In learning about ecoliteracy and systems thinking this week, I am struck with the synchronicity life sometimes brings! I attended a group meeting last weekend about the development of a new sustainably focused community center being built in Hintonburg. The attendees included a chef, an architect, two farmers, some community organizers and an accountant. Leading the discussion was a couple who run the Permaculture Institute of Eastern Ontario. While I have always thought of permaculture in the context of farming and gardening, here it was being applied with organizational design in mind.

Using permaculture ethics of people care, earth care and fair share as a foundation, this center is being designed to be an aspect of the community itself and not in isolation. Permaculture principals borrow ‘what works’ from nature and applies it to human made creations. Observation, starting small and slow, creating elements with multiple functions, forging beneficial relationships and cooperation and the cycling of resources and energy will all be critical elements of this center.

My background in farming has meant that I’ve always thought of these concepts in relation to soil fertility, compost, animal husbandry, water catchment etc. Participating in the design and building of this community center is opening my eyes to how permaculture can be applied in a real world, urban context. My ecoliteracy has been broadened and my appetite to learn more has been ignited!

Here is a link to the Permaculture Institute of Eastern Ontario to learn more!