Class 1 notes by Katherine N.
The first class was devoted to social permaculture, which is the aspect of permaculture that I believed was of least interest to me but that I now realize is integral to rebuilding our communities. I really didn’t know what to expect this first day, and for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised. Before I go into the highlights of the day for me, I do want to say that I believe the exercises in the afternoon went on for too long. We were asked to reflect and share on very similar topics repeatedly and since the class lasted until 9 p.m., I was definitely left thinking that we could have accomplished just as much by shortening the afternoon and covering the evening’s materials in the late afternoon. However, it is a true testament to the instructor’s skill and knowledge that the afternoon was educational and enjoyable, and that despite its length, it actually flew by. I would also have assigned some exercises to do at home during the week. I assume we are going to have “homework” throughout the course, and I definitely feel that sharing what we learned with our families and friends, and getting their feedback and response to our growing awareness of the process of social permaculture, would be helpful to the learning experience.
The absolute highlight for me on Saturday – and this was close to a life-changing experience – was one of the exercises we did during the symposium, which in itself was amazing. We were asked to close our eyes and imagine ourselves in the future, sitting outside in nature with our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who were thanking us for what we had done all those years ago (present day) to get society back on course and save us from the brink of extinction. We were to imagine ourselves receiving thanks and then explaining to our descendants what it had been like for us to live then, and how we had responded to the planetary crisis. We were asked to reflect on our struggles, periods of frustration and hopelessness, as well as how we were able to cultivate hope and participate in and lead the change. It was amazing. I, like probably everyone in the class, am motivated to work toward sustainability not only to live a richer more joyful life today, but to do all that I can to ensure that future generations have the same opportunity. That is, in essence, the definition of sustainability. I have never before, in the thousands of hours I have devoted to thinking and acting on sustainability, ever felt a true emotional connection to the people who will inhabit this future, and especially, to the ones who will call me grandma. It was absolutely overwhelming. It was a beautiful feeling to imagine this future, and it surprises me that it all took place in my imagination. It actually seemed real, and I still feel it now as I am writing. I think that speaks to the power of the symposium and to the setting and facilitation provided by Common Circle.
The class overall left me feeling both hopeful and sad. I am hopeful that it is possible for individual human beings to reconnect with themselves and with each other, and I am sad that very few of us are moving in that direction. I am looking forward to learning more practical tools that I can use to make my own life more sustainable, and to work toward creating more sustainable communities. Overall, the course so far has helped me to focus my professional goals on change at the local level – which is a good thing, because if our only hope is action at the federal level, then it is unlikely that the beautiful conversation I had with my descendants will ever happen.