Sustainability starts with yourself.
this section written by Aline van Moerbeke
In this course we talk about “the inner landscape” and "emotional permaculture." Some permaculturists call this “zone 0” or "zone 00" because it can be helpful to imagine yourself as the nucleus of your design.
We use the term “inner landscape” to describe you, the designer, in the middle of it all. And indeed, the zone analysis that comes in so handy when designing your outer landscape can be used to design the emotional spaces as well.
Whatever you want to call it, this personal ecosystem of ours, this element that is very important in the bigger designs and which resides within the biochemical limits of our body, needs its own layer in our whole system design, if we are to be healthy, sustainable, and capable of building and maintaining a functional permaculture site for the long term.
image of personal zones by Jane Grey
Using zones and sectors for self-care: emotional sectors.
So, if sectors on landscapes are uncontrollable energies like wind and sun, what energies affect us on an inner landscape level and how can we design our lives to mitigate or maximize those energies?
How does somebody’s inner landscape become unhealthy in the first place? What happens when you reach the end of your energy reserves, where you think there is no way out, where you have no more petrol in your engine, and you break-down in the middle of the desert with no water or food in sight?
The answer is complex, but looking at invisible structures can offer us many clues. What are we dealing with here? What are the sectors we have to contend with?
In this article, I present myself as a case study on using permaculture to design my way out of that desert, averting catastrophe and moving, gently, into a new phase of abundance.
The above image, created by ecofeminist author Dido Dunlop, is connected to her book, Storm Weathering: a Workbook for our Inner and Outer Climate. Also check out this wonderful article, about how to compost painful emotions.
Permaculture principles, revisited
How can permaculture principles help us to care for and nurture our inner landscape?
Can playing in the dirt cure depression?
Avoiding and Overcoming Burnout
No matter how well you inner landscape design starts out, it can be all too easy to slip into a rut. Click here to download the PDF, which has live links and can be shared with anyone you think needs this stuff!
Everybody needs support.
Sometimes, just talking it out with a loving, neutral party can make a huge difference in how effectively we manage our emotional landscape. But not everybody can afford a therapist!
Here's a silly yet surprisingly powerful option:
Design your inner landscape! Use the tools discussed in this class and/or in the Emotional Permaculture workshop, and create maps and strategies that clearly describe your intimate, personal relationships within your design project.
Relevant Links and Resources
One of the foremost thinkers on using permaculture to design your inner landscape is Nicole Vosper, who has written extensively on this and related topics.
Here are a couple of links to get you started with Nicole's extraordinary, ground-breaking work:
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