On the Relation between Designing and Implementing in Permaculture – Part 18

In this post continues the previous introduction to the Mayberry Woodend design and development example of a generating process.

Here I’ll summarise the initial phases of immersing in and tuning into people and place, bringing out the deeper patterns therein as a basis for creating new form.


Tuning into the people had two phases. The first was the team articulating an holistic context for themselves, one way of responding to the questions what are we about? and what is that we want here, really? This acts as a high level magnetic north or overall destination for the people, property and project as a whole.

If used in a healthy way, this context itself continues to evolve, and that pictured here is a recent version that has now been through many iterations.

The second phase was tuning into, mapping, and organising the different areas or activities that LJ, Anna, Menno and Tom desired. Here we are making a start on this:

I don’t seem to have further diagrams to hand, but we iterated this collection of items toward being sensibly nested within one another and sensibly sequenced in terms of a provisional order in which to tackle their implementation.


Next we immersed in the place. Here again is an aerial photo of the ten acres:

Alongside mapping soils, sectors, water movements, current access ways, and so on, this phase culminated in a process of tuning into and diagrammatically portraying the structure of existing areas across the site.

Here is a diagram I used to get across the sort of thing we where after – just walking around, teasing out the pattern of pre-existing different areas across the site, using feeling as much as measurable observations, and roughly sketching the patterns up:

The real work was done by the crew there (whilst I galavanted around NZ in a house bus). They each separately walked the place and separately sketched and refined area maps for the property as a whole and the area around the houses.

In a bit more detail, they were tuning into not only the pre-existing structure of the place, but both the areas that had latent potential and any feelings of tension that arose in a given spot, such as the driveway, for instance.

They then came together to discuss, re-walk, and co-create a combined area summary for each. The homestead area:

The whole property along with a key:

In the next post, I’ll share how the process then started moving from immersing in what already was, to dipping our toes into the ocean of potential future – into what the place might become.

There, as we’ll see, as a generating process the focus was not a whole-site concept design, but simply a clear idea of what to do first.


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