Output Process Reflections

What was the experience like?

Creating this output has felt like a slow cooker - with my program pause in October until February 2013, the ingredients and juices were left to cook slowly in the back of my mind while I focused on project work and commitments. As such, how the MSc process will integrate into my life has been allowed to stew and slowly over time by listening to feedback I recognised I could not specialise even if I tried - I cannot reduce complexity to a neat few categories, and so I came full circle to fully embrace 'Integrative ecosocial design' rather than focusing on plant based permaculture as originally planned. I have learnt that being strategic does not mean being narrowly focused or a specialist. The more integrated the more strategic, is now my motto.

What went well?

Following the design process and ordering my thoughts with analysis tools, such as the skill flex tracker, was hugely beneficial. Also the prioritisation process was a major turning point in my decision making processes that was the catalyst for my output packet designs.

Accepting a longer timescale for my Masters (2.5-3 years) has also significantly reduced the pressure and created space for an empowering approach that allows me the support of the Gaia U community for longer and more thoughtful observation and interaction with my Gaia U work.

What was challenging?

Despite this 'slow burner' process it has still been challenging to 'polish' off the output packet ready for review. Having my appendix out Mid-March, pushed back my submission date until April, and as the deadline approaches, there are still many aspects I have had to simplify or accept as they are, as organising and time commitments escalate.

What would I do differently in the future?

I would dedicate more solid blocks of time for ensuring the completion of certain elements, and book these in as far in advance as possible rather than 'snatching' time pockets where and when as they arise.

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Learnings from the Review Process

I have also tweaked this output report following my own self review process, as well as more consciously following the peer review process.

I have had to make that decision between 'get it done and get it good' and investing time & energy to better meet requirements and my own high standards.

Key feedback that I took from the peer review process included:

  • Proofread after
  • Subtitles for pictures
  • Images in appendices also
  • More images generally
  • Explicitly explain design framework e.g. SADIE
  • Annotate resource review better
  • Section on patrix and meme plexus
  • Integrating external knowledge & referring to it
  • Overview of who I am collaborating with - leading, supporting, following
  • Brief explanations of roles and accountabilities in projects
  • Time & energy management in projects
  • Assessment of the practical benefits to the field & impact > clarity over priorities & where to invest how much energy
  • Spend more time on reflections & learnings
  • Decision reasons & effects
  • Time management
  • Wordcounts

I have only been able to act on a number of this, for example annotating my resource review more thoroughly and getting another set of eyes on my text again to pick up the spelling/typing errors, however I endevour to use all of this extremely useful feedback for the design of my Output 2.

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Commentry on Un/Learnings

Key vectors that stimulated my un/learning included:

1. My main advising sessions with Valerie Seitz. Key moments of inspiration included:

  • Seeing my pathway like a Prezi, being able to zoom in and out on meta and micro levels
  • Thematic threads being part of an overall MSc carpet!
  •  General encouragement and feedback around my self care and life balance

2. The article 'Agroecology and Politics. How To Get Sustainability? About the Necessity for a Political Agroecology' by Manuel Gonzalez de Molina in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems Journal, 37:45–59, 2013.

This article triggered the understanding of my real desire of undertaking the MSc - to increase the scale and speed of transition to agroecological practices (rather than becoming an 'expert' in agroecology & the science itself).

3. The National Permaculture Diploma Gathering in Birmingham 2013, was a trigger that I need to invest in my radical niche.

4. My BSc Output 5, which made the concept and practice of 'community organising' more clear and explicit in my work for radical social change.

5. Emerging personal feelings and re-stimulation around the prison system that supported me to embrace prison abolition as an output focus.

6. The Agroforestry Day with the Organic Research Centre, made me realise what is missing is not data or information, but implementation and how to get these practices applied across the planet.

7. The Transformative Action Learning Certificate played a huge role in designing my learning support system.

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Learning Journal Extracts

Saturday 12th January 2013

I'm finding it really challenging to decide about the focus of my masters pathway. I feel like I have so many interests, projects, directions.. I really wanted to graduate with an open topic that was really focused & strategic but now I feel like I'm just layering everything up & up & up. Does Gaia U really have to serve my whole life?!

Saturday 26th January 2013 - edit this

Card reading about my masters (which is basically designing my life, not just my MSc)

World Tree Spread with the Wild wood tarot

1. Roots - what is the root of the issue?

Six of bows, abundance (reversed)
After a period of stress & hard struggle, the prices of healthy relaxation is vital to re-arm & re-energise the spirit in preparation for the challenges of the coming winter

reversed - maybe I'm still in recovery & what I'm fearing is not having the abundant energy/time to enjoy the fruits & rewards of doing the msc. Also maybe haven't celebrated actually graduating/all the hard work of the last year+
Root - scarcity mindset? Afraid of my own potential?

2. Branches - what are the possibilities of the issue?

Queen of vessels - salmon
Ability to swim upstream/work harder.. wisdom - can gain it from this period. Honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice seen in me. virtue, kindness, simplicity & devotion, joyfulness & recovery, security

Swimming upstream makes us stronger! Way to obtain wisdom isn't always easy…!

3. East - what do you take with you?

2 The Seer

Wow privileged card to get! 'The time has come for you to focus your power & let it flow through you. Many dreams or desires related to creative emotional processes are ready to be applied in your day to day life & you must now give vent to those hidden or suppresssed longings. This may also relate to healing, sexual relationships or partnerships. Now the manifestation of inner spiritual & esoteric insights into your practical & physical daily life wil bring profound rewards or results. Sign of maturity.

> joy of bringing pleasure & knowledge to others
> mediation based on grounded energy & skill
> thought & intellect mantured and stabsed through her deep rooted power, groundd in the memory of the conscious earth
> catalyst for manifestation of creative & artistic work
> balance emotion, intellect and willpower
> positive exercise of will manifested by emotion & commitment & resulting in outer material effect > Earth magic
Branches: inner vision, empathy with nature

4. West - what do you leave behind you?

Knight of Bows, Fox (reversed)
Determination leads you to success but sometimes at personal cost (don't burn out/go to jail!).. native wit & cleverness. Leaving old ways behind. Separation by distance. changing direction

5. South - what do you hope for?

Seven of vessels, mourning (reversed)

A time to honour what is dead & mourn for what is gone. Letting go. Am I wanting to grieve the old nicole? consolidate my interests & passions now? find meaning in land work & put ghosts to rest? admit failre of shac/actually grieve about ar movement and what we witness?

Craving a completed journey?

6. North - what do you fear?

17 The pole star

The blessings of the stellar world bathes the Earth and the human spirit with healing & regenerative energy.

Destiny!! sign of new era or cycle.. maybe feels a bit fated? Like answering my calling? Fear of meeting my destiny?

7. The way through the woods - what enables you to engage with the issue?

Seven of stones, healing (reversed)

After physical or emotional sickness or injurey a time of inner rest & rejuvenatetion is required. Patient & peaceful healing comes from a spiritl source. Forgiveness - regret, waste of healng energy & focus. Acceptance & self forgiveness. Maybe I've been punishing myself for hurting nerida? I need to accept more healingg help from others into my life/more support - thats how I'll cope with my MSC and flourish

8. The wisdom of the world tree - the hidden wisdom of the issue

20 The Great Bear (reversed)

After expirencing the stages of being stirpped & laid bare, the initiate experiences renewed strength & wisdom and is reborn into a place of quiet stillness, peace & rest that allows the healing process to be completed. The new, whole reconstituted person lies hibernating, full of potential, ready to meet the coming spring with energy and joy.

Judgement of yourself & others, karma, tenewal, frogiving

If time is spent educating & understandng ourselves, the investment in wisdom will help us live our lives with a deeper respect for all humanity and nature.

Sunday 24th March 2013

Please note this is a commentry on an article which re-stimulated me.

"We all recognise things in the world that are disturbing and we would like to be different. Perhaps it is social injustices in faraway countries....A lot of energy could be spent worrying about these things and wanting them to be different without actually achieving any change. Our abilities to transform these situations can be small because we cannot or choose not to force changes in people’s behaviours; it is more effective if they decide to do this themselves."

This is probably valid in areas of organising where you are trying to create behavioural changes e.g. like with popular education you start where people are and they come to their own conclusions while raising their political consciousness. However how does it work in areas where there is 'power over' e.g. fracking, animal testing.. where the basis of these activities is not based on popular opinion/support. Almost like the difference between vegan outreach and hunt sabbing.

"When we spend our time acting in the wider circle of concern, worrying, generating fear and playing out disaster scenarios of what could happen, we use up available energy that could be spent in our circle of influence. Our circle of influence shrinks as a result of lack of attention and energy and also because the energy spent in worrying disempowers us."

Is this directed at campaigns? Maybe people should be worried! Fear has always been a motivater for change, how can we use it for empowerment? 

"Many people come to permaculture after spending time campaigning for change. Graham Burnett was an activist who came to realise that he was spending his time being ‘anti this’ and ‘anti that’ and wanted to discover what he was ‘pro’. Permaculture offered him a way of finding solutions and bringing positive change into his life. He described finding permaculture as turning a mental switch from a blame and ‘us and them’ paradigm to a proactive way of thinking about how we can create workable solutions together. His circle of influence has grown and he is now a permaculture author and teacher."

Great for Graham but has more social change been achieved this way? How can we integrate the two! The anti and the pro wrather than nulling the both of them.

Wednesday 3rd April 2013

How can a system based on the murder of animals be 'regenerative'? So its building soil… but based on the commodification of animals?!

Thursday 4th April 2013

Its like my output pattern is looking at my own context - the effects of repression on myself & the movements I organise with… moving through the observation & analysis of my interactions with permaculture & agroecology so far and my feelings around animal liberation… I'm in this healing/egg stage around my organising, feel like my life's direction is brewing and with this much attention & energy dedicated to it & making sense of my history I will come out with wisdom, direction & passion.

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Gratitudes

I would like to thank my Mum & Step Dad for being so supported of all my 'busyness' that allows me to work on mulitple projects and dedicate time to my Gaia U Pathway. I'd also like to thank the Gaia U community in entireity for the inspiring actions of its associates and the role models within the community - Liora, Andrew, Jennifer, Kirsten and anyone who contributes. I would especially like to thank my Main Advisor, Valerie Seitz who has been a continuing support and shaper of my life and pathway.

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Wordcounts

As I was not undertaking a second Life & Career Review, my advisor Valerie Seitz, negotiated that I could have a larger wordcount for this piece of work. It is approximately 6,500 words as the mind maps are quite rich.

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Digiphon

Mahara, GEL site, Gimp, Photoshop, Indesign, Word, Text Edit, Mail, iCal, iPhoto, Digital camera, Firefox, Scrivener, Adobe, Calibre, XMind, iReminisce, Stickies, Fontbook, Google drive, Excel, Filemaker pro, Safari, Crabgrass, Open Office, Skype, Doodle

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Evidence of Engagement

The links below link to my tracker documents on Google docs. They are currently shared only with my Advisors to protect the confidentiality of my Guild Buddies. If you are interested in seeing them & would like to be added, please let me know.

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Resource Review

Inspired by the work of these Gaia U Associates: Bradford white, Amelia Parisian, Jorge Calero, Patrick Padden, Penny Livingstone Stark, Ethan Roland, Richard Perkins, Dyami Nason-Regan

Key general resources of influence:

  • Agroecology and Politics. How To Get Sustainability? About the Necessity for a Political Agroecology, Manuel Gonzalez de Molina in Journal of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 37:45–59, 2013

This article framed the term 'political agroecology' for me & helped me see my role in the permaculture movement - of accelerating the uptake of agroecological practices through community organising.

This article informed my decision making around the role I wish to play as a herbal practitioner, and my desire to stay a DIY/home herbalist.

This article informed by skill flex analysis tools to help me identify which skills would be useful in my permaculture design work and consultancy development.

Rafter's materials informed my decision making criteria as featured in my analysis section, to help me identify the impacts of my choices for humans & nonhumans and for community self determination and regenerative resource use.

Resources for designing my learning support system:

  • The Transformative Action Learning Certificate

This course massively improved my understanding of my own learning and how I can design a system to support me for a lifetime. Notes from the TALC can be found on my profile page.

  • Resources from the Permaculture Training of Teachers course especially course notes on accelerated learning

This course also massively helped me understand how I learn and different learning styles.

  • Book - The Accelerated Learning Handbook, Dave Meier

As above, I read this book during the teacher training course which has informed the design of my own learning support system.

Resources that enabled me to refine my writing systems:

http://www.sfwa.org/2011/12/guest-post-how-i-went-from-writing-2000-words-a-day-to-10000-words-a-day/
http://getalifephd.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/how-to-be-productive-by-writing-two.html
http://www.fredgleeck.com/blog/how-to-write-your-non-fiction-book-in-10-days-or-less

These articles are about strategies for how to write more effectively & productively that aided me in designing my learning support system.

Resources that enabled me to better understand action research and its role in my pathway design:

These articles helped me to place radical research in a context, so I know that research can be (and is essential for) radical social change.

  • Book - How to Research, Lorraine Blaxter, Christina Hughes, Malcom Tight

This book introduced me to research methods that I aim to apply through my masters.

  • Book - Radical Research, Designing, developing and writing research to make a difference, John & Jill Schostak, 2008, Routeledge.

This book has also helped me to place research in a radical context.

Notes on becoming an 'expert' and person of influence, which support me to understand how to stretch my edges to an MSc standard:

http://zenhabits.net/expert/
http://12most.com/2011/08/02/12-effective-ways-influential/
http://notable.ca/nationwide/yp-life/How-to-Become-Influential/
http://www.selfhelpvision.com/articles/mental/md070048.aspx
http://www.slideshare.net/cendrinemarrouat/how-do-i-become-influential
http://www.magforwomen.com/15-tips-to-become-an-influential-person/
http://www.2knowmyself.com/How_to_gain_power_and_influence
http://workawesome.com/career/how-to-become-an-expert/
http://www.copyblogger.com/become-an-expert/
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220696

These articles, found from a brief google search have informed me about different options and strategies for becoming more influential, which I feel is one of my strategic goals, especially around plant based permaculture/alternatives to animal agriculture. It is also like an appreciative enquiry model for example looking at what has worked for others and applying this to myself.

Other resources:

  • Schumacher College, MSc Sustainable Horticulture course handbook 

Used for inspiration for my own curriculum & reading.

  • RHS Diploma in Horticulture curriculum guidelines

Also used to design in my output 3, as well as ensure I know what I need to cover to pass the RHS exams.

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