Whew, what a wonderfully amazing week that was. Of course the actual getting there was hindered by an Air Canada wildcat strike. For a brief period while Tim and I were on our way to the airport we heard some chilling news. Air Canada, the airline I was leaving on in a couple hours time, had gone on an unexpected strike. Or at least some of them had.
Arrival to the airport was almost dreamlike having no idea what we would find. Luckily, we managed to find ONE seat going to Philly just after my scheduled flight. I don’t even want to talk about the money:(
I arrived safe in Philly and managed to meet up with the others I was supposed to meet. The shuttle was caught and off we went to Kimberton Hills and to the teacher training all coordinated by the Eastern Pennsylvania Permaculture Guild (EPPG).
Training at the Waldorf Garden School
The Garden School is a part of the Kimberton Hills Waldorf School. It is a anthroposophic building that the teens have their classes in. It was spring break the time we were there. I arrived early with the others. It enabled us to walk around a bit. The grounds were beautiful. Fruit and willow trees were throughout the gardens. Birds fluttered around and the bees were just coming out of their hives after a long winter’s rest. A lovely little calico cat wandered up to greet us. Wow, would I have loved to go to high school here! Everyone else arrived, including Dave,Kim, and Chris our teachers. We all helped to set the space up. Then we went to discover our rooms. I was staying at Kimberton Hills.
For those of you who don’t know, Kimberton Hills Camphill Community it is a “vibrant farming and handcrafting community that includes adults with developmental disabilities. Kimberton Hills residents, living and working side by side, create a dynamic and caring community for people of all ages and varied abilities. is an intentional biodynamic community. The villagers are differently abled people and the co-workers are mentors and care-takers.” All in all a really amazing place. I even got to stay there in one of the homes. Herta was our gracious hostess. She spoiled us daily with a musical alarm clock (she played the recorder to wak us up) and a home-cooked breakfast each morning.
A few of us were staying there, the girls and the guys. I had a few roomies. Luckily Julie and Jesse were kind enough to offer rides each morning to the school.
Mornings started early and ended in the evening. When they say intensive they really mean it. Despite the fact I had done the Edible Forest Gardening course with Dave last year, I still really didn’t know what to expect.
It was an amazing experience! It wasn’t just about telling people about permaculture, it was about BEING permaculture in mind body and spirit. Believe me, becoming permaculture is not all that easy.
There were 28 participants from around the world, including Haiti, Ecuador, and of course, Canada. Many were from the local area. What a diverse group of people we were. Some older, some younger, some fairly new to permaculture, others that had been living it for a long time. All different facets of permaculture were represented. It was incredible.
It can be difficult to have such a large group. It is hard to bond, it is hard to listen to each other. It is hard to learn form each other. We all came with different levels of openness. Over the course of the week we explored learning from a variety of aspects. Types of learning, ways of facilitating learning, and how to become a better learner and teacher. We all took a journey inward so we could be a better person and teacher.
I also discovered I had a really interesting talent. Well, I kind of knew it, but had never really thought much of it. I’ll start from the beginning.
We all had to have a typical presentation prepared upon arrival. I dilligently created my Powerpoint for the group. I chose to do my $100 Food Forest as a presentation. All my slides were prepped and my time was good. I was happy.
All of us had to present. I opted to be in the first bunch (thankfully) on the Saturday. I listened to the Friday night conversation and presentation by Dave and something dawned on me. I didn’t want to DO this presentation. I kept hearing about nature, urban areas, and lack of connection. I like to think of myself of being pretty naturally aware, and connected. I couldn’t stop all these cool stories and facts, and techniques going through my head. So, at the last minute, I ditched my whole Powerpoint presentation. I was going to do Nature in the City.
Of course I had no time to do to another Powerpoint, I didn’t have time to do anything on paper so I thought I would wing it. I had a chalkboard, coloured chalk, and a story.Well, at least the concept for a story.
So, the next day I waited for my name to be called. When it was I nervously got up. I really had no idea what I was going to actually do.
SO I began my story. I told of the amazing animals that reside in the soil, then I drew a picture of them on the board. I then explained that earwigs took care of their young after hatching. i then drew an image of an earwig on the board. I went on to reveal that an entirely new species of ant was discovered on a median in the middle of New York city. A whole new SPECIES found no where else on earth EXCEPT on this median in the middle of New York. I told of the pigeons looking at our cities as urban cliffs, just like the cliffs they lived in in times gone by. I drew the urban cliffs. And that all the pigeons brought back the Peregrine falcons to the urban skies. The pigeons also helped bring back larger animals like the coyotes and foxes.I drew a coyote.
AND if you were very observant, you could see the tracks of the coyotes. Telling people that these tracks told stories, the coyote’s stories. I drew the tracks. By learning these tracks we can learn those stories as well. And by learning the coyote’s stories, they become our stories. Our stories of the urban nature we live in. I explained, very softly, that if we were patient, and quiet, and still…if, then nature would let us into her world. And we might just catch a glimpse of that coyote, or peregrine.
At the end of my 10 minutes I had a blackboard full of drawing and people were amazed. I was shocked. I had pulled it off. Wow.
I also really enjoyed it.
Getting up in front of everyone and becoming a different me. A me that was excited about what I was talking about and could help people visualize the story unfolding. People thought watching the drawing was fascinating, to see what next line I would draw, what would suddenly appear at the end of my chalk. It was great!
Fast forward to the end of the week. On the last Saturday we had a one day mini-conference. In about a day we had to create an hour and a half presentation for the public. We were in groups according to subject. Just about all of the subjects were different of course, so it was an incredible exercise in collaboration.
So, for that day we feverishly worked on our presentation, everyone did. They were all amazing.
What was really cool for me was I became the story teller again. I created another story, this time about vernal pools. I stood in front of both classmates and strangers. I became Mother Nature. I was Mother Nature sharing her magic, the magic of the vernal pool. The magic of the tiny salamander that relied on these ephemeral spring pools to continue their life cycles. How much they relied on those pools of water. Just like we relied on water. Water for life.
I met some amazing people I now call friends, learned some amazing skills, and, became more of a whole person.