Monday, 16 November 2009


Been thinking a lot about the school stuff recently - particularly because it will be a part of the trip to China and Australia.
The basic idea is that what we learn needs to focus towards the connection between people and planet. In pursuing this it seems like we need to make time to establish a deeper understanding of community - in earlier blogs I have spelt this out as communities of action (doing stuff like food planting etc) communities of place (knowing your own place as an ecology, as a neighbourhood, as a physical environment, and also perhaps place as a virtual place where ideas are scoped etc such as this one - a blog etc) communities of kinship (people we know and love and have as friends and family) communities of connection (the ideas and things which enable us to esatblish knowledge and meaning and understanding) communities of interest (those themes and ideas which serve as sticky things which bring people together to enable place, action, kinship and connection to make sense).
But there is more, I think that we need to explore what ecoliteacy might mean for these communities to flourish - what might we need to learn, to know, to understand?
As I said in an earlier blog...there is an educational role for existing school set-ups to facilitate and...
This is a creative challenge of immense proportions; it is a challenge of hope and optimism that builds upon human ingenuity and the desire to learn and to know more (Orr, 2009). The way we respond in education is going to build upon much of what we already know, but it will have to extend further because many of the solutions do not exist yet in response to many of the challenges that we face. The role of education will remain that of all good education, it will be emancipatory, taking individuals and our people from their current state of knowledge to a new state. Education has to be there for us all to guide, to help us to critique, inform and facilitate people’s creative interests so that they are able to respond to this challenge with optimism and hope.

Our educational response also needs to be aligned with the ecological world, and not governed by the ghost of the industrial past. As with any work that is concerned with the natural environment, it needs to be understood as an emergent and evolving concept, rather than representing a set of fixed and predetermined views.

We need to generate pedagogic approaches which are themselves emergent, open-ended, developmental and can respond to dynamic contexts. Education for a sustainable future should provide individuals with a way of understanding both global and local issues in a coherent context. It should encourage forecasting as a way of seeing possible futures based on different scenarios, in this way it will overcome dogmatic and deterministic approaches to change. In contrast to traditional, industrial-age transmission-oriented education, education for a sustainable future focuses on developing competence-based education, it encourages project-based learning, it functions best with multidisciplinary case-studies, role-playing, task-based learning and cross-disciplinary problem-solving. The educational and learning emphasis here is collegial; we learn how to learn these skills together, not on our own. We deliberately orchestrate the conditions for community through the pedagogic structures and processes we adopt in our schooling. We educate through a new literacy – ecoliteracy.

The the Centre for Ecoliteracy (2009) uses just four guiding principles, reflecting the simplicity through which they present their message.
These are:
1. Nature is our teacher
2. Sustainability is a community practice
3. The real world is the optimal learning environment
4. Sustainable living is rooted in deep knowledge of place.

I like these a great deal, but I want to deepen them into practical actions and would welcome suggestions - when Im away I will work on these with people to see what they think as well.
My current list are defined as ecoliterate capabilities and are as follows:
These capabilities include knowledge, use and understanding of:
• Permaculture – using nature as the modelling guide for our lives and growing food in ways that are in keeping with natural systems.
• Personal Sufficiency – being able to live without material excess in one’s life.
• Community – where we develop skills for nurturing community and working to enhance the environment around us for both food and aesthetic sources with our fellow citizens.
• Being ecologically intelligent – by looking at the world as a relational and interconnected whole and using this knowledge to invent and imagine new ways of relating to that world in sympathetic ways.
• Economic awareness – undertaking economic activity that is based on ethical and ecological values.
• Energy – how energy can be generated through sun, wind, light and water.
• Social justice – the ability to appreciate and hold deep beliefs and opinions about equity, inclusion and justice.
• Systems thinking – developing a recognition and an awareness of interconnection between different systems that function on the planet, and to use this knowledge to inform and guide planning and design of new systems.
• Advertising awareness – being able to expose the different ways that advertising companies undermine and distort sustainability for their own purposes.
• Green business – where the improvement in product and workplace are in keeping with environmental sustainability.
• Being a part of the world – a global citizen.
• Ecocriticism – the ability to investigate cultural artefacts from an ecological perspective
• Awareness of materials and resources – able to look at products and study them from a cradle to cradle design perspective, so that whatever we produce becomes at the end of its useful life either a form of food for some other living thing, or is re-designed through deconstruction to enable something new to be created from the component parts.
• Cradle to cradle design principles forming the basis of all designed activity across the planet.
• The aesthetics of sustainability – where we see and use the patterns and examples which nature gives us as examples of how to model our future aesthetic, in built environment, and all forms of product design.
• Well-being and emotional literacy – where the knowledge of the natural environment, appreciation of open spaces, of tranquillity and the living world are used as the basis of our health and well being.
• Spirituality and meaning without consumption, where we learn that sustainability is an inner quality as well as an external expression of a peaceful relationship with the planet.
• Skills of Transition – being able to prepare people for a post-fossil-fuel age where they have the skills to manage self and community with resilience and wisdom.
• Scenario thinking – where we are able to envisage, discuss and debate a set of possible future scenarios and design from these for a more desirable form of the future.
• Critical study - seeing the way that our natural environment is designed and being able to challenge the existing arrangements and propose different ways forward built around values in keeping with deep ecology.
• The learning society which is seen as a universal connector within, between and across human communities of the planet.
• Community food growing – being able to see ways of producing food in all environments in sufficient quantity and quality to ensure food security
• Commons thinking – envisaging a viable future of active citizenship through collective and connected action and pressure for sustainable living.
More to follow...

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Transition Bath

Just back from a great weekend working with the lovely people of Transition Bath. They held their first gathering yesterday and it was a really splendid day full of enthusiasm, ideas and excitement about the ways in which people in the comunity are planning to generate a carbon neutral way of living - I hope my contribution on what we have learnt from Incredible Edible was valuable, I certainly enjoyed the visit and will keep in touch.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

4 degrees warmer

The met office have released the following interactive map useful to explain the impact of climate change visually
go to

Saw an amazing example of a living wall in London earlier this week - if you get a chance look at the guys who made the wall
imagine the possibilities - food growing in the walls of the streets that you walk down as you come home from work, cleaning the air, making the place look greener, adding colour and scent ...