Obtain a Yield

by Tanvier Fowler

You can’t work on an empty stomach!

This is a principle that I feel is easy for most people to understand, especially in designing gardens. How do we translate it into social permaculture? What is a more appropriate slogan?

I’m heavily involved in volunteering and I put a lot of effort and time into PermacultureWest. I don’t get paid. I don’t get fed. So what yield am I getting? Perhaps you are part of a group. What is your yield? How do we work it out?

You could look at it as not-for-profits do; achieving the goals of the organisation and the volunteer hours worked, which is often cited as in-kind contributions when seeking funding, as social capital. And at an organisational level that’s great. PermacultureWest attended several shows and festivals, and held 4 online workshops, 2 lectures and a book launch. Definitely a yield there.

How about at a personal level, as a volunteer? For me this is where spending time on reflection is so important. To check and see how I felt, what I learnt and, equally, what didn’t work for me. And I don’t think I’ve done that, so here goes.

I leave volunteering feeling energised. I spend so much of my time on my property working on my own project, by myself. It can be like wearing blinkers. Volunteering expands my vision; to see what others are doing and be inspired or grateful, to make connections in thought patterns by expressing my experiences and opinions, to see what I’m doing in a new light through people’s reaction to my stories. There is a freedom when I volunteer to leave my normal thoughts behind, to create a space to reflect on my own permaculture practice and my skills in community engagement. An opportunity for celebration!

Ha! Well sometimes I’m flat out like a lizard drinking at a water hole, as my old maths teacher would say. There is no denying I’m an adrenalin junkie and volunteering can give me a hit!

So, what about that slogan? How about “Reflect to Connect and Celebrate”? Connections in a myriad of forms is my yield, how about you?