Introduction

http://www.emptycagesdesign.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/IMG_7009.jpgThis section concludes my Learning Review. It utilises my observations and reflections and takes me to the next stage of the design process - where next? In this page, I share reflections on how I can better leverage my impact and I share ideas for my future projects. Taking this further, I have designed a post-MSc learning pathway that shares my next steps for continuing my learning. I have also included a comprehensive dissemination strategy that maps out how I can amplify the learning and content generated in my MSc to support the amplification of agroecology.

Post-MSc Learning Pathway and Goals

http://www.emptycagesdesign.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IMG_2372.jpgIn January 2018, I clarified ten key goals for my life. For someone like myself, with a huge diversity of commitments and passions, this was no easy task. It's clear I cannot achieve all of these goals at once - however, I see them as tides that will come in and out of my life with attention given to one goal over another at varying points in time.

For example, a huge focus of my work over the last five years has been education - now I would like to withdraw slightly from this field of work and focus more on gaining the scientific skills and knowledge I need in plant and soil science. I am also working with Corporate Watch and this is enabling of my skillflexes around research and book writing.

Here are my ten goals:

  • To run a successful plant nursery, growing hundreds of thousands of plants for ecological regeneration and food resilience.
  • To support grassroots groups and social movements with soil and plant science, especially to bioremediate and heal from the toxic legacy of capitalism.
  • To be a grassroots herbalist focusing on making medicines for people in need and be active in solidarity medicine projects (herbalists without borders, disaster relief etc). 
  • To design and manage high-impact agroecology projects that strengthen community food resilience and movements for food sovereignty.
  • To be a successful educator and facilitator of learning focusing on grassroots social learning projects, movement building, writing and distance learning programmes.
  • To develop my craftworking abilities to their utmost potential, have a deepened spirituality and intimate relationship with the land.
  • To be joyful, healthy and embodied and be adept at yoga, fighting and self-defence.
  • To contribute to anarchist struggle by dismantling the hegemony of carcerality, organising and inspiring unrelenting attacks on the prison industrial complex to weaken and dismantle it, and empowering prisoner organising to create ungovernability and the death of the system.
  • To organise direct mutual aid to prisoners, people and movements experiencing repression and to build resilience to repression to strengthen revolutionary movements.
  • To support multiple struggles through organised actions.

To make these 'SMART' I have broken them down into further objectives and goals for 2018. These can be found in my Learning Intentions Pathway spreadsheet. This spreadsheet also includes an overview of potential further training, a budget and a provisional timeline.

 

Future Projects (not included in wordcount)

My opinion is that with any learning review, it is inspiring to see where next for the Associate. This section is not included in my wordcount but includes my ideas around my next steps after graduation.

Finding my Focus

It is clear that my life is a wide ecology of projects. Deciding where to focus my energy has been the biggest personal challenge of all. I learnt tools recently to ‘grieve’ what we cannot achieve - to recognise our limits and do the emotional work to accept all the projects we will never do, the books we will never write, the places we will never go. This has been massively empowering for me, especially in recognising my growing role in the prison abolition movement and my slow departure from struggles for animal liberation (which of course are inextricably linked). Developing my chronic illness has also enabled me to set better boundaries and recognise my own limits.

To help with my decision making I produced a decision making matrix. On one axis were my projects. On the other axis were my values (anti-state, anti-capitalist etc), my passions (agroecology, animal liberation etc), my skills (organising, design etc), and potential yields (local impact, national impact, land base change etc).

I then counted how many ticks there were for each project. The outcomes were surprising - projects which I didn’t think would score so highly did. It also exposed how some of my paid labour projects are some of the lowest scoring projects and least congruent with my values, skills and passions.

Following this process, I felt clearer about which projects were most congruent with who I am. This then allowed me to explore the goals that frame and drive these projects.

My future projects include:

Solidarity Apothecary - I recognised through self-reflection that one of the main things that brings me joy in my life is plant medicine. I want to be active in the grassroots herbalist community and I want to leverage plant medicines as a tool for solidarity. Therefore, I have come up with the Solidarity Apothecary that will be launched in conjunction with the Tattooed Herbalist. The aim of the project is to make medicines for Herbalists with Borders groups and other migrant-support or grassroots clinics, grassroots disaster relief projects, Herbalists against Fracking, protest camps, people experiencing repression or those engaging in physically demanding direct action, such as anti-fascists or those sabotaging the badger cull in England. I will make medicines at home and also open up the land for collective harvesting and medicine making days. As climate change, migration and austerity increasingly harm people, I hope this small project can contribute to resilience and mutual aid efforts for survival.

Tattooed Herbalist - This is a website that will create a container for my work supporting grassroots groups and movements with plant medicines, plant and soil science. It will enable to me to establish myself in the fields of herbalis,, plant science, botany and plant ecology, nurseryship, medicinal ecology, herbalism and medicine making, horticulture, bio and phytoremediation - as well as radical ethnobotany and connecting these fields to struggles for a world without domination. It will generate contributions to my livelihood by generating plant and medicine sales, generating consultancy, teaching and project opportunities, book and zine sales and increased attendance at courses and events. To will enable me to share resources, as well as document my learning pathway in this field - similar to how Empty Cages Design served this function over the last five years while studying permaculture. I hope that readers will be inspire to fall in love with plants, recognise their importance and connect the dots between botany and revolutionary social change.

Agroecology Education Collective (AEC) - The AEC is an educational project I am establishing with a close friend and long-term comrade from Reclaim the Fields. Our aim is to organise high-quality, radical and participatory learning opportunities in agroecology. We want to use education as a movement building tool and work with radical pedagogies to contend with some of the more liberal/statist/capitalist tendencies in land and food movements. We will seek funding for the work in order to contribute to our regenerative livelihoods. We would like to design a Diploma in Agroecology course, as well as more fully develop the SoilHack concept.

Queer Training/Femme Fighting Collective - Before I developed costochondritis, I was regularly kickboxing and doing circuit training in my local town. This is something I miss this most. One of the projects I would love to start when I am well enough is a training collective for LGBTQIA folks and femmes where we can build relationships as well as our fighting and self-defence skills. I have been inspired by similar antifa and other fighting gyms in Europe and would love to organise a project like this.

Future Plans

These are some of my plans within my existing projects that I described on my Projects Page of this report.

Empty Cages Design

Empty Cages DesignI have a number of writing projects that I will start working on after I graduate.

- Anarchist Agroecology Zine: Short publication about agroecology and its revolutionary potential, with critiques of statist and capitalist aims of land and food movements. This would be a cumulative output of my learnings during my MSc.

- After Animal Agriculture: A book focusing on land use post-animal agriculture. It would briefly highlight the social and ecological impacts of various forms of animal farming, historically and today. Its main focus would be a vision for land use without animal farming, presenting ideas, evidence and case studies for alternative forms of land use, such as plant based permaculture, agroecology, veganic agriculture, perennial systems, agroforestry, rewilding etc. Its function would be to inspire how animal liberation could affect our food systems, and if its desirable and possible to feed our populations without animal farming. It could introduce a large group of people (they just reported that 1.2million people in the UK are vegan) to permaculture. If written intelligently it could impress upon the permaculture movement and could be a voice added to the global movement of people working to change our food system. My intentions would be to crowdfund the resources needed to produce this book.

- Veganic Land Use Diploma: The intentions of this project are to design and create an international diploma program in veganic land use to accelerate the adoption of plant-based land care practices to replace industrial and animal agriculture.

Feed Avalon: My personal intentions within my workers cooperative ) are to secure funds to organise a soil-related project, develop our remediation work and start an orchards and nut tree project. All of these projects are long-term plans after my intended year-long break from Feed Avalon.

Dissemination Strategy

I created a dissemination strategy to ensure that the content from my Masters gets shared fully and gaining yields in my field. Please note this is a working document. See the spreadsheet here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15rKqyOBMdh7zseHNMwnAKQwXyfkVvGn0TSWSLO5fP1U/edit?usp=sharing

Conclusion

In conclusion, this output has aimed to communicate the life-changing impact Gaia University has had on me. I have shared the huge growth in my personal and professional development, as well as the impact of my projects. I have shared my thoughts and observations on how we can amplify agroecology and continue to transform our food systems. I have articulated my next steps and how I can leverage my impact for ecological regeneration and social justice. Finally, I have aimed to illuminate the powerful pedagogy of action learning and how it can build confidence, increase skills and support real-world social change.

Empty Cages Design