Permaculture is often defined as a design science that is based on the observation of natural systems, but quite often the actual process of observation is taken for granted. What does it take to be an effective observer? Good observers can pull massive amounts of information out of the landscape, but how is this ability actually developed?
As Alan Booker trained numerous professional designers over the past two decades, he began to increasingly realize that very few of them were naturally very skilled at observation. The ones who were typically had one thing in common: they were either trained naturalists or personally spent a great deal of time in nature. It turns out that the complex and dynamic patterns of natural ecosystems provide both the sensory inputs and the real-time feedback that create the possibility of becoming a powerful observer.
The other thing that Alan kept on finding was that the best designers were invariably also some of the best observers. Through his training as a tracker and naturalist, Alan was aware of the techniques and exercises that helped people become better observers, so he started to incorporate them into his design classes where possible. This certainly helped, but most design classes don’t have the time or space to put enough emphasis on observation skills.
As a result, Alan decided to create this 8-week program of daily guided practice to help professional designers who wanted to dramatically deepen their skills. The result is the forthcoming book Observation for Design, which walks you through the process step by step.
As he is completing development of the book, Alan has decided to offer this class to a limited number of interested students. The class will meet via video conference once a week for 8 sessions. Between sessions, students will work through 5 daily field exercises that are designed to systematically improve their observation skills. Alan will take the feedback and comments from this pilot group and use them to help refine and improve the materials before the final book is released.
Topics you will cover include:
• Why observation doesn’t turn out to be as simple as it seems and why observation is so important to a good designer
• How to do a number of simple exercises that greatly increase your sensory perceptions
• How to develop powerful pattern recognition skills and search images that enable you to see things you missed before
• Why mapping and drawing are such powerful tools when learning to observe
• How to identify and correct your own blind-spots and perceptual ruts
• How to keep a daily observation journal that will begin to teach you how to see the subtle interactions between elements of the landscape that almost everyone else misses
• Why learning to observe how patterns change over time is so critical to good design
• How to keep your mind from falling so far into analysis mode that you can no longer function as an effective observer
• Why the skills of observation learned through nature are applicable to any kind of design, even design of abstract systems like community structures or business processes
This will be a great class to get you outside and actively engaging your senses, learning to see patterns that you have completely missed before.
Who is this Course For?
This course is ideal for:
• Permaculture Designers
• Landscape Architects
• Engineers and Scientists
• Any Design Professional who would benefit from better observational skills
Dates & Time
The class will have 8 weekly meetings running 8:00pm – 9:30 pm Central Time on Monday nights. The introductory session will be on Monday, April 5, 2021 and the course will wrap up on May 24, 2021.
For more information: ↓Download the attached PDF below↓