Guest Post By Amelia Roache
When I made a request of a friend to tell a few people about a workshop
I would be holding based in the exploration of Permaculture Design,
Nonviolent Communication and Dynamic Facilitation, a potential host asked,
“How does Permaculture Design relate to communication”?
Since my first Permaculture Design certification course I’ve been especially interested in cultivating an
awareness of the importance of listening and communication skills toward learning the permaculture
approach to design and continued success in the process.
Every course and community, school and business where intention and investment are for shifting to
sustainable living, necessitates a focused attention and practice of personal awareness, accountability
and non-hierarchical means to decision making.
Communication is a primary vehicle for our life expression to find place, conscious integration
as a tool for creating our world-by design.
Permaculture Design is a language of life. An applied set of ethics and principles in a
process of observing nature and all our relations, calling into play qualities inherent in each
life expression and designing to honor all with understanding and application of those qualities
for energy efficiency, healthy resourcing and re-generation.
The language that we’ve been taught to use for centuries, designed, is a language of war perpetuating
human activity without the connectivity that calls us to take action from a place of appreciation and confidence
in belonging to a whole and, valuing every element and it’s intrinsic characteristics, cycle, season. We have been
living a language and forging communication based in practices of punishment and demands. Laws have been designed
to obey rather than to call upon our freedom to choose and the joy of human collaboration: remembering and following our system of natural patterning, to honor ourselves and each other as we contribute to our shared experience.
What if the freedom to express what is truly alive for us in any given moment was appreciated, met without moralistic judgment and taken into consideration as part of a conscious whole toward the best solution for all? Do many of the human designed systems in place and, everyday communications cultivate trust and sustain life? In every environment, we address our needs. We are systems dependent.
If we are going to successfully create new systems that honor all, a shift in our inner and inter-personal communications is necessary. From that, a new approach to organization and systems design can fully take place. We have tools to apply wherever we are, with anyone; family, co-workers, neighbors, perfect strangers. We can attend to the human component toward sustainability by using Nonviolent Communication, Dynamic Facilitation and Permaculture Design as models for creating environments where people are energized to dialogue, vision, explore, discover and determine appropriate solutions in an ongoing process rather than showing up with a focused attention on arriving at a predetermined outcome with a set value. Trusting authentic expression as part of a creative process is much like the journey of Permaculture Design as we are engaged in discovering the inherent qualities and needs of every aspect of an environment and supporting the relationships that carry the potential to express efficiently and co-create. Dynamic Facilitation offers support toward solutions as participants experience sustained connection and interdependence that cultivate trust. From that, a group can become a fully functioning entity, free to explore and choose together out of the creative conscious. Nonviolent Communication is a tool for unraveling, unlearning, getting out of the habits that keep us repeating old thought forms, disconnected and designing systems from that perspective. We’ve been taught from a very young age to figure out what’s right and wrong, good and bad, intelligent and unworthy and try to “succeed” accordingly.
Expressing our personal nature and having it valued by others in action is necessary toward designing a new world to live in and care for. Each of these models calls us to become proficient at making clear observations, listening without moralistic judgment and choosing techniques and technologies most appropriate to meeting basic needs. If our communication creates blocks to our authentic life expression and healthy interdependence, our experience of human collaboration is
prone to dis-ease. How we communicate determines a lot about our environment, quality and availability of resources.
I’ve taken into account the amount of energy used to argue, to complain, convince, in many ways to respond from the place of “fight to be right”. In group dynamics (family, business, schools, organizations) we’ve been immersed in a hierarchical system of “checks and balances”, rarely approaching decision making as a creative collective. When we can come together and listen to our “human-ness” and identify our basic needs which our feelings are messaging for us, we sustain the possibility that everyone’s needs can be met. The rewards/punishment system that we have been immersed in for so long uses up a lot of energy toward life-alienating judgment, suffocating the possibility in a moment, over lifetimes.
If we continue to communicate in a way that supports war (competition, devaluing one another, commanding, ignoring,
giving in or up)—guilt is a result of this language—we will not be able to commune, access our creative potential and share in the abundance of healthy human relations. Human actions have an unprecedented effect on every other life expression; species, generation, birth, development. An incredible responsibility and opportunity is ours. Everything is by design.
Can you imagine an organization’s board meeting wherein a key responsibility toward decision making is expressing honesty and bringing your full attention to hear clearly? Can you imagine working in a place where everyone has a current, solid understanding and appreciation of how people are feeling, what their immediate needs are and furthermore, consistently invited to make requests of each other to meet those needs? Making these requests takes courage and determination. It takes a new language, dedication to practice and support to see it through. Plants and animals communicate on nature’s terms. They are living a rhythmic energetic exchange. The elements provide consistent support,
all relations are appreciated. We are alive to the purpose of sustaining life. It is of our nature. And, as humans, we need particular guidance in our decision making. We are easily distracted.
Permaculture Design is a means to arrive at decisions base on care for the earth and care for the people. It requires exercising the human capacity to co-create with a vision of health and abundance far beyond an individual life span.
If we are truly honoring our nature, it is interdependent. We are all designers and we need to show up as a species designing responsibly to meet our needs for food, shelter, learning, inspiration, transportation, companionship, abundance and put into place new systems to live in honor of all our relations.
I’ve shown up to many classes, groups, and organizations who’s participants and goals are ideally in support of “sustainability”. First, to get out of the binds of a cultural infrastructure that prompts mis-use of our life energy and insist that we “play the game”. Supporters are often stunted, strategies and relations abandoned due to limiting language and limited access to each other within a hierarchical system. The results of long-learned and exercised habits of domination.
How a meeting is run, how uproars, stress and challenges are handled can be inclusive, honest, full of appreciation, calling upon adaptability and resulting in advancement. Many people relate honesty and confrontation to brutality. It’s in the training and what we are listening for. There are tools to learn to listen, share our life experience and sustain the connection necessary to appreciate diversity and personal expression. If we’re not offering honesty as individuals about what we are sensing, observing and need how can we possibly come up with sustainable solutions for family, community and the environments that host all resources we depend on?
If we’re going to make this transition from a culture of consumption, debt and degeneration to a culture rich in the possibility of life expression, accountability and interdependence it will take a new language, way of communication and organization to see us through. The techniques exist. I call upon you to explore them, to ask for the support to engage with them effectively, integrating them into your workplace and lifespace.