mass heater workshop held by my local Toronto Permaculture GTA group (which I unfortunately couldn't attend due to a conflict), remotely, or online, such as the Whole Earth Summit, or geoff lawton's Online PDC - my primary investment this year in which I am currently enrolled and in the process of completing my final certification exercise.

I wish I had the time and resources to attend many remote sessions, such as Permaculture Voices, your workshops, and even one of the Holzer farms in Austria, but I'm simply not in such a fortunate position at this time. I am encouraged to see some local workshops emerging, and I hope to have the opportunity to attend more of these in the future, to gain hands-on experience and support my local community, as well as the option to augment my knowledge with online and off-line resources such as the ones you offer.

I think Geoff Lawton's PRI Masterplan is a good approach and, whether you feel inclined to adopt it in any manner or not, I hope to see The Lab develop into a premier, world-renown Permaculture hub in the North-West, as both a source of innovation and demonstration, and eventually as a community village of permaculture living. I do think if we are going to make significant change, at a global level, that we need to look towards investing in and developing our local Permaculture villages and PRI hubs as part of a network of learning, innovation and change. I believe your efforts on the innovation and online community will go a very long way and I hope you find a balance that meets your many ambitious and worthwhile objectives.

 
R Scott
Posts: 3351
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Kevin Murphy wrote:Hello,
I was interested in several workshops but when I looked at the cost to travel it almost doubled the price.
I know that this is not your problem but mine, but it did influence my decision.

-Kevin


AND doubled the time away from homestead/family/job. Time is/was definitely is a limiting factor even more than money for me.

 
Mary Fahnestock-Thomas
Posts: 14
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I just discovered you and am kind of new here and I love browsing on your site but would have difficulty focusing on any one workshop to participate in. Permaculture and perennial veg and mason bees and so on are all new to me, so I'm mostly looking into new books and trying out new things. Might this not be true for LOTS of people?
 
M Johnson
Posts: 128
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I work a full time job and own a farm so time is at a premium for me. And I live in kentucky. So I voted for too far. I do your kickstarters to support the effort and frankly, I would buy the DVD or do a kickstarter even if that aren't other people in the video. For example, I would have bought the rocket mass heater DVD with just you , Ernie and Erica doing it. But I know there are times you need grunts around to help speed up the process.
 
Ann Torrence
steward
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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I'm going to be brutally honest. If your business model right now is to sell permaculture experiences/training to people rather than permaculture yields, it needs some tweaks. Most people are going to be able to do one workshop vacation a year or every couple years. Getting vacation time, leaving family to do something "selfish," finding the cash, making a plan. The privilege of being at wheaton labs is considerable, but it's not the tipping point. Consider your customer's perspective from reading various threads:

Pay a lot for a workshop
Buy a plane ticket to Missoula, not your cheapest airport around
Pay extra for luggage to bring tent and sleeping bag
Rent a car
Find a the grocery store to buy food. Figure out what you can eat because you didn't bring the camping stove because you didn't know if you could find fuel and you don't want to buy a crappy styrofoam ice chest. Worry about coffee.
Don't tell anyone where the lab is. Will I even find it?
Is there a decent nearby place to stay if I can't/don't want to camp? Will I be excluded from important stuff if I do?
Will I be able to clean up at the end of the day?
The cook is looking for cheap recipes.
The foreman isn't a teacher and doesn't have a lot of patience with imperfections.
Wofati course description doesn't describe "what you will learn" just that you will be on work teams for hours. It doesn't make it sound fun, and I like power tools.
WTH am I going to do with this knowledge anyway?

IMHO This is not a marketing scheme for success to people in the segment of permies that have money to go to workshops. Yes, you are the Duke of Permaculture, but sometimes the podcasts don't make it sound like a very fun dukedom, which is probably because everyone is running so ragged it isn't very fun right now. It has to sound fun, even if the workshop involves performing a lot of labor activities.

Some suggestions-you are probably doing them already, but they need to be spelled out
Describe how much time in the classroom? Training on specific skills?
Welcome party?
Victory BBQ at the end?
What are the takeaways?

It all sounds conflicted. Hitting the pause button to discern whether you really want to do education and hospitality stuff at that level sounds like a good idea. You might not want to do the work to attract that segment of customer, but they are the easiest ones to find with money to spend on recreational learning.

PS, I'm with you on the start-up burn-out. This summer might be the end of me too.
 
D. Logan
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I am poor enough right now that I couldn't even afford to use my free ticket to PV and had to gift it to someone else instead. It has been my experience that the vast majority of people who are most interested in the sorts of things the workshops are about don't have a lot of disposable income. With the cost of travel on top of anything else, it becomes very difficult to take the course even if you can get the time away from work and afford the class itself. As Ann points out, there are a lot more considerations than just deciding if you like the class and can afford it by itself. Affording the class is just step 1. Unfortunate, but true.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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I'm not likely to go to Montana during the growing season and even less likely to go to Montana during the winter!

I would probably be interested in "How To" videos like How to Make a WOFATI Freezer but more likely if it was just a how to and not a video of a workshop.
 
Will Scoggins
Posts: 62
Location: Northeast Arkansas
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I think having food served from on-site would be a big draw. While the location is "remote" for many people, I think you would broaden the target market if people not only got to do work and learn, but at the end of the day could eat a meal proudly proclaimed to be as close to toxin free as anywhere in the country (i.e. all from Paul's land, with his Über-strict stance on gick) .

Maybe start with workshops to put food systems in place then change gradually to a more of a "resort" type workshop, to the point you could host a "workshop" of forbes 500 people, who are there for the food, ambiance, and experience. You might even be able to wring a little work out of them by making it part of an "authentic experience".

The time cost is the biggest factor for me, not sure if I'll be able to make any workshops in next decade. But wanted to put an idea in the hat.
 
Matu Collins
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Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I'm flat out hard workin here putting in our own systems. We have a house so we're not looking into wofati. RMH is not legal here so, much as I'd like to, were not looking into that here yet. I almost never watch things on DVD anyway.

Any extra cash we have is going right back into the homestead.

I hardly go to town, never mind an airport!

I had been planning a couple of big workshops this summer but decided to scale back the educational side and focus on really getting good systems, gardens and community/volunteer connections going. Plus my husband is running for town council! So we've got a full house of wwoofers and that is working right now. We're focusing on fun and efficiency and food production and aesthetics, like you said. I am practicing teaching by teaching the wwoofers and the volunteers, but in a casual and fun way. A's no money exchanged! No cash flow in but no headaches either.

Another big consideration for me would be kids. You're not set up fire kids there, I know. I've got kids and they pretty much are with me. If there was a way I could bring the kids for a safe fun time while I attended the workshop I could envision a road trip.


 
Julia Winter
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I think it's a good idea to concentrate on your systems there at wheaton laboratories. Get Tim and Kristie's wofati finished well before it gets cold again, plant trees, work on the food systems, keep building that community you have started. Maybe build an outdoor kitchen.

I wouldn't hold a workshop until there's something people are clamoring about. The RMH workshop was a Montana production of a successful traveling show, I believe. If there is some other big draw, a workshop should work, but I'm not sure what that would be. Sepp has decided not to leave Europe anymore, right? It's too bad, I'd love to see what happens with him and Tim in your trac-hoe in the Montana mountains! You really need a lake!!

Do your coolness, video document as much as you can, and then later you can certainly put together cool DVDs that bring together footage of the building process with more explanatory and educational stuff. Like, I wouldn't buy a DVD about a wofati freezer until the thing has made it through at least one summer and stayed cold (and I'd want some hard data about how cold it stayed and how hot it was outside). Many fine DVDs exist without any workshop element. I'd say they may be better without the workshop element.
 
Jerry Anderson
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My perspective. I am gaining a lot of knowledge by reading the forums, listening to the podcasts, etc. But, Permaculture is a "hobby" for me. That may sound bad but the reality is I live in an area where I cannot build a Wofati, raise chickens, create a berm, install a rocket mass heater, etc. I have roughly 1500 sq ft of outdoor space and I can only do so much "Permaculture". I am applying what I have learned as much as I can about being a sustainable, responsible member of the planet but that is all done in the context of my "space" and "options". I also have a career and a family. Spending the time and money on something "I" will likely never get any direct benefit from when I have so many other priorities in my life to choose from becomes a very easy decision. I live within an hour of the Permaculture Voices conference and I have money. However, I cannot justify thousands of dollars for any activity surrounding Permaculture or gardening period, (as much as I want to participate), when my entire goal for all of this is to be less impactful to the earth as well as to my bank account. I raise my own peppers because I want organic but also because I don't want to pay $3 for each one.

I greatly appreciate everything you have to offer in the way of information and opportunities and I do wish you the best but I feel that an "empire" is not built in a day. Pardon the pun but the growth of the empire should be "organic". When you consider people like Mark Shepard, Ben Falk, Geoff Lawton, Sepp Holzter, et. al. their "success" is measured in years and even decades.

I can envision an eco-tourism spin on your empire that involves more "instruction/information" and less manual labor. More B&B and less "roughing" it. More "here is a success and here is a failure" than "we have no idea how this is going to turn out but we are going to try anyway". Get your foundation in place. Establish your systems. Learn, develop and grow and I can see a lot of interest in traveling there. Get a stable setup and offer horseback riding along with tours of the property and projects and I would be very interested - the country is beautiful there. Build a new Hugelkulture bed every year and show the progression over the years. Get a garden established and offer organic meals. It may sound a bit like selling out - but there are sometimes compromises that need to be made.

Here is an example of a place near where I live. http://theecologycenter.org/

Please take all of this as constructive criticism. I think you are on your way - it is just going to take time.
 
Bob Jordan
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Lots of good comments!
I too want to praise Paul and team for the high quality information discussed and made available for sale and for free!

I'm in Texas so attending events is out, but
I would purchase access to online videos, about specific topics, accessible 24/7.

My suggested Topics 
for recorded video conferences for sale
:
Format: DIY Step by Step, with list of material, cost estimates, and show success using what was built
Suggested pricing: like $10 each or $15 for 3, $20 for 4, etc., accessible 24/7.

1. introduction to composting, 18 day (fast) method demonstrated with each step on video, like time captured so we can see what the compost looks like
2. How to start vermiculite, building a simple starter system, parts list, getting worms, and how to care for them.
3. How to start black soldier fly “composting”, building a simple starter system, parts list, getting worms, and how to care for them.
4. building your first rocket stove
5. building a permeant long lasting rocket stove
6. building your first rocket stove mass heater
7. building a permeant long lasting rocket stove mass heater, advertise your DVDs at end
8. building your first rocket stove hot water heater
9. building a permeant long lasting rocket stove hot water heater
10. building your first Solar water heater
11. building a permeant long lasting Solar water heater
12. Building a food dehydrator
13. How to make and work with cob
14. Building a cob rocket stove oven and cooking pizza on it
15. Introduction and detailed overview of Steve Heckeroth’s electric tractor, by Steve?? with link to website to learn more and get on email list to be kept current about it.
16. Introduction to filtering, purifying, and distilling water with demonstrations of each
17. How to build a small solar generating system on a dolly, using parts from Home Depot or similar national distributor
18. How to build a Medium size solar generating system on harbor freight 4x8 or similar trailer, using parts from Home Depot or similar national distributor
19. How to build a small solar power system, using a secondary battery in your turck, that charges off the alternator charging system in your truck, recommend inverter and output load.
20. What you need to know about drilling, or contracting to drill, a well. Shallow pumps, deep pumps, solar powered pumps, well caps, down hole tubing, filtration and making ready to use as potable water.
21. What you need to know to buy and install a Aero motor (any brand) wind mill water pumping system. System pieces and parts, costs, installation tips, etc.

Affiliate marketing:
Get an affiliate to do the presentation work in return for your providing the audience and a link to their dealership for parts, or for making them famous
Consider contacting equipment vendors with an outline of what you want the video to contain, have them prepare a power point to your outline, with pictures of their systems parts and activities, installation etc. Then interview them using the PowerPoint presentation and record video.

Hope this is useful!
Bob Jordan
 
Dan Boone
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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As for me, the entire economy of PDCs, workshops, conferences, DVDs, and kickstarters is simply beyond my reach. It's not a question of value, it's a matter of resources and opportunity cost. I'm on 40 acres of land and most of it lies fallow because my physical fitness level is low and my most expensive tool is a $100 battery chainsaw. If I had $3,000 to spend on the "growing stuff" project, I'd buy an ancient tractor; if I had $300, I'd buy a wood chipper; and the last time I had an extra $30, I bought a jujube tree. I pay garage sale prices for hand tools and pretty much everything I do is with salvage, junk, found plants, local biomass, and cheap seed packets. Buying soil, mulch, or fertilizer is out of the question; I make do with resources found on the land and moved around with $3.49 Walmart buckets and my $13.00 garage sale wheelbarrow. I "make do" with free information I can find on the internet, just as I "make do" with raked forest leaves and soil stolen from under deadfall logs. These are not necessarily inferior resources in either case; but they do require more effort on my part. I try to minimize worrying about the luxury information products and expensive bits of capital equipment I don't have; it makes more sense to focus on what I can do with the free information and hand tools that I *do* have. Rich people have brand new Kubota tractors and attend pricey conferences and workshops. May they build beautiful and bountiful systems to inspire us all! As for me, there's more information left on the internet for me to absorb than I can manage in a lifetime; so I figure I'll focus on that, at least until I've accumulated most off the physical tools I need.
 
Kevin Searcy
Posts: 27
Location: ST Albert AB Canada
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Enjoying all the info. Would have been to some of the workshops but the timing didn't work. I have to agree with the others that mention a food supply in place. I don't mind putting in time and labour for hands on learning and even paying to do it, but when I do a days work I need to have some fuel in the furnace? Reverse the roles and all would be getting fed as part of the planning if I was hosting. Speaking of which, please see the topic "Canadian permaculture opportunity"
 
Laura Emil
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Location: northeastern USA
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paul wheaton wrote:I think some of the workshops we offered were, indeed, local. But I think some of the workshops we put together were designed to be something for people to fly to.


i CERTAINLY NEED hands on training - and the courses are what i want to learn. BUT: IF i had the time (which i don't), and IF i had the money to travel (which i don't), i'd still struggle with the carbon footprint of air travel. as i delve into saving the world by better managing my small corner of it, i do compromise on car travel sometimes (looking forward to heading to Polyface in a few weeks - a half day drive, and with a carload of friends...) but i haven't figured out how to justify flight (and haven't needed to since i have neither time nor money.) i DO wish your workshops (or clones thereof...) were in my 'local'...
 
Kris Minto
Posts: 137
Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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The first thing that came to mind was the lack of establishment at the Lab. If I am going to spend time and money I want to go and see something that is established (food forest, functioning swales and pond, vegetable garden, "green building" and so on) in order to be inspired and see in person how someone else has tackled various issues. I think that's partly why Geoff Lawton and sepp holzer attract a lot of people to their farm.

Thanks,
Kris
 
John Thames
Posts: 22
Location: Montana
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As someone who lives in Montana (Helena) but has family on the east coast I travel to, it is NO small deal to get a plane ticket into Montana. I've had to pay upwards of $850+ round trip. Hell I've drove to Spokane to fly out because it was easier. And the trips to the east coast literally take all day (from 6AM till 11PM is not unusual out of ATL). And then as others have suggested having to pay $50 a bag for extras like tents, sleeping bags, pillows, etc. it will get expensive quick without the cost of the workshop. Also, it seems to be a secret/hidden location and for people who might to look into hotels/motels for the area. I know you say the lab is "in Missoula" but I think you might mean Missoula county But in Montana lingo that could mean Fenchtown or Lolo or someplace in between or further. That could be a drive for people to and fro each day that may want to stay in a hotel and not knowing that info when traveling such a distance could turn people off.

For me personally, living in the "general" area, I've asked Sam before if I could schedule a weekend to come shake hands and help out doing whatever needed to be done for a weekend since I can easily drive there and pack supplies in my truck and I was told you really didn't want visitors (however, if you did to kick me off for some reason you wouldn't even need to drive me back to the airport!). This was before the gapper issues you were having earlier, too. I know you're horribly busy and probably don't want or need people stopping by to be a possible hindrance, but it would be nice if locals could come and see the happenings there.
 
Tyler Flaumitsch
Posts: 23
Location: Dawson City, Yukon
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Hey Paul, I know that the couple of days that I spent at the lab last summer was great. The time that I spent with you, your visiting friends, Jocelyn, Tim, Kristie, the kiddos, Jesse etc was wonderful as well. The projects that were on the go were basic needs at that point. Food and water (animals and well), Shelter (Tim and family were in the tent) and you were really wanting to get things going even greater both on the lab and in working towards global domination.

When we look at the people that have joined you at the lab and the amazing stuff that is going on there has been amazing progress!

I totally get the need to push things a bit when momentum is moving. Permaculture is moving! When someone does a search of the great weird and wonderful "inter-web" on permaculture today the amount of info and resources out there in the way of PDC's, etc is manifold and growing everyday. Compared to five years ago there is a veritable cornucopia of info. You, jack spirko, Geoff Lawton, sepp holzer, Ben Falk etc etc etc. This movement will not stop, it makes too much sense, and can be done on large or small scale and everything no matter how big or small makes a difference. The momentum is there, though somewhat glacial in speed.

I also understand community mobilization and systemic change, that is what I do. This is how things go with social movements and ideological change. Things typically move slowly at first and build up and up and up and then....the tipping point is hit and away things go. There are multiple tipping points; individual, familial, community, national, international and global. Permaculture is still slowly building and is a heavy load because of its importance and you and many are doing much to keep things moving.

Where I am going with this is:

- Getting to the lab for workshops is difficult at best, impossible/implausible for the majority of people,
- many, many people are hungry for info and experience, (as evidenced by the various cultivars of permaculture - ranging from Sepp to Purple)
- social and global movements need a multitude of grassroots folks spreading the word and encouraging others.
- In business, marketing is a necessity (not saying that you are not marketing permaculture)

So, you may want to consider spending some time with others in developing community starter strategies, these engagement strategies will eventually pay off for you, both financially and for the movement. If anyone wants to talk about this further PM me or maybe another thread...
 
Mike Paulus
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I have been wanting to come down from Whitefish and help out with things and attend workshops, particularly for rocket mass heaters. My issue is money. With my low income it's hard to put money aside for such things even though my travel costs would be quite low compared to some.
 
Julia Winter
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Money, money, money, money. MONEY!

I detect a theme here. . . . I'm getting flashbacks to 2012/early 2013 when we were trying to sell our permie themed house. There were plenty of people who LOVED the house, but none of them could afford it. The people who could afford the house, looked at the gardens and fruit trees and mushroom patch and chicken pen and said "what's all this crap?"

I'm told that the people who bought the house (for less than it was worth, because 3 apple trees, 2 pawpaw trees, a pie cherry tree, 2 dozen blueberries, complete geothermal HVAC etc etc are a liability, not an asset) just basically bulldozed everything and turned it back into (an acre of) lawn. Sigh.

For the past thirty years, the playing field has been tipped towards the big money interests. Company profits are at all time highs, wages are low. It takes two salaries to keep a family housed, if you're going for the typical American lifestyle. (See Mr Money Mustache's website for an alternative view. He is not a permie, but he's got some cool ideas about living larger with less.) No wonder everybody feels stressed and squeezed. If this was a time of low unemployment, where it's easy to find a job, maybe a better job than the one you have, people would be more likely to take a chance on time off for learning something cool, and they'd feel like their dream of getting their own place is worth pursuing.

I think your best bet is to pursue the cool things you want to do, and offer work-trade deals for people who want to come and help and learn. Video tape as much as you can (thus, people who come and take good video are also performing valuable work) and later on, the good bits can be made into really useful instructive videos.
 
Mark Krohn
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I'm a fairly new guy here so I hope this post is not taken badly

As a pilot I belong to one of the most well run volunteer organizations in the world (IMO) the Experimental Aircraft Association

every year the membership increases and every year the annual EAA Airventure (I still call it Oshkosh) gets bigger and better

This show is very largely set up by volunteer labor

The EAA has voluteer week-ends through out the year

I went and I repaired shower facilities, helped make transport trailers, painted, and generally had a great time. Breakfast lunch and dinner were on the house as well as clean 'bunk house' accommodations.

to a man (woman) people worked their collective asses off

It was fun (some of us might still recognize fun) we had the run of the place --the museum, the hangers where all the cool airplanes were, Paul Poberezny (Sr) (I sat in the cock pit of Paul's P51) came to our final nite dinner at a very nice restaurant and made sure he talked each of us.

But the EAA has been around since 1953 -- 61 years

What did this cost us volunteers -- nothing but transportation to Oshkosh

did we take away anything --- LOTS, memories, experiences, learning, (I learned to do a competent weld among other skills)

Did EAA gain anything -- you bet, Airventure would not happen without the volunteers

It is a model worth looking at


I agree with Julia Winter -- it's about money

I just ponied up a kilo buck for Geoff Lawton's PCD course (that was quite painful I might add, since I am on SSecurity @ 1651/month) but at least I get a certificate in the end that may pay for itself someday


Kilo buck at permies for a week ---- sorry just not worth it

Permies "send us a $100 and we'll talk to you about coming here to work your ass off"

EAA "we are glad your here, relax and enjoy"

One of these models flies, the other --- not so much....

 
kadence blevins
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I agree with lots of what is here and some i dont agree but i see the points.

Courses are very tough because people have to pay for thw course, pay to get there and back and varying food/lodging costs plus be able to get away from home for allotted time, meaning their job(s) and family and whatever systems they have setup at home that need care.

Some people are just so super into this that they work through all those issues and find a way to take any course they can make it to. Thats what paul is looking for. Problem is, is pauls courses what enough people will fight to make it to? And so far the answer to that seems to be "uh, nope.not currently"

To me reading all this it seems like everyone at the lab needsa breather from all the rushing and crazy etc of courses and getting things ready and prepped etc plus how are we gonna do all this "must do" stuff to get life at the lab rolling and running smoothly.
Take a break! My vote would be everyone count to ten, take adeep breath, and get things setup good so yall can be settled in good and have systems going/started/planned out. And after that people will be more interested in courses and also seeing all the systems in action and prep for new ones. Right now theres few systems and majority prep prep prep and plan plan plan, which is what people can get without the hassle just checkin in here on the forum.

As to the $100 and then we'll talk thing.... i think its a good idea. The lab is crazy busy and no one wants to sit around talkin to people all day like its a travel agency. ((Maybe this could be a minion job? Or possible future minion job?))
And i think alot of people dont realize that just like they are taking money and time and effort to go to the lab.. paul and everyone arent sittin around pickin boogers, and doing all they need to do plus take out time to talk to people about visiting, they are takin out time from feed the empire work or build the lab work to talk to you.
So i think its a good balance.
 
kadence blevins
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"" pay $100 to talk to us about coming to work your ass off""

Ya but if this is truely what people are groovin on the same page as paul then this is what they want to do. Like that saying "find the job you love and you'll never really work a day in your life". If this is what people are really wanting and liking then it will be a great experience for them to come out and get their hands dirty with others groovin on the same thing and probably learn alot and maybe share their own knowledge of certian things.
I feel like paul would pop in here with something like his "and i feel like if someone doesnt like that then STOP.LISTENING.TO.MY.DAM.PODCASTS."
just my thoughts though.
 
Cj Sloane
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pay $100 to talk to us about coming to work your ass off""


Yeah, this sounds worse than it is. You should call it an application fee. Universities charge this, & if you could still get rejected OR get accepted and pay $40K including room and board.

My son's application fee to culinary school was waived because he did the vocational program in high school & got a recommendation from the head chef in the high school program. Perhaps someone on the Dailyish Email List who is registered at permies (with appropriate name), who has listened to 75% of the podcasts and has, say, 4 apples could have the application fee waived?
 
Mike Paulus
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Cj Verde wrote:
Perhaps someone on the Dailyish Email List who is registered at permies (with appropriate name), who has listened to 75% of the podcasts and has, say, 4 apples could have the application fee waived?


I believe the fee was put in as a filter and compensation because some people were planning to come and asking for lots of support from Paul and others as to getting to Base Camp, changing flights and so on. Your method might serve the purpose of a filter but it doesn't compensate for time spent on seeking info, emailing back and forth, trips to the airport. I Know I'm pretty self sufficient so I was surprised to hear about those sorts of issues, perhaps you're the same so it wouldn't occur to you that some people expect the Missoula permies to wait on them, act as travel agent, and chauffeur. Requiring $100 also requires little to no time or effort to verify.
 
Dawn Hoff
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I live in Spain, I have a homestead, two small kids and a husband that works full time. I would love to go to you work shops - but I think that once I have the time and the money I wont need them any more I listen to all you pod-casts and I love following you journey - esp. since it is so much like our own sometimes, even if you are 1000x more experienced than us. But listening to pod-casts have come about because I rarely have time to sit down and read a book (still haven't finished the PDC manual even though I was supposed to participate in the read-along). I do think we will buy some of your videos eventually - but right now every cent goes to our homestead.
 
paul wheaton
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A lot of excellent feedback.

I am hoping to apply a lot of this information to the upcoming rocket mass heater workshop and innovators event.

I think one thing that we are struggling with right now is the commitment to provide 100% of all food that is organic or better - before all of our food systems are at 100%. In fact, I think that this year we might be lucky if our food systems provide 20% of the overall food for the year. And my logic is currently:

1) to do a permaculture food system right, you need a permie that will nurture a spot of land. Since these are dominantly perennial systems, for the system to be done well, that permie needs the ability to be there year round. So pooper/water/shelter comes before the food systems.

2) at basecamp we have shelter, but we have very little soil. So we need to bring soil to basecamp from the lab. We have gone to ridiculous expense and work to make this happen, and we have been waiting for months for equipment repairs. We are now working on getting those repairs done somewhere else.

Back to the food: buying the food has been very expensive. Food prep and cleanup has been a big thing too. We've been to workshops where the meals were seriously weak (non-organic food, and extremely cheap, serious lack of meats) - and we don't want that.

We've also been to workshops where people would poop in a chemical porta-potty. That doesn't seem very permaculture to me.

And a lot of the workshops I've been to have been taught by people that barely know anything on the topic. But they will charge $200 per day - and fill the class. We've done several workshops this year for free (people brought their own food). And we've offered some workshops where we charged - and brought in the experts.

Cashflow: we've had two very large expenses this year that were unforseen. That wiped out all the cash. On top of that, there is the food for everybody whether the workshops are going or not. Then we are burning through tools at an alarming rate. Plus materials cost. And the never ending equipment repair. And then instructors need to be paid.

There is a lot of excellent content in Ann's post, above. And for all of that there is a huge expense which no workshop critic ever thinks of: if you don't make a first class web page for the workshop, people just don't wanna go. I agree that i have been to events where there would be a welcome party at the beginning and near the end. Very cool. And it does seem like that sort of thing is just what would make for a very good workshop. And the fact that I have zero interest in setting something like that up, is proof that I am not the person to set up workshops. I don't mind showing up and making a feeble attempt to share what little I know - but there is a mountain of workshop details I don't want to fool with.


I would probably be interested in "How To" videos like How to Make a WOFATI Freezer but more likely if it was just a how to and not a video of a workshop.


Ten times more work, for 10% more income. In fact, the work to income ratio becomes so bad, that there is a really good chance that he final product won't be created at all.


More B&B and less "roughing" it.


That is years out.


Overall, I liked it when we did free workshops. We made is clear that it was an on-the-cheap thing. And it was tied into a need for labor on a permaculture project.

For the fee-based workshop, I suppose we just have to put these off until our food systems are in place.

The gapper program has turned out to be something with great promise. We have some people here that are passionate and talking about being long term residents. I feel like rather than facilitating workshops, it would be better to focus our efforts on gappers and deep roots people.


 
D. Logan
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Paul Wheaton wrote:And for all of that there is a huge expense which no workshop critic ever thinks of: if you don't make a first class web page for the workshop, people just don't wanna go.


You can probably get around this expense depending on what you are willing to do. Doubtlessly there are people here with experience building a website or two (I have built a few myself) and probably several who have legitimate training at webpage design. Those who do it without the training might be willing to do it just because you asked (which means you may have to accept that the building of the site is done more slowly than a professional could crank out) or those who are trained to do web design might be willing to crank out something very nice in record time (albeit probably on the condition of a discount on a future product or something). Heck, depending on what you needed I would say a lot of us would be willing to do it just for a free deck of cards or something if you wanted to make an offer at all.

It's worth considering at least as a way to get it out there. Assuming you provided pictures (which there seem to already be in abundance) and had a page for it, I would think it could be a win-win for everyone without any major expense.
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