It’s good to talk

My recent blogging silence is the result of abundant face-to-face communication recently. I spent this last weekend at the British Permaculture Association Convergence. This event happens just once every two years, and is a rare opportunity to meet up with three hundred or so other like-minded folks.

In fact, it was the first time that I have attended the convergence, but it certainly won’t be the last, despite having to camp – an activity that I’m not terribly keen on. The whole meeting only lasts about 50 hours, but they manage to pack a great deal in: workshops, talks, walks, eating, drinking and dancing. There was even a cabaret and auction on Saturday night. I was spoilt for choice when it came to deciding which sessions to go to, but the ones I chose included two diploma presentations (candidates for the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design must give a presentation to and receive feedback from a group of their peers), a presentation on designing a family garden, one on building sustainability into a business and one on grain and vegetable production. All were informative and genuinely enjoyable, but perhaps the best part of the weekend was meeting real people.

I am a very active member of a (closed) Facebook group for apprentices working towards the Diploma, and have become good friends with a great many people through this forum. However, I have never encountered most of them ‘in the flesh’ before… I didn’t even know what some of them looked like (like me, not everyone uses a photograph of themselves on Facebook). It was, therefore, a great joy to sit down with real people and share a real physical experience… including a muddy field, torrential rain, glorious sunshine, cake and cups of tea. The exchange of ideas via the internet is a valuable resource, but to consolidate this with a face-to-face meeting has added a whole extra dimension. Apart from anything else, we tend to keep comments relatively short when typing, but longer and more complex ideas can be expressed more easily when we are using speech. In addition, the lack of a time lag means that discussions flow more easily and there is the opportunity for more spontaneity.

So, what were the more concrete results of my weekend? First, the formation of a small group of scientists who have started putting together ideas about teaching aspects of science to support permaculture designers. Second, a new friend with whom I’m going to develop a bigger range of knitted permaculture teaching tools… with the intention of running a session about them in two years time at the next convergence. Third, the sale of my first set of knitted snails, along with another set sold for a ridiculous amount  in the auction to support the Permaculture Association. And lots of new friends to support and inspire me. Oh, and there was much hugging too!

There is a short film showing some of the activities over the weekend, but it only captures a little of the feeling of the weekend.

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