We had a very full year in 2013, connecting with other permaculture leaders from across Canada, the USA and internationally. We hosted our 3rd Eastern Ontario Permaculture Convergence, which sold-out with over 300 tickets and drew attendees from over seven hours away. The Northeast Permaculture Convergence was hosted for the first time in Québec and on this side of the Canada-USA border; the theme was “the edge effect”, highlighted by bilingual (English-French) offerings and cross-border connections. The Northeast Permaculture Organizing Retreat in New York began with a Women in Permaculture Gathering – organised with the 8 Shields model, and holding inclusion and social justice as a central thread – followed by a retreat of approximately 30 permaculture designers, teachers and organisers from across the Northeast states, Ontario and Québec. To end off the year, the International Permaculture Congress (IPC) in Cuba hosted approximately 300 attendees from six continents, with over 150 presentations and Open Space offerings held in both English and Spanish.
The IPC in Cuba included both a conference in Havana (including public attendees) and a convergence at Playa Jibacoa (for the permaculture community). One of the highlights of the convergence for us was meeting with the Canadian attendees. We counted 16 delegates with representation from the Western and Prairie provinces, as well as Ontario and Québec. Central to our discussions was having more communication amongst permaculturists across the country. We did not want to “reinvent the wheel” or add more bureaucracy, however, we agreed that some things are unique to the Canadian context and that we want to be able to communicate easily with the Canadian permaculture community. The group agreed to start a new listserv and a few people loosely discussed the idea of a national “online meet-up” to connect more people and continue the conversations. To subscribe to the listserv, go to: https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/permaculture_canada
On the one hand, it seems odd that we would have to travel as far as Cuba to meet with the Canadian permaculture community. On the other hand, this underscores the Canadian context: we stretch across multiple bioregions and thousands of kilometres. With respect to climate, geological history, watersheds, flora and fauna, and First Nations, Ontario and Québec overlaps more with our neighbours in New York and Vermont than with BC. Our conversations with permaculturists from across Canada and from the Northeast pointed to the importance of cultivating relationships across the country as well as within our own bioregion (regardless of borders).
In other news from the IPC, there were several conversations at the international level about standards for Permaculture Design Courses and permaculture teachers. In line with this bigger conversation, the Permaculture Institute of North America is currently proposing a new structure for diplomas for permaculture designers and educators (www.permaculturenorthamerica.org). A North American Permaculture Convergence is also being planned for 2014 with a proposed location at Harmony Park in Minnesota. The next IPC will be held in the UK in 2015.
Looking ahead, 2014 promises to be an interesting year with new opportunities, new projects and new collaborations in our communities. We look forward to connecting more with you, in a garden, at a potluck, in a course or at a convergence.
This article was published in The Rhizome: Permaculture Journal for Ontario & Québec. Downoad The Rhizome's first issue!
P.S. There is also a Northeast Convergence planned in Maine this year and a local convergence in Québec. Stay tuned!