3rd Annual Florida Permaculture Convergence

March 27-29, 2015, H.e.a.r.t institute Lake Wales


Dear Florida Permaculture Community,

In this third year of our annual gathering, we invite you to join with your fellow Florida permaculturists to converge around the theme of creating resilient culture in our homes and communities.

We are excited and honored to facilitate this joining together, hosted like last year by the amazing h.e.a.r.t institute in Lake Wales, and we call you to come share our collective wisdom and resources to explore this theme together. So many connections get made at Convergences!

How are we developing resilient, connected and regenerative “permanent” culture in our Florida bioregions? What are our needs, constraints and resources? What have we learned from our projects so far? How do we best support each other?

We got feedback after last year’s convergence that people wanted to dive deeper into subjects of interest to them, strengthen connections and foster relationships within and across regions. Having stewarded the convergence thus far, we sensed that the time is right to provide an open space to roll up our sleeves, and get wise and skillful together.

Therefore, this year, we will design the convergence agenda together around the theme of Creating Resilient Culture, using Open Space Technology created by Harrison Owen, a process which efficiently facilitates the capture and utilization of a group’s energy, wisdom, experience, creativity, self-organization, and problem-solving.

Basically, we gather in a group, in a circle, happy to be there together and looking forward to creative juices flowing, and we stare at a blank wall with big pieces of paper on it. That is our agenda, to begin with. Just like when we begin a garden design or a manuscript.

Then, in a facilitated process, we generate issues, and write them on papers posted on the wall, called a community bulletin board, from which we create what Owen termed “the village marketplace,” which produces an agenda of what issues will be discussed when and where. It is beautiful chaos at first, and then things sort out. For example, last year, at the brief open space time, people proposed similar topics around creating eco-communty, so the groups merged together.

After we create the agenda, we go into open space…. and time for the group to do its business.

By the end of the weekend, the process will have guided us to bring up the issues that concerned us, discuss them as thoroughly as we needed to, set priorities and goals, and begin to create some action plans.

For example, at last year’s FPC during the open-ended regional breakouts, Gainesville area people discussed with Jacksonville Area people how to organize work/play events. Gainesville people decided to organize work/play garden party events and open them up to the larger community. Gainesville Garden Sweat Equity Work Parties (SEWP) was born soon after and now has regular work parties. These Permablitz style work parties have connected the permaculture community with others in Gainesville interested in sustainable living.

We also intend to be able to make it easy to have reports of the proceedings captured in real time and available on the web right after the convergence, if not also printed and posted on the wall by the end of the weekend.

Though there is no predetermined agenda, there is a structure. Don’t be misled by its spare frame. It is indeed strong and flexible, like bamboo. The structure will be as follows: Opening, Agenda Setting, Open Space, Evening Report, Morning News, Conclusion, Closing and Celebration.

Open Space Technology really only works properly if it is not interrupted. Therefore we will be discouraging drop-ins, and encouraging commitment. Those who come must be there at the beginning, and stay for the duration if at all possible. Once we begin the process, it won’t be interrupted by other events or presentations. There will be a continuous flow. We will have a two hour window for meals, which are buffet-style, so everyone can work and eat as they feel like, within that time.

Four Principles and One Law guide us. The four principles are:

  • Whoever comes is the right people.
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  • Whenever it starts is the right time.
  • When it is over, it is over.

The crucial One Law is a law only in the sense that all participants must observe it or the process will not work.

  • It is the Law of Two Feet.

It indicates that it is each participant’s responsibility to contribute to a successful outcome. We Florida permies know how to take responsibility, work hard together and have fun! If you find yourself somewhere that’s not working for you, feel free to go do another activity. If you suggest an agenda item, make sure it’s not just a good idea for someone else to do, but rather something you have passion for.

We cannot wait to see what we create!

See you in March!


The 3 Annual FPC organizing committee, 2015

Judi Gulko, Sheryl Dutton, Loretta Buckner, with the help of others