This week we delivered our first staff training program. The program covered lots of topics related to sustainability, ecovillage design, analog forestry, and ecology. We provided a dynamic, interactive and experientially based learning environment. The feedback from our staff, and reflections from the facilitators made us realize that this kind of program is not only important, but in only three days we were able to activate, inspire and encourage our team towards new learning and new ways of acting. Several of them expressed gratitude for the learning opportunity, but also a sense of growth and renewed energy for the work that we are doing together at Belipola.
The development of Belipola as a living and learning center for sustainability starts at its core, with our team. We want to nurture and grow a space that allows all of our staff to grow into role models, teachers, and guides. We are restoring the planets life support systems, and this includes restoring the human capacity to live within the biosphere without destroying it.
Borrowing from the Ecovillage Design Education curriculum, we started by exploring four dimensions of the living world. We dove into an exploration of the “worldview” dimension, trying to understand how we see the world and why it looks the way it does through our own unique lenses. We moved into a discussion on ethics, and borrowing from Permaculture and Sustainability discourse we learned how our unique view of the world could translate into action through the ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.
Through experiential activities we explored our senses, built trust and connected as a team. We expressed our gratitude for our place, ourselves and our work through pictures and then explored our concerns. We discussed together, and learned from our own knowledge and experience. We aimed to provide a space to grow.
We toured the land together, learning about the trees and the intention behind this place. We discussed design techniques and the deliberate action that created this abundance. Even for the members of our team who were born and grew alongside the trees of this place, they learned for the first time why we do what we do. In the end there was a feeling of deep and renewed appreciation for what Belipola is and what Belipola represents.
On the third day we moved into the agriculture garden, delving into practical sessions on soil building. We observed and tested the soil and discussed what soil is and when it is healthy. We collected materials and built a compost pile. Then we turned a two week old compost pile and touched the heat of it, smelled its fragrance and observed the needs of the compost. After lunch we made liquid preparations for pest control and soil fertility – compost tea, leaf preparations and a stinky mix of pounded garlic and onion to keep insects away from our precious vegetables.
This was a trial program and it feels like a positive beginning. From here we plan to build on the program further and expand it as an offering to the community. Stay tuned!
To view a gallery of photos go here.