PART 1 - "SIMPLE STEPS & IDEAS TO GET GOING & GAIN MOMENTUM IN PERMACULTURE, SUSTAINABILITY & REGENERATIVE WORK & BUSINESSES"
a limited series by Lucian Toma
also in podcast and youtube audio format
Give courageously! ~ Author Unknown
CHAPTER / EPISODE 1 RECAP
On August 20th, after many requests and messages from my permaculture students and the instagram and facebook community, I decided to create a limited series on “Simple Steps and Ideas to Get Going and Gain Momentum in Permaculture, Sustainability and Regenerative Work and Businesses”. Most of the communication from these people was in the form of questions on how they can take their passion and career in these multifaceted fields to the next level. I seemed like someone that knows what he's doing and moving “seemingly” fast in these fields. The overall perception came from my social media feed that has been telling the story of my progress.
My mission in life, under the umbrella of my organization “About And For Sustainability”, is to inspire, empower and support people and their work in this field, therefore creating this series was a no brainer. It brings value to those that have asked these questions and others that have not asked anything else directly, individuals that want to learn and grow in this life giving work. The truth is, I have worked on a plan and curriculum for a series on these subjects for close to a decade; yet, because I was using most of my time to apply the concepts in my career and personal life, I never got around to sharing the lessons in a more structured way. I now do it because I discovered there is a need for this type of practical information for those that want to step into or take this type of work to the next level.
The first chapter/episode was streamed live on instagram on the day of my decision, on August 20th. What follows is a transcript with extra information and details (the video got lost).
I am sharing this short series freely online for a limited time only. Its contents will be incorporated in a 1 year long course to train and help people step into leadership and get their regenerative and sustainability based projects, businesses and careers going and to the next level. The course is entitled “Regenerative Leadership - knowledge, skills, values and attitudes conducive to thriving careers that better the world”. In the meantime, here is the recap of the first chapter/episode of this FREE SERIES:
SHORT PROFESSIONAL INTRO
If you have been following me you know I work in the field of permaculture, sustainability and regenerative farming - from designing and installing small and medium urban and suburban home and school ecological gardens in Southern California, recently helping small and medium farms in Riverside county to move from traditional farming to regenerative and sustainable farming. I also work with local governments in San Diego county on public education and training on sustainability related subjects such as home composting and zero waste in restaurants. My favorite work I do is teach Permaculture Design Certification Courses from my 1 acre homestead in San Clemente, and Introduction to Permaculture at a local college in Mission Viejo (this is the only permaculture course taught in higher education in California and one of the very, very, very few taught in the United States, and possibly the world!)
If you have been following my journey you might also know that we, myself and my partner Anna Maria (who is a regenerative beekeeper, herbalist, urban farmer, women gatherer and zero-waste events guru), just got a 40 acres farm. The space is located in Anza California, a high desert area between Temecula and Palm Springs, where we started its development as a Permaculture and Regenerative Research and Education farm. This is from where we are teaching our first 2 weeks intensive Permaculture Course in October of this year (2019), as well as Beekeeping Apprenticeships and Women Gatherings next year (2020).
I have been working in this realm of sustainability and regenerative work for the past decade, starting in higher education, during a Master's program in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development. This is where I gained my first practical knowledge and skills in the realms of sustainability, beyond the book smarts, by getting involved with student and local community organizations that operated in these fields. This is where I also connected with like minded people that had similar interests and complementary knowledge, skills and experience to mine. Looking back I wish I understood better the infinite value of such communities and opportunities.
STEP / IDEA 1
Here is a first step and idea about getting going and gaining momentum with permaculture, sustainability and regenerative work and businesses:
GET INVOLVED IN COMMUNITIES AND GROUPS THAT DO WORK IN THESE FIELDS!
If you are in school, this is the best place to get connected, get knowledge and experience by being involved in student and community groups. It really pays to be involved and learn as much as possible in groups that are interested and work in this field. It just happens that almost 7 years after getting involved with one of these student groups, “Sustainability Leaders”, I started a business with one friend I made there - he, Josh Prigge, was way smarter and more ahead than me then in this field and since then got even more experienced with a strong background. School is the best place to get connected, get educated and especially to start the first projects and or businesses with other people. Great experience, lots of short and long term benefits.
If you are not in school, you can get in school. Community colleges are very affordable everywhere and open doors to joining lots of student and community organizations and groups. When joining a major in a related field, (more and more community colleges offer Environmental Studies, Sustainability, Horticulture and related majors), where you can gain and deepen your knowledge, you also connect with like minded people with similar interests and dreams. They can become your partners, support and may open new doors for learning, connecting and even jobs. Professors are great sources too. They can become mentors, connectors, opportunity makers and even employers. Josh was a great connector and volunteered many hours helping one of our program’s teachers. He later became the first “Sustainability Coordinator” at that school, as his first job. That was an amazing resume item and his next job was as the “Director of Sustainability and regenerative Development” at a major winery. Doing the same type of work, volunteering with one of my professors during school, got me invited as a keynote speaker at a few large conventions oversees after finishing school. One Puerto Rico trip was very very fun!
AN ALTERNATIVE THAT WORKS
If you are not in school or cannot commit to joining a community college or university, for whatever reason - time, resources, other commitments - joining courses, workshops, community gatherings and volunteer events on a regular basis with local organizations doing work in this field, is an infinitely valuable alternative approach. Doing this, landed both myself and Anna Maria our most important jobs with an organization that leads the way in the field of local permaculture, sustainability and regenerative farming. We also connected with many other opportunities, partners, supporters and clients this way. We continue to join these opportunities in as many communities as possible and as much as we can. We also attend free and paid webinars, lectures, panel discussions and even City Council meetings that deal with related subjects. We became aware and connected with lots of people that do work related to the fields of our interest.
This was the top advice I got form a 7 figure consultant (from a different yet related field of work), when I started reEarth Consulting. And as I became more connected with people through this approach, they also started to invite me to speak at and lead their events, workshops, classes and courses. Staying in touch with these people is very important! I will explore ways to connect, language to use and other strategies to use time effectively when employing this approach in a future episode and in great depth in the Regenerative Leadership course. Overall, participating in as many of these endeavors as possible is extremely effective at getting going and gaining momentum in permaculture, sustainability and regenerative work.
Experiencing the results of this approach is an important reason why I love to organize and offer courses, classes and community events to help people get going. Beyond that, in my courses and events I put people in groups and create opportunities for them to do real world projects with real clients - this has proven to be an amazing opportunity to launch into a business and career for many of my students. Many of them actually do. (I will share more about the progress some of them are developing in their lives: Mackenzie, Morgan, Benito, Chris, Kyril, Perma Dave, Sierra, Leana and more)
STEP / IDEA 2
Here is a second step and idea about getting going and gaining momentum with permaculture, sustainability and regenerative work and businesses:
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE FROM ALL TYPES OF SOURCES IN THESE FIELDS AND REALMS!
As I learned more from being involved in these communities and volunteering for many related projects, I also discovered the value of using time properly to leap-frog experience and get ahead by continuously studying. This meant that I always studied, researched and sought after, and continue to do so, concepts and ideas from this field from all kinds of sources. Beyond reading books, articles and peer-reviewed research in expert led publications (sometimes just perusing for ideas), watching lots of videos and listening to lots of podcasts from thought leaders in the field, I also transformed my social media feed. All my social media feeds (instagram, twitter, especially facebook) had and continue to have 20% friends updates and unrelated content and 80% updates from organizations and individuals working in the field of permaculture, sustainability and regenerative work.
Setting up time and structures in place for intentional, conscious and continuous learning can help you become aware of concepts, ideas, projects, practical approaches, strategies and information that will build you a lot of very useful knowledge. Doing so, helped me gather language and techniques to launch, market and manage all of my businesses and projects. It also helped me identify possible mentors, partners and even clients. I teach some of the details of this strategy in my Permaculture Design Certification Courses.
Surround yourself with, and set up time and systems in place to gain knowledge in these fields from books, articles, videos, podcasts, peer-reviewed publications, social media pages and groups. Follow thought leaders and expert organizations in these fields and you will start being able to use their effective language and knowledge. Use the internet and your time to build your awareness and knowledge base. You may be able to talk like a pro fast. Create a world and culture around you to expand your awareness and knowledge on what this work is all about. Learn intentionally, consciously and continuously!
Bonus: TAKE NOTES AND KEEP A LOG (I will be discussing effective strategies on this last idea of keeping a log in a future chapter / episode and in great depth in the Regenerative Leadership course).
STEP / IDEA 3
Here is a third step and idea about getting going and gaining momentum with permaculture, sustainability and regenerative work and businesses:
ENVISION YOUR FUTURE IN THIS WORK - REVISIT AND REFINE YOUR VISION REGULARLY!
I encountered the idea of backcasting visions and its power while applying the ideas mentioned above. It seemed that every successful individual or organization I encountered while being proactive in the community and studying online were great visionaries and backcasters. Success seemed to come from being able to create and refine (emphasis on “refine”) a vision and the steps for achieving it, working backwards rather than forward with the steps. I also observed that this approach was bringing success to organizations and individuals from other fields too, both for positive and negative outcomes. History is full of both examples!
A vision is expressing an ideal and desired optimum state of being in the future. Envisioning is taking yourself to a time in the future when you achieved your goals and your dreams that at the point of envisioning may seem out of reach. They can be stated in a simple paragraph, and they are most effective when they are longer containing lots of details on who you will be, what you will be doing, what you will be experiencing and feeling at that future date. Visions are best when they are at least 5 years in the future. It is important to revisit the vision regularly for two reasons. First, because new ideas, new desires and new goals for that desired future state may emerge as you study and work more towards your vision. Second, because it keeps you focused on the enfolding and evolving vision at hand. Revisiting the vision can open new doors of perception on what else you need to know or do that may have not occurred to you when you first created the vision and the backwards steps (backcasting).
Backcasting is a process of creating steps, milestones to achieve, back from the vision. For example, Anna Maria and I envisioned how our new farm, Desert Bloom, will be, what it will do, how it will feel and how it will look 5 years in the future. We did that a year ago. The vision had a lot of details. Instead of starting the steps to achieve the vision from the present point of view, as in what did we have to do right away, we envisioned the steps backwards: what we had to achieve in year 4, then year 3, then year 2, year 1, then our immediate step that month, week and day. We revisit the vision and the steps and refine them on a regular basis, almost every 3 months. It keeps us focused, excited and we know what we have to do to bring our Permaculture and Regenerative Research and Education Farm to life. Of course the vision changes a bit every time, yet the main idea of our vision and what we have to do to achieve it stays constant. I must confess that Desert Bloom Farm is a stepping vision, part of a bigger life vision! I followed the same process with “About And For Sustainability”, and revisiting and refining the vision has been extremely effective at bringing the vision to life. It works. We engage in a similar process of envisioning and creating implementation steps in all of our Ecological and Permaculture Landscape and Farm designs, and we teach this to our students in all of our certification courses.
Envisioning your future and backcasting steps to achieve it, while revisiting and refining them will keep you focused, taking you a step closer to your dreams every day. The day you type down your vision for who you will be, what you will be doing, what you will be experiencing and feeling at that future date, makes that future a reality already!
BONUS: STEP / IDEA 4
Here is a fourth step and idea about getting going and gaining momentum with permaculture, sustainability and regenerative work and businesses:
ENGAGE THE GENIUS OF “AND” - DO IT ALL IN THE SAME TIME!
I encountered this idea of engaging the genius of “and” in a beautiful book called “The Art of The Long View”, a book about business strategies and approaches to adapt to any kind of economic future. This concept appeared again and again in sustainability focused books and lectures by successful eco entrepreneurs. What engaging this genius of “and” means is that you can implement multiple strategies and approaches to achieving a goal at the same time, rather than in a specific order. Get involved in communities to learn from others and hands on experiences AND follow your strategy to learning intentionally, consciously and continuously from different sources AND work and create your vision and backcasting steps (AND all the other steps and ideas that will be shared in a future chapter / episode). This is systems thinking, not linear thinking, and we are actually naturally wired to think and act in this way (wired this way as a result of millenia of evolving with and in nature - the subject of a future conversation).
You can engage the genius of and at any time and all the time!
ENDNOTE TILL CHAPTER / EPISODE 2
Four (4) more steps will be shared in the upcoming chapter / episode of this FREE SERIES on “Simple Steps and Ideas to Get Going and Gain Momentum in Permaculture, Sustainability and Regenerative Work and Businesses”. It will be available online for a limited time only, yet shareable and “save-able” to all.
This is my way of giving back to you, my fellow human, who I know is giving back a lot to us all, our planet and our future. It is you who I am doing it for and hope that you find value in this endeavor. If you do find value in this chapter / episode and series, or you have any questions, or you need assistance with your journey in permaculture, sustainability or regenerative work, drop me a line here, on facebook, instagram, twitter or my email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share this content with others you think may find value in it on your social media, via email or any other way also.
Myself and the team at “About And For Sustainability” explore these subjects to a certain depth in our Permaculture Design Certification Courses. The next 2 weeks intensive course at our new farm starts in October and you are invited to join. We will explore this content in great depth in our upcoming 1 year long Regenerative Leadership Course in 2020 also! You can register your intention to possibly join this course that will help you kickstart or enhance your permaculture, sustainability and regenerative business and/or project in the form below.
THANK YOU FOR READING!
Lucian Toma - COMMITTED TO INSPIRE, EMPOWER AND SUPPORT SUSTAINABILITY AT THE INDIVIDUAL, COMMUNITY AND WORLD-WIDE LEVEL