[permaculture] design as part of institutional strategic plans

michael snow msnow at mountainschool.org
Sat Apr 30 20:35:13 EDT 2005

Evening all,

The school at which I work is starting to re-draft our current strategic plan, particularly the parts pertaining to "sustainability".  I like David Holmgren's suggestion in Principles and Pathway's that design be a basic literacy, with letters and numbers.  This seems like a perfect time and place to make this happen, at this school.  What experience is out there with making design a central strategy to a business, institution or school?  What has this list has been through, how might I approach this, do I want to say,"hey, let's make our edu-system sustainable by being like an eco-system..."?  Anecdotes, lessons, strategies, and material is all appreciated.


Mike Snow

For those of you interested, here's a little more information...

I think I've introduced myself before; I work at a high school semester program in the NE U.S. (www.mountainschool.org)  We run an academic and farm program with 45 students, 16-17, very bright people.  We do a very good job with the idea of place - in English class, in Environmental Science class, Humanities, the rest.  The farm raises meat and vegetables to eat here.  In the next five years, TMS plans to "become a living example of its new mission statement regarding sustainability: Model the values of simplicity and sustainability in practices such as food preparation, energy use, and the maintenance of facilities.  Through both educational and maintenance initiatives, we would like to inspire our students to practice living sustainability and to develop a heightened consciousness regarding the long-term preservation of resources on which we all depend."  The decisions made here are already deliberate, the intention I think is here, maybe there isn't anything to add really.  Do we even need a design strategy here?

Currently, these are guiding principles written in 2003, we've already changed them a bit but are similar to what follows:
Guiding principles: There are a few variables we would like to keep in mind when considering issues of sustainability.
·        Balance educational opportunities with the realities of economics in decision making about sustainability. In each decision, incorporate an understanding of the environmental economics as well as what is the best choice for the long-term (i.e. perhaps it's better to invest in a wind mill for Garden Hill seeing as that would be a highly visible project as well as great for educational purposes and a sustainable option for the future).

·        Focus on choices that involve the entire campus rather than one part of the campus (i.e. putting in one composting toilet on main campus rather than renovating a "green dorm"). We would hope for choices that would impact the whole community. 

·        Prioritize a commitment to education and intentional conversations about sustainability in our program. Recognize that the environmental practices of the school speak significantly about the school itself and that a large part of sustainability involves choices and decisions the school has already put into practice. Creating a greater awareness of our current system and working to improve upon it will greatly enhance the decision making ability of students and faculty alike in all their homes.

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