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Earth Activist Training: PDC course January 2017, Cazadero CA

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Earth Activist Training | Winter 2017

January 7 – January 21, 2017
Black Mountain Preserve, Cazadero, CA

Earth Activist Training is a 2-week intensive residential PDC course.
Cost: $1700 – $2200 US sliding scale. Includes lodging and fabulous meals. Work trade available, apply early.
Instructors: Starhawk and Charles Williams with assistant-teacher Pandora Thomas.
Register Now –

Learn how to heal soil and cleanse water, how to design human systems that mimic natural systems, using a minimum of energy and resources and creating real abundance and social justice. Learn how to read the landscape, design integrated systems, harvest water, drought-proof your land, build soil, sequester carbon, make compost and compost tea, biochar, and bioremediate toxins. Explore the solutions to climate change, and the strategies and organizing tools that can put them in place. EAT also focuses on the social permaculture: how do we organize ourselves, resolve conflicts, make decisions, work together effectively, and sustain our spirits.

Participatory, hands-on teaching with lots of practical projects, games, songs, and laughs along with an intensive curriculum in regenerative ecological design that earns a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC).

Earth Activist Training combines an internationally-recognized permaculture design certificate course with a grounding in spirit and a focus on organizing and activism. We teach interactively, not just through classroom presentation but through games, songs, ceremony, guided visualizations, design practice, field trips, and lots of practical, hands-on projects. Hands-on projects vary with weather and needs but may include mapping, water harvesting structures, graywater or roof catchment, compost, compost teas, sheet mulch, plant propagation, planting trees and shrubs, seed-starting, natural building—cob, straw-clay or plastering—and a collaborative design project. Our projects can be tailored to students of varied levels of physical ability and diverse ages and previous experience.

Who is the training for?

We firmly believe that everyone can benefit from learning the tools and insights of permaculture for earth regeneration. It’s not just about gardening: It’s about social design, public policy and survival strategies for these challenging times.

That said, our students include:

   Young people looking for a career in sustainability.
   People in mid-life looking for a new direction.
   Retirees wanting new fields to explore.
   Established professionals wanting to broaden and deepen their knowledge of sustainable alternatives.
   People who are starting, or members of, or interested in joining intentional communities, cohousing and eco-villages.
   Gardeners, farmers and ranchers.
   Green business entrepreneurs.
   Teachers, environmental educators, and youth workers.
   Workers in school gardens and community gardens.
   Architects and landscape designers.
   Artists, musicians, poets, writers and dancers.
   Community organizers.
   Activists from many movements, including environmental justice, food justice, global justice, anti-oppression, Transition Towns, Occupy, human rights workers, and others.
   Dreamers and visionaries.
   And more…

You can be any age, you don’t need to have previous experience with permaculture or horticulture, and we can accommodate a broad range of physical abilities or limitations. Please contact us at if you have specific needs you’d like to discuss.

Topic list:
We touch on all the topics below—some in more depth than others, obviously, in a two-week course. But the overarching thing we teach in the course is not any specific subject, but rather how they all fit together into systems that can meet our human needs while regenerating the environment around us.

Permaculture ethics, history and principles


   Reading the landscape
   Site analysis
   Zones and Sectors
   Design tools and processes
   Design project
   Broadacre permaculture
   Urban permaculture
   Permaculture for gatherings, mobilizations and disaster situations


   Creating healthy water cycles in living systems
   Water harvesting
   Swales, ponds and earthworks
   Keyline systems
   Erosion control
   Rain catchment for roofs
   Greywater and blackwater systems


   Soil structure
   Soil biology
   Soil building
   Sheet mulch
   Compost teas and ferments
   Bioremediation and mycoremediation


   Plant needs
   Plant guilds and polycultures
   Cover crops
   Food forests
   Plant propagation
   Tree care: pruning and planting, choosing varieties
   Sustainable forestry


   Animals in our systems
   Raising and feeding “microherds”—healthy soil microbial communities
   Beneficial insects
   Humane treatment of animals
   Livestock for the homestead
   Holistic management grazing systems
   The role of predators
   Wildlife habitat
   Alternatives for vegans


   Climate change and strategies for adaption and mitigation
   Cold climates


   Alternative and renewable energy: evaluating and designing systems
   Active and passive solar
   Alternative fuels and biogas

Natural Building:

   Insulation and thermal mass
   Sustainable forest products
   Cob, straw-bale, light-straw-clay

Social permaculture:

   Personal regeneration and self-care
   Site design to support social aims
   Urban redesign
   Group dynamics
   Communication tools
   Governance structures for collaborative groups
   Ecovillages and community design
   Meeting processes
   Meeting facilitation
   Alternative economics

Organizing and activism:

   Strategic organizing
   Pro-active and prefigurative movements
   Campaign planning and organizing
   Power mapping
   Organizing in diverse communities


   Connecting to the spirit in nature
   Creating ritual and ceremony
   Grounding and centering
   Sensing and shifting energy
   Drumming, dancing, singing and meditation
   Daily rituals

About the Place
Black Mountain Preserve is in the Cazadero hills area of northern California, in west Sonoma County. The Preserve centers around a complex of dorms, dining/kitchen, classroom and offices, surrounded by 485-acres of forest and coastal hills. Expect a wide variety of natural beauty. Walking trails and unused dirt roads lead off in several adventurous directions, through ecosystems of redwood/fir, oak/madrone, and coastal prairie. You can see the ocean from high points on the property, while a couple of creeks run through in low spots.
We have held EAT sessions at Black Mountain since 2001; it is currently owned and operated by the Padmasambhava Peace Institute, a Tibetan Buddhist group. At one time BMP was a state camp for petty offenders, but renovations have made it a cozy and comfortable conference center, a real-life swords-into-ploughshares example. There is a Peace Garden and a Rain Garden designed by EAT students. Across from our classroom is a beautiful and authentic Buddhist altar room, which is open to EATers for quiet meditation.
Standard accommodations are dorms with cots; bring your own bedding or rent some from BMP at extra fee. BMP is easily accessible by car; we strongly encourage carpooling and will have a shuttle for people flying in or taking bus. “Transportation Details” are in the confirmation packet when you register, as is much more information about the facility.

Find complete details on our schedule page:
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