The story so far

Tamara left Bunyip in April 2009 seeking what she needed to know for her permaculture future. She spent 9 months at her Aunt Catherine's farm in Arid South Australia, then 9 months at Bill and Lisa Mollison's farm in Tasmania. Now she's off on more adventures starting Moonrise School of Permaculture and teaching Permaculture Design Courses in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne. Ducky is there for the journey...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Planetary Permaculture Pilgrimage - Rosemary Morrow - days 4 and 5

Permaculture teacher training with Rosemary Morrow
Crystal Waters QLD

I first met Rosemary Morrow at the Australasian Permaculture Convergence in Sydney in 2008, and I have long said that is one of the two most beautiful people on the planet. The other one was a wonderful old Kija lady who befriended me in Halls Creek and has sadly passed on.

To be finally studying with Rowe has been a dream come true – and one I can thank my Canadian friend Delvin for - bringing permaculture teacher training front and centre in my life.

Rowe chooses to pass her knowledge on to the most disadvantaged – in prisons, refugee camps, war-torn, disease and famine riddled places like Ethiopia and Uganda, Malawi, East Timor, Albania, Vietnam after the war and Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge.

She truly lives the permaculture ethics: Care of the Earth, Care of people, andShare/distribute everything surplus to our needs. She is inspired by the “Alternaties to Violence Project” and non-violent resistance.

This last year she has been working with women in Afghanistan. With the war still raging and with armies pulling out she found it very difficult but is going back again next year. 

There has been a documentary made of her work in Afghanistan– a trailer is available at:

I am in the process of writing up Rowe's course in great detail - to share it with as many people as possible. 

Delvin, Ali Ma and myself have all our joint blogs up on the Permaculture research institute website - Craig has put the under me as the author although they were written by Delvin, Ali Ma and myself.

Some highlights of the final days

Ducky being used to brainstorm the inputs and outputs of ducks. Twice people said "meat" and I didn't write it down - which was amusing for us all but so true for me!! Ducky was never far from my thoughts during the pilgrimage and made many appearances :>

Rosemary encouraged Delvin to show us his design tokens - during the "teaching aids" section. They are fantastic for playing with design and everyone gets really involved!
Tamara as teaching aid for Ali Ma - I am a tree! The others jumped in to be mulch, a water tank and Rowe was the fluids inside the tree spiraling up and down!! After my ecosystem was removed however I could get no water and sadly fell over. A great was to teach ecosystems from Ali Ma!

Delvin's urban imagining - definitely going to use this process in Upwey!!!!!

Closing off intersections like they did in Portland with "City Repair" - watch out Upwey!!! Ha ha ha!!!

Even the wildlife joined in :)

The course with Rowe has left me irrevocably changed.  At the beginning of this journey I never imagined exactly how the teacher training would affect me. I had some broad expectations of learning and enjoying myself with amazing teachers and wonderful friends. I wondered how I would go getting up every morning for class. I worried I would wear myself out. It seems now that not only did I cope with a month of living out of a suitcase in strange places but it feels like I have reawakened after years of sleep. I have proven to myself that I am capable of study, teaching and deep friendship.

I have changed in other ways. I was unsure of my knowledge of the permaculture curriculum and my teaching methodology. With Rowe’s support and constant encouragement I have launched myself into my new life as a PDC teacher and let my community know I am running a free course as soon as we can choose some days to get started. When friends said I should charge money I told them of Rowe’s life of generosity and that I needed experience teaching so I could do work overseas as soon as possible. They would be my guinea pigs and provide a safe and loving environment for me to throw myself in the deep end.

Rowe treated us as colleagues and imparted her knowledge to us as fellow teachers. She gave us an opportunity to assimilate the information using many different methods. We started each day with a song, outside by the animals. We learned about Non violent communication, adult learners and why informal education is just as important as formal education, and more accessible. We had enormous amounts of freedom to approach study how ever we worked best. This doesn’t always suit everyone and we watched her lead as we participated in conflict resolution.

I am more peaceful. Life doesn’t need to be a constant battle against Monsanto and mining companies. It can be one where people matter, where family and friends come before the rage at the destruction of the planet. Looking at Rowe and her incredibly difficult and often lonely life I saw a deep conviction of working for peace, non-violence and compassion. It has given me an opportunity to think deeply about my relationships and examine how I am in the world.

When I walked with my dog this afternoon it was as though my little town had changed, I saw the trees differently, I felt the light breeze and I walked with a deep knowing that I was on the path I had searched for for so long and that I was going to be alright.

I feel sad writing this as this has been a miraculous journey and I miss my fellow “pilgrims” Delvin and Ali Ma. I also miss Rowe and Robin, two of the most supportive teachers and mentors a young woman could ask for.

Rowe has chosen to teach the earth’s most disadvantaged – for 27 years she has worked with in prisons, refugee camps, war-torn, disease and famine riddled places like Ethiopia and Uganda, Vietnam after the war and Cambodia after Pol Pot. This last year she has been working with women in an Afghanistan village. With the war still raging and with armies pulling out she found it very difficult but is going back again next year. She is the grandmother of the permaculture movement. She walks a path of peace and tolerance. 

Rowe had said that it hasn't been an easy life and very lonely at times. I hope I can work with her in the field as much as I can. I wonder what my life will be like. Hopefully I will be able to travel with a permaculture colleague and friend to these far flung places – I have learned it is very hard to be somewhere difficult without a friend to lean on. If I can achieve half of what she has I will have created a better world indeed.

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