We are deeply grateful to the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund for awarding the Turning Point Gratitude Project one of their 2015 Seed Grants. Wrote Ally Philip, Program Coordinator, during a recent correspondence, “We are happy to support such an innovative project that touches upon several of NEGEF’s issue areas.” We are quite happy too, Ally! The funds will go to defray some of the costs incurred in setting up the program, purchasing materials for the classes and implementation of the design.
Thank you so much NEGEF! Want to donate to our project? Contact Turning Point of Windham County Executive Director Susan Walker at TPWC.1 (at) hotmail.com. Your gift is tax-deductible! We will also need materials and manpower to implement the design once it’s complete. You’ll be in great company!
Here is the course outline: TPGPCourseOutlineRev. The registration fee for the full PDC is $500, (which is one third to one quarter of the usual cost for certification). If you would like to enroll in the Permaculture Design Certification course please use this form: TPGPCourseReg.
To enroll in individual courses, download this registration form: TPGPINDCourseReg. Those who have EBT cards may enroll in individual courses at no cost! If you have questions, please contact Cimbria CimbriaGratitudeProject (at) gmail.com. We look forward to having you play with us in the garden!
We are less than a week away from the first session of the Turning Point Gratitude Project Ecological Design Course. The first session begins at 8 a.m. on Tuesday June 2nd and runs until 1 p.m. Here is what will be covered next Tuesday:
Session 1 ~ Introduction to Permanent Agriculture and Ecological Design Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Cost: 5 BTT Hours or $35 (Free with EBT Card)
In this session you will learn the origins of Permaculture and how it is meant to provide a means to ecological justice for all beings. The earth and other living beings demonste what works best, what they need to thrive, and how to live in an integrated landscape. Permaculture is a way of life, not a different way of gardening. What are your hopes for the session?
Principles: Observe & Interact, Catch & Store Energy, Obtain a Yield, Self-Regulate/Accept Feedback, Use & Value Renewables, Produce No Waste, Design from Patterns to Detail, Integrate, Slow, Small Solutions, Use & Value Diversity, Value the Marginal
Ethics: Care for the Earth – Environmental goal, Care for People – Social goals, Fair Share – Embrace justice for all beings
The origins and goals of the Turning Point Gratitude Project will be explained. You will meet the Executive Director, Susan Walker of Turning Point of Windham County, and some of the Board Members and Volunteers who will be working with us throughout the project.
How can we slow the damage being done to our planet, and even begin to restore ecosystem services? How much you learn and what your takeaway from the class will be up to you. The best question is the one that is asked. We will begin to develop relationship, and plot our session.
We will begin building a cooperative and non-threatening environment in which to learn.
An understanding of the Principles and Ethics, and why they are the bedrock of our practice
Principles of Ecology: An understanding of how climate change is affecting us in our daily lives, in our home environment (land practices contributing to Stormwater runoff).
We will review the cycles of Earth and the food chain. What are limiting factors?
We will begin to understand how time, diversity and stability are related.
When I moved to the One and Only Brattleboro VT in September 2014, I felt called to demonstrate my gratitude. This community feels like home. I began planning how I could combine my life philosophy, permaculture, with a service project which would help improve food justice, provide stakeholders with a natural landscape in which to congregate, create workforce training opportunities, and slow, spread and sink stormwater currently inundating the Whetstone Brook. Turning Point’s location at 39 Elm Street is the perfect site for this project, and the staff and stakeholders are just as excited about it as I am. The Board is terrific, and there are many Master Gardeners already tied into the group.
Turning Point Addiction & Recovery Center moved to downtown Brattleboro after being located in a more remote area. The move helped increase their ability to provide services to area residents who don’t have access to private transportation. There was damage in the basement from Hurricane Irene, which brought more than 2′ to the Frost/Flat/Elm corridor.
Water from sites above, all the way to Western Avenue and beyond, eventually settles in this neighborhood, as do all the pollutants. This makes the area around the building very rocky.
Volunteers have begun harvesting rock to be used as materials once the design is completed.
A full Permaculture Certification Course will be offered based at the site during June and July 2015 for a cost of $500. (This is less than half of what courses usually cost, and is mainly to cover expenses for the Gratitude Project.) The course schedule is almost finalized.
We’ll invite individuals to attend the workshops singly. Stakeholders for Turning Point and people receiving EBT (3-Squares VT) will be able to attend the training sessions at no cost. We are also offering an option to attend individual sessions through Brattleboro Time Trade. Participant hours received for attendance of the courses will be used to “pay” volunteers who help implement the project. This could only happen in a town that has hundreds of engaged Time Trade members, as Brattleboro does!
We would appreciate any donations of materials or plants. Right now we need barrels which can be used to hold rocks until the implementation begins. A wheelbarrow or two would be nice!
The Grand Opening of the new site will be in September. That will be quite a celebration for Turning Point staff, stakeholders, and for me. A real celebration of their mission and vision, of the committed staff and Board, and of this town that I love, the One and Only Brattleboro, Vermont!
I knew it was going to be a chilly walk to the Atrium in the center of Brattleboro today. I was determined to visit my friends at the Winter Farmers Market with both edible and non-edible wares who entice shoppers with their handiwork. I visited for a while with my friend Allison Korn and her family. Allison launched the digital presence of Roots in Silver last fall, and has had great success designing and selling her jewelry inspired by nature. Allison does such lovely work. We talked about her increasing offerings. Recently someone asked her to design some cufflinks for a friend. She’s also designed a line of bookmarks prompted by a request from another friend. I hope you’ll stop by Allison’s booth next week when you pick up your organic eggs and Verhampshire cheese! Tell her Cimbria says hi!
A lively group of Brattleboro residents met today at the Brattleboro Co-op cafe to launch a new project. Each of us came to the meeting with varied backgrounds and the unifying goal of encouraging land owners to consider moving away from traditional landscaping and towards using permaculture to design edible front yards. There are already a large number of homeowners in the town proper who grow more kale and other veggies than box hedges and day lilies. We hope to recruit these forward thinkers to assist with implementing similar projects in community spaces.
Upon arriving in Brattleboro I contacted some human service organizations to offer assistance in creating edible forest gardens on their property, as a service project. The ideal organization will see the value in designing their site as a space that will serve many functions: food for the clients and staff, outside meeting areas, wildlife habitat, and badly needed stormwater management that will slow the flow of water to the Whetstone and Connecticut Rivers. This week I will send out invitations to the directors of some of these organizations to explain the benefits of partnering with Edible Brattleboro. Imagine Morningside Shelter surrounded by blueberry bushes! Picture Brattleboro Housing Authority properties with community gardens which could provide healthy food for the families in residence. Permaculture can make this happen in a way that is low maintenance, manages stormwater and educates kids about food systems. Edible Brattleboro can make this happen in a manner that further binds our community together. Do you know a human service organization in Brattleboro that would benefit from partnering with us?
Our first project will allow our team to become acquainted, and to more fully understand the individual gifts we bring to the group. It will provide an an opportunity to share my knowledge of permaculture with people eager to learn about its framework and principles. Our new group is eager to get started. Would you like to play with us? We will be presenting information on Edible Brattleboro at the Climate Change Cafe meeting hosted by Post Oil Solutions Tuesday January 27th at 6 pm in the meeting room at Brooks Memorial Library. Our next team meeting is scheduled for Sunday February 1st, before the CT Rivershed Permaculture Group meeting. (Don’t worry, we’ll be done before the Super Bowl starts!) Feel free to contact me to learn more about Edible Brattleboro, everyone is welcome to participate as we grow edibles everywhere!
The weather was ideal yesterday as A. Laurel Green and Steve Crofter welcomed us to walk the land at Singing River Farm. Laurel, Steve and I met recently at a meeting of the Southern Vermont Permaculture Guild held in the community room of the Brattleboro Food Co-op, where they invited us to participate in a design charrette on their farm. The three of us decided it would be fun to work on the program for the charrette together.
Loosely defined, a design charrette is an opportunity for permaculture designers to learn about a specific piece of land, and then suggest ideas for incorporating permaculture principles into the landscape design. Laurel and Steve had completed their PDC online, and so had not had the chance to participate in a charrette before. They asked me to facilitate for them, which I was very happy to do. Landowners would benefit from input at any time in the implementation process, it’s really never too late to incorporate restorative measures into your design. Ideally, the earlier in the design process the charrette takes place, the better.
Coming into our planning session, Laurel was feeling an urgency to plant her edible forest garden in the coming Spring. She will be ordering trees quite soon and wanted to have a good idea of what she’ll be planting. After we’d had a chance to discuss the flow of the charrette, Laurel and Steve decided we might be rushing things. Permaculture is built on small and slow solutions. It might be best if we accepted that walking the land with our fellow permies, and then doing a sector analysis, might be the best use of our time. Nurturing our permie community could be the primary goal for the day, with design outcomes an added benefit.
Due to the charrette taking place over a holiday weekend, we offered a casual schedule and were happy to have 6 local homesteaders join us for the afternoon. We started the day with introductions built around an ice-breaker, then headed out to walk the land, making note of existing conditions.
A sector analysis is based on the first permaculture principle: observe and interact. Steve and Laurel had been observing the land for almost 3 years, and wanted help from fresh eyes. Where is water available? What are wildlife and human access patterns? Where are woody plants already thriving? How would existing conditions on abutting properties affect her design? Steve and Laurel were inviting us to listen to their land as it suggests a design that could be restorative. I asked each of the participants to spend some time walking by themselves, making note of anything that could be instructive, then we all returned to the house, and hot beverages.
Laurel had identified a great deal of information including historical uses of the land, the location of various existing gardens, weather patterns, micro-climates, etc. on her base map. We were able to expand on that, each making note of our observations in the appropriate sectors. Next, Laurel considered what our findings suggested. It helped to clarify for her that the entire farm is really an edible forest garden. She and Steve began identifying which sections would be suitable to develop production gardens such as blueberries, and how to make best use of wet areas, highlands and lowlands.
Laurel and Steve now have a clearer idea of what they projects will be over the next several seasons, and and are ready to decide which trees they will plant come Spring. Everyone agreed it would be nice to participate in charrettes at some of the other homesteads, which we’ll plan during the regional Permaculture Guild meetings. My hope is that I will be asked to help facilitate these charrettes for rural and urban/suburban landowners. ThIs was a very enjoyable way to spend a winter afternoon! My thanks to Laurel and Steve for inviting me to play with them!
Interesting article in Environmental Magazine about the use of traditional funding models for fossil fuel projects being adopted to attract investors to renewable energy projects. If this can help smooth out the cyclical availability of funds through tax incentives, this might invite capital and bring some momentum to companies offering renewables.
Until now, there have been no common standards by which sustainable infrastructure projects could be measured. With the Envision™ Rating Tool, launched in 2012 through a collaboration between the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, project design teams now have a way to evaluate infrastructure designs, and their suitability for a particular community.
Envision™ provides these teams with a framework for evaluating and rating the benefits and impacts of all types of infrastructure projects on the stakeholders, the natural resources and the local economy. As communities build projects to support the needs of their stakeholders, more and more are considering how to best use resources over the life cycle of a project.
If we consider the recent senior housing project at the Carroll County campus, we could ask how the building will be used when the senior population has declined. Can the building be dismantled and the resources used elsewhere? Can it easily be transformed into additional correctional space, or perhaps as dormitories for criminal justice students? The answers to these questions will help us rate whether this infrastructure project was planned to be truly sustainable.
Envision™ has sixty sustainability criteria, called credits, divided into five sections: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Risk.
As the only credentialed Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, I can lead your infrastructure project teams through the process of developing sustainable projects by assessing, evaluating and grading sustainability indicators over the course of the project’s life cycle. What arises is a project design which truly includes input from all stakeholders that will best serve your community.
Envision™ can be used by infrastructure owners, design teams, community groups, environmental organizations, constructors, regulators, and policy makers to:
• Meet sustainability goals as defined by the stakeholders.
• Be publicly recognized for high levels of achievement in sustainability.
• Help communities and project teams to collaborate and discuss, “Are we doing the right project?” and, “Are we doing the project right?”
• Make decisions about the investment of scarce resources.
• Include community priorities in civil infrastructure projects.
The Envision™ tools help the project design team:
• Evaluate environmental resource origins and benefits as an integral part of the project
• Assess costs and benefits over the project lifecycle, considering what happens to the resources when the project function is no longer relevant or appropriate.
• Use outcome-based objectives based on these new considerations.
• Reach higher levels of sustainability achievement than is currently acceptable.
Together we can design your infrastructure project to be truly sustainable. I can guide you as we develop a stakeholder engagement model that ensures the project will serve the community. Please get in touch to discuss your project.
Four dynamic organizations in Vermont have formed a coalition to investigate “the costs and benefits of consolidating into a single entity multiple state government operations relating to finance and lending, grant-making, investing, and banking.” Global Community Initiatives, Donella Meadows Institute, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, and GNHUSA introduced Senate Bill 55 on January 25, 2013. “The bill defines who will serve on the task force and allocates $25,000 for the work. The task force will determine if reorganizing financial operations would provide benefits in terms of efficiency and increased economic activity.”
On December 7th these organizations held a conference on the New Vermont Economy in Montpelier attended by members of every sector. The conference was organized using the Open Meeting structure, which is to say, attendees volunteered to lead meetings on topics relating to the overall topic of public banking.
To support the coalition please write a letter to the Vermont Legislature. A directory of legislators can be found by clicking here.
To sign up to become a member of the coalition Click here.
When looking to create a thriving system it is important to consider the leverage points. For instance, in our work with Berlin BetterBuildings we discovered that one of the most important leverage points is in one’s ability to be trusted. When we first came to town many looked at us skeptically. Through our partnership with the Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire energy efficiency program, ably coordinated by Joseph Lajewski, we were able to help fund the energy audits required to create a scope of work. People were able to see exactly what work needed to be done, approximately what that work would cost and what the estimated payback period would be based on the savings. However, much of the time, the cost of implementing the work, usually a large capital injection, was beyond the reach of our clients. RMANH had a generous incentive for implementing the work, but we at first did not. It was only after we developed our incentives that our commercial clients became truly committed.
There were many times over the year and a half between when I first began promoting this program and when we offered the incentives. Each time a new deadline needed to be met, the clients took a leap of faith and submitted the required paperwork, never really thinking they would be going through with a project. You can imagine how good it felt to see their faith rewarded with valuable incentives.
There were many tough conversations, but we at Berlin BetterBuildings never promised something we couldn’t deliver. We were responsive, respectful and confident that our clients would benefit from the program once they were able to participate. Earning their trust directly affected the success of this program, and will contribute to the economic development of this North Country mill town. It is an honor to work to support a community like Berlin NH.