8 07 2014
[Criteria 1: Looby’s design web, Holmgren principles, zones/sectors, patterns, input/output analysis
Criteria 2: Applying Permaculture in my own life]
I wanted to do a permaculture design around my daughter Teasel and me being a mother, this is current in my life and I wanted to think about how I could apply permaculture design.  I have less time on my hands with a young daughter so I wanted to keep it simple, I decided to use the action learning cycle plan-do-review.  This design began in Feb 2014.
To begin with I started to explore how I could use permaculture design, but as I was brainstorming ideas and exploring the principles and tools I observed that it didn’t feel right, I realised that I didn’t want to change my approaches, perhaps make some tweaks but overall I was relatively happy with the way I was approaching mothering.  Through these observations I realised that as I had read and thought a lot about being a mother during my pregnancy I was already doing a lot of practices that aligned with permaculture ethos as this tied in with the way I wanted to raise my child.  I still liked the idea of using permaculture design and tools in some way as part of my diploma journey as Teasel is such a major part of what I do now it only seemed right so I thought about it a bit more.
I looked at all of the design tools and methods in a matrix as follows and thought about the following criteria:
  • Does it resonate with me in this context?
  • Would I would like to practice this more?
  • Have I used it a lot already in my design work?
  • Is it relevant to this design
Design Methods / Tools Resonate? Need more practice? Used lots? Not relevant to this design
Base maps x
Overlays x
Shadow Mapping x
Zones x x
Sectors x x
Client Interview x
Microclimates x
Soil analysis x
Input-Output analysis ? x
Brainstorm/mind map x
Flow diagram x
PMI x x
SWOC In previous work
Planning for Real x
Wild design x
Random Assembly x
Web of Connections x
Stacking x
McHarg’s exclusion x
Incremental design x x
Patterns x x
Limits x x
Helps x x
Actions/breakthroughs/insights x x

I could quickly see that there were some tools that really resonated and that could do with more practice and this would be the opportunity to use them.  As a result of this analysis I realised that conducting an appreciative enquiry might be a good approach and that if I did it once it could be something that I could repeat at intervals in her development to.  In addition to the design methods and tools in the above matrix I also would consider the principles and ethics.

The simplest way for me to approach the appreciative enquiry was to take each tool in turn and work through my parenting approach in light of that tool, this work is shown in the following photo sequence:

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I started this process when Teasel was around 4 months old, she is now 7.5 months. It has been a real joy to use permaculture design tools in this way to appreciate where I am on my parenting journey and to identify tweaks. Each time I look at the work I have done there are loads of other things to add, it is a never ending spiral of appreciation!  I will continue to use this approach for a regular appreciative enquiry session every few months, this can tie in with updating our book of Teasel’s developments.
This has been a simple but fun design process suitable for me right now as I have limited time due to looking after Teasel.  I started this design process looking at how I could use permaculture design to help with my parenting, and I quickly realised that a lot of my parenting approaches that I was already doing such as breast feeding, baby led weaning, using reuseable nappies, elimination communication, carrying her in a sling etc were pretty firmly rooted in a permaculture ethos.  Therefore adopting an appreciative enquiry which helped to identify the odd tweak was the most appropriate design tool rather than a redesign of the system.  I knew before Teasel was born that I would want to adopt these types of approaches (based on reading and conversations with others who I knew to be like minded – making use of their wisdom), but through my observations as she grows the approaches have been further cemented and continually reinforced as the right ways for us.
The analysis using patterns was a new area for me, I’m glad I tried this out as we have a session in our intro courses about patterns and it has been great to put it into practice.
This feels like a slightly strange approach to doing a design as the design bit was relatively simple, however I think it’s a really valuable design to have done as it’s given me new insight into how the design tools can work
Was it a  success?
Yes – I enjoyed doing it, it met my need to use the permaculture design with my parenting and yes I was able to use design tools.
And now a few photos showing some of my techniques in practice:

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