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HomeHomePermaculture in...Permaculture in...Spokane Permacu...Spokane Permacu...PDC Class idea...PDC Class idea...
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1/12/2014 9:51 AM
 
PDC Class idea...  (United States)
When I took my PDC class in Jan. 2012 it was every other weekend, Friday night thru Sunday night. While I stuck with the class schedule as much as I could, I sometime just could not attend Sundays and almost never made Sunday night. As I was learning I was practising on my 10 acres and I had to make the decision about which was more important on any given weekend. I just could not leave my farm for 3 nights and 2 days. I did however study on my own what was covered on Sundays and watched the videos shown on Sunday nights. Because of this I received, after a $650 fee, a provisional PDC. I understood Pilarski's reasoning and accepted it.
Now, I wonder if a different structure for these classes might not be more helpful to more people, especially those active practitioners. Instead of every other weekend for 3 months, why not 1 or 2 day classes offered on weekends, or even weekday evenings,that covered a specific block of topics? Local, experienced permies could commit to teaching them, the fees would less and the resulting knowledge learned and experience gained could be the same. Written materials would me available online along with videos to watch BEFORE each class. At the end, a person could easily learn what was taught in the model I took.
I would be interested to hear what people think of this. These are my initial ideas and need "fleshing" out.
 
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1/12/2014 10:20 AM
 
Re: PDC Class idea...  (United States)

I have been contemplating a better model for teaching permaculture principles after listening to Toby Hemenway talk about how people learn by doing, so his book gives lots of practical "recipes" to try to gain the necessary experience alongside the theory.  Most PDC classes are "design" (read: theory-heavy) classes with a minimum of hands-on opportunities, typically crammed into two weeks.  We were lucky indeed in the 2012 PDC with Skeeter that it was spread out over a few months and only weekends were crammed.  That gave a bit more time to absorb and digest these monumental ideas. Our course was in winter, so we had fewer hands-on opportunities than summer classes.  Nevertheless, we still learned gobs, of course, and I came out with gobs of materials to refer back to.  Not at all complaint -- just some observations with a view toward continuous improvement.

After reading the comments of former apprentices on the Greentree Naturals site and in the PCA magazine, I've come to believe that a hands-on apprenticeship combined with presentations is a better model.  Spending a summer being mentored by experienced permies, you'd gain the best combination of hands-on application of theory, plus see the results of applications of principles historically used on the property and over the course of your apprenticeship.  More would "stick" and seep into your "bones" as well as getting your head stuffed full of information.

That said, folks with jobs or working farms need a model, too.  Perhaps there's a form of the same "apprenticeship/presentation" model that could be devised, but on just one day of the weekend spread out over the whole growing season, for example.  Yeah, when you're trying to manage your own gardens while attending a course there's going to be time conflicts and difficult choices.  But Nature, I'm finding out, is fairly forgiving and as long as the perennials are watered, you can let the annuals go for a season to take in a valuable PDC course.  It might also be possible to take the second day of the weekend to rotate around to those folks with gardens and give them a boost of group labor to help make up the difference, with the bonus of getting more exposure to additional properties.

 
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1/12/2014 1:52 PM
 
Re: PDC Class idea...  (United States)

Here's a good alternative...

http://www.permaculturedesigntraining...

It's less than $500.  Right now , there's a sale at less than $300.  Larry Corn is one of the teachers (think Fukuoka).  

 
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1/12/2014 2:38 PM
 
Re: PDC Class idea...  (United States)

If you're looking for an inexpensive online option, I would recommend these guys:

http://www.permacultureeducation.com/

That's where I started. I found it useful to get the PDC online on my own time, then focus on the areas that applied to my projects through local workshops.

 
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1/12/2014 3:26 PM
 
Re: PDC Class idea...  (United States)

I took Michael Pilarski's 2012 PDC course and highly recommend it. Skeeter is a great resource for us in Spokane and throughout the Inland Northwest. 

 

For free online Intro to Permaculture course, North Carolina State University has a 72 hour Introduction to Permaculture (with instructor Will Hooker) course online. The course is set in a classroom, with videoed field trips, and the online version is meant for their 'Distant Education' students, but also utilized by students who have missed a class. (Will Hooker's home garden is on the front cover of Toby Hemenway's "Gaia's Garden".) It doesn't involve the critical design exercise mandatory to completing a PDC course, nor is it grounded in the inland Northewest, but highly valueable in other areas.

 

http://courses.ncsu.edu/hs432/common/podcasts/

 
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1/12/2014 3:32 PM
 
Re: PDC Class idea...  (United States)

permaculturedesigntraining.com indicates that the course is free. As it should be considering the $26K raised via indiegogo dedicated to making this course free. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/regenerative-leadership-institute-online-permaculture-design-course 

 

permaculturedesigntraining.com is certainly an alternative. However, based on comments posted at permies.com, I have concerns. See http://www.permies.com/t/28308/web-sites/Regenerative-Leadership-Institute-Free-Online:

 

"I signed up for it but I could barely hear the instructor so I stopped watching the videos and decided to focus my efforts on reading books..."

"The RLI course is painful to slog through."

"Yes, the course is free, but the quality of the production is sub par, and really not worth the time, and I love this stuff."

 
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1/12/2014 9:37 PM
 
Re: PDC Class idea...  (United States)

Hi all!

When I teach a PDC, I  try and make the schedule as user friendly as I can.  I usually go  from 9-5:30 or so on Saturday, and 9-2:30 on Sunday.  That way people have a chance to catch up on stuff at home before the weekend is over, and anyone who has a long drive can get home at a reasonable time.  I don't have class on Saturday night, partly because some folks are farmers (myself included) and need the time to catch up on chores, and partly because there is a lot of information to absorb in a PDC, and I want to give people a chance to process it and not burn out.  I also give people in the class a chance to determine when we meet. I limit the size of the classes I teach so that it is possible to do this, and so far I think it has worked out well.   Previous classes have been 6 weekends plus some a number of hours of online stuff, but this coming year will be 7 weekends, as I want to have more time to go into some additional things in more depth.  

When I teach a PDC, I try to have a mix of "chalk -and-talk" presentations,  online material, field trips, and hands-on skill-building sessions.  Everybody has different ways of learning; some people learn best from reading, some from listening/watching, and some from doing, so I try to hit each key principle in ways to make it easy to learn for each learning style.  I think the danger of doing a farm apprentice type of PDC is that many people have the idea that Permaculture is a collection of techniques.  It isn't.  To quote Bill Mollison, permaculture is " environmental science and ethics."  A permaculture designer has to understand the environmental science to be a good designer, and not just have knowledge of a set of techniques, no matter how useful, or how extensive.  That said, there are some key techniques and skills that I think are very useful for people to have familiarity with.  Reading the landscape is one (David Holmgren said this is arguably the most important skill a permaculture designer can have), so I focus quite a lot on that.  I have a core set of hands on skills that I try to teach in addition to that, although time constraints make it so that I may not be able to go into depth for all of them. They include but aren't limited to: grafting, worm composting, hot composting, swale building, biofilter (eg greywater) design, sometimes building an aquaponic system, sometimes solar cooking, sometimes sheet mulching, some aspects of passive solar design, some natural building skills like light straw-clay or clay plaster, and basic nonviolent communication and conflict resolution skills.  I'd be curious as to what  skills other people would like to see taught in a PDC. 

As far as having different instructors for different classes:  it's interesting to get the different perspectives and expertise you get from having a variety of instructors, but I think you really need a lead instructor to act as the "spine" of the class.  That person will be listening to what is presented, bringing it back to the basic principles, and tying it all together.  A PDC is a journey. Good instructors have their focus on where they want their students to end up at all times, and they are constantly balancing things to make that happen, and to make sure students aren't left behind along the way.  It's much harder to do that if you don't have a lead teacher taking responsibility for the class. As Permaculture teachers, we are responsible to our students, and responsible for making sure they end up with the knowledge and skills they ned to be effective and ethical Permaculture designers. We're responsible to the field of Permaculture Design, since it's really important that we don't let people loose on the world claiming that what they do is permaculture if they really haven't understood the material.  And we're responsible to the Earth, because the survival of the Earth may very well depend on there being sufficient people who understand and practice permaculture design that we can create a "permanent culture".

 

Deborah

Palouse Permaculture

 
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1/13/2014 1:25 PM
 
Re: PDC Class idea...  (United States)
I feel the need to clarify some things in my post. First off, I was in no way criticizing the PDC class I took, it's content or my result. The entire thrust of my post was to raise a discussion about alternate class structures that might suit permaculture practitioners better than the structure of my class. If anyone was offended or hurt I apologize. I am happy that some posts appeared with threads addressing different ways to teach PDC classes.
 
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