Rocket Mass Heater Part II: COB STOMPING!!!

rm5

Join us for a fun community cob party Feb 9th from 10am-4pm! Let’s add more mass to the rocket mass heater at Ruckus Ranch at 1878 Old Hwy 52, Erie Colorado. Please bring good to share! 

As temperatures drop into the single digits and below all across the country, this simple rocket mass heater provides a means to heat homes for extended periods of time with minimal fuel. We held a workshop last month and lots of people showed up to learn, build, and stomp cob in freezing temperatures. We are transforming this old barn into a permaculture education space, with rocket mass heat, a passive solar greenhouse, and a kitchen that composts its own waste!do. Please bring Food to share!

rm1

Building community in an educational setting is what helps us pulse with inspiration. This is the perfect setting to dive into the permaculture/natural building community. This is a free event but donations are greatly appreciated and will go towards materials and more events.

Advanced Permaculture Course: Designing for Resilient Local Communities

The recent floods and fires in Colorado gave our local communities a real test challenge to their resilience. How can we, as a community, become more adaptive to possible future scenarios? How can current observations and information help us respond more elegantly to unknown challenges? This 40-hour Advanced Permaculture Design Course will explore solutions for issues that cascade from global changes to our biosphere and to our human communities.

Focusing on community-scale design for earth care, people care and fair share, we’ll consider designs for water, food, shelter, reclamation, energy, health, spirit, community, livelihood and justice — guiding students towards resilience, interbeing and support. Students will delve into designing for disaster — for both immediate emergencies and long-term failure of large systems — and will explore regenerative solutions for their personal lives and local communities.

Zombie Apocalypse Permaculture! This intensive course will include community discussion, lecture, hands-on design team projects, site tours, celebration, and certification in Advanced Permaculture Design. Readings and design team work outside of class will be required.

Instructors
Barbara Mueser, Sandy Cruz, Marco Chung-Shu Lam and special guests Michael Brownlee, Carolyn Baker and more
Dates
Evening of Thursday, February 20th — Special Keynote Event
Weekends of February 22/23, March 22/23, April 26/27, 2014
Location
Boulder, Colorado
Prerequisite
PDC Certification
Cost
$650 if paid in full by 1/10
$700 if paid in full by 1/31
$800 after 1/31
Registration
Christina Zahn xtinazahn@gmail.com (303) 517-6167

 

Marco Chung-Shu Lam has practiced and taught permaculture for over fifteen years, in diverse climates from the Andes to the Hawaiian islands, and to the next generation of visionaries at Naropa University. Originally trained by Bill Mollison, permaculture’s founder, Marco’s focus is the hands-on, direct application of permaculture principles. He is clinical director of the Mandala Clinic, practicing both acupuncture and Taoist medicine, and has authored The Herbal Therapeutics Manual, a guide to using local plants in the energetic tradition of Chinese herbalism. Marco is a founder of the Regenerative Design Guild, a multidisciplinary professional organization creating reproducible templates for urban living, and is working on a silver-based complimentary currency.

Barbara Mueser is owner/designer of The Garden Muse, specializing in organic gardens and permaculture solutions. A Colorado Master Gardener, Barbara also holds certificates in Permaculture Teacher Training and Advanced Design, and Photovoltaic Design/Installation. Barbara has co-facilitated Boulder’s Permaculture through the Seasons! Design Course since 2009 and taught local workshops. Her thriving permaculture homestead yields a bounty of annual and perennial foods, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs and honey. She works actively in Boulder County to educate/mobilize citizens around organic farming practices on public lands and community rights.

Sandy Cruz founded High Altitude Permaculture in 1992 and holds a Diploma of Permaculture Design from the International Permaculture Institute. Experimenting with plants, Sandy has worked towards greater resilience in harsh conditions for nearly four decades. She serves on the Board of the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) and has trained 75 new permaculture teachers across the country. A recipient of Boulder County’s Land Conservation Award, Sandy is establishing a new permaculture research and demonstration site in Salida, Colorado, where she teaches, mentors diploma candidates, and consults on site planning and design.

Seeding Sensible Solutions in a World of Extremes: A Permaculture Perspective on 100-Year Floods and Beyond

By Jason Gerhardt

In 2004, a major flood in Boulder, Colorado was listed as one of six natural disasters waiting to happen in the United States (1). The week of September 9th 2013, Boulder experienced just such a flood.

While devastating in human terms, this event provides a glimpse into a world most of us are statistically unlikely to ever see again, a glimpse certainly worth using to our advantage to ponder an important question for the Front Range of Colorado and beyond: what does permaculture design have to offer in terms of flood planning? From ecological site assessment to creative design patterns, the permaculture lens provides a different vantage point, one that leads to a collection of unique design strategies.

An unsettling sense of place

Located at the base of the Rocky Mountain Foothills, the landscape is stark, with steep mountains and mesas jutting up from the Western edge of Boulder neighborhoods, and flattened landscapes stretching as far as the eye can see to the East. The mountain canyons drain directly into town and the waterways braid their way through the plains.

Most cities and towns in the arid Western US are logically sited alongside significant water sources. In the Front Range, Denver is on the banks of the South Platte River, Boulder on the banks of Boulder Creek, and Fort Collins on the Cache la Poudre. While the rivers and creeks provide much needed water during droughts, like the area has experienced for the last ten years, they are a double-edged sword. It is an odd experience to be praying for rain one day and cursing the skies the next, but the Front Range landscape is serrated and cuts deep and fast.

The mountains, foothills, and canyons exhibit characteristics of a cool-temperate climate, getting significantly more precipitation (mostly in snow) than the flatlands. The plains and piedmonts, while exhibiting some temperate qualities, are much more of an arid region with yuccas, cacti, and ephemeral weeds providing the prime indication of the need to conserve water. While the residents here are used to wet/dry fluctuations within the various microclimates, none of the usual patterns were useful the week of September 9th in 2013 when the climate resembled the tropics.

History repeats itself…sometimes

While flooding is anticipated on the Front Range, and is an obvious force by looking at the patterns of the landscape, the dry times are far more prevalent, making it quite a shock to experience tropical moisture. Boulder’s previous 100-year flood occurred on May 30th, 1894 and measured on Boulder Creek at ~13,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). 4.5 to 6 inches of rain fell on the mountains West of Boulder over a 96-hour period, during spring snow melt season, making matters significantly worse (2). This caused the most catastrophic flooding the area had ever seen, confirming the flood danger warnings of indigenous people of the area. This event still serves as the benchmark for 100-year flooding in the Boulder Creek drainage.

In 1976, a flash flood hit the Big Thompson Canyon about 20 miles North of the City of Boulder, killing 144 people and destroying hundreds of homes. Up to 14 inches of rain fell over two days from July 31st to August 1st, though the majority of the rain fell over a 4 to 6 hour period. In one location, 7.5 inches of rain fell in a little over an hour. The highest recorded stream flow rate on the Big Thompson was an astounding 31,200 cfs, nearly triple the rate of Boulder Creek’s 100-year flood benchmark in 1894 (3).

Clearly, flooding is nothing new to the Front Range landscape and human populations. The dramatic topographic relief that attracts so many to the area exists, in part, because of massive amounts of runoff and erosion. While flooding is expected in the region, each event bears differing characteristics with one regular pattern being the storms tend to target specific drainages. One of the things that makes the flood of 2013 remarkable is that it didn’t follow this previous pattern.

Clouds lifting off the rugged Boulder landscape at the end of the storm.

Clouds lifting off the rugged Boulder landscape at the end of the storm.

Engines of the atmosphere

Labeled a “100-year flood” for numerous drainages along the Front Range of Colorado, this term isn’t a very accurate way to view the significance of the storm. 100 and 500-year flood calculations are measured by taking stream flow rates in cubic feet per second (cfs), which would seem like a decent way to determine the significance of a flood. In reality, this ignores the broad landscape by focusing solely on major drainages and their floodplains. Comparing flow rates from one decade or century to the next is also making a major hydrological assumption, and an erroneous one at that, that watersheds act in the same way from flood event to flood event.

Such terms also seem to indicate the frequency of flood events, as in, such a flood will occur approximately every 100 years. In truth, the term simply means there is a 1 in 100 chance of such a flood occurring in any given year. In Boulder, Colorado’s 2013 case, flooding to this degree hadn’t been seen for nearly 120 years. It might be more accurate to call it a “historically significant rain event”.

When the rain started the evening of September 9th, there was a feeling that this storm would be different. Rain was forecasted to be in the area for days. The air was uncharacteristically heavy, the clouds extremely low, and the rain was falling perfectly vertical, all of which were out of the norm for the area. Orographic lift, or upslope flow, was streaming moisture up from the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, due to a low-pressure system that was stuck over the Great Basin and stubborn high pressure in the plains. It rained heavily for three to four days, stopped for 12 hours, then started again for two days. After all was said and done, from Monday to Monday, Boulder’s official rainfall was 17.15 inches, though up to 22 inches were recorded in other parts of town (4). This storm felt like afternoon thunderstorms in the tropics, but for 8 days straight, in the drylands.

What’s more was the extent of the rain. Flooding from this weather phenomenon was occurring from New Mexico to the Colorado/Wyoming border. From southern Colorado northward, Fountain Creek, the South Platte River, Coal Creek, Boulder Creek, Four Mile Creek, Four Mile Canyon Creek, Left Hand Creek, the North and South St. Vrain Rivers, Big Thompson River, Cache la Poudre River, and many others were all out of their banks and causing significant flooding. Thus began the largest air evacuation since Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The scope and duration of the damage was unprecedented.

Boulder County was one of the hardest hit areas, receiving more rainfall than anywhere else. Normal annual precipitation in the City of Boulder is 18 to 21 inches, which is basically what was measured during the length of this one storm. Daily, weekly, monthly, and annual precipitation records were all broken.

While the length and intensity of the rain, along with the topography of steep mountains draining into narrow creeks, was enough to make for a devastating situation, there were two other factors that contributed significantly to the flooding: wildfire and city streets.

From source to sink

Disasters of this magnitude are nothing new to this region. The only difference is the usual natural catastrophes are of the hot and dry kind. From 2010 to 2013, over 200 square miles of mountain and foothill forest, from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins, burned due to wildfire. All of this land is located above the Front Range cities and sheds water directly into the creeks and streams that run through them.

This is always the fear after the threat of wildfire has subsided—once the landscape is burned, runoff rates increase dramatically, causing flooding. One reason for this is that there are fewer trees to intercept the rain, but compounding the problem is that much of the accumulated mulch-like debris characteristic of a forest is burned away, and a hydrophobic, charred-over soil is left behind. Add the steepness of the terrain and you have the ingredients to turn a hot and dry disaster into a wet, muddy one.

While 200 square miles of burn area might seem enormous, the reality is that’s only a 3 to 4 year snapshot. The Front Range foothills are prone to fire and many small fires occur each year that aren’t captured by statistics. Past burn areas, a decade or more old, are also still largely unvegetated. It only takes a trip through one of the canyons or a climb to the top of one of the mountains to see the legacy of fire in the landscape. Unfortunately, it is a legacy that compounds the degree of disaster for years and years to come

Unvegetated burn scar at the top of the watershed, with debris catching/water diverting knee wall and terrace that saved the home to the left.

Unvegetated burn scar at the top of the watershed, with debris catching/water diverting knee wall and terrace that saved the home to the left.

In the floodplain of your own street

The week after the flooding, I had a conversation with long-time Permaculturist Andrew Millison, out of Corvallis, Oregon. In giving him an assessment of what was happening from the flooding, I mentioned some of the worst flooding wasn’t happening along Boulder Creek, but higher up in the landscape in areas that were never much considered at risk of flood. When I told him that one area of Boulder had recorded 22 inches of rain, he quipped, “that’s when you find yourself in the floodplain of your own street”.

Often left out of the conversation when talking about landforms and the natural ecology of a place is the very ground under our feet—cities. One of the most recognizable landforms from space, we would be foolish to think the things that humans have designed aren’t also effecting natural disasters. In the case of rain, the excess of impervious surface in towns and cities can have a tremendous impact on localized flooding. Streets turn to rivers, curbs turn to stream banks, and homes suddenly become sited in a giant grid of floodplain.

And that’s exactly what happened. Residences distant from creeks found their street-sheds sending torrents against their homes and through their yards. Soils became saturated, runoff increased, and basements and crawl spaces became inundated all over the region. People outside of designated floodplains suddenly found themselves scrambling for sump pumps, sandbags, and moving valuable items to higher ground. Many also came to discover their homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover flooding.

In the floodplain of your own street. Photo Credit: Laura Ruby

In the floodplain of your own street. Photo Credit: Laura Ruby

Everything was undersized

While the scope and scale of the damage is truly hard to comprehend, there seems to be one constant in it all, there was just too much rain for the size of the drainages and drains. It is this fact that needs to be focused on in order to plan for similar events in the future.

Modern water engineering would suggest making both drainages and drains bigger—to dredge the creeks and streams deeper and straighter, and be prepared to shed more water out of the towns and cities with bigger drains. That or accept the fact that these floods will occur occasionally and be prepared to count the losses.

There is another way of looking at the problem though. Instead of looking at the sink, let’s look at the source. During the flood, the City of Boulder’s stormwater drainage system (the sink) reached capacity in many places. To reiterate, there was just too much water running off the landscape (the source). The problem from looking at the source appears to be an excess of runoff rather than a deficit in drainage. As it turns out, other cities, from wet and dry regions alike, are looking at flood problems from this angle too.

Too much water is the problem AND the solution

If only there were a valve to the skies that could turn on the rain when we want it and shut it off when we don’t. Unfortunately, that’s not how the earth works, but we can achieve a similar effect by another means. Rainwater harvesting is fightin’ words in Colorado, but it may just be the panacea to our problems. From drought to flood, water harvesting works both ways. All one needs to do is look to cities like Tucson, AZ and Portland, OR.

In Tucson, city planners are looking at the excess of impervious surface in urban areas as a resource (5). From small rainstorms to deluges, the city street-sides of Tucson are becoming more and more lush. Rain gardens are being installed citywide along the streets to slow, spread, and sink the rain into the soil. This is not only helping to solve their growing outdoor water use and monsoon flooding problems, but beautifying the city, producing food, wildlife habitat, and free air-conditioning, not to mention adding more vegetation to the landscape, thereby slowing runoff before it ever hits the ground. These rain gardens are also helping prevent downstream flooding by capturing the rain as close to where it falls as possible.

Portland, Oregon is looking at rain gardens as a solution to water pollution rather than drought. Surrounded by waterways that are home to a wide variety of seafood and aquatic life, the traditional economy of the region is threatened by urban water pollution. Capturing the rain as close to where it falls and infiltrating it into the soil prevents polluted runoff from entering directly into salmon runs and other habitat. As it turns out, terrestrial organisms are much more capable of breaking down pollutants than aquatic ecosystems. The organization Salmon Safe has been encouraging the planting of these water-harvesting, water quality protecting gardens throughout the urban watershed for years now (6).

Absorbency

Imagine a city where every building’s multiple downspouts are passively channeling rainwater through the soil, irrigating the landscape along the way. Imagine every block lined with multiple water harvesting gardens capturing the runoff of the street itself, and using it for street tree irrigation. If you can do this, you are pretty close to seeing the solution.

Soil can hold an enormous amount of water. During the flood in Boulder, it wasn’t that all soils reached complete saturation everywhere, but more that most of the human developed landscape itself wasn’t shaped to retain water, and runoff formed more easily than it might have otherwise. If, as a matter of standard landscaping practice, the land had been shaped to infiltrate water rather than shed it, it could have prevented millions of gallons of water from rushing off into the swollen creeks and streams of Colorado.

The water harvesters adage changes just a little for flooding. If you can’t sink it, you can spread it, if you can’t safely spread it any further, at least you’ve managed to slow it. Applied citywide, the effect of this strategy becomes quite staggering and makes neighborhoods, and the region as a whole, more flood resistant.

All that water stored in the soil will also make the region more drought resistant for when the rains don’t come too. One problem during the flood was getting people to turn off their irrigation systems. A message was broadcast from the Boulder Office of Emergency Management to remind people to shut them off. I know of at least a handful of residences that didn’t have to worry about that. I’ve designed and installed dozens of landscapes that use nothing but downspouts as irrigation. The soil becomes the sponge for runoff and the reservoir for dry times. All of these gardens managed perfectly well in the flood, with no overflow, back flow, or any problems whatsoever. They were simply solutions; solutions to my clients’ water bills and to downstream flooding alike.

In essence, storm water drainage is lacking redundancy and multifunctionality. Instead of solely working on the sink of the problem, we can simultaneously work on the source. In fact, it would behoove us to work on the source before rethinking the sink, and it could be a whole lot cheaper, simpler, and multifunctional to encourage a new standard of landscaping practice rather than undertaking massive stormwater drainage reconstruction.

Water infiltrating into permeable parking lot at Naropa University.

Water infiltrating into permeable parking lot at Naropa University.

A hydrophobic fix

There is no need to stop there either. What if we could apply the same logic to rural areas and wildlands? Dirt roads need rain gardens too, but it would be particularly beneficial to direct our attention to burn scars. The principles are the same—slow the water down, spread it out, and sink it into the soil as much as possible. The form just looks a little different.

In many burn areas, the biggest resource for this work is standing dead wood. These trees can be felled and staked out along the contour of the slope in a fish scale pattern, effectively micro-terracing the landscape. This process already happens when trees fall of their own accord, but by positioning them on contour the result can be magnified by human ingenuity and mobility. This will not only prevent excess runoff, it will also aid in the revegetation of the burn scars by storing water in the soil and allowing a place for seeds to germinate and trees to grow. Vegetation is really the end goal, but you need a way to get it established.

How Rain and Trees Interact, Illustration by: Maggie Field.

How Rain and Trees Interact, Illustration by: Maggie Field.

In the drainages of the burn scars, the left over charred brush can be used to construct brush weirs, built perpendicular to the direction of water flow to capture more seeds, soil, and runoff. In areas with particularly high runoff volumes, rock walls or check dams can be built in the same way as brush weirs to slow the runoff and soak it into the soil.

These solutions are nowhere near newfangled either. In Boulder County, a group called Wild Lands Restoration Volunteers is already doing some of this work (7). A drainage known as Carnage Canyon has been fully restored from fire and massive erosion already. The work just needs to be replicated, and is a longer lasting use of time and energy when compared to current burn scar treatments that Boulder County has undertaken, such as spreading straw from helicopters (8).

Resilience

While these water-harvesting solutions aren’t anything we don’t already know, they are wholly underapplied. When we look through a permaculture design lens, a more wholistic perspective is achieved, allowing for the consideration of alternative solutions. If we continue to shunt precious runoff out of site (pun intended) and out of mind, we can be sure there is someone downstream that won’t appreciate being flooded out. Plus, there is always another drought on the horizon, during which we will be begging to have the rain again.

So, when the next historically significant rain event occurs, we can either scramble once again to save our homes and cities, or we can dance in the streets, from rain garden to rain garden, watching our drought and flood resistant landscapes passively functioning by the power of creative ecological design.

References:

  1. Floods Predicted: http://www.livescience.com/39645-colorado-flash-floods-predicted.html
  2. 1894 Boulder Flood: http://www.colorado.edu/geography/extra/geogweb/bouldercreek-2/preview/
  3. Big Thompson Flood: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2006/3095/pdf/FS06-3095_508.pdf
  4. Boulder Flood Rainfall: http://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/opinion/10250/inside-colorado-deluge
  5. Tucson Rain Gardens: http://watershedmg.org
  6. Salmon Safe Gardens: http://www.salmonsafe.org/about/our-story
  7. Fire Restoration: http://www.wlrv.org//index.html
  8. Burn Scar Treatment: http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-news/ci_17792604?source=pkg

Jason Gerhardt is an ecological designer and educator based in Boulder, Colorado. He has a degree in Sustainable Design and Diplomas in Permaculture Education and Design from Permaculture Institute USA. He currently teaches permaculture design and ecology at Naropa University and operates Real Earth Design. He can be contacted at jasongerhardt (at) gmail (dot) com.

Colorado Permaculture Convergence 2013 Schedule

Day 1 was amazing! I forgot to say that onsite registration is always available, so please feel free to just show up!

Here’s the schedule for the 2013 Colorado Permaculture Convergence at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI) in Basalt and Sustainable Settings.

Saturday September 28:

• 10:00 am – Welcome and Introduction Circle!!

• 11:00 am – Whole Systems Tour of Sustainable Settings with Brook LevVan

            • Start with all participants together while Brook talks about “Dreams to Reality”

            • Then break into two tour groups

• 1:00 pm – Pot Luck Lunch – Time to shop at the Guild’s Market

• 2:30 pm – KEYNOTE: Adam Brock:  The Future of the Permaculture Movement in Colorado – both challenges (climate change, reaching the “mainstream”) and opportunities (increasing interest, longer growing seasons, etc.)

• 3:00 pm – Breakout Roundtable Talks Begin – Playing off the Talk Above

            • Challenges – e.g. Climate Change and Permaculture Reaching Mainstream

            • Opportunities – e.g. Increasing Interest and Longer Growing Seasons

• 4:00 pm – Join Back Together, Adam leads the group in …

            • sharing their findings and drafting a collective vision and next steps

• 5:00 pm – Roundtable Talks

            • Group 1 – Permaculture and BioDynamics – where/how they fit together, with Lloyd Nelson and Ginger Janssen leading the talk

            • Group 2 – Animals in a Permaculture System – small- and large-scale, with Brook LevVan and Jerome Osentowski

• 6:00 pm – Dinner – $15 per person, provided by Sustainable Settings

• 6:30 pm – Music begins and bonfire

Sunday September 29:

• 9:00 am – Meet at Sustainable Settings for carpool to CRMPI

• 10:00 am – Breakout Tours

            • Group 1 – CRMPI with Jerome Osentowski

            • Group 2 – Basalt Gardens with Ginger and Rob Jansen

• 12:00 pm – Lunch – $10 per person, made by CRMPI

• 1:30 pm – Tour groups switch

• 3:30 pm – Evening activities options

            • Waterfall hike

            • Basalt Mountain hike

            • Float down the Lazy River at Sustainable Settings

A Journey Through Permaculture Education

by Ned Archael Charpentier

In 2011 I took the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI) in Basalt.  The presentation and experiences shared during the PDC by teachers Jerome Osentowski, Peter Bane, Kelly Simmons and Adam Brock built a strong base of knowledge for me to build upon.

After my PDC I continued studying and reading though was looking for something more.  In 2012 I received an invitation to a course which was designed as a follow up to the PDC called the Advanced Permaculture Design Course which was scheduled for July 2013.  Peter Bane, the teacher who inspired me greatly in my PDC would be leading this course so I jumped at the opportunity.

It was a hot day in July as I drove from my home in Wheat Ridge Colorado to the south of Salida to Moffat.  I was on a quest to delve deeper into understanding the array of topics drawn together through Permaculture.

I arrived at Joyful Journey Hot Springs where the event was being held and set up my tent.  Other choices for lodging were available as well including room, tipi and yurt.  We had the evening dinner and then circled up and went around introducing ourselves.  Similar to the PDC I met a student body of varying age, backgrounds,  professional paths and innate talents.  It warmed my heart to be amongst such great potential.

After this we broke for the night and when Monday morning came the  5-day intensive residential program officially began.  Along with Peter, Sandy Cruz and Becky Elder complimented the material at hand as they taught valuable insight related to their projects and experiences.

Along with this there were refresher lectures over the week revisiting the contributions of Bill Mollison and David Holmgren on sectors and zones and Holmgren’s 12 Permaculture Principles.  More overall theory was added to topics such as Keyline Design and The Pattern Language while more specific facts were given such as the proper decline for slopes in road construction in relation to designing whole community settlements.

For those in the class looking to consult in the future the lecture on the design project process will help immensely to see the best ways in which to approach a full design project.

Peter, Sandy and Becky were fluid with the timings of the lectures and keeping start and end times on point for group presentations.

There were six design projects to choose from all team based and five of these six were for local sites that we visited during the course.  These experiential design opportunities were manifested through years of hard work and patience through Sandy Cruz.  Living in the area she was able to work with local leaders to bring them together with us. The design sites included the Arkansas Valley Windbreak Project in the greater Salida area and design recommendations for Orient Land Trust (OLT), Valley View Hot Springs and Joyful Journey Hot Springs.

The sixth project was for the Colorado Permaculture Guild which I had chosen to be involved in for my group project and presentation.    This involved the concept of invisible structures which was taught during the course with the accompanying book for the course Permaculture Design: A Step-by-Step Guide by Aranya.

After the course was over we circled up and said our goodbyes. As I drove home I was filled with satisfaction for completing this challenging course.  I was now empowered with a greater lexicon of Permaculture to help me communicate more succinctly to help solve today’s problems.  In the end of this journey I had gratitude for teachers and classmates alike that had similar values and are also taking steps in their lives towards something greater down this road we all travel together.

Review: 2013 Advanced Design Certification and Teacher’s Training in Salida, CO

by Christina Zahn

I recently re-integrated back into “normal” society after attending two intensive 5 day classes, the Advanced Permaculture Design Course followed by Permaculture Teacher Training held at Joyful Journeys Hot Springs. The courses were masterfully held by Peter Bane, Becky Elder and Sandy Cruz.

Upon registering we were told to get ready to stretch and leave our other responsibilities behind. After checking in, setting up my tent and meeting my fellow classmates we hit the ground running, delving deeply into pattern language and fundamentals of design. Peter encouraged us to observe with a beginner’s mind, to tune our instrument (body-mind) and rise above the ordinary. Becky taught us about working with clients and how her first client is the planet. Sandy explained the importance of positive visioning using the highest ideals and ethics.

We formed ourselves into five design teams and immediately began to work on our projects. It was amazing how quickly five days passed. The presentations were thoughtful and brilliant. The students were of varying ages and different paths but we were united in a love of the earth and hope for humanity and together we made a beautiful whole that was truly greater than the sum of our parts.

After a two day break I went back for the Teacher Training Course. This class was more intimate and diverse with people traveling from New Hampshire, Florida, Arkansas and even Italy to attend. Peter lectured about vocation and self development, describing a teachers disposition as sensitive, passionate, patient and inspiring. Sandy taught us about the Huaca or sacred site as being the teacher creating the “container” or sacred space for learning and that teaching can be caught rather than just taught. She stated that a good teacher can teach any subject with the right research and resources. Becky described the dance of co-teaching as a stacking of functions creating a diverse voice and providing mutual support. They all noted the importance of humor and shared it often with us.

We were assigned to do a twenty minute presentation on an area that we wanted to learn more about. I found myself doing my homework in my tent with a head lamp in a thunderstorm. What a stretch! What a blast! Our presentations were recorded and we were able to watch ourselves which I found hilarious (umm…umm..) but afterward I realized that I could refine my speech and actually teach that subject.

These classes were incredible and life changing. The co-teachers made a powerful team. I learned more than I thought was possible and I made connections with wonderful people that I am honored to call my friends.

 

GOING TO THE CONVERGENCE?

The guild is introducing a new facet to the fun-raising campaign and we NEED your input! We are initiating the first FAIRE SHARE market. “What the heck izzat ” you may ask…good question. Here’s how it goes:

  • You find something of “surplus” from your harvest….. an extra jar of pickles, a handmade item, a packet of
    seeds you’ve saved, a bag of apples/squash/arugala… the possibilities are limitless.
  • Next, you put an “advertisement” on it. We will have labels available. It might be as simple as the ingredients,
    or your name and contact info for additional purchases, logo, company info. Again it could be as mysterious as a love note,
    an invitation, or ????????? How creative do you want to be?
  • Now, put a reasonable value on a price tag and attach it to your item.

There will be a booth at the convergence manned by one of us. We will take your generous donation and sell it. All proceeds will go directly to the guild fund.

The sole source of income for the guild over the past 4 years has been the monies gleaned at the convergence. (after expenses) Last year was the first year that we made any profit and as a direct result, we awarded several partial scholarships! We were so grateful for that opportunity. As the guild has been steadily growing, we are looking for creative ways to increase our bankpower. This year, we are hoping to add a limited, part-time employee to the guild staff. There has also been some discussion about creating a fund to help fellow permies in crisis.

The time has come to take this next step. It has been nothing but a labor of love and commitment to a dream that has kept the guild going and steadily growing up to now. We would like to have your support in increasing our financial resources so we can help more of you in return. Thank you all so much for your support in this next season of our guild growth.

the three sisters (Elizabeth, Tana and Lynne)

Colorado Permaculture Convergence 2013

We are thrilled to announce the 2013 Colorado Permaculture Convergence at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI) in Basalt and Sustainable Settings down the road in Carbondale the weekend of September 28-29. We will be touring the sites, hearing from local speakers including a keynote by Brooke Le Van of Sustainable Settings, participating in round tables and getting tons of time to unwind, camp and network with permaculturists from all over Colorado.

The Guild is unveiling the Share The Harvest Marketplace at the convergence! If you are harvesting and making food or other products this season, please consider donating a couple of items to the booth to help kick off this new concept… we plan to show off Colorado’s abundance and give people a chance to share their yields. So far we will have pickles, jelly, baked goods, herbal tinctures, tea, jewelry and, of course, produce. All proceeds will go the the Guild’s scholarship fund. We will co-brand each product with your information, if you wish, and hopefully expand this concept into a regular Permie farmer’s market some day!

This is going to be an outstanding weekend, and for those who haven’t seen CRMPI and climate batteries in action, this is your chance to learn from the source. Thanks to Jerome and Stephanie and all the interns for taking this on, we can’t wait! Register here!

CRMPI
2001 East Cedar Drive
Basalt, CO 81621

Sustainable Settings
6107 Highway 133
Carbondale, CO 81623

Cost: Adults $20 per day or $35 for the weekend, kids 12-18 $10 per day or $15 for the weekend, kids under 12 free

Camping: $30 per night for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Cost includes access to kitchen and showers.

Food: Please bring food to share for Saturday lunch and your own dishes and silverware. Dinner will be available for $15 per person Saturday night at Sustainable Settings, and lunch at CRMPI for $10 per person on Sunday. Kitchens are available at both locations for people to take care of their own needs.

Carpooling: Let us know if you have room in your vehicle or need a ride and we’ll match you with other people heading up from your area. Give us your name, contact info and vicinity to pass along.

Tickets: Register here for camping and tickets to the event. We will also take checks or cash at the door.

Volunteering: We need a few good people to give us a hand! Please email us if you want a free ticket and are willing to put in some time on either or both days. We need help with setup, cleanup, herding cats, organizing carpools, food prep and general go-fering.

 

Announcing the 2012 Colorado Permaculture Convergence!

We will return to the 63rd Street Farm in Boulder for a full weekend of events Sept. 22-23 including camping. Our theme is “Building the Guild” so we will be looking at the work the Farm has done in the last few years both in terms of growing food and building their support community. We will also have in-depth workshops by Permies from around the state, round tables for growers and teachers, fun activities for kids, and lively discussions.

We are seeking submissions for workshops and breakout sessions.There will be more time this year for hands-on projects and longer workshops. We are looking for people who have built successful guilds in any field using Permaculture design. Please reply if you would like to participate. Also let us know if you’d like to volunteer and get in for free!

Where: 63rd Street Farm

3796 N. 63rd Street

Boulder, CO

 

When: September 22 – 23, 9am-5pm with evening activities 6-9pm on Saturday

Costs: $15 per day or $25 for the weekend, kids under 12 free

Camping: $25 per tent, up to four people per tent (maximum of 10 tents, priority goes to people coming from out of town)

Food: Please bring food to share and your own dishes and silverware. Wood-fired pizzas will be made on site for $10. Salads and water will be provided.