The Elders

In the beginning of April, I had the opportunity to travel to Synergia Ranch, New Mexico to do a Permaculture Teacher Training with Scott Pittman and Larry Santoyo, put on by the Permaculture Institute of the USA.

Scott Pittman and Larry Santoyo at Synergia, NM, April 2014

Synergia Ranch is one of those 1969 communes, that has changed and evolved over time, but it is always interesting to see how people live in community.  We took our classes in a big dome built from salvaged lumber and canvas.  The ranch is close to Santa Fe.  It was incredible to be in the desert because I don't have much experience with it.  Everything seemed so parched, and prickly, spiny and exposed.  It really makes you appreciate water!

Our classroom at Synergia Ranch, NM

It was really amazing to meet Scott and Larry because they have been teaching for 30 years and have lots of experience, stories and knowledge to impart.  They stressed to importance to keep the integrity of Permaculture Design Certificates (PDC) and to teach about invisible structures.  Any new teachers will have to complete Diplomas of Permaculture Education before they will be able to issue PDC's.  I have started my Diploma journey, and I was so grateful to have my mentor, Delvin Solkinson from Gaiacraft, at the course as well!

Delvin and I representing team Canada in the desert

I will do some future blog posts about invisible structures- but basically if you think of a human settlement, you might have houses, gardens, stores, food, water etc.... things that are all visible, but then you have things like agreements, commerce, transfer of knowledge, communication etc which are 'invisible' but necessary structures in any kind of community.

Apart from the sheer amount of information, feedback, techniques, connections and history that I got from the course, I wanted to share some advice that stuck with me, and was were easy to write down.  There were lots of insistences of story telling and humour that both Scott and Larry used to teach about teaching, but are a little harder to retell.

Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia)

Most of the following are from Larry Santoyo.  Some of it teaching advice, some of it is advice in general, some of it makes me smile.


Tell me a story

Read the social landscape patterns, and use the language.


Teachers need to be responsible for what they say, and be responsible for what people hear.

Tell it through permaculture principles (get class to explain permaculuture principles transfer from a natural setting to a social setting)


The skeletons of Choyo/Cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia sp.)

Find a way for people to reinvent themselves.  Transfer their skill set. People want out of their world. Empower people to be who they genuinely are.  We need everybody to come to the table.  Create the conditions for creativity.

Make your handprint bigger than your footprint!

The paradigm shift isn't going to happen.  It's going to be millions of things happening all at once.  Just like nature doesn't make one gigantic flower, it makes millions of perfect flowers.  Turn the revolution into renaissance of love, compassion and creativity.  Sustainable communities are communities without fear.  Create communities of compassion.  The future is abundant.

Expect Nothing
Blame No One
Just Get Out There and DO EPIC SHIT!

"The world will be beautiful because you are making it beautiful" -Larry Santoyo

"Let's not embrace sustainability because we fear the future.  Let's embrace sustainability because we love the things we love about the present." - Larry Santoyo


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