About me and my journey
I'm Sion, and thanks for taking the time to learn about me and to share in the abundance that we are creating in Sri Lanka.
I learned about Permaculture in 2006/2007 when I was living and studying in Portland, Oregon. On the first day of my Permaculture Design Certificate course our instructor asked us what we thought permaculture was about. I gave my response and said, 'permaculture is a design system to save the world'. And at that point I really didn't know what I was saying and also didn't realize that what I was suggesting might actually be the case.
Since then I have been practicing permaculture in my daily life and sharing what I know about the design philosophy with people that I work with. I’ve been inspired to see permaculture projects in my travels around the world and I’m keen to be part of one of those projects that inspire others.
In August my life partner Trudy and I moved our lives from Thailand to Sri Lanka. We moved here looking for something, but without being entirely sure what we were looking for, what we would find, or what had called us to Sri Lanka. But we came with our dreams and the determination to slow our lives down and to engage in a process of building up something meaningful. In the short time we've been here we have met wonderful people who are practicing, creating, and who are unwaveringly positive despite the hard realities of life in Sri Lanka. Our new friends in Sri Lanka have given us much hope and reason to stay and be involved in the growing momentum behind positive change.
We came to Sri Lanka with the dream of living on the land, settling into a rural life and developing a platform to share and learn alongside our would-be neighbors. We are moving slowly towards that dream and in meeting people, we are involving others in the process of creating the reality that we wish to see. Amazingly, more than any place I've been, so many people that we talk to in Sri Lanka share our vision, and it has been a pleasure to connect with others on the same level. Perhaps it has been easy to connect with others because there is a significant lack of social, cultural and educational space to engage in the collective practice of creating sustainable abundance. Because we've come here with positive energy, a clear vision and the skills to achieve our dreams, the opportunity to create and hold a positive learning space is viable and will happen.
Permaculture is a relatively nacent approach to work in Sri Lanka. I want to become a more confident teacher of this design science as a means to spread the word and share skills. I also hope to build an innovative approach to permaculture and peace-building work that is able to reconcile traditional and modern approaches and social-environmental conflicts. In my time here I am discovering that peace building and reconciliation are hugely needed, and no matter how urgent we may feel the situation may be for Sri Lankans, what is first and foremost in everyone’s mind is how to get on with life, feed the family, and find some security in their own livelihoods. If taught, nurtured and applied appropriately, I believe that permaculture can achieve security and stability in peoples' lives and act as a tool for reconciliation between communities where conflict lingers.
At present I am working on four projects that are building the platform for my work in Sri Lanka. I am
• Working with a local peace and reconciliation organization to introduce the principles and ethics behind permaculture. Trudy and I will be co-leading an introduction to permaculture workshop with the peace building team so that we can co-create an understanding and perhaps develop a framework for using permaculture as a peace-building tool.
• Working alongside an international team (Sri Lankans and Australians) to develop a project that will use permaculture to address food security issues in the north and central provinces of Sri Lanka. We are developing a program that will be able to blend traditional home gardening techniques with permaculture and modern sustainable design practices. The project is currently in the research and design phase, but upon my return from India I will be engaged in training local partners in permaculture.
• Working with a local NGO to assess and re-design a three month residential youth training program. The training program has a focus on building practical skills related to sustainable agriculture and aims to give rural youth the motivations and skills to stay in their communities and create social enterprises. I am guiding the existing training team to use permaculture as the framework for their redeveloped training program.
• Working with a local environmental conservation/education organization to develop a youth empowerment program. The program will take the form of a ten day bicycle journey across Sri Lanka. We will engage with local government and civil society through an educational campaign.
About the Course
I have been invited by permaculture teacher Bernard Alonso to co-facilitate an upcoming Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course in South India in February, 2013. The course will be hosted by Heal the Soil CSA (www.healthesoilcsa.org) which takes an innovate approach to using permaculture as a means to achieve food security for India's rural poor. I am excited to learn from Bernard and our hosts about how to integrate permaculture approaches with traditional home-scale agricultural practices.
The opportunity to co-facilitating this course will propel me closer to becoming a certified permaculture instructor. After I gain experience and mentorship from my time at Heal The Soil I will come back and deliver workshops and trainings on permaculture. Going to India this February is a critical step in my professional development and will give me the chance to pass on knowledge and skills to others. It is my philosophy that each one teach one.
The course will also give me the opportunity to visit organizations in and around the world famous eco-village, Auroville www.auroville.org. I intend to use my time in India to network and develop relationships with people that will be mutually beneficial for both India and Sri Lanka - after all they are so close in culture and location.
After the course
When I return to Sri Lanka after co-leading the permaculture course at Heal The Soil I will come back to the projects that I have already been involved in. I will be able to support that work more deeply, more professionally and with new perspectives and ideas.
A deeper intention is to create a consulting platform with colleagues as a means to scale up our work in sustainability, education, and permaculture design. Our focus will be on educating and empowering young people as we see them as the future custodians of social and environmental well-being. I hope to be able to offer permaculture design courses in Sri Lanka to various groups, such as NGO workers, land owners and developers, business owners, rural agriculturalists, civil servants, rural and urban citizens.
After my upcoming experience co-leading a permaculture design course in India I will be taking a few more steps towards submitting a portfolio to the “Worldwide Permaculture Network” (www.permacultureglobal.com). My permaculture portfolio will be peer assessed and if I pass the process I will be recognized as a permaculture instructor and be in a position to offer permaculture design certificates to those who study permaculture with me. In order to build up my portfolio I will continue to use permaculture to guide my work in Sri Lanka and I will continue to hone my craft as an instructor by organizing small workshops and short-courses on permaculture design.
In November I will be going to Myanmar to co-lead another permaculture design certificate course with my partner Trudy and another colleague there. By the end of 2013 I hope to have built up enough experience to submit my portfolio.
Since coming to Sri Lanka I have been working to support several organizations and their projects around sustainability and environmental conservation. I have been doing this on a voluntary basis, which is why I have created this campaign. I need your help to go to India in February to step forward in my journey to becoming a recognized permaculture instructor.
I can't do this without your support. I need some minimal funds for the following things:
Transportation (airfare and ground travel): 500 USD
Visa: 60 USD
Cost for me to attend the course (living and learning fees): 450 USD
WeTheTrees commission: 85 USD
Total: 1095 USD
I don't have much to offer in exchange for your contribution, but as our permaculture living and learning center takes shape and my work in Sri Lanka deepens, I will be able to offer more in the way of trainings, consultations, workshops and a beautiful natural place to stay.
Please keep in touch via email: sionzivetz(at)gmail.com
I will be updating the world of my work via www.tapintoabundance.org. Please check it out.
Many thanks for taking the time and helping me on my journey!
With love, peace and respect,