When people come together in groups or communities, they are capable of being an empowered force for positive change. Permaculture is a uniquely creative way to facilitate group dynamics and governance.
Robin Clayfield has been facilitating holistic learning programs for individuals, groups and organizations for decades. She is one of the Pioneers of Permaculture and her life’s work has included bringing her dynamic educational methods and processes to people all across the planet. Her many offerings include training on Community Governance and Decision Making as well as Dynamic Learning.
Ross Mars, Convener of the Australasian Permaculture Convergence (APC) in WA in October has invited Robin to be the principle trainer of a five day Advanced Permaculture Teachers Course to be held from 10th to 14th October.
Annaliese Hordern and Charles Otway will join Robin to present the course and Ross and others will have a Special Guest spot.
A quick transition will see Robin arrive at Fairharvest in Margaret River, hosted by Jodie Lane and team. She’ll be offering a one day Social Permaculture course on Sunday 16th October, joined by her good friend Robina McCurdy from NZ/Aotearoa. On Monday 17th she’ll also offer her ‘Dynamic Decision Making’ day, ideal for people involved in groups, teams, courses or organisations from any industry or genre.
Robin’s currently working on the ToolBox chapter of her new book, number 1 in the series of 5. Here’s one entry (unedited as yet) from the ‘Glue Processes’ section, complete with an activity and a process to try out. CELEBRATION PROCESSES This is one of the most important activities in the Tool Box for helping people integrate and be able to complete with the group and move forward. Celebrations can mark the end of a project or group, they can thank and honour a person who is leaving or they can acknowledge a job well done. It may be that a long term vision or goal is achieved and it’s time for the next phase of the group or that major funding has been received. Celebrations are like a ‘Rite of Passage’ which acknowledges transitions and supports the moving on. They often help people relax and step outside their usual roles and routines. They are a perfect team building activity as long as processes are used where everyone involved is comfortable or able to engage in them. They can also be a great way for people to meet each other in different contexts and enjoy themselves.
There are many ways to celebrate, from the traditional feast or party through to gently yet deeply acknowledging every person in the room and celebrating their skills, talents and/or inner beauty and wisdom. Activities to associate with celebration include music, impassioned speeches, group singing or chants, dance, toasts, childlike games… jumping into the next project to wild applause, balloons, streamers, colour. Vibrant whooshes of energy up and out to the world or to a person or group in the middle of the circle. Vibrant noise and delicious decadent food often come to mind when the word celebration is mentioned. Certificates, gifts and awards are often involved while encouraging people to dress up in fancy dress can add to a raised level of energy.
Consider more gentle ways to celebrate. Sacred chanting, stepping over a thresh-hold into the new, walking a labyrinth or creating archways or massage tunnels for people to walk through or be passed through slowly. A special note on a decorated card or leaf for a person who is leaving or one written thoughtfully for each person in the group can be tied to a tree or branch for discovery and distribution later.
ACTIVITY: In your companion journal, brainstorm all the processes and activities you know of that help groups celebrate. Add any from this page or that you notice in this book then make up at least two processes that could celebrate each person in your group for what they contribute. Also brainstorm any tools, props, elements, resources, foods, themes, music styles, costumes and the like that you consider celebratory. Now you have a big tool box of ideas and inspiration to select from next time a celebration is called for.
PROCESS: How Long is a Ball of String?
This is a powerful and beautiful process which gives space for each person to have one turn sharing how the course, group or activity was and feel the bonding that has been formed. Ask everyone to stand in a circle and have a ball of string hidden somewhere on your body, in your pocket or behind your back. Explain that each person will get an opportunity to share something as a completion statement to the group. It may be something that you really enjoyed, the thing you most loved or valued, a statement of acknowledgement or gratitude, some constructive feedback, your fondest memory… As the Facilitator, begin by making a statement that models the process then hold onto the end of the string and pass or throw the ball across the circle to someone else. Ask them to share their statement then hold onto the string at the point that holds it in tension with the strand that came from you, and pass to throw the ball to someone else across the circle from them. Each time someone shares they take a firm hold on the string as the web weaves and then pass or throw the ball on. As the process continues till everyone has held the string and shared a statement, the pattern builds, fills in more and more and creates a wonderful web of connection and strength between the group. Once everyone has shared it may be appropriate to acknowledge everyone for their contributions and participation. Point out the web as a testimony of how strong and connected the group is and the many gifts that were given and received by everyone. Ask others for their views and analogies of the web as well. One way to complete this is to then all gently gather in the string and roll it into one ball and place it in a special place out in nature somewhere or in a bowl or nest.
Thanks to Dana Wilson, Delvin Solkinson and the dynamic Gaiacraft Team, Robin Clayfield’s life grab, entitled ‘Heart Permaculture’ is now available for you to look at. Robin was invited to be interviewed on camera and the outcome is four short video clips plus this one, presented to a 45 person audience during the Social Permaculture Course in UK last September. Can you tell there are 45 people watching? It’s also way there’s no direct eye contact with the camera as she’s scanning and speaking to the whole audience.
Other videos by the Gaiacraft Team about Robin’s work and thoughts can be seen on the Video’s page
Robin’s excited to let you know about the Social Permaculture Weekend coming up at Crystal Waters Eco-Village on 10th and 11th September. Occasionally she offers a one day version when invited by interested groups. Last year she was part of the facilitation team for a five day Social Permaculture course in England with Starhawk, Robina McCurdy, Looby Macnamara and Peter Cow. 45 participants received the benefits of these experienced and passionate Permaculture educators.
Robina McCurdy is visiting Australia for a couple of months so Robin’s grabbed the opportunity and invited her to collaborate and offer this one off weekend experience and exploration of Social Permaculture.
It will especially appeal and be useful for anyone working in group situations, from course and group leaders and facilitators to transition group participants, workplace teams, community groups, social enterprises, even families.
Topics will include:-
What is Social Permaculture?
Using the Principles of Permaculture and applying them to social change and social design
Building group effectiveness and supporting the purpose of your group
Group dynamics, group culture and group work skills
Group and personal ‘Inputs and Outputs’, Zones and Sectors
Motivation and confidence to act for change and be involved in group activities
Interactive experience and group communication skills
2 months to go till the annual 6 day ‘Dynamic Groups, Dynamic Learning’ Creative Facilitation, Teacher Training and Group Leadership Training. Fully residential with luscious catering ensures participants get the most out of this globally acclaimed professional development course for educators and group workers from a diversity of industries and professions.