Category Archives: Blog Post

Inside Inertia, a tale of Pattern Disruption

Part of the Cultural Emergence storytellings

p10700742All of a sudden getting to bed late didn’t seem like such a bad thing as I sat gazing up into the ocean of sparkling stars appearing as the clouds cleared and a white trail of light arced across the sky – a shooting star! This was the peak of the Perseid meteor shower and I had forgotten until now. I sat mesmerised, the cool night air on my cheeks and a myriad of shooting stars above me; faint ones, quick ones and the occasional really bright one that seemed to go on forever. They say seeing a shooting star brings you good luck, on that night I felt my good luck in being able to see them was enough.

After a peaceful nights sleep in the bell tent I awoke to the sound of birds singing their joy of the morning, which I totally agreed with as I stepped out barefoot into the dew jewelled grass and the gentle morning sunshine, feeling wonderfully alive.

For me the cultural emergence course, spending a week camping at the beautiful Applewood Permaculture centre, was a fantastic disruption to my pattern that inside is my default place to be and going outside something I have to make happen. I really felt the huge benefits and joys of being outside the majority of the time and wanted to keep it up, but found that my home was set up to support that pattern of staying inside being ‘normal’. The inside inertia set in and when I looked out the window it looked a bit grey and unenticing and I had lots of things to get on with indoors, total nonsense as I always really loved it and felt better when I did convince myself to go out. Somehow though, knowing that wasn’t enough to disrupt the pattern.

I was blessed a month later with another week camping outside, reaffirming and strengthening my desire to disrupt this pattern. I would really love a home set up so that being outside was something that I did all the time and being inside something that I had to choose to do. For me I feel this probably requires putting my means of meeting my basic needs outside (cooking, toilets etc), so that I don’t have a chance to let the inside inertia set in.

This is wonderfully demonstrated by Ben and his family and Hattie who I am staying with at the moment. They were also on the Cultural Emergence Leadership training course and for the same reasons I have mentioned they have moved their kitchen outside and all of their cooking and eating is currently being done over a fire that is under a tarp. It is totally wonderful.

All of my experiences this summer have been blessed with beautiful weather and yet somehow I feel it is even more important when the weather is less appealing. It is even more difficult at those times to convince myself to be outside and yet it is still so beneficial for me to get out there. I always feel better for it and usually enjoy myself immensely.

Do you experience inside inertia? Have you managed to disrupt this pattern at all? How do you make sure that you get outside lots of the time? I would really love to hear your stories and experiences with this.

Reinventing Family Culture in times of Change

Guest blog by Rick Cross as part of the Cultural Emergence storytellings

A Story of Reconnection with the values of Self Reliance through learning from our ancestors and listening to our grandchildren

Rick grandchildrenIt is the season of abundance and Poppy and Ben are up early with me on a beautiful sunny day. We listen to the birdsong and watch the young swallows spiralling around the house. Three year old Ben is in a rush to get to pick today’s tomatoes , juice dribbling from his smiling face as he bites into his favourite bright orange variety. Poppy arrives laden with fresh eggs from our Marsh Daisy chickens. Her eyes twinkle with wonder and excitement as she unveils her plan to make pancakes this morning , before we get on with the job of digging up this years potatoes.

It brings a lump to my throat . How blessed we are to share these special times across the generations! I remember how my Dad would pick and store the apples from the trees in the garden , just as he had with his own father and now I look forward to future harvests from the apple and damson trees I have been planting.

In my teenage years the contrast between growing up in an industrial town and my deepening connection to nature was difficult to make sense of. Seeing my childhood secret haunts disappear underneath a car park was a profound shock that was hard to make sense of. The rapid growth of consumerism and exploitation of natural resources in the 70’s and 80’s left me with big questions. Every positive initiative I took seemed dwarfed by the march of “progress” and ” growth” which seemed to be valued above all else by everyone around me. I felt very lonely and anxious about where this infatuation with mass consumption was propelling our world and ruminated over a question that I am only now beginning to answer. How do we heal the Earth and live a happy and fruitful life , without destroying the beauty and diversity of Nature?

Rick GrandparentsMy Grandad had found an answer to this in his own recovery from two world wars and I am now deeply grateful for those moments we shared watching deer in woodland glades , listening for the ‘plop’ of the water vole as it heard our approach and the simple childhood wonder of digging up potatoes . His encouragement to learn about wildlife, grow vegetables and plant trees was my inspiration. He was a trusted elder and mentor as I set out in life , who was modelling a new way of life; living in the woods, growing his own food and sourcing water from his own well.

My journey unfolded into a career in Landscape Architecture and land reclamation in Manchester , with a vision to heal the dereliction at the heart of the industrial revolution. Marriage and family followed on and I was able to share my passion for growing plants and gardening with my daughter who attended a Saturday gardening club run by a lovely retired couple.

Then it was a chance win of a free air fare to North America in a charity draw , which took me on a month’s trek in British Columbia , that helped me find the next signs on my trail. It was a life defining pattern disruption that reconnected me to the wonder of the Wilderness. That winning ticket changed the course of my life! Trekking into the Rocky Mountain wilderness, I rediscovered my wonder and passion for the natural world and seeing the self reliant life of the Homesteaders on the West Coast fed my dream for making a life on the land . On returning to Manchester I knew I needed to live a life closer to the natural world. I found a job working on community environmental projects in the Cumbrian coastal towns, we bought a Canadian canoe to explore the lakes and rivers of Cumbria and settled in the Market Town of Cockermouth .

For many years my passion for growing was kept alive producing veg on an allotment, but 5 years ago the chance to purchase a few acres of land nearby and build a new home has finally allowed my long held dream to blossom. So now I am sharing the potato harvest with my daughter Sarah and grandchildren Poppy and Ben and watching the wide eyed wonder of one year old Edward (Bear) as he sits in the meadow amongst the butterflies!

At Danaway Permaculture Homestead I am finally realising my dream and creating a demonstration site that is a bridge for people searching for a path between our industrial consumer society and a new way of living more lightly and simply. I have been able to rent some grassland nearby and have started to keep sheep; reconnecting to my Yorkshire farming ancestors and sharing the magic of lambing with my grandchildren.

Most of my life I have been swimming against the tide of global exploitation and consumerism , but today I am connecting with more and more people who are seeking a different way of life outside the oppression they feel from centralised government and corporate power. The tide is turning in the hearts of millions of people across the globe and there is a growing realisation that by taking practical action in our lives we build hope and foster a better future.
Rick GrandchildToday I can see how what I can give my grandchildren and visitors to Danaway will resonate through the generations, projecting the gifts of my grandfather into the unfolding cultural transition to shape our family culture in the future. So today is starting with pancakes and will end with baked potatoes fresh from our land , sustaining and growing a family culture of practical self reliance and thanksgiving. Together in this way we are modelling the values of self responsibility and evolution as we co create new family rituals around food that link back to the experiences I shared with my Grandfather and deeper still to our Irish and Yorkshire farming roots. Self Responsibility is a Core Routine in the Cultural Emergence Programme being developed and shared through our European wide CELT network .

In Spring 2017 I will be offering a 2 day Cultural Emergence Programme in Cumbria to share the learning and wisdom brought together through the vision of Looby , Jon and our emerging movement for cultural transformation.
Despite the shocking realities and confusion that the world faces , each one of us can take personal responsibility for our family, community and wider world by working together to forge a different future by fostering an ecologically literate and responsible society.

Do let me know if you would like to hear about Cultural Emergence Events in Cumbria or if you are curious get in touch to arrange to drop in.

You can find out more about Danaway Parmaculture Homestead at

Rick Cross
Danaway Permaculture Homestead


Upcoming courses

There is a whole range of exciting courses being offered by Thriving Ways members coming up soon. They all offer hope and inspiration which are valuable at this time. So we thought it would be lovely to give you a bit of a summary. It would be wonderful if you could join us.

People Permaculture Design Weekend in Norway

When: 1st-3rd July 2016

Where: Hardangerakademiet, near Bergen, Norway –

Facilitator: Peter Cow

Investment: 2200,- NOK

Course Summary:
A valuable opportunity to explore using Permaculture Design for your life, your relationships and your organisations. The course is a mix of informative, experiential sessions and mentored design work, with time for nature connection and community deepening.

Women’s Wild Hearth

When: 5th – 10th July 2016

Where: Nr Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Dartmoor

Facilitators: Klaudia van Gool, Nikki Chambers, Jessie Watson Brown

Investment: £375 (limited concessions £325 – £295 depending on income)

Course Summary: A 5-day camp for women who would like to get closer to the wild side of nature, develop their intuition and learn some skills for practical and personal resilience.

Learn how to deepen your connection to nature and your feeling of belonging to the land. 

Share crafting and laughing, story, song and sisterhood. Ancient skills, working with fire, foraging, wild medicines. Yoga, meditation and deep relaxation. Time under the stars, and the ancient practice of the sweat lodge. 

Cultural Emergence Leadership Training

Findhorn Int Track IMG_3525

When: 12th – 17th July 2016 plus ongoing programme

Where: Applewood Permaculture Centre, North Herefordshire, UK

Facilitators: Looby Macnamara and Jon Young

The background story behind this training:

In November 2015 one of the participants on the People and Permaculture Facilitator Training, Ruth Cory, had a vision of a collaboration between Jon and Looby and between their respective models that they have created, that would spark further enhancement and evolution. Through her encouragement and enabling Looby and Jon are bringing People Permaculture and 8 Shields together.  Both 8 Shields and People Permaculture are at points of evolution and momentum and we believe that this connection, collaboration, and sharing of tools will be mutually beneficial and can help accelerate mass cultural emergence.

Empowering women with permaculture

CoursesWhen: 4-7th August 2016 (please note new dates)

Where: Applewood Permaculture Centre, Herefordshire UK

Facilitators: Looby Macnamara and Maddy Harland

Concessionary rate  £195
Low income rate (less than £15K/year) £265
Waged rate  £345

(this cost includes all food and camping, if indoor accomodation is required there is a small additional charge please enquire as to availability)

Course Summary: An experiential journey for women who are seeking to find their voice, walk further on their journey and reach their journey

Nature Connected Community

Circle gatheringWhen: 5th – 7th August 2016

Where:  Near Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Facilitators: Peter Cow, Chris Holland, Kerry Lane, Klaudia van Gool and Rebecca Card, alongside a team of inspiring nature connection facilitators.

Investment: £135 low/no waged, £165 waged, £200 abundantly waged. £20 discount for locals within 25 miles of Shrewsbury as the crow flies

Course Summary: 

An experiential weekend for adults, introducing the wisdom of the 8 Shields through deep nature connection and creative cultural activities. Participants will get to experience what it is like to be in a thriving, nature connected community that creates a safe space for everyone to be fully themselves. We all share the same blueprint of what we need to feel wholly connected to life, this weekend creates that space for connection. It is inspired and informed by the Art of Mentoring and the 8 Shields and is part of a movement to grow regenerative cultures around the world.

People Centred Design – Italy

When: 12th -17th September 2016 (directly after European Convergence)

Where: Il Convento, Bolsena, Italy (the same town as the convergence)

Facilitators:Looby Macnamara,

Investment: €295  for the food and accomodation and logistical costs plus a donation for the facilitation (suggested minimum amount is €150). We are operating a fair shares scheme (as there are people coming from countries with different economic backgrounds) for the venue costs and if people with more financial abundance are able to pay extra then this allows for others to apply to pay less.

Course Summary:
This training will give you the confidence and skills to design any aspect of your life. We will be using the design web to create a design for ourselves as well as exploring how it can best be used in different scenarios.

During our time together we will focus on how we can dedicate our energy to finding solutions for ourselves and the world. This will be a richly nourishing, empowering and truly life transforming course.

Nature Connected Community Design Course

When: September 16-24 2016

Where: Haslachhof Community, South Germany

Facilitators: Peter Cow, Lien de Coster, Sarah Daum and special guests

Investment: 840 Euros before 15th July, 940 Euros after.

Course Summary: We will explore what it means to create and to be community. As our main toolbox we will use permaculture principles, social permaculture design, nature connection and practices of cultural repair as they have been gathered over time by earth-based people worldwide and spread by the international ‘8 Shields’ movement.. At the same time we will be experiencing community life first-hand in the new eco-community of Haslachhof, which will be our venue, our village and our social landscape to design for and with.

Cultural Emergence Foundation Course

When: 8-9th October 2016

Where: Berrington Hall, near Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UKDSCF8688

Facilitators: Kerry Lane

Investment: through gift culture, see below

Course Summary: An exciting weekend exploring cultural emergence, imagining together the more beautiful culture our hearts know is possible and moving towards it. The weekend will bring together tools from social permaculture (designing following natural patterns and principles) and the 8 Shields (deep nature connection, regenerative culture and indigenous wisdom) to inspire and support our exploration.

People and Permaculture facilitator training

exploring in a treeWhen: 16-26th November  2016  plus a continued year long support programme

Where: Ragman’s Lane Farm, Gloucestershire

Facilitators: Looby Macnamara and Peter Cow

Investment: see below

Course Summary: This training will enable us to deepen our personal and social permaculture design skills and offer facilitation, courses and coaching to a wide audience. Course graduates will be entitled to become Thriving Ways members.

Social permaculture on the map

facilitating team2

I am writing this post following attendance at the Social Permaculture Course in the UK, early September and the International Permaculture Convergence (IPC). Both served to reinforce the importance of ‘invisible design’ and working on the People Care ethic as fundamental to permaculture and the change it can bring in the world. It was a privilege to be in the presence and share the experience of permaculture elders in this field: Robin Clayfield, Robina McCurtis and Starhawk. And also to be in attendance with so many interested and active permaculturists, as well as Looby and Peter’s energy and expertise in this area of work.

Many topics, tools and applications were covered and I came away stocked up with resources and insights. Particular gratitude to the Gaiacraft team, who did an amazing job collecting information and taking pictures for dissemination. Have a look at the SPC slideshow to get a flavour.

The IPC took social permaculture to another level by including it as a working group topic of the The Next Big Step, work to facilitate a strategic roadmap for the international permaculture community. I was delighted to be able to briefly participate, before dashing off to run a workshop on The Work That Reconnects, having just heard it acknowledged as an essential tool for social permaculture. A model for integrating SPC was discussed as well as a way forward to encourage integration. Watch this space!

Balancing passion with practicality

by Kerry Lane

Permaculture Ethics

Fair Shares. One of the foundation ethics of Permaculture. It sounds like common sense, but when it comes to practical application there are all kinds of knotty moral questions that arise. What does ‘fair’ mean in practice? Everyone having exactly the same of everything? Equality of opportunity? What about the future generations are we including them too?

The real life situation I am experiencing at the moment is around my livelihood as a permaculture facilitator. Behind every course, every opportunity offered there is a choice, a balance struck between valuing yourself as a facilitator and meeting your need for an income balanced with wanting to create a thriving future, empowering as many people as possible.

Giving everyone the opportunity

If you are reading this blog, chances are you are part of the worldwide grassroots movement imagining and building a better future for ourselves, the earth and all the people on it. We want to empower everyone to take their part, share the tools and techniques that work, grow the movement. And we want everyone involved, if we leave even one person behind it isn’t going to work. So we really do want to make it possible for anyone who feels drawn to a course or opportunity to be able to participate and benefit from it. We don’t want money to be a barrier. That is why we have 3 different prices for the March 7 Ways to Think Differently course, so that those who can afford to pay more and those that can’t can still come.

Livelihoods of Passion

Everyone in permaculture is doing it for the love of it, none of us are expecting to earn our millions. However, we still live in an economy largely reliant on money, some people manage to survive with very little, me included, but it is very difficult to do without completely. And the amount of time that goes into running a course is phenomenal. Yes, there is the time you are actually facilitating the course when you are more or less working 24 hours a day; the informal conversations outside of sessions often being as valuable as the sessions themselves. But on top of that there are the hours spent designing the sessions, promoting the course to get participants, co-ordinating the logistics of the cooking, the venue, the finances. And if we are taking a bigger picture view then what about all of the hours spent training as a facilitator, growing your permaculture knowledge and experience, all of that personal development. It is so important to value yourself, not to sell yourself short or to devalue the gifts that you bring to the world. But in a world where a lot of us choose to measure value through money, where would we be if we attempted to get minimum wage for all of the hours we put into a course, let alone some of the training that got us there in the first place.

Consider our upcoming 7 Ways to Think Differently course.

  • Two facilitators, for a richer and more diverse course
  • An apprentice, giving someone the opportunity to grow and develop on their pathway as facilitator
  • Cooks, we have a couple cooking for us this time and they serve more function on the course than just preparing food
  • Venue, supporting a great ethical enterprise
  • Food, important nourishment for the body as well as the mind, keeping in line with our ethics with local, organic wholefood

It doesn’t take a great deal of maths expertise to spot the tension between these two aspects.

Connecting in natureSo you try to find a balance somewhere between the two. And part of that balance is also with the number of participants on a course. A small group is wonderful for learning and connection, but unless each participant pays a high fee then the team get no pay. But you don’t want a massive group, because then you don’t get the quality of experience, 10-20 is usually the ideal.

Then we get to the psychological fact that in the vast majority of cases people do not value things unless they have to work or pay for them. If someone perceives that we have set our course fee too low then they will wonder why and may well assume that it is because we have cut corners or it is of lower quality.

Additionally coming on a course is about investing in yourself both financially and with dedicated time and intention, practically nourishing and empowering yourself to move to a better future both personally and for the rest of the world. Making that initial investment is part of that journey and process, it is part of your commitment to change. I often wish it was otherwise, but I know from experience that I need to invest in order to cement my commitment to something I want to do in my life, otherwise I often discover that I am still not giving it the priority I would like. Weird psychology, but true!

So where is the balance? There is no easy answer at the moment, but we continue to walk the line down the middle, working for a better future for everyone and a right livelihood for ourselves. But in the spirit of co-operative thinking, dear reader, you might be able to help! If you would like to come along to our course in March, know someone who might be interested or are happy to spread the word, then please check out and share the course information.


A participants perspective: Seven Ways to Think Differently last September

by Wenderlynn Bagnall

I’ve spent weeks trying to find the ‘courage’ to write this blog to tell you about my journey with Looby and others on the 7 Ways To Think Differently course in September 2014. I’m quite capable of writing but for me, writing about my experience was difficult. I’m not sure if it was because I couldn’t find my muse, if I couldn’t be bothered or if my memory just failed me. There is one other thing it could be and I believe this may be the true reason: my vulnerability.

exploring in a treeI have lived most of my life believing that only the elite can achieve amazing things, that I will not be anything special and leave any kind of legacy that would make a difference. Over the last several years I have begun to change this view of myself. How have I done this? By introducing Permaculture to my life, using the ethics and principles and by meeting Looby.

So what’s the relevance of my vulnerability? The relevance is how its intensity had changed and the acceptance of it.

Brene Brown encourages us to honour our vulnerability. To allow ourselves to “be seen, really seen” . To be vulnerable is to be strong. She explains that “vulnerability is the core of shame and fear, but that it also the birthplace of creativity, love, joy, and gratitude. To be vulnerable is to be beautiful”.

I found myself being able to change my frame and enjoy the creatively and playfulness of our sessions. Like an onion, each day a different way of thinking peeled away my thoughts, exposing something new, a new experience, a new emotion, but with a freshness and vibrancy.

I found these new ways of thinking helped reinforce my Permaculture thinking. Looby’s 7 Ways To Think Differently are a healthy recipe for adapting the way you think, feel and live.  I was excited at the thought of discovering a new tool that I could use to change how I see myself.

Fire side sessionsThe biggest struggle for me was Systems Thinking. I was thinking in a linear way and not about the diversity of systems we come across every day, from our own bodies to the communities we live in. The activities helped me to understand and reinforced my awareness of how important systems are and how we need them to function as individuals and as a planet.

We are all connected in a much bigger way than perhaps some of us realise. Our thinking shouldn’t just go as far as our own homes or gardens, but as far away as the ice caps or the Amazon. For some of us, denial that we are responding negatively to the planet, our life support mechanism or that another’s actions don’t affect us, is not thinking in systems.

The course touches on the workings of Joanna Macy’s “The Work That Reconnects”. Learning to give gratitude for the things around us can help us see things with new eyes and help to change perspective on the current paradigms.

Trusting in ourselves and others to make the changes we want to see is imperative. Closing our eyes and being guided in the dark by others, allows our senses to open up to what’s around us, connecting even deeper to nature.

My time on Looby’s course opened up another door. Fun, laughter and sincerity juxtaposed with new ways of thinking opened the door to a new found clarity and new-found friendships.

I now use Looby’s book to help keep my thoughts close to me of what I have learned. I recommend reading the book before you go on the course, in fact it will inspire you to do just that!

The next 7 ways to Think Differently course is on 4-8th March 2015, you can find out more details on the course page.

New year resolutions and course prize

Traditional for this time of year is the New Year resolutions, a time when we set ourselves new goals and make plans for change in our personal lives. Almost as traditional is the breaking of these new resolutions. There is more to it then just having the desire, obviously.  How can we use permaculture design to help us embed new patterns in our lives?

Wenderlynn picking groupwork cardThe first thing is to survey our patterns – which ones are regenerative i.e. bring us benefits, and which ones are degenerative i.e. are costly to us in some form such as wasting our time or degenerating our health. Then we can think about how we can enhance our regenerative patterns and keep them active and ways in which we can decrease our degenerative patterns.

We have patterns of how we meet our needs. For any unhealthy activity, think about the need behind it; this then helps us to see other ways of meeting the need. For example, smoking may have the need of breaking up the day, having a stretch and move from the desk, having five minutes to yourself. This can take us into design, where we consciously look for healthy and beneficial ways to meet our needs. Could we find other ways to have a break that bring us other benefits?

All or nothing thinking and behaviour is a common trap to fall into, for example thinking, ‘I won’t be able to give up smoking entirely so there’s no point cutting down and I won’t try at all’. Or the moment we break our New Year’s resolution to give up on it entirely. Initially it can help to set boundaries within the day or week to try a new pattern, exercising one day a week, or delaying the first cigarette of the day. The edges can be expanded once it feels comfortable to keep to these boundaries. Another way of expanding the edges is to increase the gap between actions, allowing space for something else to occur. This starts to break the connections between actions. We can create patterns of success in implementing these new routines by starting small and keeping things achievable.

The permaculture design tool of zoning works with relative placement and ease of access. We can use zoning as a way of helping us create or break patterns as described in the following activity.

Activity: Distancing the distraction

Think of two things in your current lifestyle, one that you would like to do more of, and one you would like less of. Now think about where these things are in relation to you and your movements through the day. You may have the answers already, or perhaps you need to observe yourself over a few days.

Whatever you would like less of is a distraction that you can remove or distance. If this isn’t possible find some barrier, or way of making it more difficult to get to; this could be as simple as a cloth over the television, or moving the biscuits to a higher shelf. This is a way of breaking our patterns of behaviour.

To test this theory out, move something from one of the cupboards in your kitchen that you use frequently; this could be the oil for cooking, wooden spoons or the tea jar. Over the next few days observe how often you open the cupboard it was in to reach for it without even thinking. (You may want to let your other house members in on the experiment as they will also be reaching into the same cupboards and may get annoyed!)

Now, think about what you would like to encourage in your life, reading, playing music or eating healthy snacks. Where can you place these so you can visit them more easily?

We need support and willpower to establish a new pattern until it has become anchored in our life. We can notice the changes that are occurring and the knock-on effects, and use the momentum of these changes to do more. It might be that initially we do not see the benefits: we might need to find acceptance of the disruption and see this as part of the process, a phase that we need to pass through. Like redecorating, changes can bring about a mess initially. Or perhaps we feel like we are not moving anywhere, just returning to the same point, but if we think of spirals we are slowly moving out, rather than just returning to the same point.

Our ecofootprints are linked to both individual and wider societal patterns. We have habits of how much we put our heating on, how often we wash our clothes and the food we buy and eat. In order to reduce our footprint and create a more life sustaining world we will need to change many of our patterns. What is present in the world today is the outcome of individual and collective patterns – change these and we change the outcomes.

We can also look to our thinking patterns and observe them. How did they arise? What is influencing them – the media, our education, the people around us? Can we find ways to change them to give them space to grow and adapt, to create new ways of perceiving and being in the world. With improved patterns we open up alternative ways of seeing and being in the world. 7 ways to think differently provide us with simple and yet profound ways of challenging the status quo of our minds. Ways to embrace potential, respond to life and discover abundance.

For an experiential and playful adventure into changing our thinking patterns come on Looby and Kerry’s 7 ways to think differently course in March.

And you can even win a place on this course by entering into this competition here

This article was adapted from People and Permaculture and Looby’s second book 7 ways to think differently (signed copies available directly from Looby here