Professional: Crafting a Right Livelihood
Key Events of Influence
A key aim that I set in my learning intentions & pathway design was to design a livelihood & portfolio to make myself more financially resilient for the near future and to support my future pathway, a part of this was deciding what would be the most effective pathway to take that was most congruent with who I am.
Several events & projects influenced my decision making this year:
- Regenerative Agriculture course - I was very impressed by Darren Doherty's experience as a design consultant, it was his experience that resonated & something I wanted to build into my pathway, completing as many designs as possible before marketing as a consultant. However the course also led me to another awareness - that I can only support 'stock free' or plant based systems.
The content of animal farming re-ignited my passion to end it! Organising to promote & support the start up of new veganic horticulture systems has become a total priority. I also had feelings about scale, and the dichotomy between horticulture & agriculture. Some of Darren's clients had massive land holdings, way more than is 'fair shares' & I realised working for social change around land & wealth re-distribution is more important to me than getting paid by rich clients!
- Zone 00 Design - this intensive period of reflection & analysis of my interests made me see that growing (especially the pleasure of propagation) was one of the most enjoyable parts of my life, looking at ways to maximise this to earn a living (rather than working 2 days a week in an office) has felt really important. Growing medicine & food for my community resonates with every cell in my body at present.
- Teaching courses - I completed a permaculture teacher training course & PTTLS certificate. While the course was very enjoyable, looking around the room I realised there was no shortage of 'wannabe' permaculture teachers!
I knew in my heart that organising was more important to me but that teaching could be a great compliment to other areas of my livelihood, especially in relation to more specialist courses that I could design & lead, such as the liberation permaculture course I have been working on. I also found being in a big group of people for long periods of time very emotional & mentally draining, I feel I would work best in one-to-one mentoring/tutoring roles and in small groups.
- Consultancy work - I have undertaken three consultancy projects this year and enjoyed every single one. I love working with individuals & helping them on their way, especially if they are passionate & carry a true care for the land. This is an area I would strongly like to develop, adding larger smallholdings/veganic farms to my portfolio.
Wild Heart Permaculture: Finding my niche in the permaculture movement
Wild Heart Permaculture is my 'brand' and website showcasing my work as a permaculture practitioner to the world.
How has my growth been expressed in my design practice?
In March this year I 're-branded' following my Zone 00 design and the influence of the key events listed to the left. Key parts of this included:
- Not hiding my history of prison or animal liberation work
- Making my 'solidarity links' to radical websites more visible
- Commissioning a new logo that reflects who I am more
- Altering the sections & texts to make it more 'personable'
- Changing my byline from 'Creating edible, medicinal & productive landscapes' to 'Design, learning & practice for liberated living'. The reasons were that permaculture is far more than landscape design & I wanted it to be expressed explicitly that for me the whole point of permaculture is that it is liberatory - liberating the land from industrial agriculture, building self-reliance & autonomous communities. Expressing that design can be a force for liberation.
- I also applied permaculture principles to the site, a design you can read about here, mainly to save energy for the reader & increase useful traffic to my website, which really has worked!
What skillflexes have I gained?
In the table below are the skillflexes I identified in my Learning Pathway Design that would be needed to be a successful permaculture practitioner. I feel every single one of these has been stretched through my output work and project focuses. For example, crafting my Brook End Design in my Output 3 massively built my confidence, enabled me to improve my horticultural & design knowledge, pushed my learning around IT and graphic design through the presentation of my work and enhanced my social skillflexes in working as a family in a collaborative way - truly desinging for desire in the context of self-reliance.
The only design skill flexes I feel I haven't developed relate to learning Computer Aided Design software, specifically Vectorworks. This is because it has proved unnecessary in my pathway to date in relation to the cost/benefit analysis of how much time would be needed to invest in learning the programme. It is however an intended MSc skillflex.
Of course as a permaculture practitioner, every single area of knowledge and skill can be strengthened, we are on a never-ending journey of learning from the Land.
A large aim of this year has been to develop my permaculture design portfolio. It is clear from the list below that this aim has achieved. Working as a Gaia University Associate has pushed me to apply design to all areas of my life, generating more non land-based designs than I had intended. Responding to new opportunities, such as working for Somerset Community Food, has enabled me to stretch my learning edges in relation to project design and management (designing year 3 of our access to land project and subsequently being successful with a grant application that has meant designing year 4 of the project and its transition to a regenerating enterprise not dependent on financial support). In summary, my design portfolio from this year includes:
- Brook End (with several sub-designs)
- Incredible Edible Somerset
- Frack Free Somerset campaign design
- Zone 00 Design
- Livelihood design
- Website re-design
- Inner city urban garden design
- Liberation permaculture course design
- Suz's garden design
- Msc Design
- Personal finances design
Radicle Writes: Developing my freelance writing
This year it was clear that my writing work had re-surfaced in my life as a key area for creativity and self-expression and a tool that was increasingly being called for to raise awareness of projects & issues I care passionately about.
I felt my freelance writing services were getting lost in my Wild Heart Permaculture website and so I decided to build a second site as a portfolio and placeholder for editors, and so Radicle Writes was born.
The Radicle is the part of a plant embryo that develops into a root, also read as 'radical', the word reflects my interests in social change as well as practical horticulture.
Pushing my writing edges & developing income streams from this will be a prominent part of my future pathway. Even without pitching to many editors this past year (due to busy-ness with Gaia Uni and so forth) I have still managed to feature in a number of publications including Positive News (regular permaculture column), Permaculture magazine, Vegan Mainstream, The Herbalist and Permaculture Works.
Click here to read my full portfolio of articles.