The Many Roles of the Ecosocial Designer

This section describes my work as an Ecosocial Designer, who has like the EcoMachine, worked in multidinous, multileveled and invisbile ways to restore health to my community. I am also known as SuperSky Woman and this part of the output report illustrates the gaian skillflexes I have put into practice throughout this last year and in this output period.

Observe & interact

  • I have been consciously choosing to get more embedded in our towns governance system with an aim of learning how the town is governed so that I can more carefully interact.
  • I have identified points of interaction within the system e.g. I could see that knowledge and understanding were limiting factors and so organised the Jonathon Todd Education event to address this deficit.
  • I have learnt through this Ecomachine process about compass points. We need to find out the compass point or direction that a group has been coming from so that when we get involved or interact we can 'meet them where they're at' so to speak.
  • It was also clear to me through this process the complexity of knowledge needed before participating e.g. understanding the Ecomachine so I can explain it to others, researching the terminology of the different groups I have been working worth.

Building relationships

"We're manifesting together"

  • I have diligently been cultivating relationships 'behind the scenes' e.g. joining committees/commissions with the aim getting people to talk to each other, like the permaculture principles integrate rather than segregate.
  • An ecosocial designer will always ask, who are our allies? The next step is then cultivating the ability to utilise them.


  • Working with graduates from local University
  • Attending a number of meetings regular for an entire year e.g. Utility & Engineering Board, Waste Water Commission, Ecology board, Economic Development Council.

Staying Focused & Strategic

  • As Diane Dandeneau describes, 'Everything we do has to have a goal' this means staying strategic amongst several moves and opportunities.
  • With so much energy invested in projects we need to have maximum returns for minimum inputs.
  • Events need to be designed with purpose and intention.

Managing Information Flows

  • Presenting numbers & information to different groups of people from Engineers to the Economic Development Board.
  • Processing & understanding complex systems that involve numerous formats of information e.g. data, species, interconnections, across multiple disciplines - science, ecology, social sciences, economics and so forth. 
  • What has been unearthed in Lyons is a broken or missing communication system e.g. the Governance of our town is not working in an interconnected way. 
  • One can also learn how to use the spiral dynamics going round for example designing for this community context and how people can best receive this new idea.

Speaking for Gaia

  • Reminding people always of the ecological value of projects & the nonhumans we must design for.

Integrative Project Management

  • Everything has to have a step process to leverage & grow the project, managing this timeline is a skilful act e.g. organising events at the right time to have the most impact.
  • Skillfully managing responses to feedback and interactions with parts of the system beyond project control e.g. external factors such as articles in local newspapers.
  • This design process of bringing an Ecomachine to Lyons has involved both social design work (communication, linking people needing to be linked) as well as economic design e.g. Understanding the principles of financial permaculture, connecting the project to its budget, accounting for costs and proposing alternatives in the context of the current economic system.
  • Integrative Project Management also involves utilising allies to decrease the workload for example not needing to undertake a lot of research on a personal level as this is done by money others who feed in to me (e.g. like a branching pattern).

Utilising Leverage

  • Understanding who we are working with & maximising how to interact to cultivate yields. For example: Where are these people coming from? What are the steps they took? What is the business model they are familiar with?
  • For example we all to need to be aware if we go into a mainstream situation, where things are being done in a particular way that people have their own interest e.g. cars, kids, belief & value systems that we need to skilfully manage and design our approach to.
  • This involves changing our trajectory on way we influence people and the projects they are involved with.
  • Utilising leverage also involves knowing what the local resources are and therefore how to use them.

Embracing Action Learning

Using tools such as rapid prototyping for example when faced with the Head of the Engineering Board and the number of intended interruptive challenges he brought to the project, I rapid prototyped the situation, looking at how I would do it better the next time.

Web Weaving Work

What I have learnt through my conversations with Arianne is that we clearly have the technology we need e.g. the John Todds of the world but the really challenging bit is the social & community aspects. Connecting to people, finding their values, helping them to join the dots in their own worldview and helping to connect them to what you are offering is all the work of a skilled ecosocial designer.

Permaculture Ethics

When faced with the challenge of the 'Monsanto man' explored previously I asked, how can we show up with compassion for them? I knew that 'f I'd engaged I would have lost my power therefore I needed to - listen, take it in, analyse, see how I can use it & implement what I have learned. Therefore the problem becomes the solution and I remain true to my ethics and principles.

Self Care

Finally it is clear that an competent ecosocial designer also skilfully manages their time and promises and integrates healthy patterns of self care into their lives.

My own system of self care includes:

  • Gardening
  • Body movement
  • Long walks
  • Conversations with nature, for example with tiny plant in the river (that, like me, is trying to buck the tide).
  • Healing techniques that I have long ago integrated within myself

For me self care is about building reserves, and for me this comes from making those connections with nature and other people.

Creativity & Intuition

All ecosocial designers will know that project work involves not just left brain logic but right brain creativity and inner knowing.

For example when I discovered a fact in a report that was incorrect e.g. 20 acres vs 4 available for a waste water system, I was alerted to its inaccuracy firstly with my intuition. This was in combination with my prior knowledge but I first & foremost listened to my gut instinct that it was false.

I am also a passionate ecological artists and for me my art and my Ecomachine project work is interconnected. Some of these connections include:

  • The integrated nature of the work
  • That the work is coming from a cellular level e.g. working from very deepest part of yourself - which is also how the Ecomachine functions.
  • That art is about bringing other people into experiencing what you're experiencing, which is what I have been trying to do in communicating the Ecomachine vision.  
  • Art brings an audience into collaboration, which is what we have been working on with our project.

There is also something deeper than this, ultimately the EcoMachine wants to do something that is healthy and art wants to do something that is healthy. In summary by personal connections to the Ecomachine centre around:

I want to be an integrated person
I want to honour that biodiversity by being an ecological artist
I want to transform something that is useless into something that is integral

In summary it is clear that taking a technology that is invisible is like with the invisibility of creating art. When you see the final product (art or project) it is a unification of people working with you. For me working on this project has meant I could paint a picture of the beautiful thing that could be possible in our community.