When a PDC turns from a certificate course into a journey of change.
When I first registered for my PDC there was a sense of excitement in what I would potentially learn and the new skills I would gain and be able to apply. As time got closer, the focus then turned to the final details of getting there and getting home afterwards. For me the trip there consisted of:
1 hour car ride to Queenstown, New Zealand
1 hour plane flight to Christchurch, New Zealand
1 night stay in Christchurch
3.5 hour plane flight to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
1.5 hour train to the Gold Coast
3 hour bus ride to Lismore, NSW
45 min van ride to Zaytuna Farm, The Channon.
Phew, it was no small feat of organisation of time and luggage, and I had one of the easier trips to get there!!
At Lismore I met the first group of other PDC’ers. We quickly formed friendships and as the trip to The Channon progressed, we became the "Lismore Crew". The excitement was building again. As I started to talk with the others in the Lismore Crew, I quickly started to realise that this was going to be way more than just learning new things about permaculture — this was a journey of change and the start of a new chapter in my life. First things first though, some paperwork on the way; an informative brochure on the deadly snakes and spiders, paralysing tics, not to mention other weird and wonderful creatures lurking about the farm that would be out of place in a sci-fi film. OK, this should be interesting.
On the first morning our PDC group, 32 of us, already building relationships, all filed into the Hex (the hexagonal shaped strawbale classroom) at Zaytuna farm, and there our journey of a PDC really began. People of all types had come from all over the world — America, Canada, NZ, South Africa, South America, Quebec and of course Australia, just to name a few. Although we all had different backgrounds and experiences, we all shared at least one thing — a passion for permaculture.
This first day was surprisingly easy, in the past I have been in corporate environments where it could take days for people to get to know each other, and some would even refuse to become part of a group of people with a shared vision. So often in the corporate environment, a course like this would become more about competition than cohesion. People don’t want to share ideas for fear of losing competitiveness. This course could not have been more different. Immediately people began to build relationships. Friendships developed in a matter of hours, and by the end of day 1 a large amount of trust and cohesion had been built. The sharing of knowledge and ideas was free-flowing and everyone truly wanted to be part of a group that was more powerful collectively than as individuals alone.
In the preceding years before my PDC I had been spending a great deal of time researching, practicing and applying permaculture principles. My aim in taking the PDC was to solidify and strengthen these skills and get the certificate. What I hadn’t foreseen was the amount of things I would learn and add to what I now realise was very much just a thin film of understanding. Day by day my appreciation for what permaculture is grew exponentially. The depth and breadth of the possibilities are endless, and the results are so positive that getting this right for our earth has become such an important issue for humanity.
So as I sit here in the airport on my way home, reflecting on what I have just been a part of, I try to encapsulate it in a few key points.
The People: A community of people, like minded, but not clones, caring, respectful, down to earth and passionate.
Permaculture: A design science that through good, widespread application can save this planet for our children, grandchildren and beyond.
The Manual: Heavy! (In more ways than one.) Amazingly full of some simple and some technical methods of design, strategies, ideas and solutions.
The Teachers: Knowledgeable, open and honest, great hosts and wonderful people. Really helped to make the PDC what it was by leading by example and showing a fantastic illustration of what permaculture can achieve.
The students: My global permaculture support crew!
The video at top was presented at our final night celebration and attempts to capture our PDC Journey.