Sunday, 7 December 2014

We are gathered (again!)

 By Katie Shepherd

Last weekend the 4th annual National Diploma Gathering took place, as last year, at Losehill Hall YHA in Derbyshire. I’ve been to each Gathering (the 1st one conveniently arranged for just after I signed up for the Diploma (in Applied Permaculture Design), and it’s one of the big highlights of my year...I’ve written about each Gathering here…and so here is a summary of this years highlights

* Catching up, networking, with other Apprentices and tutors…lots of old friends…many new ones …its always so inspiring to hear what everyone’s been up to since last year (lots of us only meet at this event!) …Gallons of tea and the odd alcoholic beverage consumed while doing so

* Workshops…as usual a great range on a whole diverse range of Diploma related topics…2 that stand out for me were Hannah Thorogood's ‘Stuck ‘ (in design work…or in my case, ‘its been so long since I completed the design and I still haven’t written it up but now I’m just really stuck with HOW to write it up’)…I came away having not only addressed the ‘stuck’ but very nearly written an outline of the write up (Yey!), and then Nicole Vosper’s excellent workshop about Prisons and Permaculture

* Design sharing….this year I was really pleased to spend some time with a couple of members of the first Diploma guild I was part of, it was great to see how much we had all grown and developed in the couple of years since we had last sat down and really took time to learn about each others work

* Working within a small group on some designs for next years International Permaculture Convergence….Not sure if I’ll actually use my own design (for the Heart and Soul space), as part of my Diploma portfolio, but going through the process will certainly help by other design work..

* Witnessing and being part of 3 really powerful and beautiful Diploma Accreditations…truly magical

Nicole Vosper's Diploma Portfolio can be found on her website,

Niamhue Robins' Diploma Portfolio is at,

Cat Dolleris is in the process of putting her Portfolio online, but in the meantime there is more information about her work here 
Photo by Alan Charlton....Niamhue Robins presents her Diploma journey
* The opportunity to have a look and buy some of the fantastic permaculture related books, published over the last couple of years…

* A really motivating and timely tutorial with my tutor Wilf, spent walking and pausing in 4 different areas of the wonderful YHA grounds as we focused on the 4 questions…what’s going well? what’s more challenging?, what is the overall focus? And, what are the next achievable steps?

As in previous years the weekend was totally ‘all things diploma’ immersing, and for many of us, I know a welcomed motivation and time to focus in our Diploma pathways…given that us apprentices, (and tutors), are such a diverse bunch of folk, the NDG, held at the beginning of winter, isn’t always the most helpful or the right thing for everyone, and this year in particular there is a lot current evaluation and conversation around considering having smaller regional 'Gatherings at different times of the year, so that hopefully the needs of more people involved with the Diploma can be met. 

I personally really like the big national event, and do hope in continues in some form, but am also very much looking forward to seeing how the regional Gatherings can help support and influence, hopefully, the work of more people involved with the Diploma too.

Photo by Alan Charlton ...Nicole Vosper receives her Diploma certificate
Photo by Alan Charlton ....Wilf Richards presents Niamhue Robins with her Diploma Certificate
Alan (Treeman) Charlton likes to take amazing photos, you can see more of his photography work on his Facebook page

Words: Katie Shepherd - see more of Katie's posts on her website and blog: