Continuing the conversation with Simon Marshall (e38)

This episode is the second half of the conversation started in Episode 37. In which permaculture designer Simon Marshall and I explore ways he can evolve his practice in desired directions (and I have some useful realisations about how I’ll evolve my approach to this kind of conversation in future).


  1. What a brilliant episode! Thanks Dan and Simon for sharing your conversation.

    I thought I’ll give it a go sharing some thoughts here that I’ve been sitting with since listening.

    Two words jumped out at me in the prior episode when Simon first tells his story, i.e. cooperative and collective. In the step when a statement of purpose is worked on, it felt a bit like those notions weren’t carried forward as strongly as they had emerged initially. I’ve been reflecting on why it felt that way to me.

    Simon’s wish/goal to contribute to ‘healing the broader landscape’ seemed to me to resonate with ideas of creating a larger connected network of people and place, going beyond landscapes only. A collective healthy whole. Dan added a beautiful phrase later on “synergistically living in community”. The next steps in the conversation then dug into function/being/will. I felt a bit like this distanced Dan and Simon a little from fully exploring what sits behind the bigger vision. Simon started oscillating between contemplating his big vision and recognizing the need to cover basics (livelihood, financial security, maller projects). I could very much relate to that! ☺

    I wondered if both ends of that pendulum could be satisfied by trying out some of Carol Sanford’s ideas around purpose versus role (also discussed in this episode) and enabling individuals to know and develop their own potential in order to contribute uniquely to a larger system they are part of.

    I thought of Carol’s ideas around performance and growth plans for individual employees. She suggests that individuals need to be connected to the end-users, and see directly how their contributions impact and create value at the other end of the pipeline in order to be motivated to develop and grow capacities that contribute meaningfully. One’s purpose then becomes the role that is carried out to contribute to this strategy that, at the end, returns visible benefits.

    I wondered if Simon’s desire to contribute to healing broader landscapes would be met through fully immersing into his hands-on, practical and down-to-earth approach in a local small scale context IF, at the same time, he felt connected to a larger ‘permaculture strategy’ that he was contributing to and seeing the benefits of?

    Some ideas also in response to Dan’s final reflections on the approach taken for this format of shared future visioning (not sure what to call it).

    I was anticipating Dan to ask a question around Carol’s idea of essence/uniqueness early on in the episode but it didn’t come until about 33mins when Dan offers Simon a question around the positive ripples of influence he would like to put into the world, and what he feels uniquely drawn to contribute to the world.

    I’d be curious to see what might happen if the essence question was frontloaded before going into the more segregated dimensions of a purpose statement (function/being/will)? Would those three dimensions shape up differently?

    And, I agree, no need to remind himself to be humble, I’d say Simon’s already wonderfully so ☺

    1. Sarah-May thanks for these reflections and I’m honoured you listened so closely and felt to share what came up for you. I’m in resonance re how the statement of purpose and function-being-will thing (as powerful and useful as it is – I use it daily!) can, as it was here, have a sense of slicing up or fragmenting the whole and even distracting the flow from places something like working directly with the seven first principles (or even just being with the moment-by-moment energy of the conversation and going with that more). I think your question is going to become strikingly relevant in my next chat with Simon next chat btw (not to mention how the early sense of cooperative or collective landed strongly for you) :-). Yep re role, uniqueness and potential etc – though one thing I’ve been sitting with is how the aim of the conversation which was around giving someone and their situation (incl. a little ‘sneaking up on their future’) some focused attention can feed into their own ongoing reflection and evolution regardless of the precise details of the chat. I say this having had a quick phone chat with Simon last week, where what has unfolded for him since turns out to be a little uncanny given what rose to the top out of our conversation. How’s that for a little suspense building before we hear from up again!

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