Summer Gathering 2007


Click here for announcement and basic info.

The purpose of this page is to share events and information from the Gathering with everyone in the permaculture community and beyond who couldn't make it this weekend. Enjoy!

Check out this excellent newspaper article in the local paper covering the gathering:






OPEN SPACE REPORTS: July 7th, 2007

Session Title: How to Grow & Support City Repair or Town Repair Projects Across the Northeast
Conveners: Kay Cafasso, Kevin Skvorak
Participants: Alice Lo, 'Matt Bennett!, [names of other participants]
Background: We were inspired by the model of the city repair work of Mark Lakeman in Portland Oregon and are interested in creating effective models of revitalization of our town centers.
Key Understandings:
  • How can we place a few town revitalization projects in action? Set up a handful of demonstration permaculture sites and support one another as a permaculture task force of some kind... Create models for action... provide support for one another in our unique towns through experiential sharing or with volunteer time
  • There is a clear need to understand the needs of each community where we would like to do this work- each town is unique in this regard and we each can identify with our own towns best
  • Basis for our work is in communication, sharing information, building interpersonal relationships
  • We may organize as a permaculture solidarity team who can be called upon for service and resource sharing to offer permaculture skills and project support as well as people to people mutual aid
  • There are two approaches that we have come up with as 1. engaging people in a social/ town experiment and 2. meeting specific and identified needs of the local community in partnership with existing local groups
  • Improving urban and/ or disadvantaged communities without contributing to gentrification/displacement
  • Learning to take leadership and work in solidarity with organizations led by people/organizations in their own communities
  • Conducting projects with an inclusive nature towards all persons
  • Need to develop our abilities to converse with people not yet familiar with permaculture applications. Learn to listen to people who have already identified problems in their communities, to see what Permaculture solutions are possible

Information and Ideas for Action:
Bike programs and bicycle skill shares in town centers;; build relationships with existing organizations like Park and Rec Departments or town planning boards or local sustainability efforts/ Build organization to organization relationships; Start our own town center potlucks to build community and identify the need of that specific community; Host educational events; Create gardens and community gardens in vacant spaces; Reach out/connect with existing activist groups already working on social justice issues. "Common Ground" as an example of solidarity work in New Orleans.

Outstanding Questions:
  • How to define leadership and ownership/ maintenance of any proposed project?
  • How do we identify and work with allies and existing organizations on the ground?
  • How can we begin to create some examples of town revitatlization in our own towns?
  • Is there a list of such projects that we can look to as models for replication or for inspiration?
  • What kind of town legalities might we face, if any, when creating people to people mutual aid projects?
  • Can we place some spontaneous projects in the ground in this next year and network as we do this? Who will and what town are you in? What models will we draw upon (traffic calming? beautify intersections? neighborhood plantings? safe spaces for children? gathering spaces? tea houses? gardens? etc)

[Rafter Sass and Dave Shaw during a Liberation Ecology workshop]

SESSION TITLE: Permaculture Design Courses for Children

Convenor: Colleen Blacklock
Note Taker: Colleen Blacklock
Participants: Allie Urbanek, Ethan Zickler

Background: There is a general sentiment that change is needed in our current public education system. This presents an opportunity to incorporate permaculture into mainstream curricula. There may be many other venues for teaching permaculture design to children.

Key Understandings and Observations:
  • Children are inherently intuitive, creative, and interested in nature when given a chance.
  • Many children now have a disconnect with nature.
  • Permaculture is experiential and naturally lends itself to the teaching of children.
  • Many school are now incorporating gardens so a natural step is to add permaculture.

Outstanding Questions:
Are there people already developing and teaching permaculture design to children?

  • How to work within the mainstream educational system.
  • How to make permaculture available to and accessible to all children.

  • There may be some already teaching children: Starhawk's Earth Activist Training? (Note from Karryn: there is a woman in Australia doing this--she calls it Zone K for "kids"--I think you could google the info)
  • Epworth Center brings urban kids to their center.
  • Joan (Ewing?) works with children.
  • Annie Stewart brings gardening to children in the Bronx.

Summary and Next Steps:
  1. Find and network with people who are already working with children.
  2. Research how to work within mainstream schools.
  3. Develop permaculture curricula for children.
  4. Start teaching children now through more accessible and accommodating venues.
  5. Develop and implement programs for mainstream schools.

[Workshops in session at the Cayuga Nature Center]

SESSION TITLE: Peak Oil Preparedness

Convenor: Daniel Blacklock
Note Taker: Andrew Phillips
Participants: John Ruth, Paige Bridgens, Derrlyy Cocks, Russ Honicker

The Northeastern states will be hit hard with rising energy costs to catastrophic levels, most likely within the next 10 years. Permaculture provides many solutions that could mitigate the impact.
In what ways should NEPC address specific problems related to peak oil?

Key Understandings and Observations:
  • Build community
  • Network with existing groups
  • Action-action-action
  • Concrete action, now.
  • Regional skills registry
  • Regional registry of permaculture demonstration sites.
  • Food availability crisis!
Outstanding questions:
  • What is NEPC's organizational structure?
  • Consider "fractal" structure as in Designer Manual: 3 people per subtopic.

  • Addressing broad peak oil problems with "permaculture" may not be as effective as saying "adaptive technologies".
  • Do not use the word "sustainable".

  • Attached greenhouses
  • Low-tech solutions
  • Appropriate technology
  • Passive hot air heat exchange panels.
  • Registries (from first column)
  • Write an "Energy Descent" Action Plan for the Northeast.

Summary and Next Steps:
Permaculture easily applies to small-scale challenges, but what is the role of NEPC in addressing the Peak Oil impacts in the northeast? NEPC should outreach to any Peak Oil events.

[Josh Dolan leading a discussion on Ecocities]

Session Title: Using the permaculture design process to design the movement/organization itself.

Convenor: Julie Cramer
Note taker: Julie Cramer
Participants: Sarah Williford, Martin, Janice, Michael Riversong, Michael Burns, Mark, Dave Shaw, Emily, Marty Hiller, Tesha

The permaculture design process is a useful resource that can be applied to the social, cultural, and organizational dimensions of the Northeastern Permaculture (NEPC) movement. Many people experience challenges with the human element of institutions, community organizing & even permaculture design. We, are unique among other movements in that we are working to share a tool set that, itself offers guidance on both process & principles for designing high functioning living systems. Why don't we use this incredible resource to developing high functioning social & institutional systems?

Some of the key aspects that brought participants to this open space topic: social permaculture, cultural dimension, building and using a common language, using different parts of our brains, applying the process to networking, building sustainability in our lives, reinvigorating ancient living principles, application to structures/organizations/psychotherapy.

(The group used an alternate format--based on the permaculture design process--to report their findings)

Goals articulation:
for the hour of open space-
To address the following:
  • What would an organization designed by the principles look like?
  • What is the design process? How would each step look when applied to a social organization?
  • What are the principles, how would they apply to a social organization?
  • What are some strategies that could be applied?
  • What are some resources for social permaculture?
for the result of the Permaculture Design process-
To have this movement be a dynamic, spontaneous, naturally evolving, fun experience.

Information Gathering Phase:
What is the design process?
Step 1: Goal Setting & Visioning
Step 2: Observation & Experimentation
Step 3: Assessment
Step 4: Conceptual Planning
Step 5: Master Planning
Step 6: Implementation
Step 7: Reevaluation

How would each step look when applied to a social organization?
Defining the Site: Are we designing the movement, the NEPC...what is included in the scope of the organization or movement?

Step 1: Goal Setting & Visioning
  • Vision Statements
  • What are we looking to increase, sustain, develop?
  • What are the goals of the individuals involved (at the core level and other levels of involvement)?
Step 2: Observation
  • Identifying organizations that already exist and that are resources & or models
  • Who are the participants?
  • Identifying existing fields that could offer resources (synergetics, research field, business development, team building etc..)
  • Developing questionnaires for the network of interested people to gather as much info about where they are at in life, in relation to the movement/organization, what their needs are, what resources they have to offer (skills, capital, labor, time, energy etc...)
    • Note: This action empowers people right up front to be involved, to feel heard
    • Question: Who creates the questionnaires, where does that fit in the process?
  • Identifying the landscape of social resources
  • History of the Movement
  • History of People on this Planet
  • History of whatever Place the organization may be based in
  • What is the relative location of each of these elements?
  • Identify & Observe the politics of the language of Permaculture & the Permaculture stereotypes that are out there
  • Observing the synergistic opportunities available with other organizations (more questionnaires?) & the social nuances
  • Observe the characteristics of different personality types (again draw from preexisting resources)?
  • Identify resources for learning
  • Observe who stays involved & who leaves, identify patterns...
    • Develop a follow up questionnaire for people who don't stay involved
  • Observe/study what kind of interactions build connections & what kind don't

Once the information is collected, making a map of the social landscape.

This is as far as we got in our short time. It was shared that this is a huge topic, and, for the most part, a new discussion in the community that has a huge potential for being fleshed out over time.

Outstanding Questions:
What is the role of intellectual rigor & research in permaculture, in this process? How do we measure success? How do we communicate permaculture & its role & successes to the world at large?
  • It was suggested that this question would be a strategy contingent on the goals of the movement or organization and might be one for the organization or movement to discuss while in their design process, but may or may not be part of the original question of this meeting as to how to use the permaculture design process to design the movement or organization.

  • Intellectual Rigor
  • Making sure there is clarity of language, what is the design process? What are the principles?
  • Potential for creating a social orthodoxy that is restrictive or oppressive.
  • Could "slow down" movement (although that is countered by the tools of permaculture if used appropriately, including the principles of immediate yield, planning for succession, if succesfully used)
  • Make sure there is no hidden emotional standard

Next Steps:
  • Continuing the conversation in an organized fashion
  • Allowing the topic to introduce a seed for discussion that will naturally germinate over time as the idea starts to move through the community
  • Offering by Julie Cramer to be available for any continued discussion

[Karryn teaching 'Fundamentals of Permaculture: Patterns"]

Session Title: Facilitate Exchange of Resources To Support Broader Outreach

Convenor: Brett Joseph
Note Taker: Brett Joseph
Participants: Joan Ewing, Joan Clement

We recognize that an opportunity presently exists to facilitate synergistic relationships between the Northeastern Permaculture (NEPC) movement and complementary movements being advanced by organizations and communities in the areas of social justice, youth empowerment, local food, land trusts, food justice, struggling small farmers of color, cultural mentoring, education for at-risk youth, flood and disaster recovery, city repair and similar on-going efforts in the northeast region. By entering into relationship with these groups and cultivating two-way relationships with these anti-oppression, community-building movements, NEPC can spread the reach of permaculture teaching into sectors of society that might not otherwise have access to permaculture learning.

Key Understandings and Observations:
We can benefit by actively seeking and plugging into existing community-building efforts.
  1. Do our homeowrk, don't expect other groups to provide the 101 course about their movements.
  2. Observe in society, identify groups and communities that may be receptive to learning permaculture, and prioritize.
  3. Make contact with organization and community leaders, explore together how the "Intro to Permaculture" can be tailored to maximize its relevance to the present needs and currents understandings of problems existing within those existing, complementary movements.

Outstanding Questions:
How do we move beyond research so as to keep this effort oriented towards timely action and relationship building?

  • Abandon the mentality of the missionary, rather follow the pattern of genuine cross-cultural exchange.
  • Although we need to further develop our cross-cultural competence, "doing our homework" should not become an excuse for inaction.

  • Plentiful information about regional social justice and community-building movements exists on the web.
  • Dialogue with a diversity of social activists provides an important "feedback loop" to keep permaculture education socially relevant.

Summary and Next Steps:
Those of us who wish to put in the time and effort will commit to gathering information and initiating a further discussion within the NEPC movement leading to an action plan for community and cross-cultural outreach.

Session Title: Bridging Nature Awareness / Art of Mentoring (AOM) Programs and Permaculture

Convenor: Charlie Laurel
Note Taker: Charlie Laurel
Participants: Lynn Trotta, Ethan Roland, Michael Trotta, Dina Kali, Dhyana Miller, Chris Jackson, Efan Hsieh, Dana Lee Cohen, Sai Char, Jono Neiger, Dave Shaw, Karryn Olson-Ramanujan

Key Understandings and Observations:
Permaculture and Art of Mentoring synthesis is an obvious and exciting direction to pursue.

Outstanding Questions:
What context to work on / play with synthesis?
AOM week? Permaculture Design Course?
"Permaculture for Strong Naturalist Communities" back to back with "Art of Mentoring for Permies"--teaching each other?

Dates not available for everyone to stay involved in in-person meetings.
Internet conversations too dry.
Some folks want to get things hopping fast, others want to take it slow and careful--long view.

Ethan and Dhyana are working on web stuff.
Efan has contacts with Vermont Wilderness School (VWS) and Institute for Natural Learning.
Charlie willing to visit programs to explore possibilities for permaculture as "Applied Nature Awareness".

Summary and Next Steps:
Local presentations to introduce permaculture to Nature Awareness programs.
Meetings for people already interested in cross-pollination to continue conversations and plans.
Contacts with RDNA (??) in California to learn from their experiences.
Web-based communications, Wiki -- listserve for cross-pollinators.

2007 Northeast Permaculture Summer Gathering: Ithaca, NY!

The Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute (FLPCI) will host the 2007 Summer Permaculture Gathering July 6-8 in Ithaca, NY at the Cayuga Nature Center. Sliding scale of $25 - $100 for camping and some meals. For more information as it develops, visit

What is the 2007 NEPC convergence?

=Our mission for the 2007 NEPC Convergence is to stimulate the network by focusing on local and regional connections, sharing resources, and continuing to define the structure, function, and organization of the group.

We intend to create an open and inclusive atmosphere that is a well balanced experience of interative presentation, roundtable discussion, and skill sharing mixed with healthy local food, music, and ample social time.

These gatherings are made by the participants. (YOU!) The steering committee is focused on ensuring that the logistics and mechanisms to acheive our stated goals (above) are functional, and we are asking everyone to read below and get involved!

Registration is Open!

Please register for the convergence as soon as you can!
Click here to register
Questions? Contact or call 607-273-6260

Schedule: Subject to Change

Friday, July 6

Fri. 12 pm site tour leaves

10:00 am – 5:00 Arrivals & Set up
5:00 - 6:30 Potluck Dinner
7:00 Welcome & Overview
7:30 - 10:00 Talent Show, Bonfire, music, social...

Saturday, July 7

6:00 – 8:00 Morning Activities
7:00 - 8:30 Breakfast
8:45 Morning Circle
9:00 – 10:30 Session One
10:30 – 12:00 Session Two
12:00 – 2:00 Lunch, swim, hike, relax
2:00 – 3:30 Session Three
3:30 – 5:30 Session Four
6:30 - 7:30 Dinner
10:00 - ? Dance Party
Bonfire, music, social...

Sunday, July 8

6:00 – 10:00 Morning Activities
9:30 Morning Circle
10:00 - 12:00 CNC Fundraising Brunch
11:00 - 12:30 Skill Share Session One
12:30 - 2:00 Skill Share Session Two
4:00 Closing

Requesting Session Proposals

We are seeking three types of session proposals for the convergence:

1. Interactive Presentation (45 - 120 minutes)
This format includes informational sessions which include opportunities for pariticpants to experience the topic you are presenting. These sessions are the most information intensive, where the presenter is sharing from her or his direct experience. Consider how games, discussions, hikes, and other activities could strengthen your talking points. We have 130 acres to work with, so consider doing something that will illistrate your points while getting folks outside and moving.

"Trials with Cold Climate Aquaculture"
"Biodynamics & Permaculture"
"Permaculture and the Climate Change Buzz"

2. Roundtable Discussion (45 - 60 minutes)
These sessions will be facilitated as a brainstorm, think tank, or other format which seeks the wisdom of the group to explore an issue or question within the permaculture movement. We would like to see these exercises result in a tangeable form, such as a stack of newsprint with words, a mind map, or a drawing. Consider how the discoveries of your session could be presented to the large whole at the convergence.

"Gender Issues in the Permaculture Movement"
"Tips & Tricks for Permaculure Teachers"
"Certification: What's the point? How can we improve?"

3. Skill Share (30 - 120 minutes)
These are fundamental "how to" sessions where participants walk away with a concrete skill. Our facilities can accomodate almost any type of skill sharing activity. The key here is that people will learn by doing.

"How to Select, Use, Clean, and Care for your Tools"
"Basic Fermentation"
"Pruning for Health and Productivity"

To submit an application for one of the above presentations, click here.

Share Your Project!

A permaculture exposition, in the Cayuga Nature Center lodge's spacious ballroom, will be the center of activity Friday night, as we all arrive, relax, and converge.

Struggling with some thorny challenges? Would you like feedback or suggestions from other designers?

Have a design you are proud of? Maybe your local permaculture guild would like to display a portfolio of your members work?

We’re interested in seeing unusual sites as well as traditional ones, at any stage of design from goals articulation to ready-for-harvest.

During Friday night's casual social setting, we will have gallery space to set up tri-folds, posters, tables or other displays. Informally present your project's goals, design, success and failure through your own creative maps, photos, and narrative. During Saturday's workshops exhibitors are encouraged to hold or participate in a design review workshop where you can present and discuss with other designers.

Please contact Michael ( or Marty ( if you would like to participate.

Sign up for the talent show!

Show us yer chops!!!! We invite you to show us your
favorite talent at the Northeast Permaculture 1st
Annual Summer Night in the Spotlight Talent Show. Are
you a bowling ball juggler or contortionist? Flamenco
dancer or Poet? Permaculture Stand-Up comedian or
Permie Punk Rocker? Please share with the northeast
permie crew your songs and stylings. contact to sign-up.


Registration & Payment
Please register as soon as you can. Your sliding scale $25 - 100 includes three meals, acess to showers, and camping space. Please pay based on what you feel you can afford. We want to make this event accessible to everyone. Click HERE to register.

There will be several camping areas designated in parts of our forest and field. Please bring reasonably sized tents to minimize impact. Some indoor floor space may be available. You can set up your tent space anytime after 10:00 am on Friday, July 6.

FRIDAY - Please bring a potluck dish for dinner, consider the alleries and sentitivities of others and label your dish.

SATURDAY - Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner are included with your registration. We will have Meat, Veggie, and Vegan options.
Please contact Steve if have special needs.

SUNDAY - We are offering a local, organic brunch from 10 am - Noon as a fundraiser for Cayuga Nature Center. We are suggesting a $8 - $20 suggested donation, which will go to support our programming and educational efforts.


FRIDAY: The focus is on getting everyone settled in and on making connections. We will have a potluck dinner, watch each other in the talent show, and view project exhibits in the Great Room.

SATURDAY: We will focus on presentations and roundtables which have to do speficially with the permaculture movement. We hope to focus on efforts to discover and develop a more cohesive network.

SUNDAY: The focus will be on Skill Share workshops. We hope to get more folks from the local community to come out for the day to learn about the various facets of permaculture.

*FIRES only in Designated Areas
*SMOKING only in Designated Areas
*PLEASE Stay on the Trails

Childcare Info

Children’s Programming

We would like to offer some childcare and children’s activities to make it easier for parents to attend events at the convergence. We are offering free or discounted registration for adults and teens who help out with our children’s program.

Please contact Marty (, 607-275-8144) as soon as possible if you:
- would like to run a children’s activity (please describe)
- would like to help with childcare or children’s activities
- are bringing children who would participate (list names, ages)

Pre and Post Convergence Events

For those who would like to stay in the Ithaca area
for a few days either before or after the convergence,
we will be offering housing, workshop opportunities,
and local site tours.

We are also seeking workshop proposals from those who
would like to participate in a Homeowner’s Permaculture
Weekend at a local eco b&b which has recently initiated
a permaculture project on their property.

To submit workshop proposals, to inquire about workshops
or to sign up for a Tompkin’s County site tour on
Friday, July 6, please contact Joshua Dolan
or call (607) 280-5500

For updated information about the 2007 Gathering, visit