Hi Rowe, it's Greg, from Switzerland. Nice to "see" you again, after our meetings in Valldaura and Portugal
We're now working with Angela in Nicaragua, and because life if so great, we started teaching PC a few weeks ago to a group of people that teach themselves to poor farmer's sons and daughter, about agriculture production. In 2 days we'll start with another group of young people, who are more interested in urban PC. We are very excited about this opportunity to give those classes, once a week. And we are very grateful to you for the confidence you gave us.
Now, here's my question, or reflexion. In developing countries, especially, there are projects that intend to bring information to poor people, any kind of information, but in my case we are speaking about organic agriculture, agroforestry and so on. The way it usually works is that people are (strongly) invited to come (if they don't they may be excluded from the project) and receive the class, and then lunch. I observed that many farmers sleep during the class, so I guess they come only for lunch, or for other benefits. My point is that a lot of resources is misused, because maybe only 30% of the attendance is really interested. Wouldn't it be better to use those resources to create a permaculture site where interested people can come anytime, free of charge, and receive any kind of information they'd like?
Angela and myself are considering creating such a site in Colombia, taking Sepp Holzer's model as example: a place where PC principles are applied, and where anyone can come, observe, ask. And of course we would be available if there is an interest by some people to learn PC during a few days. In that case we don't "force" anybody to learn, and the people that do come will be the motivated ones. The only problem I see is that maybe some poor farmers of remote places that might have interest may not been reached, as they may by an international development program, but I guess the problem can be turned into solution using appropriate communication methods.
We wish you all the best, keep healing our Planet and people, one site at the time!
Hello Greg and Angela It was like seeing a friend to see your name and to get your update. I remember you and your teaching very clearly and with great pleasure.
Hey, I recognise courses where people come for food and for some it is the FIRST holiday they have had in their lives. We always had courses of about 3-4 days and the first day was dedicated to sleeping and eating. We put on meals, we offered quiet, shady places to sleep then late in the first day we went through problem and expectations. This was utterly necessary or people were too tired.
I have always found people loved learning. However I'd ask considerable student participation and set a series of questions in my head - the NO 1 teaching technique - to establish what everyone knows. They are all interested in what their peers experiences are. Then I set the topics and build in as much practical as possible. No, not composting but Sector Analysis, outside doing water audits, soil sampling in jars, recording home gardens and what works and what doesn't. And asking about and learning design principles so they can think for many different situations.
Greg, you and Angela could do this well.
Ive had very bad experiences with developing sites, which I now partly see as NGO staff wanting to do it themselves. I know local people say "they have money", "they have time and tools" they do it their way. Then when foreigners leave it is taken over by the big drum, or the Party, or gets subverted. One beautiful model site was turned into a brothel!
Permaculture spread so fast when I invited District officials to attend a course and design their own land and then they had to teach villagers from their own personal site. When local people design and implement their own site - they are the teachers on model sites and you get fabulous feed back about income and new ideas. And of a course of about 20 people you have 20 newly design models. People are proud of them, and for our pride, actually they have more credibility than any foreigner.
No one has every been forced to learn in any course I have offered.
If you and Angela plan to live their all your lives and become part of the village then go for it. Some wonderful Portuguese did this in East Timor. A tiny bamboo house and garden in town and always outside talking to people about what they were doing and inviting people in but remember illiterate villagers are capable of learning the same good permaculture content as any highly schooled westerner, only the methods are different. I don't water down courses even if half the class is illiterate.
Please let me know how you go and you are a great time and good teachers so love and enjoy the privilege of being a premie teacher.
We are just back from the first day of the course we have with 12 young and motivated people, and what they enjoyed most were the methods: many group exercises, a lot of participation, all of this inspired by your teachings, and your fantastic teacher's guide. Thank you so much.