Principles of Presence:

Applying Permaculture Design and Integral Theory to Personal Development

By Jennifer English Morgan

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The image of a woman wearing a golden straw hat with a basket of colorful goodies from tending her summer kitchen garden and herb spiral may come to mind when I say the word Permaculture. This image may elicit the taste of a fresh ripe heirloom tomato on your lips, or the smell of handpicked dill and basil wafting through the kitchen. Those sensory observations might expand out to a larger scale, with a picture of a mother and father hoisting shovels and pickaxes, drenched in sweat, as they construct swales to capture water for their fruit and nut orchard. Looking around you see that their children have mud painted faces from playfully rolling seed balls nearby. Then expand out and envision a community pooling their resources to hire a Permaculture designer for a sizeable earthworks project. See the excitement and even a touch of apprehension on their faces as they discuss bringing in a backhoe to build a greywater pond for the communal dining hall. Expand a step further, as you witness a more substantially sized community gathering in a circle for a town meeting to discuss the design of a new ecovillage.

Pause and take a moment to notice how these descriptions make you feel. What do you observe arising in your body and mind? What is your current relationship with Permaculture? All of these observations, thoughts, and feelings exist inside of you. Have you considered utilizing Permaculture to design your outer or inner landscape?

Emergence of Social Permaculture

The roots of Permaculture began as a means of applying patterns and principles found in nature to the designing of human agriculture and land use systems. Permaculture’s deep wisdom, like many traditional nature-connected cultures, is rooted in the observation of nature. The flows of energy in ecosystems have observable patterns in the way elements of that system relate and function. We can see or know how the parts are attracted to one another and under what conditions. There are flows of energy that shift a system into higher states of complex order, yielding more diversity and productivity.

In 2004 I purchased clear-cut land with the intent of experimenting with restoration techniques and establishing a Permaculture farm and demonstration site. It was fascinating to watch the soil, plants, and animals heal from the scars left by the skidders and other heavy machinery. First came the brambles and brush, almost like a layer of scabs over the earth. This thorny cover attracted a lot of rabbits and ground birds like woodcocks. Blackberry and cat-brier tendrils were continually snagging me. My tattered clothes and bleeding skin were not happy, but my goats were thrilled to munch on the brambles and plentiful sumac while I untangled myself. Over the 14 years as the ecosystem grew, and the taller trees drowned out the light for the brush, shrubs and, saplings, the forest became home to more turkeys and deer. The edges of the field, road and forest became diversified with all types of edible and medicinal plants. I feel blessed to have had the experience of observing these intricate and complex changes.

Think of all the patterns witnessed over the millennia from profound yet straightforward observation and interaction. Permaculturalists and other nature wisdom keepers harnessed principles from these pattern observations, much like my forested fascination, and applied them to a holistic and regenerative design approach utilized for creating human systems that care for the needs of both people and the planet. In the beginning, these were primarily agricultural or land-based designs, such as agroforestry and edible landscapes.

Zoom your attention up out of the forest now, to take a sky view of design over the last century. Looking down from above, we can see a lot of people busy building infrastructure and technology. Designers are often doers. Their tools have become more refined over the centuries, yet their outcomes aren’t always useful or sensible, at least as seen from above, where the impact of design choices can be seen downstream or across the valley. I could quickly rattle off thousands of flawed designs. I won’t. Pause if you’d like. I’m sure some ecological travesty readily pops to mind.

In your imagination can you compare the above scenario of a maturing forest to phases of forming a new family, community, social organization, government policy, business, or perhaps a new production line for a company? Maybe there are some similarities in growth. Have you ever been part of a start-up entrepreneurial endeavor, with its initial chaos that eventually turns to organized and diversified functionality? As the business grows, it can handle more complexity.

Design exists as a tool for humans to grow, like forests. It is not good or bad. The meta-field of design evolved over the centuries into a set of disciplined inquiries into a system, whether regarding engineering, information technology or any subfield, with the intent of transcending, revisioning or transforming that system. In general, the design focus is towards contributing to or improving human well-being and livelihood through solution based interventions that are experiential, creative, and optimistic approaches to both understanding and addressing the challenges facing an individual, culture or society. The significant framing to anchor is the transformation of human systems. Design creates change. How can we ensure that we are producing the most optimized changes as seen from the sky and felt on the ground?

As I see it, there are two areas for improvement. One is an understanding and appreciation of ethical considerations, and the other is an awareness of and cultivated relationship with inner knowingness. Permaculture as a sub-field of design science has always incorporated an element of ethical earth, and people care into the process, adding a layer of holistic thinking to the overarching field of design that was already human-centric. Within the past three decades, Permaculture evolved using that same sound thinking it applied to landscapes for designing communities, social and financial systems, businesses, and organizations. For an example of this application I recommend reading my article on Transition Economics: Principles of Financial Permaculture.

Social Permaculture emerged utilizing patterns in nature as applied to social systems. In sociology, a social system is the relationships and interactions between individuals, groups, institutions, networks and their operating systems. An operating system identifies the worldviews, beliefs, social conditions, and prescribed actions that people or organizations of people subscribe to and utilize as patterns of behavior within a meta-system.

Permaculture is now also evolving into actively designing the inner landscape. What do nature wisdom keepers like Shamans, herbalists or Permaculturists and a Tibetan Buddhist Monk meditating on the Himalayan mountains have in common? Deep observation skills. I have personally sat and witnessed the forest growing around me at my homestead. I also literally sat in the Himalayas and closed my eyes to look at the ecosystems within me. I have seen the forest of my mind. Similar patterns exist both internally and externally. Anchor to the words observations and patterns as we will revisit these threads. The remainder of this article is an application of social permaculture on personal and societal development.

Gaps and Expansion Within the Field

Social Permaculture and Social Systems Design are relatively new fields and are already transitioning into a more integral approach in response to our rapidly changing world. In his work, Designing Social Systems, Bela H. Banathy says, “Social systems design is a relatively new intellectual technology. It emerged in the 1970s and 1980s as a manifestation of open systems thinking, the soft systems approach, and critical systems theory. It came on the scene just in time to deal with highly complex and dynamic social systems that are faced with the new realities: the massive changes and transformations of the information/knowledge age.”

It is evident that we are navigating a world designed during the industrial revolution with the tools and framing of the present information era. In many ways, we are failing at integrating and moving into what is even now emerging, as our former dominant operating systems responsible for designing our current chaotic situation, are at war with each other. When I say chaotic I’m referring to the massive resource depletion and inequality of resource distribution, and general degradation of our social and ecological life-sustaining systems.

If we look at Ken Wilber’s Integral levels, we can see that there are four predominant systems functioning. Three of these systems operate with opposing worldviews, Wilber terms these as the Culture Wars, and the other more world-centric level aims to accept and integrate the functionality of each of the other methods. Ken Wilber says, “that global issues are not going to be resolved,” if we as designers aren’t capable of designing and “thinking at a world-centric level.”

According to Wilber, there are three operating systems that make up about 60–80% of the population of the world. One is mythic, which represents a very authoritarian worldview. I also define this system as traditional or conservative. When this operating system is active a person cares for themselves and those they identify with, their family, community, tribe, nation, race, religion, etc. Information enters the system from a hierarchical access point. Anything outside of that pathway is either not computed or is considered wrong, or at least suspect. The solutions to the world’s problems are religion and nationalism.

Another operating system is rational analytical, which represents a more scientific worldview, also capitalistic. The focus is less on hierarchies and more on departments. There’s also an appreciation for all humans sharing a collective experience, steeped in object consciousness. Technology, science, commerce, and philanthropy are the solutions to the world’s problems.

The third operating system is postmodern pluralism which is very intuitive, relative and egalitarian focused. The environmental, feminist and civil rights movements stemmed from this worldview. Here we find a system that emphasizes circles and points of overlapping interconnection rather than hierarchies or departments. All humans and in some cases non-human beings, and the planet itself have intrinsic worth. There’s a sense of the interconnectedness of all life. The solution to the world’s problems begin with respecting all of life and healing the chaos, and in most cases includes the deconstruction and annihilation of the other operating systems.

The traditional worldview thinks the other two are either unrealistic, absolutely false, or even dangerous. The rational, analytical worldview believes that the other two are ridiculous. One being fanatical and the other being idealistic. Finally, the more relative worldview can’t stand the ego-centrism of the other two. It blames the other operating systems for all the problems of the world.

An excellent example of this is the cultural positioning and trends during the 2016 Primary elections in the United States of America. As an adult I stood on the sidelines, indifferent about 5 of 6 Presidential elections as none of the candidates aligned with my values. In 2016, however, I spent about 20-hours a week engaged in the Primary season. I was fascinated by the culture wars I witnessed on social media and the mainstream news. It was quite evident to me that Donald Trump represented the Authoritarian (Nationalist) Mythic operating system, while his Republican opponent Ted Cruz embodied the Authoritarian (Religious) Mythic operating system. Hillary Clinton openly spoke to the Rational/Analytical types. Her Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders inspired the Intuitive/Relative. Later in the general election, Jill Stein emerged from the Green party, who captured some of the Intuitive/Relative sentiment after Bernie was knocked out of the game.

Traditional and rational types can get stuck in trying to predict and control the external/outer sphere. An example of this is the hyper-control of systems with excessive policy (authoritarian) or manipulating facts through science (excessive rationalizing). Both get stuck in fixed realities. Traditional mythic and relative can get lost in inner knowingness. They rely heavily on their perception often to the detriment of a design or lack thereof. An example of this is making decisions based on a belief that God has intervened (mythic) or in avoidance of design for the sake of rebelling against mechanistic analysis (intuitive type).

By the sheer nature of our humanness, we experience all three of these operating systems. In certain relationships or varying situations, one or the other operating system will become more active. Some of us have a default or dominant operating system. It’s important to recognize that these systems exist and in many cases are at war with each other. It’s helpful to note which mode you were raised believing in during your formative years, and where you are at in the present moment. An open-minded, rational type combined with an anchored intuitive type that can embrace, honor and heal the authoritarian self (because there is a place for this type of leadership — such as in an emergency) enters the Integral, holistic and emergent way of thinking, concerning other knowingness. I mean being able to see and understand, or even appreciate the perspective of others.

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4 Integral Operating Systems

This fourth Integral operating system is coming online. Many holistic designers and thinkers are beginning to download a new set of worldviews where all of the previous operating systems are necessary parts of the meta-system. It looks at all points of view and sources of information as having useful components applied as applicable. The blaming and shunning of details from each opposing worldview eventually becomes less relevant. Integral thinkers shift their focus more inwardly on intra/interpersonal development and on understanding how to recognize and alter the operating systems internally rather than externally. They become ever more inclusive at bringing all the voices to the table when making design decisions.

The field of design is becoming ever more integral. By integral I mean whole-systems designing that is post-disciplinary, as it transcends and incorporates perspectives from all fields of knowledge and acknowledges the interconnectivity of all systems. We have the ongoing opportunity to harness an integral and holistic approach to meta-level thinking in our design for social and planetary change. By considering the complex interconnected relationships between social and ecological elements within the system, we can choose appropriate interventions, while also being mindful of the designer’s role and responsibility in the process, that includes skilling up in personal development and an awareness of one’s identifications, projections, and limitations.

Integral emphasizes intra/interpersonal development at its core. Intrapersonal means that we are looking at the relationship one has with oneself and using self-awareness or introspection to navigate or inform design decisions. By increasing intrapersonal intelligence, we become more aware of our emotions, motivations, beliefs, and goals. We can discern which operating system is actively driving our behaviors and decisions or choose how to intervene mindfully. Interpersonal on the other hand is expanding out to encompass the relationships between people and groups of people. Interpersonal intelligence gives us the ability to adequately understand and interact with others through verbal and nonverbal communication, and the ability to integrate multiple perspectives and work with various operating systems.

My Integral Story

I’m reasonably aware of the chaos swarming in the world. I just saw a video of a farmer in the USA who had fifty beehives ransacked by vandals, killing over 500,000 precious bees. Sometimes it feels to me that we are balancing on the edge of survival as a species. It took me over a decade of being in a constant state of burnout from trying to save the world from its impending demise, to realize that I was so pissed off, I wasn’t even enjoying life. I stuck myself in the postmodern operating system I explained above. Trapped in the duality of victim and perpetrator, blaming the other two operating systems. Stuck too in the modern operating system, where much of my thinking objectified my attempt to save things from other things.

I arrived on the planet into a family that was predominantly using a rational, analytical operating system. At an early age, I adopted the intuitive relative as my own operating system. Around 1994 when I began studying Psychology and Yoga, I accessed an Integral way of thinking. However, whenever I got triggered or overwhelmed by the state of the world, I’d default to relative pluralistic thought and participate in the culture wars. I initially had an aversion to Integral Theory, as I was anti-hierarchies, anti-technology, and becoming evermore a social anarchist that questioned all structures and all things patriarchal. I pivoted between relative and integral. It seemed that whenever I became triggered, I’d trip out of integral. During the Primary elections, I was undoubtedly functioning from the relative mindset. After the elections, I was able to step back and reevaluate my position and understand the entire scenario from a more holistic and integrative perspective.

As a designer and teacher of design, my methods have evolved a lot over the years. I used to focus on tools for setting holistic goals, conducting surveys and analysis, experimenting with different design models, mapping and writing proposals, implementing and managing the project, etc. My style of agency and teaching were birthed from a sense of urgency to take action through applying strategic design tools. In the beginning, it was to fight against evil (insert villain of your choice), which morphed into solving significant problems (add disaster of your choice), and then landed on proactively creating change. I still view each of these as critical components and steps of design. However, over the last few years, I have had powerful realizations about my role as a designer.

Our minds shape design. Incorporating the cultivation of my inner landscapes into my design practice allowed me to harnesses the power of engaging clearly in an interconnected way. Without personal introspection and integration, and an awareness of our state(s) of mind, our designs will be continually restricted and fragmented by day-to-day distractions, attachments, unconscious conditioning, limiting beliefs and unresolved traumas (personal and collective). I may as well add general moodiness, hormones, and Mercury Retrograde. Do you relate? Considering that list, we’re doing fair to decent. Still, there are so many shity designs paved with good intentions.

Being centered. Being present. Boom. A super easy answer to better designs. There’s hope, here’s my pitch: we can embrace our authenticity and agency and align it with what is emerging in the present moment to fully step into our power as designers. I’ve committed the last 15-years of my career to training designers, mentors, facilitators, healers, and leaders, to navigate this chaos, by responding in a regenerative and integrative way. It’s been a shift for me towards taking action and looking inwards, while celebrating life each step along the path! I’m offering you a bunch of ideas and tools for cultivating the inner garden. Let’s churn that consciousness compost heap.

Considerations for Connection: Patterns and Principles for Design

We can apply the same patterns one finds in healthy ecosystems to any human system or mental operating system because they are the same fundamental patterns. Everything in existence expands off of the same “code.” Take a quick look at classical and quantum mechanics of physics, chemistry, and biology to assess the scientific foundations and also relativity of our universe. While I’m using this as evidence, also be mindful of noting that these sciences, though very useful, are currently steeped in the rational/analytical operating system.

Can you imagine a world where we are all connected? A world where the observable energy in ecosystems has multiple states of being, both physical and energetic. Can you add an emotional state or even a spiritual state as a visible part of an ecosystem? If you can agree that life and these various states of being are all connected, built on one another, then you might consider that the same principles that we use to design our physical gardens are applicable for developing these other states of being.

Think about how much knowledge we maintain regarding our external world, the many details and descriptions we have for our body parts, the soil, the plants, and all the many tools we use as humans. In this modern-day rational world, object consciousness dominates our attention. Meaning the majority of us spend most of our alert energy interacting with, thinking about and attracted to objects. What if our minds had as many muscles as the body? Could you name those muscles? Could you tell me how you’re exercising or nourishing those muscles? What if the same patterns that are observable in ecosystems are built off of or mirror the pathways that exist within our consciousness?

Now, I would have at one time scoffed at this statement as a manifestation of our human-centric worldview. Wearing my social anarchist and postmodernist hats and looking through my lens of deep ecology, I viewed nature, the trees, and the planet, etc…, as evolved and human’s as devolved. Therefore, I considered the human mind as corrupted. Built by nature. Gone astray. For decades I had a love-hate relationship with my mind and humanity. On one level I resented the part of consciousness that caused humans to be so destructive. I blamed the corruption of the human mind for causing suffering. Then finally, I embarked on a journey of getting to know my mind. I now experience my internal and external landscapes as reflections manifesting similar properties and patterns of energy flows, attractions, momentum, scales, zones, sectors, and states. The resentment, blame, and shame is no longer driving or influencing my pathway.

I shared these personal transitions for the sake of inherent relatability. I’m hoping that at least, the idea that we can apply principles found in nature to design our inner landscape is a possibility that remains accessible. If not, I hope to entice you into becoming open and curious to the concept.

Designing Our Inner Landscape

Remember what I said earlier about patterns and observation? Let’s imagine we are tying a bow with the strands of Permaculture design with the operating systems of Integral Theory, and its application to personal development. We can utilize Permaculture principles for designing personal development and relationships and use that awareness to be more present in developing personal lifestyle choices, our livelihood, and all of life’s many projects. The remainder of this article emphasizes the application of mindfulness, observation, and acceptance. By being fully alive at the moment, we can identify patterns of engagement and limiting beliefs, and put power behind that which we want to manifest. These steps are useful in staying centered.

Have you ever felt alive and aligned in the present moment? Many call this the flow state. Another colloquial term is ‘being in the zone.’ Both refer to a mental state in which a person is performing in a manner fully immersed in the activity, and energized through focus and a sense of enjoyment in the process. It’s possible to feel this centered alignment during any situation, from awe to chaos. From the center, we can then apply an emergent design process for creating a life of abundance. It’s imperative that we skill up in inter/intrapersonal tools before and while engaging in designing social and ecological systems. This process enables us to go into our inner landscape to clear and cultivate energy and mindfulness.

To set the stage for mindful transformation, it’s helpful to understand that the brains (head, heart, and gut) are all responsive to conditions and patterns. A traumatized or socially conditioned brain is going to function differently than a brain that is reconditioning. We can change the structure of the brain using the awareness of mind, and practice. Neuroplasticity allows us to change how our brains work by rewiring our neurocircuitry. The brain can form new neural connections, compensate for injury or trauma, and birth new neurons. Whenever we increase capacity, we experience an expanding of consciousness, directly related to developmental growth and evolution. This ability is critical because of our role as designers. My opinion is that we cannot navigate or embrace efficient social systems design without skilling up in intra/interpersonal tools and practices.

I’ve created a model that utilizes Permaculture principles to deconstruct and recondition our operating system so that we can be more intentional about who and what is in the driver seat of our design process. The model, like many other mindfulness tools, can help restructure thinking, thanks to the possibility of neuroplasticity and the refined functioning of the autonomic nervous system.

You can use the model to delve into your inner landscape to observe and interact with the functioning operating systems, and slowly tweak them as needed. The process is applied in the present moment and begins with noting and observing what arises and then incorporates assimilation of new inputs. This is a very personal experience. I would suggest engaging with the process frequently, either daily, weekly or monthly for the most significant transformative results.

Step 1: Anchor — creating a container, setting goals, aligning purpose

Space — Comfort and security provide a container for cultivating vulnerability, humility, and authenticity. It takes courage to walk on this path. Choose a quiet and private location to limit interruptions. Cleanliness and organization help create clarity and prevent distractions.

Time — Select intervals of time to engage in this process. Having an intentional start and finish helps with integration. The transitions become anchors for new learnings or bells of mindfulness, so we don’t get lost.

Resources — Selecting and engaging with inspiring music, art, books, etc., can serve as reminders of connection.

Nature and Community — Establish a connection with nature and people. Get regular doses of sun, moon, stars, wind, fire, water and earth. Find allies for processing and reflection. Choose friends, family or an organized support group.

Prepare the Body — Select tools to use as a catalyst for full body integration, such as Yoga, Thai Chi, dancing, Pranayama, massage, Breama, Reiki, Acupuncture, Co-Counseling, Animal Therapy or plant medicine. Practice being present, grounding and centering.

Prepare the Mind — Consider your goals and turn these into affirmations. Journal what you may wish to achieve and how. Begin to practice clearing the mind. Skill up with studying and practicing non-attachment, gratitude, self-love, compassion, forgiveness, positive thinking, and non-violent communication. Incorporate celebration and laughter.

Right Livelihood — It’s important to stop feeding the negativity and patterns you want to transform. Limit your exposure to social conditioning sources, like mainstream media.

~ Principle of Positivity — One of Bill Mollison’s original principles of Permaculture states, “The Problem is the Solution.” Everything works both ways. I anchor to positivity, finding my way out of the brambles, as I snag on stories of my suffering and social conditioning.

Step 2: Reflect — observe and interact

Accessing the observer mind is a step towards healing and manifestation. Be open and curious. This is an exercise in witnessing what arises without attachment.

1 — Observe what you notice outside of yourself

– Find your senses. What is seen, heard, etc.?

– Experiment with nature and people watching.

2 — Encourage full awareness of bodily sensations

– Stay present, observe the body, breath, and sensations

– Allow time for emotions to arise

3 — Observe patterns

– Pay attention to patterns in behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.

– Observe expansion and contraction. Stay with sensations as they change. Don’t emotionally attach, analyze or interpret the transitions. Feelings are indicators for choice, not determinant answers. Try to accept what arises without coloring it with judgment, or attaching or identifying with its story.

4 — Invite the challenges and inspirations to emerge

– Keep focusing on sensations. Think, talk or write about the experience. Pay attention to the feeling that arises, and let the energy dissipate or discharge.

– Repeat 1–3. Journal observations.

~ Principle of Observe and Interact — By observing both internal and external patterns we can expand our thinking. We must know how nature works if we want to be able to work with it.

Step 3: Contemplate — understand

After a period of observation, understanding arises. Awareness is powerful magic.

  • Ask Questions — Spend a period of time seeking to understand the observations you made, and assessing your different choices to move forward.
  • Track the different zones and sectors of awareness — Where do thoughts arise? Do you recognize any patterns in which thinking system is operating?
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Zones of Influence
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Sectors of Influence

Peaceful Center — There are three core frequencies: Peaceful center, learning/growth, and stress/pain. Become familiar with the vibration of each. Notice the edge, the transition between the three. Honor and celebrate center, expand consciously, and witness the moment of stress activation. Cultivate tools and processes for returning to center.

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~ Principle of Pattern to Details — Patterns are a source of inspiration for Permaculture. Energy flows in patterns. Life is made up of energy. We can use design thinking to understand the different zones and sectors of our awareness.

Step 4: Assimilate — align, adjust, and adapt

Learn these new understandings by embodying them through practice, resulting in a realignment and adjustment of neurological connections. We are what we think. Make these connections redundant and diverse.

~ Principle of Energy Cycling — In nature, when energy cycles, living systems grow. Practice aligning your body and spaces, so energy flows. Being organized and efficient, and expanding awareness increases the flow of energy.

~ Principle of Redundancy — Multiple connections between components creates stability. Understand that everything serves multiple functions, supported by many elements and connections. Redundancy and cooperation improve our chances of success. When practicing, repeat the effort over and over, and use multiple links in different scenarios.

~ Principles of Valuing Diversity and Edges — Edges increase diversity. Diversity creates resilience. Embracing diversity can lead to stability. Understand other people’s perspectives. Look at alternative society to see the edges. Learn from as many peoples and situations as possible. Create resilience as you practice.

Step 5: Nurture — Care and tend

It’s important to nurture your body, mind, and spirit as you recondition old limiting views and refocus your energy on areas of your life where you feel inspiration and alignment.

Discharge and Tone — Create new channels to allow energy to move. Shake, tremble, tap, rock, cry, laugh, yell, or talk nonsensically. Express feelings through art, writing, dancing, or theater. Fitness activity supports the body in releasing patterns of stress, tension, and trauma, while also building resiliency, supporting brain function and the immune system.

Meditation — Relaxation techniques including meditation and yoga exercises are essential elements of any healing and manifestation process. These methods provide rest and restoration for the mind and body.

Journaling — Create an ongoing journaling practice for capturing what wants to emerge in your life to heal or for designing new projects.

~ Principle of Using Biological Resources — This design principle is concerned with the use of natural resources to do work or conserve energy. Using the above natural healing techniques will create better yields than using pharmaceutical medications that repress symptoms and shut down the body’s natural functions. Permaculture emphasizes self-reliance by meeting our needs with accessible and appropriate natural resources.

~ Principle of Small and Slow Solutions — This concept means starting small, celebrating successes and then slowly expanding. Don’t take on too much too quickly.

Step 6: Evaluate — feedback and effort

With evaluation, we can make sure that we are not getting stuck in the process. Evaluation encourages us to step back and look at the effort and outcomes from multiple perspectives. We can accept feedback and use this to design how we move forward on the emerging path, and creatively respond to change.

~ Principle of Self-Regulation and Accepting Feedback — Self-regulation involves a set of positive and negative feedback. With the mind of the experimenter, we can collect feedback from our experiences without judging them as right or wrong. We can use these indicators and guideposts for maintaining homeostasis, healing and the power of manifestation.

~ Principle of Creatively Use and Respond to Change — Change is inevitable. It’s natural to resist change, especially when challenges seem beyond our control. How we react is under our control. Being agile in dealing with anticipated or unforeseen change is imperative to address oppression and for preventing the accumulation of future trauma imprints.

~ Principle of Obtain a Yield — Everything gardens and therefore yields are virtually unlimited. Evaluate if you are getting useful yields for your efforts. As Bill Mollison says: “The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited, or, limited only by the information and imagination of the designer.”

Illumination — Darkness seeds light. I see the light in you…

As we embrace our position as designers, we can apply the above techniques and other mindfulness approaches to filter design choices and to continually skill up. This awareness will help keep our design process fresh and emergent, so as not to get stuck. Designers may find this useful to integrate and expand their design thinking, and also harvest some extra tools for moving forward while being present.

It is possible to restructure our systems and worldviews birthed during the mechanistic machine age towards a more fundamentally whole systems and whole person approach to satisfy the new realities of an emerging era of integral thinking. It’s time to wake up to empower ourselves as agents of integrative world change. We can shape our path and together be a coevolutionary designers of our human experience. If we combine Permaculture, Social Systems Design with Integral Theory, and current scientific evidence related to Neuroplasticity, we can envision a shift towards a world-centric design paradigm.

Recommended Readings: Full article on the above model

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The Elephant at the Front Door By Jennifer English Morgan

Banathy, Bela H. (1996). Designing Social Systems in a Changing World. Springer US, New York.

Mollison, Bill (1998). Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual. Tagari Publications.

Morgan, Jennifer (2017). Emergent Design: Finding the White Tiger. Permaculture Design Magazine, Issue 105.

Morgan, Jennifer (2017). The Elephant at the Front Door. Permaculture Design Magazine, Issue 106.

Wilber, Ken (2016). Superhuman OS.

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