Feb/March 2018: Winter Weekend PDC, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

I started this blog on the day I was supposed to go back to Europe.  What I now view as my old life.  My new life is sticking it out here in the tri-state area of Cincinnati, Ohio which is where Treasure Lake is, across the bridge into Kentucky, from Indiana.  And this winter weekend PDC anchored me to do so this chilly winter when the temptation to go back was high, offers of gigs flying in here and there, consults, food forest courses, PDC’s, joining communities, etc.  But I did it, I managed to stay put over winter and am so glad I accepted to do this weekend format of a PDC.  Myself and Chris Smyth headed it up and the students came from a bio-regional draw.  Thus in the early months of 2018, a small group came together to transform, to take the journey of seeing with new eyes, to step up to the challenge of learning and being in community together in an intensive weekend format.

It lasted four weekends, hitting the 72 hour PDC requirement just barely with very long days and very short breaks.  I taught the vast majority of it, like I normally do, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience as my mission of teaching this revolutionary work was achieved.  It was a stressful time in life, when isn’t though, and infused energy into places that are dear to my heart.  With that, having four weekends, we were able to host this PDC at two main places, Chris’s communal Sankofa House in Pricehill and Treasure Lake, my families land in Petersburg, KY.  We also managed a trip out to Ande and Laurens place in rural Indiana to give a glimpse of what a more developed permaculture site looks like.

The students themselves displayed a wonderful balance of diversity and gave for a great set of interaction even though our time of sharing is limited.  I guess that’s one drawback of a non-residential course although in the second half of the course the sleepover at the bar at Treasure Lake for some of us gave us a different means of interaction.  The breaks were so short that it was tough to get to know each other honestly.  But as the course went along things were revealed and deeper meaning of why this particular constellation of people came together was seen more clearly.

Group Phot at Treasure Lake, 2018 March

I normally write a lot about the hands on part of the course but with our limited time and it being the winter season, our main hands on was the design project.  It’s been a dream for a long time to host a PDC at Treasure Lake and this was its first iteration.  There are its limits but the place itself has huge potential to be a bioregional and international educational center.  It’s just a ton of inertia held within the story of family legacy and the history of the place.  But the students doing the design process and projects part at the lake allowed for some energy to shift.  I have been looking at the place for so long and been doing more intensive design work lately yet seeing this place designed with fresh eyes gave inspiring ideas.  We used a slightly mock context to start with but the reality of the design came into play as it progressed.  I am enthused to see which elements from these designs comes into fruition one day.

And thanks for all who supported, myself and Chris teamed up on the food, while others contributed to the overall hosting like Emily Hunt and Brent Adams. CPI, Cincinnati Permaculture Institute was the overarching organization this course was run through in combination with TreeYo.  Essentially, it takes a village to raise a child they say and it takes a village to pull off a great PDC.  I am still building that village so to speak at the lake and within my network back here stateside in the Kentucky context.  I seek to go deeper with students by staying more in one place and build a proper Permaculture site.  The Market Garden at the lake, run by Annie Woods under her brand Dark Wood Farm, continues to be a source of inspiration and good food.  People like Brent are really stepping up to become members of the TreeYo network.  The land is responding to my forestry treatments and asks for more agricultural endeavors and habitat diversification.  It welcomes new people we just need to create niches, places for people to stay and economic opportunities to be leveraged on the abundant natural resources that are present in this amazing biotope.  All is coming.  Rome wasn’t built-in a day and neither will Treasure Lake be. But this four weeks of time helped to land me, solidify my stance here, and I am so grateful for the students who came and all the others who stepped up to support their community of learners and teachers.  Learning really is a spiritual experience, one that is sacred and I hope to keep teaching for many years ahead.  Not just in the classroom but out in the field.

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