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Podcast 308 - Interview With Diana Leafe Christian Part 3  RSS feed

 
Cassie Langstraat
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Summary

Credit: Cassie Langstraat

Paul starts off by talking about an expression he think applies to the non-violent communication discussion. Someone once told him that "church is not a showcase for saints, but a hospital for sinners" and he compares this to school of non violent communication because people who are coming to it are definitely not good at communication.

Diana makes the point that it is always better that we try to get better at it than to not try. She compares it to learning permaculture. It is better to try and stumble through it, even if you mess it up sometimes, at least you are learning.

Paul talks about how he wants to facilitate 20 different visionaries, he wants to have across pollination of brilliance, he wants to see permaculture move forward. These are the reasons why he cares about communication. Diana discusses the differences in the way Paul is choosing to do his community with shared resources and shared infrastructure and she talks about certain methods of governance that work best for this. Basically, she uses design principles of permaculture and applies them to communities.

They go on to speak about consensus based methods and processes in communities. Diana talks about a few of the struggles of her community has had with blocking and the ways they use super majority now. She then talks about a thing she calls structural conflict which is when founders didn't put in fundamental structures or processes. It is a problem when nothing was established about their mission at the beginning of its creation.

Paul talks about reading a book Ecotopia and how influential it has been on him without him even realizing it. He then moves into talking about their kitchen problems and how Paul has to hear everyone out about their problems because that is the way his community design works. He talks about the kitchen commander or level 9 mom that he sort of assumed their community would have by now. He feels like he has accomplished less because they assumed they would have that person here and they don't.

Next Diana elaborates on what she calls nomadic youth. These are simply young people who visit multiple communities and after being there for a while they leave because they go off to other adventures and you can't be mad at them so she proposes work exchange programs. You provide their food and housing and they provide you with labor. This leads them into talking about Paul's gappers and all sorts of stories with them.

Diana speaks to the importance of having some sort of rigorous application process and then sign a contract with clear expectations of both the community and the work exchanger. Diana notes that people don't realize it but implementing permaculture design is hard, heavy, dirty work and so they need to be told that up front. They finish up this podcast by talking about the Bullock brothers farm, a kitchen manager work exchanger, and why Paul doesn't like contracts.

Relevant Threads

2015: Gappers, Tours, and Pebbles
“Check and Balance” Decision-Making Methods
Dynamic Governance


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Maura Will
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I enjoyed the interview with Diana. Thanks. Paul, I understand why you want to hire a super-mom to fix all the kitchen woes, but unless she drops in very soon here is another possibility to consider. If it is true that most of the people in the group are there to learn a wide variety of skills, then why not solve the kitchen dilemma with job sharing volunteers. You can experiment with this over the winter when you don't have the intensity of feeding workshop customers who have high expectations for meals.

Think of small overlapping circles of responsibility. Cooking is the biggie and should probably be split over several people. Split the week or split the day. Whoever does breakfast and lunch should probably not cook dinner, unless lunch is your big meal of the day (which is much healthier).

Shopping/food ordering and pickup comprise a separate job. The cook can make a list, but someone else has to pick it up and there are always decisions to be made at that point (substitutions, grabbing great sales, etc.) The shopper serves the cook(s) but must also make good decisions in the store.

Cleanup should be a rotating job in some way. Split the week or the meals of a day. Cooks rinse pots and tools after use. Other than that they do not do clean up.

Meal planning stems comes from (1) whatever type of diet the group decides it wants. (2) availability/seasonality (3) preferences and repertoire of the cook (4) feedback loop from the crew.

Finally, once you have a workable food prep system worked out with store-bought food, the next step is to build/evolve your local food production system. This is, of course, a vast endeavor, thus I shall only discuss the first step. Establish a small greenhouse close to the food prep area to provide fresh produce. Ideally, this would be a grow-hole, walipini-style, semi-underground structure, facing south with irrigation water from the kitchen greywater. Soil building could be a accomplished with native soil (possibly rough screened), sawdust and wood ash. Kitchen waste or manure from the animals that consume the kitchen waste should be used to make compost (tea). The goal of the kitchen greenhouse is year round greens and herbs supplied straight to the kitchen. Eventually, you can set up a slop sink for rinsing veggies in the greenhouse and return the rinse water immediately to the growing system. I would add that urine is a sterile source of urea nitrogen and might also be collected by providing a suitable spot to pee inside the warm greenhouse for anyone in the area. (Dilute 7: or 8:1)

It is amazing what you can grow with just a pile of straw bales with large windows leaning up against it on the south side. Just begin. Build a warm sunny spot where the deer can't get in. Start growing greens. Tomatoes, hanging strawberries, aquaponics, etc., etc. will follow once you are hooked on fresh raw organic greens. Ultimately, the abundance flowing out of your on-site food production drives the menu, then work flow and finally -- your dreams.
 
Sue Rine
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I have so enjoyed the podcasts with Diana, Paul. Her insightful comments about communication apply to many forms of relationship as well as communities. I also appreciate your honesty about the problems you're experiencing in your venture.
I'm not sure whether geoff lawton/ PRI includes kitchen duties but I know they have work areas which wwoofers and interns take responsibility for and for which there are detailed checklists of what the jobs entail. Could people be rotated on kitchen duties. Maybe they would be less inclined to leave snack detritus around if they knew their turn was coming to clean up after everyone else!
 
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