Why should you join the diploma/permaculture gatherings?
By Ditte Kathrine Engelstoftegård
I’ve found some answers to that question 🙂 and I will share these in the reflections below on my permaculture path and first experience with Diploma/NPA (Nordic Permaculture Academy) gathering at Holma, where I attended an epic weekend in March 2023. My hope and aim with this text is to inspire more diploma students but also permaculturist in general to come out of your comfort zones (00) and kickstart your permaculture journey either as a formal student in diploma or as a person who wants inspiration of all kinds in the
Perhaps you will meet something or someone or something, that will positively change your life a little – I did.
The structure of the text is inspired by Looby Macnamara’s “Social network design”.
Reflections – My own permaculture/diploma path
Brief life story – I have always been living a life inside the planetary resources with focus on nature care, people care and fair share in different settings i.e. in off-grid tiny houses (before that even was an concept), in organic self sufficient cooperatives at the countrysides, at an organic farming school, at my own regenerative and self sufficient farm for 15 years. I’ve always lived off a very small “studentlike income” where recycling, staycations and biking as transportation was my own and later on my family’s “lifestyle”.
But even if my life has been so aligned with permaculture ethics and principles, permaculture as a concept, came late into my life as a warm and welcoming feeling of “home” in 2015, where I attended my first design workshop. In 2016 I started my own company (HappyHumans) based on permaculture ethics, in 2017 I started coordinating a permaculture urban garden in Copenhagen and in 2018 I took my PDC and started as a diploma student, in the English system.
Fast forward to my diploma path here in 2023: I have made a lot of “design mistakes” (which is an article in itself), not finished any designs (but started several), lacked motivation to prioritize the work, not felt any “sparks” around design work (feeling that design/thinking was just was another “bla bla bla” not ending up in “real” changes), had “committed” to several gatherings but skipped every time the dates were nearing. So after five years of getting “nowhere” I realized that either I changed something in my approach or I quit and freed up my energy to other important areas in my life.
My limiting beliefs
In my path to “changing my approach”, I realized that I held a lot of internal resistance (on top of all the negative histories in my learning path) to just go out and join a diploma gathering.
These sounded like:
● “I don’t have time for that kind of self actualisation”
● “As a single mom, I need to use my energy on work/earning money (I often work in weekends)”
● “My son needs me helping him with his assignment”
● “The travel and planning takes time, money and energy ”
● “I don’t know any of the other students/attendees, perhaps I will feel uncomfortable in that group/meeting new people” (more subconsciously)
My supporting beliefs
But my decision about changing approach luckily also started some small and slow solutions in the structure of my learning path:
● I changed from the English to the Danish system. I needed closer bonds with other apprentices and physical meetings (selfcare)
● Joined a local “guild” (fair share of resources)
● Started meeting up in the guild (Thank you Camilla for reaching out 🙂 ) once a month, giving and getting feedback on our designs (fair share of resources)
● Put in weekly “design work” time in my calendar (selfcare)
I tried to ‘Creatively use and respond to change’, by thinking of all the positives about finally joining a diploma gathering:
● It was a weekend with no cost other than food and materials (fair share of resources)
● I would perhaps meet new fantastic people and network possibilities (people care)
● Seeing the weekend as a possibility to relax and let other people take responsibility and just enjoy all the activities (selfcare)
● The last newsletter, with all the details on the program, how to get there etc. (I felt more safe, knowing the teachers had it all planned)
● And I also felt that I couldn’t jump from a meeting for the third time in one year (wanting to be a trustworthy person).
Reflections – What actually happened
So when the date arrived and I took off in the train from Copenhagen, my supporting structure and beliefs, had me convinced and I was really excited and even proud that I was “taken this weekend off, just to learn and enjoy my life”…crazy how difficult this can be, even for a playful person like myself.
The adventure started by going by train to Sweden and moving out into the countryside. At first with all the farmland around me and then when I had just reached the magical swedish forests, Höör was already there. From the station as I walked out into the countryside, I felt on my way to my own “social permaculture” experiment, which Holma and the gathering also turned out to be. Holma looked precisely like a FolkHögskola, with its beautiful old buildings, even if we stayed in a newer part of the place.
From the first “Welcome Circle” friday afternoon until the last “Check out” sunday midday, I felt a personal transitioning through all the different exercises, assessing diploma work, grafting fruit trees, morning circles, “asking for help” circles, new ideas and perspective (like peoplezones:)), brainstorming/co-creating the next gathering, listing guilds and also all the informal settings with eating and making food together, meeting up in the big comfy couch every evening listening to other peoples stories, ideas and challenges, while it got dark and snowy outside (just missing a fireplace:)). I felt I transitioned into a more energetic and inspired person, with more fire on my designworks, with this new network around it.
I feel so happy that I finally did meet up and prioritized this “luxury time on my self”, because it was a gift giving back in so many new ways, and I now know:
● It’s important to challenge my limiting beliefs and this weekend will help me be more bold and brave attending future events (and keeping promises to both myself and organizers)
● It’s important to support my self with permission to have fun and “luxury time/selfcare” just for the sake of my own permaculture journey
● I’m part of a network with deeply committed people who works for nature and people care out there every day.
● I now know that I share a lot of my struggles in design work/learning path with other fellow students, which is comforting.
● Holma, was such an adventure in itself and feelt like entering a big green hug, from all the volunteers working at the place making it a highly well designed and organized place for growing permaculture, ideas, skills, networks, craftsmanship and food forest. A place open for everyone wanting to connect with nature (both inner and outer) at all the popular online, day- and weekend courses. Holma is really a leading example of what I see both society, nature and humans need, a solution towards a sustainable future today.
● Cathrine Dolleris and Andreas Jonsson were amazing teachers with their warm, open and welcoming air around them, perfect planning/organizing and great at putting us at “work”, which for me is the best way of learning.
Momentum – Back to everyday life
I’m back at my 2nd floor apartment in Copenhagen, but I still have all the:
● Ideas and new perspectives going forward on my learning path
● New friends and network (perhaps one day, I will bike around visiting you all in the Nordic countries:)), keeping my motivation up
● Knowledge of how it felt like an adventure, bringing myself out in new places, which will help me come to the next gathering
● Knowledge of entering the “social unknown” as a positive social experience and feeling like we are in this “web” together
● Feeling connected, committed and ready to deliver my contributions to expand the designs/knowledge about Urban Permaculture, which I see the need for every day in our cities and thereby make the world a greener, more sustainable and connected place.
Action – Your turn
So all of the above is my answers to the question: “Why should you join one of the gatherings?”. I hope you could recognize some of both the limiting and supporting beliefs, which in the end kicked my out in to “the gathering” and away from being alone and disillusioned to being connected and hopeful for the future.
Actions like joining either the NPA or other permaculture gathering, could, as I found out, make you part of a beautiful strong “web”, which can influence your life as much and positively as one weekend in March 2023 did for me.