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by Eric Tolbert
Length: 47 minutes

Paul talks with Coco, Wheaton Labs  new Event Coordinator and Manager of Things about the recent PEP 1 Event.

Coco provides the much needed "Giggle Track" that has been missing from all previous podcasts. Coco had attended the Rocket Mass Heater Pizza Party that took place in 2018 and basically after the event Paul hired her on the spot to be his new Event Coordinator. Medical issues complicated actually being able start the position until just a few months ago, but, since being cleared  by Doctors to be able to be in Paul's presence, Coco has been taking on the responsibilities that are entailed in herding Paul and coordinating his events.

The PEP 1 event being discussed took place prior to the recent PDC and ATC events, but because of the timing and the amount of work that was involved in putting on those events the summary of the first PEP 1 event is just now taking place.

Paul starts off by pointing out that even with Coco on site functioning as the Manager of Things Paul still has room for one or two more people to help coordinate and manage events.

It appears that Coco's natural instincts are to "mother" people, making sure they are taken care of, staying hydrated and looking after their general well-being. Paul's natural instincts are to "father" people, which apparently consists of going around telling people "you're doing it wrong"!

The PEP 1 event was a "free" event, requiring only either a gapper fee or the requirement that the participants had been to the Labs before. Based on the initial response Jocelyn ordered a ton of food and there ended up being only about a dozen people attending and instructing at the event. The primary take-away from this according to Paul is "no more free events". People don't seem to follow through and show up unless they are invested.

The event staff primarily consisted of Superstars Fred Tyler and Mike Jay, both staff at Wheaton Labs. Fred said he enjoyed the event, which is high praise from Fred. Based on Fred's experience Paul is looking forward to doing more PEP events, possibly a four-week event later in the year. Each week of the event would have a focus for the week so that people could sign up for as little as a week at a time. Another option discussed is possibly having weekend PEP events that would be easier for people to attend.

What is PEP and why is Wheaton Labs doing it?
• The Otis Podcast is a good place to start for the basic foundation of the PEP system.
• Building Community with local events and workshops
• Following the PEP process through PEP 4 certification may be a path to inheriting property from Otis
• PEP certifications can prove that people are able to perform routine home maintenance
• The ability to learn and expand personal knowledge and skills
• Hand's on experience of the type of things that would be useful on a Permaculture Homestead

Paul compares the standard path of college "education" and the skills and knowledge you have when you graduate, versus the type of skills and working knowledge that you would have at the end of a PEP 4 certification. The typical student goes into debt to go to college, may or may not be employable upon graduation and, if everything goes according to plan, may rack up more debt acquiring a vehicle, a mortgage and lifestyle, with the end game being if they can pay off all the debt "maybe someday being able to afford some land". PEP certification can be a shortcut to gaining skills and land.

Ways to monetize PEP certification
• Speaking engagements
• Consulting
• Teaching workshops

PEP provides proof of ability, because each certification step is documented, sometimes through pictures and sometimes through video. Video provides proof in some instances where a Before, During and After picture just isn't enough. For example, video of planting seeds is more convincing than a picture of a hole, a picture of a seed and a picture of a filled hole. The certifications are processed by Permies staff. The staff is not paid for certifying so occasionally there is some small delay or sometimes the certification submissions are not complete and need to be re-submitted or repeated, usually a quick process.

Coco notes there does seem to be an informal contest between some of Permies users on completing badges and it is great fun to follow along as the students battle it out for bragging rights.

Paul and Coco then move on to the list of things that were covered and completed during the first PEP 1 event. PEP 1 certification was originally designed to take approximately two weeks to complete, if you are staying on pace. The first event was not highly structured, so the students decided what projects and certifications they were interested in pursuing and at the end thought that perhaps a four week certification pace is more likely.

PDC's are typically fourteen days. The first PEP event was twelve days. In the future PEP events, there will probably be a requirement that students have completed at least five BB's (Badge Bits) prior to attending the event, so that it would be possible for a student to be PEP 1 certified, or extremely close to certified, by the end of the course. In a more formalized PEP event there will probably be a set curriculum of BB's that will be taught at the event, instead of allowing students to pick and choose from the 22 available BB's that make up the PEP 1 certification.

While discussing Wheaton Lab events in general Paul brought up an import note: Food is usually available at Wheaton Labs events but it is not included as part of the ticket price. People who have special dietary restrictions are responsible for their own care and feeding. Coco points out that all the food was exceptional, with both Omni and Vegan dishes being featured at the supper table.

Some Badges are more easily completed with tools and equipment that is available at the lab. Sadly, the excavator was not available during the PEP event because of a mechanical failure that was not corrected until the event was over.

Continued in: Wheaton Permaculture 446 - Coco Part 2

Related Links:

PEP 1:
Wheaton Labs PDC:
Wheaton Labs Appropriate Technology Course:
Otis Podcast:
Coco's Photos:

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This podcast was made possible thanks to:

Dr. Hugh Gill Kultur
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I thought coco did a good job.   Should I do more with coco?

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