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PDC certificates, are they worth the price?

 
Tom Harner
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I asked this in a comment to a post, but this might be more appropriate as it's own post.

I am thoroughly sold on Permaculture and have been using some techniques, both analysis and "solution recipes" (My story). However, I am having a hard time justifying thousand(s) of dollars to take a PDC. I am currently trying to justify the geoff lawton PDC that is currently in enrollment. I have a few questions.

I have watched many, many hours of permaculture design videos online (including Geoff's promotional videos and free videos of other PDCs) and feel as though they all oversell their usefulness (as instructional videos). I would like some confirmation that this (or any) PDC course is not just more of the same. Are there DETAILS of HOW to perform this analysis/design?

How have you used this course since you completed it? Have you gotten a return on the investment (whether monetarily or otherwise)?

I am currently in the process of saving to purchase a tract of land (5-20 acres) to begin the homesteading process; if I drop a bunch of cash on a PDC, it will put me back a significant amount of time. I need to know that it is worth the time (to re-save the cash) & money.

Any/All feedback is appreciated.

I should make clear that I want to take a PDC, but am having difficulties with the cost/benefits analysis, in part because I am passionate about the topic.
 
Ann Torrence
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I think the answer lies almost entirely on your answers to two questions:

1) do you plan a career/business that will require the certificate?
2) how do you learn best?

I am of two minds, having just finished one online PDC, and having participated in the book study for the Permaculture Design Manual. Was the PDC experience worth it? It depends on what I do with it, I suppose.

But I learn best by reading, then testing my reading (getting feedback from others and my own analysis), then reading deeper. I teach adult learners in a wildly unrelated area, and I can tell you that only 1/4 to 1/3 of the population learns like me. The ones who land in my class are not preferential readers. They prefer social learning or more kinesthetic learning, and need a guide. I'm not smarter, I just know how to maximize my intake strategies and it usually isn't through videos and feedback from others until I'm fairly far into the process, then I'm hunting for details. I think the online courses are designed to meet the needs of the more aural and social listeners - they almost have to be to function as a product targeted to all kinds at once.

Doing the project, however, taught me much. And I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't enrolled, at least not to completeness. Will I ever sell a design to someone else? Probably not. Did I have one good idea in doing the design that might save 10x the cost of the class. Oh yeah...so in that respect it definitely paid.

Rather than say yes or no, let me repeat one of my favorite permie. com quotes from this thread about the Permaculture Design Manual:

Alder Burns wrote:Read this book, one time, cover to cover, and you will have achieved something that some of the people out there teaching....PDC's now.....and issuing certificates for the same.....have never done!!!


It's a hundred bucks, still an investment, but not dream-delaying. If you are a reading learner, you might start there.
 
Morgan Louis
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I just signed up for Geoff's online PDC a few days ago. I'm in the same boat as you, i've read a stack of books, watched hours and hours of videos and spend a lot of my spare time researching permaculture. I feel like getting the certificate will legitimize my learning and show any future employers/clients that I'm serious enough about this field to invest in myself.

The online thing is cheaper than going to many 'in person' 72 hour courses.

To answer your question about it being "more of the same". I think yes and no. There is going to be some overlap with the videos we've watched. But he provides so many videos that you just can't find online for free. I'm hoping the videos address technical aspects that I'm having trouble finding out in the wild web.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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Hi I had the same dilema last year, when the odc online of Lawton opened for enrollment. I didn't have the money but could have found it. I waited till this year. I have read so many books, watched all the possible video's in this year. What made me decide to take the PDC? well the fact that with a PDC all becomes more clear, that there is a logic to the functioning of the whole design system. I sometimes skip pieces of books, chapters I'm maybe less interested in, I have my land and jump form one interest to another, now it's trees, then living fences, etc. all ok but I can't grasp the method in applicating the design from A to Z
I hope the PDC will give me this, and I don't think it's the same if you do a PDC online or by person. I think it's very different, but I had to start from one point. First I have children and can't leave for 12 days, nor leave every weekend for three months, I wantd to have the possibility to take the PDC with someone that gave me certainty that it was going to be a valuable course.
A friend of mine that I got to know last year, told me the online pdc was for him one of his best formative moments, of course he could have done only that in his life, but I believed him. I've been doing my first week in the course and still can't tell you if it is going to be great, o, or what, for now it's a sensation, and for now it's good.
Will I teach afterwards no, maybe sometime, who knows, For now I want to design my piece of land, even to show what permaculture can do.
You think about the fact you can enroll and then have the thirty day trial.
 
Simon Johnson
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Lorenzo Costa wrote:You think about the fact you can enroll and then have the thirty day trial.


This is a good point. A decent amount of material gets covered in the first 30 days and you could decide if it was something you wanted to continue with in that time.
 
Dan Boone
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Tom Harner wrote:
I am currently in the process of saving to purchase a tract of land (5-20 acres) to begin the homesteading process; if I drop a bunch of cash on a PDC, it will put me back a significant amount of time. I need to know that it is worth the time (to re-save the cash) & money.


I think this is a key consideration.

Thing about the things you want to accomplish with permaculture. Then, once you've got them in your head, ask yourself:

1) How many of them can you get started on without having taken a PDC?

Then ask yourself:

2) How many of them can you get started on without land?

The answers will vary depending on your goals and personality. Some people can't bear to start a project until they have planned it to perfection. They would feel devastated by the consequences of early mistakes. Other people are more "jump in and go, learn by doing, mistakes happen" types of people.

For me, though, it all boils down to trees. Trees take time. The best time to plant trees is twenty years ago, or last year, or if your past self has failed you, now. Never "next year". If taking a PDC promised to turn my "now" into "next year" or my "next year" into "someday", it would be the wrong call for me.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I've taken two PDCs - a local one and Geoffs online one. The thing about permaculture is that there's always a deeper level to explore. My local pdc in 2007 got me experimenting in my own backyard. Geoff's online pdc (2013 - the inaugural class) was freakishly amazing. He clarified so many things that I'd either experienced first hand and hadn't quite worked out for myself - OR - I'd read them and wondered how to apply them to my situation (answer - not all permaculture techniques are appropriate to all climates or settings - i.e. herb spirals and hugelkulture are NOT for hot drylands like where I live - they tend to turn into "spirals of death" and "burial mounds").

I think two of the best things that I got out of both pdcs was:
--the synthesizing of the ideas of permaculture and how to apply them
--the comparison of climates really brought home how different techniques should be applied to different climates - it's not one size fits all.

Am I using it? Yes - for both my own personal property as well as for teaching and developing designs for others. My main focus is urban permaculture - and we have to change policy in order to do some things on a larger scale - I'm in an advanced PDC right now to learn how to do this. Plus I actually am doing it by volunteering with an established water harvesting group in Tucson. I find these things incredibly empowering.
 
elle sagenev
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I've been thinking about this too so I'm so glad you wrote this. I'd love to take the online PDC but I'm so limited on time. I have 2 toddlers so I would never be able to take an in person PDC, online would be it. I just work full time so I'm so pressed for time. Maybe in the future... Right now I'm just experimenting and seeing what happens.
 
Peter Ellis
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Tom Harner wrote:I asked this in a comment to a post, but this might be more appropriate as it's own post.

I am thoroughly sold on Permaculture and have been using some techniques, both analysis and "solution recipes" (My story). However, I am having a hard time justifying thousand(s) of dollars to take a PDC. I am currently trying to justify the Geoff Lawton PDC that is currently in enrollment. I have a few questions.

I have watched many, many hours of permaculture design videos online (including Geoff's promotional videos and free videos of other PDCs) and feel as though they all oversell their usefulness (as instructional videos). I would like some confirmation that this (or any) PDC course is not just more of the same. Are there DETAILS of HOW to perform this analysis/design?

How have you used this course since you completed it? Have you gotten a return on the investment (whether monetarily or otherwise)?

I am currently in the process of saving to purchase a tract of land (5-20 acres) to begin the homesteading process; if I drop a bunch of cash on a PDC, it will put me back a significant amount of time. I need to know that it is worth the time (to re-save the cash) & money.

Any/All feedback is appreciated.

I should make clear that I want to take a PDC, but am having difficulties with the cost/benefits analysis, in part because I am passionate about the topic.


I want to take Geoff's online PDC, but it won't happen this year. This year has too many other balls in the air. Like you, I watch loads of videos, I am also collecting books and doing lots of reading. Mollison's Design Manual is coming up soon (birthday present) and I am pretty good at getting substance from reading.

I think that PDC's vary widely and I want one with solid and recognizably useful information. I think Lawton has excellent credentials in this direction. But will any of them teach you the details of how to analyze a site and create a design?

I think part of that depends on what you mean by details. The entire concept of permaculture is a broadscale sort of thing that looks at a holistic approach, sees a specific location within its broader setting and works, as they say, from patterns to details.

So, what are the details of looking at the big picture and recognizing patterns and how they are impacting the specific property? What are the details of working from those patterns progressively downward into smaller and smaller details, into techniques and elements? I think that is all about observation. It certainly helps to have an awareness of the things you need to observe. For example, if you don't think of wind as being something that impacts the property, you won't make observations about it. So perhaps one of the useful details is a sort of checklist of the things that need to be considered.

That checklist is probably heirarchical, starting at the broadest level with climate/environment characteristics. Elevation, slope, temperature ranges, wind, water, sun, length of growing season, fire, human activity. What that level looks like will impact which checklist comes up next as you dig down into smaller details.

In my approach, this comes to a sort of flow chart approach, starting from the broadest view and working downward, step by step (it occurs to me that this looks like a dendritic pattern if you draw it out), ad at the bottom of each of these branches are individual elements/techniques, on the scale of exactly what bedding for my chickens.

But it isn't just a top down pattern, because exactly what I use for bedding with my chickens is going to have a cross link to what kinds of things I have available on my specific piece of land. If there is lots of sand, perhaps sand makes a good bedding option, and I might take a supply of sand by digging a duck pond. Or I might have loads of grasses to cut and use as straw bedding - which also gives the chickens some food source. So that final step of what bedding I use for my chickens is cross linked into other aspects of the system.

That process of integration, step by step from the top down choosing options and considering their interrelationships (resulting in stacking of functions), to me this is permaculture design.

And then, if you do not have a tremendous breadth of knowledge about how the various necessary processes in the system can be fulfilled, you will miss options for interconnecting the systems that can make them more efficient and improve their resilience, their regenerative capacity. And no PDC is going to teach anyone the breadth of knowledge across the innumerable systems that come into play.

Long rambling response, sorry I do not think a PDC is "worth it" unless part of your plan for the future is to offer Permaculture design services and/or teach Permaculture. I think it is entirely possible to acquire sufficient understanding to do my own homestead design without ever getting a certificate that says I have been trained in Permaculture Design. That is my perception, for me. It may not be appropriate for a person with a different background and/or a different way of learning.
 
elle sagenev
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Didn't Paul say in one of his first podcasts that you aren't allowed to use the word "Permaculture" unless you have taken a PDC?? Is this true
 
Landon Sunrich
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I use the word permaculture, wait for it..., all the time... And I have never taken a PDC. In fact I've walked right past PDCs which didn't look to be worth it in the least! However, there are defiantly some teachers out there who I'd do anything necessary probably including lying, cheating, and sneaking, and bankrupting myself to be able to get even a bare weekend of tutelage out of them. Does that help at all? I don't know what the 'official rules' are. Are there official rules? Frankly my permies, I don't give a damn. Cause I'll just call myself a damn gardener if that's what's up. So I guess it all comes down to that most classic of answers are "PDC certificates worth the price" IT DEPENDS. It will depend on you, your teacher, and how you apply what you've learned.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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so many things to say. anyone can use the word permaculture but you can teach permaculture unless you have a PDC. this opens all another set of thoughts on what teachers are capable to teach, really do we think after the pdc online one can teach??! come on
lets be serious, and I think all of us are on permaculture. we all want to substantially try something for ourselves and gain confidence and then maybe teach, or build a site that may be of inspiration for visits or hosting pdc's, you don't have necessarily teach.
here it comes to how to choose a PDC. I think we have to decide what we are looking for. I mean if it is only about designing your spot, ok one can even just take the book written from Aranya, I can't recall the title now sorry, and try from that. it's based on a precise checklist one has to follow...
but its not al there, I maybe solid block but i read it once a year ago and could not do a thorough design after reading the book. to many things slip away. And here we get to why I think Lawtons PDC is great. it's not about the small details in which he said he's going to focus on during the course, its about the big picture, why design, and how to design.
I could have taken any PDC here in Italy but I don't know really good teachers maybe I'm wrong but for now lifewise issues and quality I decided to take Lwtons course.
I can tell you that my firend that did the pdc in 2013 wrote to Lawton afterwards explaining that he had done some revisioning of the project he had submitted at the end of the pdc, and Geoff asked info and wanted to know what had changed. he was very interested even afterwards. My firend was impressed I mean he probably has so many people writing to him but he has time to try to focus on every student he has had.
I don't want to convince anyone but you get a lot from this course, there is even all the interaction, its like a social media you have forums, etc.
don't know o waited one year to be ready but I'm glad I decided this year
 
Joel Holmes
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I began working on my 50 acres almost 2 years ago and at that point started really digging into online material. There is a ton of good info available for free or low cost in books but it's all piecemeal. A plan to pull all the tidbits together is what I really needed. I kind of kick myself for not taking the Geoff Lawton course last year as it would have directed me to do things different. I started the 2015 course this weekend and am already making plans to re-do my road placement to follow contour more productively. Please keep in mind that between fuel and equipment rental I spent almost $8000 to put the roads in and another $1500 to maintain them after the first years monsoon storms.

As someone who is in "the thick of it" I can easily see the value in spending 3 months and $1000 to formulate a solid plan. I have no doubts the end result will be better and I will save the cost of admission several times over.

 
Jay Grace
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Me personnally, I'll pass on a PDC. Unless it was an in person one with Geoff Lawton or sepp holzer (but I would only do that if I became fluent in Sepp's native tongue.)

I have a few of Bill Mollisons books, sepp holzer, and one from Toby Hemingway.

I've asked a few people who have taught a PDC to show their work. Show large scale stuff that they have done. More than a few did not have any actual pictures of places they have done. But instead showed either some 3D computer models of stuff they drew up or paper versions of the same thing.

I can draw circles on a map just as good as the next guy. That sorta stuff doesn't impress me. Neither does a rain barrel on your gutter and craming 3 or 4 acres worth of plants into 1/4 acre and calling it permaculture.

But I'm just negative sometimes and seeing things with my own eyes carries a heck of a lot more weight than some talk.
 
brad millar
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As someone who is in "the thick of it" I can easily see the value in spending 3 months and $1000 to formulate a solid plan. I have no doubts the end result will be better and I will save the cost of admission several times over.


This is the reason I took Geoff's online PDC last year. Was it worth $1,000? For me, yes. I bought 17 acres in Idaho last year and didn't want to start off on the wrong foot. I live in California now and have a small plot that I started to design before taking the course. After taking the course I see things I wish I hadn't done to that plot. Were they type one error's? No, but I would have done things differently if I'd had the knowledge I gained by taking the course.

Jack had a good opion of what PDC does/is on a recent podcast. Jump ahead to 1:00:36

jack on pdc
 
Matu Collins
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Landon Sunrich wrote:So I guess it all comes down to that most classic of answers are "PDC certificates worth the price" IT DEPENDS. It will depend on you, your teacher, and how you apply what you've learned.


Landon has a good point here, it depends!

If a person is planning to sink money/time into a property/trees/landscaping etc, a PDC can save money/time. A quality PDC from a great teacher would be worth it!

If a person has plenty of money/time and just wants to see what Permaculture has to offer, a PDC could be entertaining and informative. Worth it!

I haven't got the money or time now (Like elle I've got little ones running around) so I've been taking in permaculture learning through extensive reading, especially Mollison's book, and lots of time reading permies.com, and lots of time observing and experimenting on my own tiny farm. There is a wealth of info here, so if you're not sure you want to commit to aPDC there's always the option of waiting and committing instead to being a really great member of this free community Ask questions, read widely, try projects and tell us about them! Then, when you feel like you want the next step, spend the money.
 
Tom Harner
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I love the various views. Keep them coming!

Ann Torrence, That is great quote you referenced!
Alder Burns wrote:Read this book, one time, cover to cover, and you will have achieved something that some of the people out there teaching....PDC's now.....and issuing certificates for the same.....have never done!!!

I hope to buy that book just as soon as I make it through the mountain of books my lovely wife bought me for Christmas. It could be a while.

Lorenzo/Simon, I like the idea of using the warranty as insurance...

Dan Boone, I find that your comment argues more for taking the PDC than against it. It might take 20 years to get the trees to grow (21 if I have to postpone a year), but if I put my trees in the wrong location due to ignorance, I either have to live with my mistakes or replant, costing money and another few years or so. Anyways, I am learning that I'm becoming one of those people that "can't bear to start a project until they have planned it to perfection"... setbacks at work and my own little garden have taught me that virtue.

Elle Sagenev, you aren't allowed to make money off (to what degree I don't know) of the word permaculture unless you have completed a PDC.

Joel Holmes, $1,500 > $1,000 for the course. This is the type of detail I was hoping for!

Jay, I get where you are coming from. The proof is in the pudding. This is why I am itching to take Geoff's course. If you have never seen his work, take a look at "Greening the desert".

Brad, Jack has that great, no-nonsense attitude about permaculture. None of this designing a new world where we hug out our problems... his analysis is very helpful, thanks for the link.

Matu, What you did there... I see it.
 
Tom Harner
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ok, so I decided to go ahead and fork out the cash... I will try to use this space as a review of the course from the perspective that I have laid out (is it worth the money?) for posterity.

I have since taken the first 2 weeks of Geoff Lawton's Online PDC with my wife and daughter (I love homeschooling).

So far my wife and I have not really learned much more than we already learned from online research. However, I have led training courses in the past and recognize that these two weeks are the Introduction and Concepts (both in name and function) intended for acclimating the students that have never hear of Permaculture before. These weeks are to get all students onto the same page of the same book. It appears as though the course is ramping up to be more worthwhile next week... we will see.

That is not to say that we have learned nothing... There is all kinds of useful information we have gleaned including different ways of looking at the world around us, e.g. feeding slugs to ducks is the same as converting a problem (slugs) into a solution or product (duck eggs & meat).

I do not feel as though I have gotten my money's worth...yet.

I will keep you informed.
 
Laura Sweany
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One more opinion for your collection!

I took my first PDC in 2003, after studying for about 2 years. Mine was a residential 10-day course in my own bioregion. It was hugely mind-expanding, mostly because of the residential aspect: I lived and breathed permaculture, and it soaked into my bones. It re-wired my brain in fundamental ways that I don't think would be possible with a non-residential session. I'm a reading learner, but things don't really stick till I get hands-on practice, and I believe it is VERY IMPORTANT to take a course that offers hands-on practice. There are many teachers that are well-versed in theory, but their practical application is limited. Not optimal.

I decided to become a professional teacher and designer, and followed the American guidelines as acknowledged by Michael "Skeeter" Pilarski: take a PDC, practice and call yourself an "intern" to the subject for two full years, then complete 1 public design/project as a volunteer. After this sequence, you can use the term "permaculture" professionally to describe your work, and charge as a professional would. I know there are several organizations that are currently trying to bring more structure and rigor to the certification conversation, but as far as I can tell, this is still the standard in the US.

I've gone on to audit 2 more PDCs as support staff, and was a co-teacher for a course in 2009. I've attended several additional permie-oriented workshops on specific topics, created site designs for about a dozen clients, designed a public food forest here in Seattle, and worked as core administration on 3 convergences. Even after all these years, I still learn loads about new aspects of the practice: as a lifelong urban dweller I have tons of experience with urban and suburban strategies, but now I'm studying more broadacre techniques in anticipation of my purchase of property outside of a city.

The bottom line: I'm glad you are taking Geoff's course. Be open to auditing another, (perhaps as work/trade to keep down costs?), especially if it's a residential course in your bioregion. Keep up the reading, and try not to allow yourself to get locked up in your planning perfection. PRACTICING is your best learning strategy, because you will see how real world differs from the books or your ideas. "Plan for failure"; then you get the experience of trying "The problem is the solution". Finally, as I have grown in my practice of permaculture, I've come to understand the fundamental importance of identifying invisible structures. You can understand discreet systems all you like, but it's the invisible structure relationships of things like landowners to permitting, salvagers to hoarders, homesteading spouses to their city-fied partners, that make or break a satisfying permaculture life. In my experience, personal reading doesn't touch on this topic in the way a PDC from an experienced teaching staff will. Good luck on your journey!
 
Tom Harner
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...take a PDC, practice and call yourself an "intern" to the subject for two full years, then complete 1 public design/project as a volunteer. After this sequence, you can use the term "permaculture" professionally to describe your work, and charge as a professional would.


I have never heard of this... I like it.

Tell me more about these "invisible structures". Can you define that term? or provide a link?
 
Laura Sweany
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Tell me more about these "invisible structures". Can you define that term? or provide a link?


Invisible structures are the social constructs of permaculture. It's also been defined as: "the intangible elements necessary for the healthy functioning of a system". LETS (Local Economic Trading Systems), barter, work/trade, time banks would all be examples of financial invisible structures. intentional community, nuclear family, extended family, co-op, cohousing would all be examples of habitation invisible structures. Democracy, Sociocracy, Plutocracy, Autocracy would be examples of governance invisible structures. Here is a website www.peoplepattern.org that has some interesting basic explorations of invisible structures.

Since I've been an organizer and teacher of permaculture in city environments, I've run up against lots of examples of how people can get along (or not) while visioning projects, implementing designs, organizing workshops, PDCs and conferences, and trying to live together. We as permaculturists tend to be thinking about our various specialties and how they interact in the landscape, but not so much about how we interact as individuals and part of a common community. Not to get too touchy-feely here, but many longtime permies tend to be aggressive, iconoclastic "pioneer species" kind of people. Real nitrogen fixers. They can bowl over or dismiss some of the slower, more methodical folks (soil stabilizers, in my guild analogy). I've seen this lead to competition and contention when that was unnecessary. The only place I've ever even seen this concept mentioned is in a PDC - and it can be expressed overtly in how the final group design process unfolds in the PDC itself. The best teachers will use this to their advantage.
 
Tom Harner
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hmmm,

That is an interesting way to classify relationships. I will keep my eye out for them now.

A casual glance at that link has already been quite enlightening... I certainly will be reading into this topic more.

Thanks!
 
Tom Harner
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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We have finished 2 more weeks (Methods & Patterns).

The Methods can all be easily found with a google search. They are incredibly simple... perhaps deceptively so. The value in this week was in the thread linking the various methods (Element analysis, Zones, Sectors, random assembly & observation).


Patterns, however, appears to be the real tipping point. This is where our minds began to be blown... I don't know how to describe it yet, but the explanations of patterns and edge will change the way we perceive our environment probably for the rest of our lives.

Since the purpose of this post is to determine the value of the course.... Is it worth the money so far? ... Maybe. The patterning/edge section might pay for the course over time if we find profitable situations to put that knowledge/understanding into use.
 
Tom Harner
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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I have been remiss in my obligation to provide updates...

The lecture time is over, all that remains is the final design exercise... I can honestly say now that the course was worth the money for me...

As I have begun the design exercise, I am realizing how much more I understand the way relationships between elements (different people, animals, structures, plants, earthworks, nature, etc) truely define ... well, everything. I don't mean that is a mystical kind of way. For example, your parents are "your parents" entirely because of their relationship to you. Really, every other element is defined in the same way. This means that we can redefine any element simply by adjusting the relationships between elements, e.g. your parents might be each other's spouse. This may not be the best example, but the point is that the identity of the elements in the system is only as important as the quality of relationships they have with one another... and that understanding was worth the price of the course. By no means was this the limit of my education via this course, but possibly the best summary I am able to conjure.

Also in this design exercise, I am becoming comfortable in my ability to analyse a piece of land and see the "mainframe" potential. That is one thing i realy admire about Geoff's class... I don't know if other instructors emphasize this, but he really shows how to think from a framework mindset... with less emphasis on the details, even though most people want details, myself included. After finishing this course, I really appreciate this "framework mindset". I forsee the usefulness of walking onto a property and being able to immediately say "ok ponds go here, here, and here... roads/paths go here, here, and here... now, here are the possible building sites... and, we just need to fill in the details in between." The same structural planning is used throughout... rebuilding forests: 'what are the most important species when the forest is mature? what are the required support species to get it there? fill in the understory. now fill in the shrubs... etc'

Its important to note that while the course was going on, I didn't see the 'forest of understanding' that I was learning; all I saw at the time was that I was learning about (a sampling of) various 'trees of knowledge'. I knew I learned a lot, but it is only now that I am putting it all to use do I truely appreciate the lesson and the skill with which it was given.

Again, I don't mean for any of the above to sound mystic... its just not the easiest subject to describe in words. I have recently been reminded of Plato's Allgory of the Cave and have to say that this often rings very true to the topic of permaculture.
 
Tom Harner
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If anyone wishes to take a Geoff Lawton permaculture design course and would like my opinion, or to bounce some quentions off of me. I will gladly respond to PM's or this thread.
 
Kate Muller
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Location: New Hampshire
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My husband and I took Whole Systems Design PDC in 2013 just before we started shopping for our current house. It was expensive but I found it to be really useful when evaluating a property to buy. It helped us sort out what we needed from what we think we should buy. In that respect we saved money because we realized we didn't need a big house, a large barn and 10 acres for what we wanted to do. We bought a ranch house with a shed on 2.5 acres with a east/south east solar aspect, zoned agricultural and 15 minutes outside a small city.

I learn best with hands on instruction and other people to bounce ideas off of and WSDPDC was full of hands on work shops that really opened my eyes to what is possible with permaculture. The course is conducted on 2 properties. The first half is on a 10 acre homestead that has been developed over the last 10 years. The second half is on a 125 acre property that is now in it's 3rd year of development. Seeing different scale projects at different development rates

It also helped get us in the mindset of finding ways to do things with less physical stuff. We realized we could do so much with appropriate hand tools and the periodic rental on a smaller piece of property. We did some evaluation on what we really wanted to do and how much we really wanted to take on before we went shopping for a property. Location, solar aspect, zoning, wet land restrictions, type of structures, and condition of the land were much easier to evaluate after the PDC.
 
brad millar
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Tom, I'm glad you enjoyed the course. I knew you would. As much book learning, youtube videos and permies.com reading you do, taking a course like this truely does put it all together.
 
Tom Harner
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Yea, more than once I thought of that jack spirko podcast you linked above. He was definitely onto something when he claimed that a PDC is well suited to those students that have already collected a bunch of "permaculture" knowledge... Compared to my wife and daughter, I spent less time focused on learning the techniques than on changing my thought patterns. I believe this to be because I had already learned many of the techniques.

The more I think about it, the more I like the 'Forest for the trees' analogy. Many of us tend to focus on the details do much that we fail/refuse to see the bigger middle picture. We either focus on the details, or the other extreme. By having the details out of the way, and buying into the bigger picture (permaculture is good et.al.), the student is better able to assimilate the more elusive lessons via the PDC.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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