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frequently asked questions

Q: What is Permaculture?

A: Permaculture is a system of ecological design, originally formulated by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the ‘70s.  Now it is a worldwide movement of designers, practitioners and teachers.  Permaculture has a set of ethics, principles and practices that lead us to design systems to meet our human needs in ways that regenerate the environment around us.

Q: What does the word mean?

A: Permaculture started off as ‘permanent agriculture’ but has expanded to include much more.  Now we think of it as ‘permanent culture’.

student in garden
Rio in the garden

Q: So it’s a system of gardening?

A: Permaculture is much more than gardening, although it has a strong focus on food-producing systems.  It covers the full range of what we need to create a truly sustainable society:  soil, water, energy systems, forest management, natural building, economic and social systems, policies, and even entertainment as well as food production.  Most of all, permaculture shifts our thinking so we learn to weave all these aspects together into systems that are more than the sum of their parts.

Q: Starhawk, why did you get interested in permaculture?

A: I had been practicing, writing about and teaching Goddess-centered, earth-based spirituality for many, many years when I first learned about permaculture, and it seemed to me to offer the practical tools that went with our understanding of the earth as sacred.  And as climate change rapidly progresses and so many of our environmental and social systems deteriorate, I see those practical skills as more and more necessary.  But I like to teach them with a grounding in the spirit and to bring in the tools of ritual and magic – “the art of changing consciousness at will” - to help us learn.

Q: Who can benefit from taking an Earth Activist Training?

A: Just about everybody.  An Earth Activist Training touches on the whole realm of sustainability, but it’s not just a set of techniques or solutions.  It’s about learning to see how all the solutions fit together into systems—whether that’s food-growing systems, or cities, or social systems.  So whether you’re a home gardener or a policy maker, an activist or simply an earth-lover, the course will give you new skills, insights, and a way to assess and intervene in the systems around us.

student presenting
Flute presenting at the first EAT class, 2001

Q: How is an Earth Activist Training different from a regular Permaculture Design Course?

A: An Earth Activist Training includes a Permaculture Design Certificate Course—that is, an internationally recognized 72 hour curriculum taught by recognized teachers that opens the door to the permaculture world.  But we also include much more.  We have a grounding in spirit, starting each day with a circle, with song, meditation and ritual to help us avoid burnout and develop our personal regeneration.

Q: Do you have to be young, strong and fit to take the course?.

A: Well, ahem, Starhawk is in her sixties!  Many people take the course who are older.  If you are changing careers or entering retirement, it can be a great way to find a direction for the next phase of life.  We do incorporate lots of hands-on learning, but there are always plenty of young, strong folks to lift the heavy rocks.  And plenty of exciting, engaging activities for those of us who, shall we say, prefer to make contributions that are not so physical.

Q: How young can you be?

A: Our program is designed for adults, but we have had teenagers as young as sixteen taking the program, with parental consent, of course!

Q: Does EAT give a permaculture certificate? What does certification mean? How could I use it?

A: Yes, our two-week intensives issue a valid permaculture design certificate on completion. It's proof that you've taken a standard 72-hour permaculture course from recognized teachers. This doesn't mean you're now an expert. It does means that you have the foundation to begin a lifetime of study and work. Like any other certificate, it can be used in resume building, job and school applications, nonprofit grantwriting, and so on. If you're requesting college credit, your school registrar may want to see it. Permaculture certification is de rigueur in some fields, and can be one of your credentials if you run a green business. We also offer many short courses that are not certificate programs.

Q: I can't make this session, but would like to be informed of future EAT sessions.

A: Send us an email to EarthActivistTraining(at)gmail.com and ask to be put on the e-list to be notified. (This list is never used for any other purpose, and your e-address is kept private.)

hands in mud privthi from India loading rocks

Earth Activist Training
Original logo artwork by Beatriz Mendoza. Website by Terrapin.
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