Self Care Gains
During this output period, there have been several notable gains in my self care practices following my extensive self care design during output 3. However there are still recurring patterns of overworking, PMT and transient living. I intend to do a full review of my self care gains in my Learning Review.
Below are some graphs I created that compare the data I had tracked using my daily tracker form.
This graph shows that I have increased the amount of sleep I am getting (one of my goals). I have decreased the time spent on emails through designing a better system. I have also reduced the hours spent traveling (another key goal).
This graph shows how I have greatly increased the amount of nights slept at home, an important goal that anchors my other self care practices.
This graph tracks the emotions I felt during these output periods. When processing my forms, OP3 was 66 days, and OP4 67 days, therefore they are quite clear to compare. Interesting patterns to note are increases in feeling exhausted and depressed. It does show me that whatever patterns I have in place e.g. stretching, exercise, herbs, if there are key stressful factors (such as interacting with the prison system or grieving from a death) they will inform the pattern more strongly.
Professional Pathway Progression
Since April 2014, I have developed significantly on a professional level. At the beginning of the year I was employed by Somerset Community Food, and I initiated the Growing Resilience Project. I then covered my co-worker on study leave, to organise growing & cooking courses locally.
In September 2014 I resigned from the charity, to fully focus on Feed Avalon. I am flourishing in the horizontal work space, where I can fully participate in decision making and work with skilled, like-minded, caring & compassionate people. I have developed skills in accounting/financial management/tax systems and more. I have the responsibility of a Director and love being able to work with others to restore our land base and community.
In November 2014 I launched 'Empty Cages Design' to re-brand my work and create an online container for all projects and passions. This new-look has increased my desire to blog regularly. I have created several new categories to help me capture my work and learning. I aim to create an online resource and slowly add previous output work, resources and writings.
In November, I also graduated with my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design. This has been an ongoing journey stacked with my Gaia University studies. I completed most of my work a year or more ago, however the accreditation process has proved challenging. However I was very proud to finish it and now can fully embrace the tutoring pathway for other apprentices on their Diploma journeys.
Skill Flex Development
A tool I developed during my Learning Intentions Pathway Design process was this Skill Flex Tracker spreadsheet. In the second tab you can see my skill flex gains during this output. Key areas of development have been:
- Soil building applications, soil food webs & other soil science (Soil Summer School)
- Cooperative working, social enterprise design & regenerative economics (Developing Feed Avalon)
- Accounting, budgeting & financial planning (Feed Avalon)
- Ecological principles, design process, mapping, surveying (Teaching the Permaculture Design Course)
- Patrix understanding & deconstruction (Via this output & on the ground organising)
- Group facilitation, communication, leadership (Through radical organising commitments)
- Decision making, strategic thinking, GTD
- Teaching & mentoring (Teaching PDC, designing & running Community Horticulture Course, workshops)
Gains in Managing Time & Promises
- Development of Next Actions Form - In May 2014 I developed my 'next actions form'. This form has proved the backbone to my life ever since. I fill it in each morning & it keeps me focused for the day. I can refer back to past forms to see patterns (e.g. which actions I am not completing). I try to have at least one day a week where I have respite from the form.
- Monthly planning - In compliment to this I also spend a solid evening/two hours planning my month & what I need to do. This is usually in the form of a colour coded mindmap on paper.
- Batch processing - I try to book all my train tickets etc at once, and make any other purchases for the month at the start of it. This way I save time booking/repeating tasks or spending too much time on 'life admin'.
- Focus management vs. time management - I have learnt it really is about how you manage your focus, what you say yes/no too and what you prioritise that informs how you manage your time. I will share more of these tools in my learning review.
Prisons & Repression
Talked or facilitated workshops about the Prison Industrial Complex (P.I.C) at multiple events:
- Workshop on Prisons & Mental Health Struggles, Schizo Culture, London, Dec
- Talked at Defend the Right to Protest event 'The Politics of Prisons: Abolition or Reform?', London, Dec
- Prison Abolition & Permaculture Workshop, National Permaculture Diploma Gathering, Nov
- Workshop on P.I.C & White Supremacy at This is Not A Gateway Festival, London, Nov
- Spoke at launch of 'Letter Writing Box' Prisoner Letter writing evening, London, Nov
- Spoke at Public Meetings about Prison Expansion, Manchester, Liverpool, Wrexham & Cardiff, Nov
- Workshop on P.I.C at London Anarchist Bookfair, Oct
- Workshop about Gender Violence & the P.I.C, Anarcha-Feminist Conference, London, Oct
- Workshop on Prison Abolition at Common House, London, Sep
- Workshop on Resisting the P.I.C at Earth First Gathering, Somerset, Aug
- Facilitated workshop on Decarceration at Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, April
- Workshop on P.I.C at Newport Rising, April
Public speaking about Repression & Solidarity
Spoke at several events to raise awareness & funds for defendants experiencing repression for resisting Europe's largest animal testing company. Also talking about repression & criminalisation of the UK animal rights movement. Spoke in Italy, Bilbao, Zaragoza, London & Bristol.
Other repression-related activity:
- Supported the SOCPA7 and Blackmail 3 defendants emotionally, practically and politically.
- Helped organise & promote court accompanying and solidarity protests.
- Facilitated a workshop on Resilience to Repression at the UK Animal Rights Gathering.
- Led a day long workshop on Community Direct Action with a group in Northern Ireland who one week later had to face the fracking industry (and shortly kicked them out of their community).
- Organised letter writing to prisoners at several events.
Articles & Publications (During Output period)
- Never Alone Zine - a publication created to give a voice to those that support people in prison. Download it online here.
Empty Cages Collective: A collective of ex-prisoners & organisers started to share information, ideas and build literacy around the prison industrial complex and prison abolition in the UK. http://www.prisonabolition.org
Community Action on Prison Expansion: A new campaign network that the Empty Cages Collective support, established to support groups to resist prison expansion locally and nationally. http://www.cape-campaign.org/
Bristol Anarchist Black Cross: Is a prisoner support organisation that support political prisoners through active solidarity, fundraising, letter writing & more. https://bristolabc.wordpress.com
Land & Food
- Growing Resilience Project - I supported 14 learners to achieve a qualification in Community Horticulture. The course was designed around the 6 principles of food sovereignty. Learners met during 'guided learning sessions' to explore course themes and develop skills. They designed and ran workshops for members of the public for the 6 public day long events, which explored food growing skills, politics and projects. To see photos from the course visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124792022@N05/sets/
- Vegan Permaculture Design Course - I convened and co-taught with Graham Burnett the world's first Vegan Permaculture Design Course. We supported 14 learners to discover the PC design process, tools and principles. It was an amazing experience that stretched my edges as an educator. I designed and ran sessions on soils, surveying, plant based systems, ethics, ecological principles, mulching, compost tea making, zone 00 and community organising. To see photos from the course visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124792022@N05/sets/72157645479431597/
Other workshops & activities
- Workshop on Animal Liberation & Land Struggle at the UK Animal Rights Gathering, Nottingham, August
- Workshop on Food politics and Wellbeing with Isy Schulz at the Radical Herbalism Gathering, Shrewsbury, June
- Designed & facilitated a workshop on Health Justice and Community Organising around Fracking with Becs Griffiths, Carly Phillips and the herbalists from the Barton Moss Herbal Clinic as part of the Radical Herbalism Gathering in June 2014.
- Helped organise the Reclaim the Fields Summer Gathering at the Monimal Tower Project in Scotland. See a write-up of the gathering here.
- Spoke at the Vegan Permaculture Night organised by Taunton Vegans, May
Feed Avalon CIC, the worker's cooperative I co-founded in July has had a very busy summer. Key achievements include:
- Convening the Soil Summer School - a weekend course in July 2014 about practical soil care practices. Including introduction to the soil food web, composting, mulching, compost tea making, green manures, biochar & more. I designed and facilitated a session on the politics of soils. To see photographs from the weekend visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124792022@N05/sets/72157645887039172/
- Securing funding for the Growing Glastonbury Project, a two year project to support volunteer growing mentors support ten local households learn how to grow their own food. My roles have included writing the grant application, supporting the project coordinator and financial administration. For more info visit: http://www.feedavalon.org.uk/projects/growing-glastonbury-2/
- Designing and launching the EAT Project (Education and Training in Food System Skills) with funding from Somerset Skills and Learning. The EAT Project is a program of courses & workshops to support people to learn new skills in food growing, selling, processing, harvesting & preserving. For more info visit: http://www.feedavalon.org.uk/projects/eat-project/
- Organising the first Community Food Forum to bring a network of people together that are active locally to create a more sustainable & socially just food system where we live.
- Supporting the development of our People's Kitchen at our workshop/office in Glastonbury.
- There are now four employees of Feed Avalon and five others involved on a self employed basis.
- Permaculture News - Meet the Designer: Benjamin Vidmar (Svalbard, Arctic Ocean)
- Article about Feed Avalon in Bristol Local Food Update Magazine
- Meet the Designer: Laura Kaestele
- Transition Free Press Autumn 2014 - New diploma for community activists
- Transition Free Press Autumn 2014 - Radical roots of plant medicine
Project Progression & Negotiations
In my Output 4 Design there were a number of project elements I renegotiated to research and explore further in my capstone year. You can read notes on these in my project renegotiation tracker here.
Events during this Output Period
Please note more links, background information and so forth can be found on my website: http://www.emptycagesdesign.org/