PERMACULTURE TEACHER SOUGHT TO LEAD COMMUNITY GARDEN AND TRAINING PROJECTS IN SOUTH TEXAS AND MEXICO
Are you an experienced permaculture designer and trainer who would like to do pioneering work, touching communities on both sides of the border in the U.S. and Mexico, in a region where a vibrant permaculture movement is beginning to take off? If so, this opportunity – to help plan and implement a local program of permaculture training and community gardens in south Texas (Hidalgo and Cameron Counties) and Mexico – might be for you.
Wayne Weiseman, a respected elder in the worldwide permaculture community, has been visiting our region to conduct trainings. He commented on the special energy he noticed: “I’ve been in so many places… But something really special is going on down here!”
As recently as a few years ago, it seemed like hardly anybody here in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas had heard of permaculture. But now some 50 or so people – to mention only those we know about – have either taken a Permaculture Design Certificate course, or are in the middle of taking the one that Wayne Weiseman is leading in two parts, in October 2014 and January 2015. Wayne is helping the students to design a new community garden on an urban lot owned by an Episcopal church in Pharr, TX, as a special focus of the PDC, and to design for numerous other sites throughout the region that students have in mind to develop using permaculture design.
Wayne and students are also helping to design a garden just a few miles south of Pharr, at a church in a community of poverty, across the river, in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Most of the residents of this informal settlement come from extremely poor communities in southern Mexico. The pastor wants to build edible landscapes, to increase food security and tackle malnutrition, and replace dilapidated shacks with solid earth-built homes, throughout the neighborhood. To get a sense of this community in Reynosa, see this moving 4-minute video.
But our growing local movement is in its early stages. Many of us are high on theory and excitement, but low in practical experience. And there are not many established local implementations that show how permaculture design principles can be applied in our area and what that can accomplish. Some of us have been brainstorming what next steps to take, to ensure that this budding local movement continues to mature and does not die on the vine. What seems most urgent at this point is to begin implementing visible precedents of permaculture, and to establish ongoing local training and guidance, provided by a resident permaculture teacher with experience and vision, here on the ground.
We would therefore like to see a qualified permaculture instructor live in our region, provide ongoing permaculture training, and establish a local network of cooperatively managed community gardens, on both sides of the border. She or he would collaborate with Wayne and his students here to implement the designs they are producing for the sites in Pharr and Reynosa, train local teams to operate the community gardens, and, in the years to come, develop other new local permaculture community gardens to add to the network.
Here is an outline that may be suggestive of how such a community garden network project might be done. It is hoped that someone with experience and vision will come here, and lead members of the emerging local permaculture community, together with local church, nonprofit, and university allies, in developing their own project plan. The resulting plan will ideally be as good or better than the above outline, as well as draw on knowledge of the successes and failures of other similar programs from around the world.
Ideal characteristics of the director would include:
- Experienced in gardening or farming.
- Permaculture Design Certificate course graduate, with serious commitment to permaculture principles and practices, experience in training others, and experience managing and observing permaculture implementations.
- Trained in agroecology or a related field.
- Spanish/English communicative competence.
- Ability to relate to, work with, and unite people from diverse religious and nonreligious backgrounds, social classes, and cultures.
- Ability to train and motivate youth and families.
- A large heart, open spirit, and keen mind.
- Has contributed to social justice struggles and community organizing.
- Committed to furthering, via all projects undertaken, the transition to a sustainable and just world.
For a suitable person with a serious interest in this, a first step would likely be to visit our region, as a paid consultant, to lead a project planning process over a weekend or two, and draft a proposal to present to local churches or nonprofits. One local church in particular is likely to take this project under its wing, but the director candidate would, in a temporary capacity as a paid consultant, herself or himself lead the local permaculture community in bringing the program design into a final form, before a final decision is made. We are hoping to see this position created and filled, and the program director in residence here, by late summer 2015, in time to prepare for fall plantings in the implementation of Wayne’s designs for local sites.
[Note: This is not an official job posting, and “Sustainable RGV” is not an employing entity. This web site is merely a forum for discussion in the local permaculture community. What you are reading here is an invitation to interested permaculture teachers to come and dialogue with the local permaculture community and allied organizations, and to pitch to local churches or nonprofits a project plan, which in its current stage of development already enjoys significant community participation, and which the candidate/consultant and the local community members would continue to develop and finalize together.]
Does this sound right for you or someone you know? If so, please send us a message using this form, and a member of the local permaculture community will contact you to discuss these possibilities further. Or you may call one of the project committee members, Steven Johnson, at 956 578 4642.