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April 10-14, 2013
Social Permaculture: Nurturing Effective and Creative Groups


Black Mountain Preserve, Cazadero, Northern California
taught by Starhawk and Charles Williams


In this course, our primary focus is on the principles and tools for social permaculture and healthy group interactions. We teach interactively, through many exercises, group discussions, experiences and reflections. Each day in the afternoon we'll have hands-on permaculture projects that provide us with opportunities to use our social tools while learning some permaculture techniques and skills ("stacking functions"). Physical work is geared to individuals' capacities and people of all levels of ability will be able to participate.

The Course
When we come together to co-create, to empower one another or to challenge the structures of unjust power, we face unique challenges. All groups struggle with issues of power, conflicts, and the need to make decisions. Collaborative groups may be healing, nurturing, and inspirational—or they may founder on the rocks of conflict and poor communication.

In this five-day intensive, we'll explore how to structure our groups for maximum group health, how to share power fairly, improve our communication skills, mediate conflicts and facilitate group processes. And we'll share tools for decision making and constructive critique. Starhawk's latest book, The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups, will be our foundation.

We'll balance the process work with time outdoors in nature, including hands-on work on the land, as well as walks, bird sits and wilderness awareness. Insights from both permaculture and magic will help us learn to be more effective and joyful as we work together to regenerate our world.

The Social Permaculture Course is for you, if...

• you work with a community group, collective, coven, circle, affiliate, or any aggregate of folks who are making decisions and creating collective processes;
• you are a Transition Town initiative anywhere in the world;
• you are a member of an NGO that is committed to nonprofit activities;
• you are a shareholder in a cooperative of any type;
• and let's face it… if you belong to a family, live around other humans, or generally have social relations: this course is for all of us!

Pricing: $600 - $800 US sliding scale. Includes lodging and fabulous meals. Some work trade available, apply early.

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About the Place
Black Mountain Preserve is in the Cazadero hills area of northern California, in west Sonoma County. The Preserve centers around a complex of dorms, dining/kitchen, classroom and offices, surrounded by 485 acres of forest and coastal hills. Expect a wide variety of natural beauty. Walking trails and unused dirt roads lead off in several adventurous directions, through ecosystems of redwood/fir, oak/madrone, and coastal prairie. You can see the ocean from high points on the property, while a couple of creeks run through in low spots.

We have held EAT sessions at Black Mountain since 2001; it is currently owned and operated by the Padmasambhava Peace Institute, a Tibetan Buddhist group. At one time BMP was a state camp for petty offenders, but renovations have made it a cozy and comfortable conference center, a real-life swords-into-ploughshares example. There is a Peace Garden designed by EAT students. Next to our classroom is a beautiful and authentic Buddhist altar room, which is open to EATers for quiet meditation.

Standard accommodations are dorms with cots; bring your own bedding or rent some from BMP at extra fee. BMP is easily accessible by car; we strongly encourage carpooling and will have a shuttle for people flying in or taking the bus. "Transportation Details" are in the confirmation packet when you register, as is much more information about the facility.

Almanac for April 2013
In this part of the world, spring weather is hard to predict. It could be sunny and warm, but (at the tail end of the rainy season) serious rain is still possible. Spring here is relatively mild (daytime temps usually around 50F-70F, nighttime around 40F), but late frosts are possible. We advise all springtime students to bring warm layers and consider rain gear.

It's the time of year when the hills are green, creeks run fast, and redwood trees stretch and laugh. Wild flowers are abundant. Birds and critters frolic, salamanders meander, frogs sing nightly. April 10 marks the new moon, so the stars will be fabulous.

Food
EATers eat well. Our standard is gourmet, organic, vegetarian meals, served three times a day, plus afternoon munchies. Our favorite chef Carin McKay and her crew will be cooking for us. All food is fresh, plentiful, and substantial. Teas and coffee are available at all times.

Please use your registration form to request special meal choices. Meat is served several times a week for omnivores. Vegan variations are available at every meal. Options such as no-dairy and wheat-free are also possible if requested in advance. While we make every effort to accommodate food needs, those with highly specialized diets may need to bring some of their own food. Please check with the EAT coordinator if you have any concerns about the food, and to make special arrangements.

 

 
Springtime in the hills
Springtime in the Cazadero hills


garden building
Building the "rain" garden at Black Mountain Preserve


catching rays
Catching some rays on the lunchbreak

Recommended reading:
Starhawk. The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups
Starhawk. And "The Five-Fold Path of Productive Meetings" (download free at starhawk.org/).

What's the plan?
Here's our daily agenda—we are also flexible and responsive to the group's needs and willing to follow the energy where it takes us!

Daily Schedule
Breakfast: 7-8:30 AM
Morning circle: 9 AM
Morning session: 9:30 AM
Lunch: 12:30 PM
Afternoon session: 2:30-5 PM
Break: 5-6 PM
Dinner: 6-7 PM
Evening session: 7:30-9:30 PM

Daily Agenda
Wednesday:
Morning: Arrival and registration.
Afternoon: Build altar, set up.
Evening: Introductions to one another, introduction to the course. Ritual—create biobrew/set intentions. Intention meditation. Form affinity groups.
Thursday:
Morning Circle: Opening ritual. Observing and storytelling.
Morning: The game of "yes." The mandala of healthy groups. Affinity group stories: the group cultures we come from. Power and responsibility. Many types of power. Power and privilege. (Meditation).
Afternoon: Consensus session. Walking meditation: What type of power do you have? What responsibility do you carry? Building an herb spiral in ritual. Reflection on roles, how we exercise power.
Evening: Facilitating group decision-making: "The Five-Fold Path of Productive Meetings."
Friday:
Morning circle: Elemental sculptures.
Morning: Communication/Trust. Feedback and constructive critique. Energetic support—hassle lines. Apology practice. Nonviolent Communication—request versus demand.
Afternoon: Gardening projects and leadership roles. Positive and shadow sides of leadership. Reflection.
Evening: Trust-building. Ritual co-creation. Saturday:
Morning circle: Anchoring to core self.
Morning: Conflict transformation. Difference between misunderstanding and wrongdoing. Backing down the ladder of assumptions—demonstration and practice. Difficult people—brainstorm, role plays. Afternoon: Short hands-on—mulching blitz. Group problem-solving brainstorms, role-plays.
Evening: Fire ritual. Make biochar. Song circle or story circle—everyone gets a chance to shine.
Sunday:
Morning circle: Cheering on.
Morning: Facilitation, part two. Creating agendas. Dealing with problems.
Afternoon: Closing ritual: Claiming our power.
Clean up




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