WordCamp and Permaculture

WordCamp ATL 2012 - photo by Judi Knight

Next month I’ll wrap up my PDC and am thinking, how can I act as a facilitator for permaculture development here in the metro-Atlanta area?  How do we build our permaculture assets across the metro-Atlanta region?

I just came back from the Atlanta WordCamp.  What a great experience! This is the second one I have attended.  At one of the sessions I attended, the speaker, John Saddington who led a session entitled “Blog Posts that Build Audiences”, challenged us to blog that night based on what we had learned during his session.  One take away I got from his session was about being aware.  He said there are 100 blog posts available to you to write on at any one time. That increased my awareness of WordCamp as a community and how insights on building a WordPress community can relate to building a stronger permaculture community.

For those who don’t know, WordPress is a free and open space blogging tool and website content management system. Since the website development is an open space (developed and maintained on a voluntary by many, free to copy), the conferences that it sponsors are also modified open spaces. WordPress central provides guidelines and a template for the conference (called a WordCamp). Volunteers in an any geographic region organize it using volunteer speakers and donated materials.  Many materials are recycled from conference to conference through WordPress central. Often the volunteers organizers come from a local meetup. The local meetups offer a forum for several hundred new and existing users. In metro-Atlanta’s case there are probably a few hundred people on the meetup rolls and probably 50 active volunteers for the WordCamp,

While the sessions are great, what’s even better is the open space experiences, meeting with other attendees between sessions, finding “experts” (often attendees with just a little more knowledge than you) who can answer your specific questions or even deciding to ditch the planned sessions entirely and create your own special topic mini-session.

What does this have to do with permaculture? Open space technology is one of the examples of what I would consider part of Community Governance asset category of the permaculture flower.  The WordCamp models community development based on permaculture principles in that:

  • the conference is a locus of network development and integration.
  • the WordCamp plan is a seed for conference development. Its genetic material has spread across the world.
  • Materials are recycled from conference to conference.
  • The open space edge is the area where the most growth occurs.
  • The yield of conference materials is shared beyond the limited reach of attendees through Wordcamp.tv and posted slideshows.

I see it as a pattern that can be used individuals interested in developing permaculture communities or by local Transition Initiatives. It is community wealth creation in action. Could you see a few people interested in permaculture coalescing into a meetup then growing into an open space permaculture conference?

I can.

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