In the final winning entry in our Transition Training competition, Viv Chamberlin-Kidd shares her story of the impact a Permaculture Design Course had on her life:
The impact that attending the Hoffman Process (HP) in November 2009 had is difficult to beat. It was 8 days cut off from my family which I found emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting and spiritually enlightening. The journey of self-discovery that started during those days changed my beliefs to the core. I am still integrating all I learnt and experienced at the HP and I wonder whether that assimilation will ever actually end.
The ripple effects from HP led me down a path to (amongst other things) the Permaculture Design Course (PDC). These two courses are probably as diametrically opposed as any 2 courses could be yet I see them as two sides of the coin in terms of my life and where I am now. Where HP had me looking inward at the quadrinity of spiritual, mental, emotional and physical – the PDC asked me to use these four aspects to look outward at the world and acknowledge my place and potential power in it.
As a home-educator of two children a 12 day residential PDC was logistically impossible so finding a course in my home city which allowed children to attend if needed was an answer to my prayers. And so another life changing journey started only 8 miles from my home.
The PDC teaches us about sustainable food production and using the land in a way which increases production and complements the planet rather than mis-using it. However what I most needed at that time was to find a way to utilise the natural resources within me so as to fully appreciate where I ended and where my family (and more especially my children) started.
It was the fact that Permaculture principles could be applied to all aspects of life that seemed pertinent to how I felt following HP. At that time I had been out of the traditional workforce for six years and I felt my computing skills to be out-of-date. I was emotionally fulfilled by watching my children flourish.
So I started “Permaculturing” my life. I pledged to balance my quadrinity whilst concurrently moving outwards from myself to evaluate my relationships with my family, friends and community. This re-designing of my life-path involved using my mental skills to volunteer with some sustainably-motivated organisations. At the same time I began to nurture my spiritual side by training as a Shamanic Practitioner and to look at my physical health. Through these activities I have met some fascinating people and also feel that I am contributing positively to the welfare of my local community, friends and family. I have also gained valuable experience as well as confidence in my teaching, website design, computing, financial and organisational skills. This has led to a more natural rhythm to my eating habits and I have found physical activities that bring me joy whilst contributing positively to my state of health.
I suppose no-one ever knows how much of what follows from any event or course is actually derived from that one event. I cannot truthfully say how much of what has happened since attending HP or the PDC would not have occurred otherwise. I can say however that attending the HP gave me the courage to attend the PDC and the PDC led me to become a Trustee of the Permaculture Association and to start my blog as part of my Diploma.
Being a Trustee has allowed me to truly appreciate how others view my skills and the contribution I can make which is more than I ever thought was possible when I considered applying. Blogging has made me re-evaluate my meandering life journey regularly. It gives me perspective and clarity which I sometimes feel is lacking in my rather chaotic existence. As Bill Mollison (the father of Permaculture) says, “the only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children.” The path from HP to PDC with Shamanism as a spiritual keystone has given me the structure and ability to put that quote into practice in my everyday life and to share these with my children in a way that means they will be natural in their lives.