Don't worry, although I haven't posted any news since last October there has been a lot of foundational work getting done. So much in fact that I haven't found the time to blog. These last six months have been full of questions, research, collaboration, and community-oriented design work. Now that these designs and ideas are being implemented I feel the need to share my thoughts on all the work we have been getting done both as a collective and as individuals pursuing solutions and ongoing development. After completing our first teacher training event yesterday I am full of inspiration and have to share!
The impact R.E.C. is having on the valley has grown significantly since our first meeting in November of 2014. Here is an overview of the current Permaculture and community projects our group is completing:
- Establishment of R.E.C. (Regenerative Edge-ucation Collective)
- Weekly Edge-ucation Meetings (REC)
- Educator Permaculture and Gardening Classes at the Springs Preserve (Jessica Penrod, Cindy Dixon)
- Great Basin Permaculture Projects (Co-founded by Jessica, REC supported)
- Board Member of IPEC, Institute of Permaculture Education for Children (Cindy Dixon)
- Lectures and Presentations at Educational Green Conferences in town (REC)
- Building Effective and Supportive Networks in the Valley (REC)
- Crestwood's Gnomie Garden Club Development with Jessica as a teacher/consultant (Juliana Urtubey, Jessica Penrod)
- Crestwood's Community Build of a Pre-K Permaculture Apple Guild Garden (Juliana Urtubey, Jessica Penrod, REC supported)
- Cindy Completed her Permaculture Diploma (Check out her Blog!)
- Crestwood received the Mayor's Urban Design Award for Public Spaces Award (Crestwood Staff, Community Members)
- Green Our Planet's Teacher Training Project (REC, Expert Gardening Educators, GOP, KJS Family Foundation)
- Permacognition Workshop (Embedded within the Teacher Training Project)
- GOP Teacher Training Event at the Springs Preserve (GOP, KJS Family Foundation, REC)
- Planning our 2nd Annual Gnomie Summer Camp at Crestwood E.S. (GOP, REC)
- Designing a College Internship Program for our Summer Camp (Networking with local colleges)
Besides the projects mentioned above we all have our lives, families, friends, and continuing work obligations as well that look somewhat like the following:
Cindy: Full-time Educational Specialist at the Springs Preserve
Juliana: Full-time Intermediate Special Education Teacher at Crestwood
Jessica: Full-time Mama, Part-time Flight Attendant and Substitute Teacher
Marissa: Full-time Mama, Host for Airbnb with an Organic Living/Homesteading Listing
So how did we make all of this happen?
All of this work has continued to build upon our collaboration that started the previous year with our first summer camp. After having success with the camp last summer it was time to step up our game and consider how we should establish ourselves as an entity. Discovering our vision, mission, and goals has been an ongoing process that has been fundamental to our success. We now have monthly meeting designed to simply ask ourselves the same questions we have been considering since the beginning of this project. Who are we? How do we want to have an impact through education? What vision or overall purpose do we have as a group? What projects and work will led us towards our main goals? Many decisions and plans have been made already at this point in our development. A major task was simply deciding what our name should be. It took us a couple of months weeding out different words and ideas to come up with the Regenerative Edge-ucation Collective. Bringing the Edge back into education refers to our intention of applying Permaculture principles and design considerations into our educational projects. Let me just say that at this point none of this work actually felt like work. It has been tricky at times and pushed our edges but the overall feeling all along the way has been a combination of wonder, excitement, anticipation, nervousness, intrigue, inspiration, compassion, and friendship.
We found it to be important to host our meetings at different locations according to the meeting's focus. We host our vision and design meetings at one of our homes where we feel more at ease and flexible. Our planning meetings often occur at Crestwood E.S., which is a more professional environment and we have collaboration meetings, where we invite different organizations and community members to collaborate with us at different community-oriented locations downtown such as the PublicUs, and The Center. These meetings are also great opportunities for our own little ones to join us and experience first hand what it means to make a difference and collaborate with like-minded individuals. It makes sense that in half of our business meetings half of the women in the group are holding babies and laughing. We are educators after all and must remember to educate and involve our own children as well as our students. My little Ember often gives her own little lectures about gardening around the house and with her family just like her mama.
Yesterday, was our first Green Our Planet Teacher Training. By collaborating with Green Our Planet and the KJS Family Foundation we were able to work out the details on how to design and fund a training that gives teachers the opportunity to practice using GOP's garden curriculum. The training was interactive and included education on garden science, chef demonstrations, a chef prepared lunch, an instructor for each grade level, time in the garden, and the Permacognition Workshop. We are also planning ongoing collaborations amongst the teachers after the training by organizing seasonal garden hangouts at different schools that are followed by a happy hour at a local watering hole. We will be providing this training at 3 different schools in downtown Las Vegas this April and will have between 80-120 participants.
I have such a feeling of accomplishment and wellbeing after putting together our first training on Saturday. The success of this event really spoke to all the work we have been putting into REC and our new projects. Over the last month I had some hints that something significant and wonderful was going to happen. There has been an onslaught of random and stressful situations and events that have been popping up out of nowhere and have been trying to get in the way of me being ready for this first event. It has been a little insane around the Gates' home for two months. The crazy unfolded in the following sequence of events: children puking all over the car on Valentines Day, 1-2 week of a Stomach Flu being passed around, teething, I developed some kind of infection from nursing that lasted for about 2 months and kept me in bed half of the time (no fun) , tried to find a solution for it with 1 visit to an urgent care, 3 different doctor visits until I finally found Turntable Health where I found help, one ultrasound, 4 nights of fever due to flus and colds, 2 months of allergies treated with stinging nettles, 1 smashed and bruised ear from jumping off the fireplace hearth 2 days before the training, 1 pediatrician visit the day before (no stitches needed), scrambling and feeling defeated the week before while trying to make up for the lost time with getting my presentations ready and designing a whole new workshop using Permacognition's Framework and putting together 7 1/2 hours worth of follow up training for the participants online, and a flood the morning of the training. As I was getting ready to head off I noticed water flowing off towards the street from the side of the house. Next thing I know Danny is wading in a pool of water that was at least a foot deep on the side of our house. Around the time the smashed ear occurred we had become much more Stoic and couldn't help but laugh at the flood. Yes, humans try to find meaning in their suffering and discomfort but I cant help but think that something was at play through all of this, especially with it all being followed by such a meaningful event. Now is a time to exhale before putting together our next big project, the 2nd annual gnomie summer camp at Crestwood.