by Nicola Bell, Membership Coordinator
Welcome to the second in a series of posts aimed at giving support and ideas to help new local permaculture networks to germinate. For the first, click here!
What sort of group are you?Permaculture groups vary widely in size and activities across the UK. If you're just starting out as a new permaculture group, it's worth looking at other successful groups across the network, to get an idea of what you could potentially achieve together, or how you would like to evolve.
Here are some examples from different regions:
- Lampeter Permaculture Group - Gather once a month at a members place to help each other with their designs.
- Leeds Permaculture Network - Monthly socials with excellent and engaging speakers, preceded by shared food.
London - Monthly gathering usually for films, sometimes speakers.
- Shropshire &
Edges Permaculture Network
Monthly skill-sharing gathering at a different home, farm or project. Participants bring ideas, encouragement and labour.
- Hull Permaculture Group - Book swaps, film nights, forest gardening and more! (see below)
East Permaculture Network
Meet up for special events, with very active email list.
- London Permaculture Network - a large network that meet regularly and host many events and activities including the annual London Permaculture Festival, at Cecil Sharp House.
Please let us know more about your group if you would like to be featured here or in future features. Many of these groups have Group Permaculture Association membership, and benefit from listings in the newsletter 'Permaculture Works' - click here to join as a group member.
Activities to do as a group
It is sometimes daunting to coordinate a series of events if you're just getting started. Take it easy, why not get to know one another first, and see how things evolve! Here's Lausanne of the fantastic new Hull Permaculture group:
"We first thought about forming our Hull Permaculture group after our permaculture design course had come to an end. It was formed as a means for us to keep in touch and continue learning together.
We try to meet up on a monthly basis. During the winter months we usually meet up at a local pub, have a chat, bring books, magazines and questions to share, and have group discussions.
When summer comes around we take advantage of the lighter nights and visit each others sites, projects and allotments.
One of our members, Janet, works for the NHS and has an allotment space set up to nurture positive mental health and well-being, and this has been very inspiring.
We will also organise socials and meals at each other's houses, and one of our members has recently started running a permaculture picturehouse from an outhouse in his garden!
We are planning visits to other local group events they year, such as Leeds Permaculture Network, and we also hope to visit some LAND Centres.”
- Lausanne Tranter, Hull Permaculture Group and Permaculture Association member
|Hull Permaculture members: Lausanne Tranter, Tracey Henry and Ashley Forrester at the Constable Street field. Photo: Simon Renilson|
Some other ideas for activities include:
- Organise a permaculture film evening - you can now watch 'INHABIT - the permaculture perspective' online!
- Host a seed swap
- Organise a skill swap
- Invite a guest speaker to come and talk to you
- Hold a permaculture coffee morning
- More examples coming up in the next post!
Engagement and gaining new members
As I mentioned in the previous post, twitter, facebook and mailing lists are a great way to encourage others to engage with your activities. Having a Flickr page to share your achievements together is another option - just check out these great active Flickr sites made by Permaculture Association members and tell me you're not inspired!
You could also consider getting a website or blog to bring all of this together, including a calendar of upcoming work days and socials. 'Wordpress', 'Drupal' and 'Joomla!' are all free and user friendly content management platforms that allow you to create beautiful websites.
Permaculture Association members can also add their courses and events listings online, as well as jobs and opportunities. These are promoted via our monthly ebulletin which goes out to over 7,000 subscribers, so it's well worth it. Find out how to join here.
It is as important, if not more, to get the word out offline. There are those of us who do not have access to the internet, and those who are always out and about and you're more likely to engage away from a screen - you want to make sure everyone gets the invite to learn about permaculture, and benefit from being actively involved in their community. Here are some ideas of locations you could approach to help promote your activities with simple posters (remember to get permission first!):
- Allotment noticeboard
- Community Centre
- Health Food Shops
- Universities and schools
- Community Centre
- GP surgery
- Places of worship
- Yoga Centre
If your group chooses to become a Group member of the Permaculture Association, you'll benefit from a listing in 'Permaculture Works', which helps new members near you to find you.
You should also spread the word to other regional networks who share your ethos; it's all about working together to bring about positive change after all! Here are some ideas of organisations who may have regional groups in your area:
- Let us know who else we could add to this list!
Need a venue?
If you're the sort of group that's going to out grow your local cafe or pub as a meet up space, you might want to start looking for a venue to hold monthly socials. A lot of the establishments listed above may also have meeting rooms and break out spaces that you could potentially hire for an evening, so it's worth enquiring.
You may also find that some venues would welcome the addition of a permaculture design. For example, Cecil Sharpe House in London, which hosts the annual London Permaculture Festival, won an award after permablitzlondon transformed the entrance into an edible and wildlife haven!
If you've got a good idea for a possible permaculture group venue space, let us know here.
Once you've put the word out about the exciting events and activities you've got planned, enjoy connecting and enhancing your community with permaculture! :)
Please help more regional permaculture groups succeedWe are facilitating the creation of an FAQ with help from our experienced permaculture groups across the network! If this is you, we want to hear from you! Please share your experiences of setting up and running up a group, so that more can succeed.
Next time: More great activities to do as a group, and some social media tips - permaculture style!
Become a Group Member of the Permaculture Association and get your group listed in Permaculture Works here!