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One year internship design – reflections

22nd November 2019 – High Heathcombe Center

In the last days whilst meeting new people and introducing myself, I have found that explaining what I do takes a while as I go through the long list of activities and projects that I am currently involved in. In a talking circle when asked how I felt at a point I was so overwhelmed that I could barely speak and full of emotion I said “I feel everything, I am exhausted”. Some months ago someone had suggested to me that I need an assistant. This took a while to sink in seemingly, I had initially dismissed the idea as pretentious, however, I have finally accepted that I need help. It was not immediately clear to me which part of my work I need help with. What is clear to me is that I want that this is not just a job someone does to fill the time but to offer a real opportunity for someone to learn and live what we do. To become an integral part of our community and bring real value to everyone involved. As a community, we are particularly struggling to make our project sustainable with only one stream of income our “bus factor” does not look good.

11th January 2020 – We received our first application from the volunteer who originally wanted to come here as a short term visitor. The post did not attract many applicants and I am wondering whether the cold season has actually put people off from applying. In any case, since we are only looking for one candidate it will be easy to assess the volunteer when he arrives on site and decide together whether we are a good match.

The design process helped in some ways to bring out some of my inner biases in a way that they can be clearly identified and modified. For example in the requirements, I stated that the person be preferably a non smoker however the candidate that ended up staying is in fact a smoker. What really was bothering me was not that they smoked but the litter that smoking creates and that it was done around me in a way that even in the garden I was not able to enjoy the natural environment without the smoke causing me a cough and finding cigarette butts in my garden beds made me very angry. With both the litter and the non communal smoking tackled I found the person’s smoking habit more tolerable. Perhaps it was the respect for nature and other people that needed to be put to the forefront and not the person’s smoking habit.

Thinking in systems based on the permaculture ethics and prime directive has helped to put my work and my projects in perspective. This design in particular whilst its main focus was intended to produce a “business” development it has had multiple yields. The community discussion about the person’s qualities and ideals brought us closer together in vision. The personal insight for my own life made lasting changes to my perspective about myself, my inner biases and enabled me to express and address these better within myself and with others. We have grown our community and added diversity thus becoming more resilient. The projects in which he is involved in have flourished with the extra attention and his personal touch to them.