July 2014: 8th 2 week PDC Portugal: Terra Alta

IMG_2251When a group forms, when a community is built, when laughs are shared, when emotions are reached, when the journey of seeing with new eyes captivates.  The experience of a PDC is a beautiful experience, one rich with transformation, insight, and good times.  The beauty of people radiate as an opening occurs, relaxation, joking, and sharing all become the impetus for the need to change and drive a deeper reflection and inspiration to be the change. This group of 19 that came together was truly a rich endeavor, living with light and lover.

As an exercise to create a list of trees and their uses to specific species, we broke out into language groups as talking trees only in English is a bit limiting. This was a special moment of seeing seven language groups sharing. It was this deep diversity that allowed for the wonderful cultural exchange that we have at Terra Alta to really shine once more. It was a group that was chill and that came together so well to form a tight knit community over the two weeks that was the summer PDC of July 2014.

Using our card game exercise to review the principles and apply immediately to design
Using our card game exercise to review the principles and apply immediately to design


The course featured Pedro Valdiju continuing to go deeper with his integration in the course with a particular focus on the social aspect of the course. Guided in principle by the book People and Permaculture, Pedro was able to integrate the

Pedro Valdiju adding drama with the gong
Pedro Valdiju adding drama with the gong

social dynamics of community building brilliantly. This led into our continued use of his vision of how the design project can really concentrate on building an international network of projects united under the feeling of inclusion with climate and cultural specific focus. The designs that the students produced reflected a deep learning of the material and focus on how social integration meets good land-based design. In this modern day of permaculture, it is indeed folly to assume that only land-based design will tilt the fulcrum of destruction that is so ever present in society. However it is quite obvious that the tide is turning with so many great projects popping up around the world and with students envisioning such great communities the idea has now been seeded in the ether of collective consciousness. Who knows maybe one day there will be a whale research center that incorporates a healing modality using whale sounds to heal humans.

The whale group presenting.  Photo credit Alice Smeets: www.alicesmeets.com
The whale group presenting. Photo credit Alice Smeets: http://www.alicesmeets.com


Furthermore, the team aspect of the course was great as the network of TreeYo Permaculture and Terrra Alta really IMG_2159shined. Past students contributed mightily including Joanna Simmis, Henrick Ellenbrock, and Karsten Hinrichs. Karsten continues to emerge as a great facilitator in the field and wonderful dynamic to the continued design and implementation phase of development projects that we are apart of. Hands-on projects were mainly led by the crew this course rather than by myself, Doug crouch. Karsten and Henrik tagged teamed on much of the hands on with projects of hot composting, plastering, greywater, and earthworks being advanced greatly at Terra Alta and Jo and Henrik’s neighboring land of Nangiyala.  Jo did a fantastic job in the kitchen this course and ever so grateful for the delicious and nutritious cuisine that allowed us to be full power all course.  Thanks to Myriam for the assistance and emergence into our network.

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Another course highlight was the trip to the beach that gave us the opportunity to relax a bit and also have a nice design session in the sand which was a new exercise.  Students were invited to develop a land with a house, earthworks, and plantings in this easily moldable landscape material.  individually the students captured water, gave access to the land and seaweed even became compost piles.  It was a delightful experience for the students and for us to walk around and give tips and feedback.  At the end when we zoomed out it was quite a sight to see a village be created individually but all interconnecting through the landscapes.  Towards the end students waterways were being connected to other lands and the idea of the design project was further integrated from this network of lands all engaged in earth healing.


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Another great addition to the course at Terra Alta was moving the classroom to the newly built stardome from the tent where it was previously held.  The tent then became the chillout which eventually became a group sleeping space as the course developed.  The stardome has a wonderful ambiance and great acoustic making the classroom a real joy to teach in as well as enjoy the jams of the night.  Improvements and upgrades to it are being made as we speak to increase comfortability and usability.  Thanks for the feedback on that one students and the development of buildings and landscapes at Terra Alta is a fun progression indeed.

Ruben on the hang drum sounding great in the stardome
Ruben on the hang drum sounding great in the stardome

Overall it was a great course with feeling such a positive vibe and a lightness that was very welcomed in the “summer of being 2014” for myself. Now we embark on a second journey this summer in August with a sense of accomplishment from seeing the group grow and interrelate, the designs to reflect the knowledge integration, and the site to change physically and energetically from this wonderful sense of peace.

3 Comments on “July 2014: 8th 2 week PDC Portugal: Terra Alta

  1. Pingback: July 2014: 8th PDC Portugal: Terra Alta | TreeYo Permaculture

  2. I was part of this course and it was definitely amazing! Thanks again Doug & Pedro!

  3. I was also part of the July 2014 PDC at Terra Alta, had a wonderful time, met amazing people and the learning experience was fantastic. Thanks to Doug and Pedro, they really know their respective subjects and are great teachers!

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