Uprooted from our homes, a pod outreach unit from the West Coast joins forces with crew from South America and Europe to do outreach at a 30,000 person planetary culture festival known simply as 'Boom'. In the heat of central Portugal people from over 80 countries gather every two years to celebrate life, evolve and create an alternative reality with its own media, music, lifestyle and culture. Born from the visionary imagination and whole system direction of Naasko and Diogo, our pod outreach unit arrives 6 weeks early in the splendored hillsides next to the Naiad filled Lake Idanha-a- Nova. Our journey here involves the creation of a full 7 day conference including 12 hrs of programing each day with presenters and workshops from 20 countries, a film festival, art gallery featuring artists from 5 continents and the activated multi-language permaculture education site featured in this photo commentary. This post is part of a masters degree in permaculture education, a living blog recording our experience setting up a pod planetary permaculture education site and whole system learning environment. There was a full pod post in Boom 2006 Permaculturing the Festival and Pod Life Here is the view from photos Sijay took atop the scaffolding of this years main conference area 'the Arc'. It is essentially the 360 degree birds eye view from above the liminal village almost a month before the festival happens.
Almost two weeks later here is another whole system birds eye view sijay took from on top 13 meter high scaffold
Again we found ourselves in 40 degree heat amidst olive trees, lavendar and pennyroyal in the dusty heat of central Portugal. As the climax of my masters project in permaculture education, supported by a team of designers and consultants and with a few garden helpers I was to design and develop a planetary permaculture education site for the 30,000 festival participants from 80 countries. This learning environment and demonstration garden was to illustrate principles and techniques. Supported by a site map, plant book, bilingual magazine, sign sets in seven languages, newspaper and program, this living classroom hosting workshops and tours on permaculture and related topics for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
A lot of planning went into the temple gardens. For up to a year before hand plants suitable to the climate were raised in pots by Rosa, one of the main members of the garden team. I decided to bring in no dirt and use only the sandy dirt already on site. We did bring in pine bark mulch, river rock and sand from the local area. We focused on reusing as much stuff as possible from the junkyard of materials left over from the past year, particularly bamboo left over from the main temple. As the climax of my masters project, I intended to create a multi- funcational learning environment using different kinds of media and signs to create an accessible and self guided educational experience for people of all different ages, cultures and education levels.
Originally visioned as a shade structure to protect plants against the hot sun, this temple was built spontaneously around a garden site designed as a four way compass pointing in the four directions. Carey masterminded this temple with support from Dan and the rest of the crew. The extra dry grass panels were added when it was discovered that the temple did not provide enough shade. Within the gardens we grouped families of plants together. We built these gardens using dirt dug from the pond then topped them with bark mulch.
Here you can see the gardens our permaculture team built underneath this art style shade meditation structure.
Here are three temple shots from zariat taken during the festival.
5.0 Native Plant Gardening : Medicina
Alot of the liminal village was cleared since it was covered in long grasses and prickley, spiked plants as well as stones home to scorpions and large spiders. Rosa helped inspire a decision to protect a circle of the natural vegitation full of medicinal plants. We watered it twice a day to bring it to full life and demonstrate the natural vegitation of the area. Designed in a circle like the sun, this suntrap came to bloom after two weeks of watering and love.
With an edge. Soon to be shaped like a sun.
Nightly waterings and it begins to green up.
6.0 Pond Life : Working with Water
The pond was designed as three connected circles with three different depths to give it the maximum amount of edge. We filled it a couple weeks before the festival to allow it to develop a more stable ecology which ended up including small fish and a frog. Water lilies and water hyacinths were put in the pond along with three solar globes that absorb light during the day and give off a soft glow at night. The pond also hosted a solar fountain that only worked when there was direct sunlight on it. The pond was surrounded by three beds shaped like crescent moons and filled with plants that can handle full sun and appreciate the moist air of the pond.
A tough dig.
We lined the pond with astroturf we salvaged in the junk yard zone!
Instead of pond liner we used thin black tarp plastic.
Then to make sure not to attract to much heat we lined it with some white tarp too!
Filled with water the pond held up great!
We then set up 3 garden beds using dry earth dug up from the pond hole
Then we lined the pond with some grass thatch.
Some leftover bamboo make a nice finish for the gardens.
River rock edge the pond and you can see our solar fountain in there too.
Some plants and mulch and we are getting there.
The local municipality also let us collect some native water plants.
7.0 Organic Food Production : Herb Spiral
After leveling the ground in our main 'Arc' structure we made a huge pile of rocks and dirt. We had to move the whole pile a few feet over to make sure we were in the shade of the wild pear tree and then shaped it into an herb spiral. This illustrates a dynamic plant guild of food and medicine plants with different habitat needs for sun, shade and water. The spiral was topped with corn. We used bamboo left over from the previous year to hold the garden in place.
Here is the final result.
8.0 Dry Land Gardening : Zen Xeriscape
Last to construct was the zen xeriscape (dry land) garden using left over materials from other projects. The beds were aligned with the four directions and designed as a star compass to give people their bearing. The design also fit with the lunar design of the pond and solar design of the natural 'medicina' garden completing the celestial triad of sun-moon-star. Here we planted cactus, aloes and other desert plants. An artist included an art installation in the sand garden and the cactus were organized in a crop circle pattern. This garden was located furthest from the main entries and from the hose and required the least amount of care and attention.
Here is one of zariat's pictures of the finished xeriscape based on a star design.
9.0 Main Superstructure : The Arc
Our main structure to host conference and film festival. Just the poles and main ceiling frame.
Now with a whole lotta straps
The bottom part of the arc roof is up after an all nighter from the crew.
10.0 Our Camp : Maloca
Early camp with proto-shade cloth. The outer wall is made from straw bales then sprayed with a coating of adobe mud to reduce fire hazard.
Here is it much more dialed with full spread shade cloth and bamboo fencing. Home indeed.
Water Tech Here is the rockery mix
Sijay mixes it up in the wheelbarrow.
Then uses it with flat rocks to make a 12 directional compas.
11.0 Land Art : Guilds and Gateways
Carey Thompson is an incredible master!!!
Carey has created some beautiful gateways of bamboo with some help from Dan.
Carey is incredible (so is zariat who snapped this shot)
Here is his painting of the dj table with xavi stencils and some creative work with palm fronds.
Luke Brown is here too making a stand for his sculpture which should arrive soon by mail
12.0 Grounding Foundations : The Crystal Grid
Here is a rough premap of the site
We also placed a double terminated quartz at the center of 4 of the major zones and did a 12 pointed crystal grid around the whole area.
This dodecahedron was located 40 meters out from the liminal center at 30 degree intervals. Here is a rough sketch.
13.0 Liminal Media Development : Permaculture Press
Here is an example of work from the Daily Dragon newspaper, designed and distributed on site during the festival.
14.0 Creating New Pathways : Festival Magazine Creation
To accompany our experiential curriculum we put together a 64 page magazine. 5000 were printed on recycled paper and given away freely at the festival. I also took a bunch home and did an international mailout sending them to all different continents of the world. One of my submissions in the magazine was an article about permaculture and its role in helping to establish planetary culture. Also included was a version of the vermiculture how-to, using 5 languages to describe how to build and maintain a worm compost. This media is important as it will go far beyond the festival and serve as a lasting reflection of important ideas we wanted to convey long after the festival is over.
(art by Andy Thomas design by Sijay of Onbeyond Metamedia ) The first of our garden signs are completed thanks to Sijay and a host of Translators.
The magazine included incredible submissions from Naasko, Sijay, Erik Davis, Marc Pesce, Artur Soares da Silva, and Lucy Legan. Also art from Pablo Amaringo, Luke Brown, Andy Thomas, Roberto Venosa, Martina Hoffmann, Satoshi Sakamoto, Xavi, Phong, Andrew Jones, and Carey Thompson.
15.0 Worm Composting : Vermiculture Installation
Using old garbaged materials found in the junkyard on site we built a raised worm farm sink system.
A sign was put next to the installation which described the process of building it in seven languages. This simple technology enables people to create organic fertilizer wherever they live. A worksheet describing bioaccumulators and biodynamic compost plants accompanied this. A version of the sign was also published in the Pathways magazine.
Here is one of zariats incredible pictures.
16.0 Whole System Schedule : Celestial Tourist Map
The whole system schedule for our conference, film festival and gallery is a large tourist sized map. Included on the map is a description of the Temple Gardens, their intentions, functions and the different learning installations within them. The map was printed on recycled paper and put up across the site as posters as well as given out to presenters and facilitators of the liminal village.
17.0 Permaculture Sign Set : Transparent Learning
Throughout the temple gardens I developed a set of signs in six languages that were designed, as all the other material, by Sijay of Onbeyond Metamedia. These signs outline different permaculture principles and key concepts. Serving as learning installations they were scattered throughout the gardens to provide signposts along a self-guided garden tour people could take themselves on.
18.0 Site Map and Plant Book : Educational Media Development
Right before the festival started and after the gardens had been completed, live onsite two signs were developed. One was a site map showing the location of different structures and gardens in the liminal village. This was complimented by a detailed map of the individual gardens and a listing of all the plants and their locations in the gardens. A 200 page book was set up here as well where I had printed out 2-3 pages of information on each plant in the garden using databases like 'Plants for a Future'. Using the site map and plant book one can locate, identify and learn about the many plants in the gardens.
There was a plant book with listings of all the plants in the garden located next to the above sign so people can locate, identify and learn about all the plants in the garden.
19.0 Latin Garden Signs : Universal Language for Plants
Using bamboo scraps I labeled many of the signs with their english common name and latin name. In this process i realized deeper how latin is the universal language of plants that enables all different languages groups to clearly categorize and identify individual plants.
20.0 Permaculture Class : Touring Permaculture
On the first day of the festival I hosted a permaculture workshop and garden tour. A young permaculturalist who was a great help building the temple gardens had never taught before so I invited him to join me and co- facilitate. He was from Brazil so spoke Portuguese and presented his part of the workshop in his native language making it a bilingual presentation. Instead of simply having him translate my words I encouraged him to say similar things in his own words. As one of the first workshops on the first day of the festival I expected it not to be well attended and was happy when 60 people showed up from 24 countries on 5 continents : India, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Porto Rico, South Africa, Wales, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Poland, Ukraine, Finland, Spain, USA, Chekoslovakia, UK, Canada, Brasil, Mexico, Netherlands, Sweden, France and Austria.
We started with an introduction of ourselves, permaculture and the main intentions of the temple gardens. It worked effortlessly, I spoke for 2-3 minutes about a topic then turned the mic over to Julio who spoke for about the same amount of time and the workshop stayed pretty dynamic in this way. I noticed about half the people only payed attention when Julio was speaking and the other half when I was talking. We led people on a tour of the temple gardens talking about the process of building each garden, what permacuture techniques and principles it was illustrating and something about the plants found within. Afterwards we went back into the main conference area and our attendees had now grown to over 100. Here we talked at length about plant guilds and my recipe for the ultimate biodynamic fertilizer tea. We finished the workshop by handing out worksheets and collecting email addresses. We got great feedback and made some wonderful global contacts. It was an exciting and affirming way to teach permaculture and a pinnacle teaching experience for me.
21.0 Eco-Centro Workshop : Retooling Permaculture
Eco-Centro is a Brazilian permaculture organization that arrived on the Boom site four months before the festival. They did whole systems consulting on things like showers, compost toilets, grey water systems, and building countless installations. They also created a cob eco-center hosting many workshops.
The eco-centro space was made of haybales and sprayed with a mixture of red clay and sand. 13 people showed up for the workshop for 7 countries, mostly Portuguese people who did not have a good grasp of english. After a circle of introductions I spread out the permaculture principles toolset as well as the permaculture mapping toolset to draw attention. The permaculture principles toolset involved 36 hexagonal cards, one side featured a permaculture principle and a short writeup about it and the other a logo illustrating the principle. I developed the text while one of the students doing the PDC with me, Lunaya did the design and developed the icons. This was one of the final projects for the PDC i am taking Lunaya through. The other toolset used is a prototype for a larger set of mapping and consutling tools featuring small hexagonal elements of things found on a permaculture property. Together we organized the element tools into a rough property design. Using leading questions we reorganized the elements on the design according to permaculture principles. To further illustrate each principle I used the permaculture principles card deck, pulling out the relevant card as we cycled through each principle. I then talked about the heart gardens map as a tool template for using local media to initiate relationships, dialogues and build community. It was a very casual, easy and fun workshop which i did quite spontaneously without too much reference to notes. It showed me again how helpful teaching tools can be in creating a dynamic and interactive learning experience. Deepest of thanks to Lucy Legan www.ecocentro.org/en/ for stewarding and hosting this incredible learning zone.
22.0 The Liminal Crew : Community Co- Creation
Here is the crew
Fabled whole systems meta manager Naasko from British Columbias Kootenay Mountains of Canada
Design magi and whole systems support Sijay
from elvish Canadia in the mythic elphinstone rainforest
Pure magic facilitator and whole system aid Marta
from Lisbon the glowing capital of Portugal
Plant Healer, Feng Shui Architect, Camp Mom and land steward Rosa from Viln do Conde in Northern Portugal
Permaculturalist, land designer and incredibly hard worker Julio
from Brasilia in Brasil
Meta tech, dj, vj and holistic operations manager Pedro Gomide
Visionary extraordinaire, whole system decor and temple gateway installation architect Carey Thompson
Artist supreme and galactic ambassador doing installations and gallery set up is Luke Brown
currently residing in Bali
We are lucky to have deep help on all fronts from Khalid
from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal
Also we unexpectedly found a perfect fit with Dan
from the UK who is helping carey with bamboo installations
and yours truly Delvin
from the Elvish Nation of British Columbias West Coast
All is well as we completed another podular education flow.
Long Live Boom.
Long Live Pod.