Organizing a Neighborhood Permaculture Convergence, Part 1

Reader Contribution by Jan Spencer
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A Neighborhood Permaculture Convergence

If you Google search the words “Permaculture Convergence” you will find links to dozens of permaculture convergences over the past year up to the present. They are scattered all of the country. Northeast, Florida, Colorado, Ohio. Northern California, Wisconsin, So Cal, Australia. Last year there was a North American Permaculture Convergence in Minnesota. There may be a convergence close to where you live.

A convergence is a great opportunity to connect, teach, learn, have fun. It’s all about living in a more people- and planet-friendly way. Permaculture is an important banner that helps bring people together in ways that are positive, uplifting and empowering. A permaculture convergence energizes. People are reminded and updated about all the great work being done on behalf of a more peaceful and green planet.

This post will be the first of four describing the Northwest Permaculture Convergence to be held in Eugene, Oregon August 28 to 30, 2015. The author is the coordinator of the event. The Convergence will be at our neighborhood recreation center, seven minutes away by bike.

A Short History of Permaculture Convergences in the Northwest

Permaculture convergences have been happening in the Northwest for at least twenty years. Lost Valley Education Center hosted several permaculture convergences in the mid 90s. That batch of convergences moved into Eugene for a number of years around 2003 then out to a friend’s farm in a filbert grove for several years, and then they stopped about 2009.

Meanwhile, another set of convergences started in Washington State. This year’s convergence in Eugene is the 8th of this lineage and the first south of Portland. This current grouping of Convergences has become larger than ones previously in and around Eugene. There is now a nonprofit board that oversees the convergences from year to year. The locations alternate between Oregon and Washington State.

Each year’s location is determined by who is willing to take on the coordinating task in the state that is up to bat. This year, a proposal was made for Eugene and the decision was made. Some organizing tasks require locals while other tasks can be done remotely.

Converging in a Suburban Neighborhood

For the first time, this year’s convergence will be held in a suburban neighborhood. The event we are planning goes well beyond other convergences I have been to, heard about or read about. The 2015 Northwest Permaculture Convergence has been designed as a model to be adapted elsewhere. Not only for other permaculture convergences but also for neighborhood-scale eco-fares, site tours and special interest tracks embedded within a convergence. These expansive event features can be powerful outreach tools whether they use the word permaculture or not.

One outreach event is called the Expo which will be free and open to the public. The Expo will include a kid zone, presentations, vendors, ten or so nonprofits, exhibits and artifacts that show and tell of green living tools and technologies and a neighborhood fruit and veggie swap.

Site Tours and Open Houses

Also free and open to the public will be site tours. One of the main reasons for hosting the 2015 Convergence here in River Road is because there are many properties in the neighborhood and nearby with many different features of interest for living more local, green and resilient. There are other sites in Eugene we also want to visit.

Lost Valley, Aprovecho and Fern Hill Sanctuary, within 20 miles of Eugene, will all have open houses to show and tell those important places of education for the new paradigm.

A Summit to Mainstream Green Neighborhoods

Another new feature or interest is the “Green Neighborhood Summit.” The Summit is an embedded track specific to people whose focus is greening their neighborhoods. The track will include several presentations, caucus time and a site tour that will be particularly interesting to neighborhood leaders, resiliency groups and Transition Towns advocates.

Organizing these outreach parts to the Convergence all require local know-how. We have had monthly potlucks for fun and team-building, and now we are moving into creating the game plan for set up and managing the event as it happens. The excitement is building!

The next two blog posts will go into more detail describing the program, Green Summit, Expo and site tours. There is a lot of “behind the scenes” work so we will touch on that as well. The purpose of the “Convergence Blogs” is offer encouragement and some useful pointers to others so they might take on organizing a neighborhood scale event for greening the neighborhood and the community.

Overall, the Convergence is to show and tell “evidence” of a preferred future. We want to identify the bits and pieces of the kind of world many of us would like to live in that are already here. Moreover, we want to go beyond description to describe how to take these great ideas further into the mainstream.

Update: The 2015 Northwest Permaculture Convergence was held on August 28-30 in Eugene, Ore. Click here to read Part 2 to find out how it went. If you have attended a convergence, please share it in the comments below and describe how it was for you. If you have helped organize a convergence or something similar, please share your experience.

Visit theConvergence websitefor more information. You can connect with Jan Spencer on her personal website, Suburban Permaculture.

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