OP4 - The Song of the Universe and Becoming Co-Creators

OP4 - Commentary

OP4 - Core Report pg. 1

OP4 - Core Report pg. 1

OP4 - Core Report pg. 2

OP4 - Core Report pg. 2

OP4 - Core Report pg. 3

OP4 - Core Report pg. 3

OP4 - Annotated Resources

OP4 - Annotated Resources

Map of Contents



    1. Note to the reviewer about navigation
    2. Abstract
    3. Overview of OP design methodology
    4. Cummulative Reflection on OP Design

~ Navigation

The first page of this report—the Commentary—deals primarily with the process of its creation and its relation to my other work. The following 3 pages make up the Core Report, or the main report, and I encourage those who are not official reviewers of Gaia University to skip ahead to that section. The 3 pages of the Core Report are meant to be read consecutively from front to back just as a normal document. Within that section there are several short videos. It is not absolutely necessary to view them though they will help you to better understand the material. The last section includes a selection of annotated resources which, due to the nature of this material, I encourage all to check out and make some bookmarks for future self-study. 

~ Abstract

This Output Packet focuses on the ultimate cause of creation in nature, reverse engineering its patterns to discover how they come to be and why they are the way they are. The discovery one makes when they travel this path, led by innate curiosity, is a beautiful one. Here I have taken some complex subjects and have presented them in a simple, straightforward manner that can be understood without any prior knowledge of this topic. After a review of some of the work done in the field, practical applications are considered for the the use of this knowledge, specifically linked to regenerative design and the role of humanity in nature.  

~ OP Design Methodology

For this OP I followed for the most part the design laid out in the Gaia U template, except for the core report where I combined the suggested elements into a more straightforward report form. I thought this was more appropriate due to the nature of the material and the way I want it to be experienced by the reader. The goals for this OP are the following:

1) Examine the patterns in nature and the ways in which they are perceived by human beings 

2) Explore the cause of patterned effect, namely the ways in which vibration creates and organizes physical matter

3) Build a conceptual framework for a worldview based on this knowledge 

4) Identify the role of a designer and the practical applications of this worldview 


For this OP I used an Apple MacBook Pro with the following software programs: Scrivener for all writing and organizing research documents, XMind and Scapple for creating mind maps, Google Chrome for browsing internet resources, Adobe Photoshop for creating diagrams, and Mahara for publishing the OP.  I also used an Amazon Kindle for reading documents and e-books. 

In particular I would very highly recommend Scrivener to any and all readers. Try the 30-day free trial and go through the tutorial, it is sure to change the way you create content. 



    1. Life Update
    2. Pathway Tracking
    3. Participation Record
    4. Managing Time and Promises
    5. Project integration
    6. Skillflex Assessment

~ Life Update

As of the date this OP is submitted for peer review, my wife and I will have two weeks remaining until the birth of our daughter and first child. In these past nine months I have naturally been thinking more about the future, about the education of my children, and about the kind of father I want to be. This has had a big impact on my learning, my pathway and my projects. I have a new sense of responsibility in my life — to be a provider, to be an example, a teacher, a mentor, and a leader. My current project goals are all tied to these emerging roles.

Update: Now submitting for pro review, my newborn daughter is 8 days old. Her birth was by far the most incredible experience of my life, and I had the privilege of witnessing it first hand. I have found that it is true what they say --  that there is no love like that between parent and child. She has given me new inspiration and motivation for working toward a better world. I want her experience in this life to be filled with beauty and well being. I want to be able to show her how to live well and enjoy life. All of my work will be dedicated toward that aim. 

~ Pathway Tracking

I originally had planned to have this OP completed by the first of December, but after turning in back-to-back OP’s before that I realized I needed a little breathing room so I renegotiated the due date for my OP4. I continued to follow the tasks laid out in my plans presented in the LIPD, and buying myself an extra month allowed me to accomplish everything I wanted to before I turned it in. I am still currently on track to complete my first cycle of the program in under 1 year, which was my goal. 

~ Participation Records

I talked with my Adviser Liam on November 24th for 1 hour. During this call I renegotiated the due date of this OP as I was coming to terms with the fact that I didn't have the time to finish it for December 1st. He emailed me a summary of our call which is attached below. 

I've also been actively communicating with Andrew about a project collaboration inspired by my proposal in OP2. We have spoken on Skype a couple of times now and have set up a Mahara group where we have been writing back and forth. This project is still in the early design phase but is progressing nicely and I'm very excited about it. More on that to come. 

~ Managing Time and Promises

I originally had planned to submit this OP one month prior, but decided to renegotiate as I was so busy and needed a little space. That turned out to be a very good move. I was able to get back on track and fill in a lot of the gaps that were left open at the time. It has still been a very busy time for me though, and it has been a little bit of a challenge integrating this work in with everything else going on in my life. One of the main tools I have been using is Kanban Flow, which I’ve come to rely on to keep me focused on tasks. The site has a built-in pomodoro timer, which allows me to work in 25 minute bursts followed by short 5 minute breaks and a 15 minute break every hour. Creating this structured rhythm to my workflow really allows me to focus and push aside the distractions - I can check my email etc. during the breaks. 

~ Project Integration

This project was a bit more academic in nature, but the topic has fascinated me so much that I really wanted to use the OP as an opportunity to dig in deeper with the material and begin the process of integrating it with my own perspective. I’ve always been attracted to the philosophical side of permaculture and in particular with the concept of seeing nature as a teacher, which I think I’ve done on some level throughout my life. I see this as one of my personal strengths within the field, whereas with many of technical ‘hard’ permaculture’ elements I am still a beginner in most regards. As a teacher I enjoy most helping to shape my students’ perspectives, and I feel strongly about following the paths laid out in this OP to eventually integrate these ideas into something educational - whether that be giving courses or presentations, creating an ebook or online content, or all of the above. The main focus here, however, is simply following my curiosity about the way things work and becoming a better human being, having stronger relationships, and putting myself in a better position to create value for others. 

~ Skillflex Assessment


There was a big Zone 0 focus for this OP cycle, and I feel like I made some big leaps forward in my own understanding of myself and my place in the world. By creating this report I was able to take some ideas that have been floating around and organize them, conceptualizing them into something that has become more accessible and useful. The effect has been more energy, clearer thinking, and a surge of inspiration. I now have a framework and an evolving collection of tools and techniques to guide my activity. This directly addresses the goals I set out in my LIPD, which were centered around being more present in my day to day life and in my relationships. The result of this OP has been greater presence of mind and a stronger curiosity about the world around me. 


I have always enjoyed researching and writing, and this OP was designed with the goal in mind of making this a part of my professional life in the future. I have further fine-tuned my research process, improving my skills with programs such as Scrivener for collecting and condensing complex information. This process is an important skill in this space, as much of the material I have researched for this OP is quite dense and difficult to understand.  The writing in this OP is more informal than would be a report for an academic journal as the background of my audience is more diverse and many of the concepts will be new to many readers. I enjoy the challenge of making difficult material accessible to a wider audience. I have also begun to lay the foundation for something I would love to teach someday. I improved my skills in time and project management as well, further developing my workflow that will enable me to produce content professionally in the future. 


One of my peer goals that I identified in my LIPD was “to be compassionate and empathetic toward all living things.” Over the course of researching this material and creating this OP I think my compassion and empathy has deepened considerably as a result of new knowledge that has helped to transform my perspective. I have gained some experiential evidence of the interconnectivity of elements in the universe by taking this knowledge out into the real world and living with this updated perspective. Another LIPD goal was “to be open and honest with myself and those in my community.” I have recently made a fresh and concentrated effort to open up to those around me and honestly share more about my experiences. This has freed up a lot of energy that was bound up in keeping things to myself, energy that has gone back into creating this OP. 


Several LIPD goals where addressed here—“To contribute to an emerging paradigm that challenges the patrix”: This work helps to build a foundation of knowledge that frees one from the oppressive misconceptions promoted by the patrix, such as isolation, separation and the commandeering of intelligence. It opens up a pathway to a more empowering and holistic worldview than the one perpetuated by the establishment. Another LIPD goal, “To achieve a higher level of independence from greater system forces” is closely related. This independence begins, in my opinion, with perspective and mindset. Over the course of creating this work I have increased my ability to think independently of my formal education, to push myself into new realms of understanding and as a result I have further empowered myself to be a force for good. 



    1. Learnings
    2. Goals
    3. Incorporation of Feedback
    4. Dissemination Efforts

~ Learnings

It was a challenge sorting through so much information while doing my research for this OP. Much of the material was very dense and difficult to understand as well. I learned how some of the resources in my toolbox can really be effective for helping me with this, especially Scrivener which I have come to rely on. I really energized the base of my knowledge on which permaculture and regenerative design sit, which has deepened my passion for this field and has shown me an avenue I’d like to pursue within it. I believe that if I follow my curiosity in this direction I will be given an opportunity to really offer something valuable to my community and add something unique to the knowledge commons.

~ Goals

All goals laid out in the Design Methodology for this Output Packet were met. 

~ Incorporation of Feedback

I went back and considered the main edges that were identified in my past OP reviews. These included less abstract intellectualization in my un/learnings, more on my experience in creating the OP, more contextualization of the work, and assuming more of a leadership role by delegating tasks. 

There wasn’t much opportunity to delegate for this project, as it was mostly centered around research and content creation which I did alone. But I made a concentrated effort to improve in these other areas mentioned. I tried to stay more grounded and down to earth in my un/learnings and reflections, as I know I can get overly philosophical and stray from the practical applications. I also tried to include some more on my personal experience when going through this process, which was helpful in contextualizing it in my own life and in the field in general. 

~ Dissemination Efforts

I will share the Core Report section of this OP with selected friends, family members and guild buddies who I think will be interested in the work I have done. The content created here will eventually be expanded on and integrated with something more comprehensive. Ultimately I would like to design and create an online course and an ebook centered around this topic, integrating these with my Gaia U pathway further down the road as I progress with the concepts personally and mesh them with my other projects. I will also use some of this material on my blog in the nearer future.

Unlearning Journal Excerpts

The following are passages from my un/learning journal, written during this OP cycle: 


One of the primary outcomes of this process for me was an amazing surge in my general curiosity about the universe in general. I was creating the model of the circle of fifths matched with colors and elements when all of a sudden I had this sudden urge to go back and study chemistry (I never liked chemistry in school). I feel like I have this new lens to view life through, and there is nothing I could possibly see now that would not fascinate me. There is this tangible thing now that I can see, feel and understand which runs through and ties together all things. It's something that I've finally been able to conceptualize and make available to me in a practical way. So it is this curiosity that will be my fuel going forward, and the tank is full.  


Related to my last post on curiosity, I had several breakthroughs here in regards to the design of my children's education. I believe it would be possible to design and build an entire K-12  education on the foundation of this knowledge. There is nothing that is not related to it directly. The focus would ever remain on keep their natural curiosity about the world alive and thriving. To create such a thing is an upcoming goal of mine (first child will be born in 2 weeks), and I will definitely be making this a part of my future Gaia work.  

Music and Nature

I have always had a love for music -- creating it, playing it, listening to it, talking about it. It was the topic of the first conversation that my wife and I ever had. Many of my closest friendships are based on it. My other great love is nature, and this is where my passion for permaculture came from. Until quite recently these passions seemed to be relatively separate from one another. But through a series of insights and by coming across the works of certain individuals, I have been shown a path for integrating music and nature completely--into the same exact thing. Two loves have become one as big as three, and as a result my passion and energy has become far more focused. Part of me wishes I had seen it sooner, the other part knows it could have only happened as it did, and I feel like I'm ready to dedicate the rest of my life to following this passion as far as it will take me. 


Tom Palmer
12 January 2015, 14:49

Peer Review for Rhia Ironside

Ava Klinger
18 January 2015, 14:07

Wonderful work!!!!

Tom Palmer
28 January 2015, 11:06

Mark Krawczyk
02 February 2015, 18:44

Very impressive Tommy.  Well done

PCM Review attached below

Liam McDermott
05 February 2015, 14:30

As always, very nicely executed project on a vast and esoteric topic.  I greatly enjoy reading all of your OP's both for the interesting content and your process of execution.