No to “Smarty Pants”: A Defense of Humility

by Guest Blogger | Sep 19th, 2016 | Leave a comment

Written By Guest Blogger, Stuart Arnett of ADG, LLC (and Plan NH Volunteer)

We at ADG just spent some real money on upgrading our web-site, so we can let our potential clients know just how good we are. Additionally, we each take turns blogging as “Subject Matter Experts,” the holy grail of social media marketing. My pix show up on this blog as well as in the web-site and other strategic places. Until recently, my name and the company’s were the same. So a “Listen to me, I’m an expert” blog on humility may seem ironic, if not disingenuous. But here goes:

I don’t know.

There, now that I’ve said that I feel better, and counter-cultural, too.

In my field, I have some pretty good experiences, but some of that is from what did not work. From my good-fortune education opportunities, I’ve retained some knowledge and skills, but they too have a shelf-life. I work with some real smart people, but they can only go so far making me look and sound like I have all the answers. But I don’t.

Is it just me, or does it seem that everyone that blogs, advertises, guest-speaks, or runs for office either says they know-all, or are expected to?  My Mom’s tender upbringing taught me to avoid the word “I” when I spoke (whoops, just did it…). One was not supposed to brag, or draw attention to themselves, and –worst of all – be a know-it-all. Should my mother really be peeved at one of us for this, she might even escalate the rebuke to the now-your-in-big-trouble “smarty pants” label, a sure indication of a dessert-less night.

Humility and its cousin meekness are often confused with weakness, or lack of resolve. I see them as necessary – if elusive – requirements for keeping an open mind to new solutions, encouraging a team-approach and encouraging collaboration. No, I’m not saying I want my doctor to answer my question about some illness with an “I haven’t a clue”; expertise is always essential should you presume to help others in your area of gift. But being knowledgeable is not the same as always being right.

Confidence, yes, but self-confidence that becomes arrogance, no.

And I think I’m not alone. Listen carefully to the reasons why Brexit, or the very-low positives for either presidential candidate, or the angst against mass media and government and you’ll hear the anger about being talked-down to.  This candidate says if you don’t agree, then you are not as smart as they are. The other says that your disagreement derives from their moral superiority. And either drive me –and others? – nuts when they simply conclude that “they know what’s best for me,” and then they are surprised I don’t thank them for their enlightened benevolence!

In my field of economic and community betterment, there are a billion moving parts.  Factors such as the local economy, demographics, real estate trends, new technologies, and local personalities and politics are just a few. We stay abreast of each as well as we can, and try to think and learn about what could work better. But my experience has always been that the expert’s recommendation is best viewed as a starting point; that it where we begin to discuss and learn – and rethink – solutions together. And that when several “I don’t know it all, but some of it, and I care about this community” people come together on a solution, and it is better than mine alone.

Feel free to disagree, as I don’t know it all.

Stu Arnett

stuart-head-shotadg-logo

Contact Stu:  7 SOUTH STATE STREET – SUITE 1, CONCORD NH 03301  Phone: 603.219.0043
www.ADG.solutions

Thank you for sharing Stu!

Do YOU have a blog you would like to share?  Tell us: [email protected]

The importance of public rest rooms

by Robin LeBlanc | Aug 08th, 2016 | Leave a comment

A recent article in the Conway Daily Sun reported on a discussion about a lack of rest rooms in Jackson, NH.  Where to offer public ones?, the town is pondering.

This is one more of a growing list of stories about the lack of public rest rooms across the country (and indeed, the world).  The reasons are myriad, but the result is the same.

This is not just a matter of “convenience.”  Earlier this  month, the Daily Mail.com had a great article pointing out that for many people, not having a rest room is a health matter.  Different conditions can mean needing to go more often, or more urgently – and not being able to do so can have consequences from embarrassing to even fatal.
We travelled a couple of years ago with someone with prostrate issues.  We went from airport to airport train (no bathrooms while waiting for it) to subway into downtown – another 45 minutes with no bathroom.  Came  out into station and no bathrooms at all.  Up the stairs onto the street – we had to ask and were pointed to a coffee shop down the street, where we had to wait in line to get a key.  It was excruciating for him, and very stressful.  And could have been worse.  It really opened our eyes to this part of life we had never thought of before.

Here in New Hampshire, with a rapidly-aging population, the issue will become more critical in the coming years. Whether visitors to our state are looking, or we ourselves are out and about and find ourselves in need, right now it is often difficult to find a public rest room – including one that is safe and clean.  Yes, there are often restaurants and gas stations that have rest rooms for patrons, but that does not really help a lot of people – especially in small towns that have neither.

Not really hospitable.

There is no easy solution, but let’s think about this:  What can we be doing in our own communities to support those (anyone) who need a rest room right now?   Just one more way to be welcoming.

 

 

 

Walkability 101.4

by Michelle McDonald | Jul 10th, 2016 | Leave a comment

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the final lesson on Walkability 101!

We’ve been discovering paths toward walkability while reading Jeff Speck’s Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step at a Time. Let’s recap. Walkability (anywhere) requires comfortable and safe pedestrians. Comfort and safety motivate one to walk, especially if the walk is useful (like walking to the post office). What places are you excited to walk? Take a second, remember. Are those places interesting?

 

ARTventures public art display sparks conversation on the street.
ARTventures public art display in Nashua sparks conversation on the street.

The Interesting Walk| Summertime in New England is a perfect time to walk. You walk to join your friends picnicking at the park. You enjoy your café au lait at the coffee shop while watching others stroll past. You and your neighbor seek shade under a street tree on the sidewalk while chatting. An interactive streetscape inspires and engages. Here, people share experiences. Here, niches of community culture blossom.

 

For stories and inspiration about walkable communities (and the steps they are taking) look for sites like these: Walkability Case Studies, Walkable.org and Feetfirst.org.

 

This bench in Franklin is a seat & a place to drink some coffee with a friend.
This bench in Franklin is a seat & a place to drink some coffee with a friend.

Throughout his book, Speck explains reasons why components of walkability- like light rail or “green” buildings- fail at creating walkability when considered independently. These ideas support walkability, however, they must be considered in context. For example, bike racks at an airport only accessible by highway probably won’t encourage anyone to bike to his next flight. Likewise, not everything will work for every place nor is every place destined to be just like NYC ( ie. most walkable City 2015).

Build walkability by starting with what is attainable, logistically and culturally. Just as Speck says, “pick your winners.” Incorporating one basic component, like safety, will lead to more opportunities for everyone and more interesting walks.

If you and others in your community want walkability to happen, participate in discussions, volunteer and be involved. Seek advice from other NH towns and cities, like New Boston or Keene, that have adopted walkability principles. Refer to resources like Southern NH Planning Commission’s Walkability Toolkit for hints, too! Outdated zoning regulations can be changed to meet the changing character of any community.

You can spark the change.

Get out there, New Hampshire. Summer brings community fun and the perfect opportunity to notice if where you walk is truly walkable or not. While you’re out there, pick up a copy of Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. We recommend it. The mystery of walkability can be solved by returning the focus to the machines we know best—humans.

What is your community’s walkscore? Find out HERE.

 

 

Reflection: Plan NH Volunteers

by Michelle McDonald | Jun 16th, 2016 | Leave a comment

VOLUNTEER: noun |vol-un-teer| vӓl-Ən-tir

There are many definitions of “volunteer.” Here are a few:

1: A person who does work without getting paid to do it (Meriam-Webster).

(Cambridge Dictionary)A person who does something for other people or for an organization willingly.

And, from Wikipedia: Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity…intended to promote good or to improve human quality of life.

Volunteers bring life to Plan NH.

For 27 years Plan NH has been fostering excellence in planning, design & development of New Hampshire’s built environment. With this mission you imagine a large office, alive with heavy conversations about socioeconomic struggles in empty towns overwhelmed by sprawl. You see hazy brainstorming sessions exploding with conceptual maps of the “intersection” of environment, health and social well-being.  Well, I hate to break it to you. This is simply not the case.

Instead, in the quiet Plan NH office, the tireless executive director solely coordinates meetings, studies pressing topics and makes connections with the incredible people & organizations who share Plan’s interests. An assistant helps manage odd tasks, but often works remotely.

How does an organization with a 1.25 person staff continue to operate? Two huge reasons: 1) Financial support from incredible Plan NH Members and Donors 2) Unprecedented dedication from Plan NH volunteers.

Who are Plan NH volunteers?

Erin & Rob Snip
Board President Rob & Committee Member Erin have fun ice skating before the Annual Meeting.

Directors on the working Board who orchestrate activities and programs behind-the-scenes to steer Plan’s mission (Eight Directors are on the Board).

Professionals -Architects, Landscape-Architects, Engineers, Planners, Historians and Others- who assist communities with design challenges in 2-day community workshops called Charrettes (Two decades, dozens of Professionals have volunteered).

Committee Members who select Merit Awards and Scholarship and Fellowship recipients and lead events, like the annual Golf Event.

Jen_drawing
Jen sketches with Charrette Volunteers before the team reveals suggestions to Kingston.

They are Organizers who coordinate educational programs and member events. They are Creators, photographers, writers and artists who draw diagrams and draft text for handouts and flyers. And, they are Collaborators and Contributors who compile excel spreadsheets of program registrants, file paperwork and are willing to do anything to help with day-to-day tasks.

These volunteers are people, real people, who have full-time jobs, families and commitments.

Many of you who are reading this are Plan NH volunteers. You probably volunteer for more than one Plan NH activity. Thank you. Thank you for your leadership, dedication and positive attitude.

New Hampshire, like many states in the United States, is facing many design challenges: how can NH plan for an aging population? Or, how can NH recover from the industry days of old? You bring excellence to community planning, design and development by facing these challenges and by meeting the needs of New Hampshire’s people, history, culture and natural resources. You create vibrant villages in New Hampshire.

Just as dictionaries define the meaning of “volunteer,” volunteers define Plan NH.

Together, Plan NH Members, Donors, Volunteers and Staff, we make a difference to New Hampshire communities.

Thank you.

Swanzey snip 2012
The Charrette Team from Swanzey’s 2012 Charrette poses for a picture after a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would you like to be part of the Plan NH volunteer team? email Robin for more information: [email protected]

 

 

What is “Community” to Me?

by Guest Blogger | Apr 01st, 2016 | Leave a comment

What is “Community” to Me? by Plan NH Member, Andrew Cushing

Fireworks 2015_Cushing

Growing up in Grafton, community looked like newspaper clippings of classmates in the post office lobby. It sounded like static from my father’s volunteer fire department radio at nighttime or the collective “oohs” and “awws” when fireworks exploded in the dark July sky. It smelled like brown sugar and musty curtains – a combination found only at ham and bean suppers in the town hall.Ham Supper_Cushing (2)

 

As a graduate student in Philadelphia, community is coming home for spring break to vote at town meeting, where my second grade teacher checks my “ID” and my bus driver’s sister hands me a ballot. It tastes like homemade coffee cake at the one room library and feels darn heavy when you deliver roadside tires to the dump.

Old Home Day 1990_Cushing (2)Whatever community is, it compelled me to buy a fixer upper in my hometown so that in the coming years I can provide a longer answer.

-Andrew Cushing, Grafton

Plan NH Member
Multi-Year Plan NH Scholarship Recipient

 

 

Thank you Andrew for sharing!

What does “Community” mean to You? Tell us, [email protected]

Walkability: 101.3

by Michelle McDonald | Mar 15th, 2016 | Leave a comment

Welcome back! As you know, walkability has a lot of moving parts.

In Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step at a Time author Jeff Speck urges us to reconsider how we interact with the street. Instead of defaulting to the car-crowded, congested strip malls, we can create safe and interactive streetscapes where the pedestrian fits – and fits comfortably. Speck notes, evolutionary psychologists tell us how all animals seek two things: prospect and refuge.1 Increasing comfort and finding the balance between open and enclosed space of a street, shapes sense of place, community identify and the local economy. In what ways can your community get comfy?

Concord 017
image source: Art Concord

Think Main Street| Communities across the country have been investing in “Main Street” programs that revitalize downtown arteries. Sidewalks or crosswalks, pocket parts or community squares, street-side shopping or outdoor dining: there are many options that can bring people together and ensure investment pay-off. According to a PlaceEconomics study on the Main Street Iowa Program, local governments in Iowa gained $10.8 million in revenue every year in property taxes from their Main Street rehabilitation efforts. Check out the Main Street initiatives in New Hampshire like those in Rochester, Ossippee and Concord.

Celebrate History| In New England, we often see colonial architecture and enchanting covered bridges. Why preserve those structures? Historic preservation can attract tourists, create jobs, provide tax incentives and be a great way to relish in your community’s uniqueness. Visit sources like NH Preservation Alliance and NH Division of Historical Resources to discover how your community can support its historic resources for both tourists and locals to enjoy. These active agencies (and Plan NH members!) provide information about grants, historic district tax credits, registering historic districts and more.

bs2bgPlant Trees| Like we mentioned in Walkability 101.2, more street activity means more cautious drivers. Street trees are additional objects that alert drivers and create a buffer for pedestrians. Trees provide a variety of other benefits. Economically, they increase property value. They reduce traffic noise and provide invaluable natural services by reducing air and water pollutants. In fact 1 tree can absorb 48 lbs of CO2 per year, and for every 5% tree cover added to a community, storm water is reduced by 2%. And, BONUS: trees provide psychological benefits by reducing stress and evoking feelings of happiness.

Next time you’re walking at home or visiting another community, notice your place within the built environment. What buildings, sidewalks, trees or opportunities are or aren’t present? Reflect.

Do you feel comfortable?

Stay tuned for the last session Walkability 101. Until then here are additional resources…

Project for public spaces

Main Street Preservation

1 Speck, 213.

Dover Resident Interview

by Michelle McDonald | Feb 26th, 2016 | Leave a comment

So, we heard from the our Plan NH Member, City of Dover, but what about a resident? Meet Tina Corbett, Dover resident for the past 5 years.tina corbett

Plan NH: What have you seen change over the years? 

TC: I’ve seen a lot of improvements to downtown, a lot of restaurants and stores. It’s a really nice city. Where I live, I can walk to downtown.

Plan NH: What is your favorite thing about living in Dover?

TC: One of my favorite things is the Dover Long Hill Dog Park. I go there every day with my dog, when weather permits. If the park wasn’t there, my dog wouldn’t have anywhere to run! I have met so many great people there, too. Residents, and others from other places, love the park. Also it is great to see some residents playing Cricket games there in the summer.

Plan NH: One thing you’d like to see change? 

TC: Well… there is a lot of dog poop left on my street and the kids go to play in the park nearby! In the dog park, everyone is fine with picking up, but I wish everyone would pick up after their dogs in town. I hope they know it doesn’t go away and it’s gross!

Plan NH: What makes your community a vibrant village?

TC: The old mill downtown, the waterfall and the river with the trail. It just is a vibrant village. It’s very nice and very clean. The Children’s Museum and the Henry Law Park are great.  The whole area down there [downtown] is so nice. The Children’s Museum was a great addition to Dover.

other mill

Thanks Tina, it was so fun interviewing! Do you want to tell us about your community? contact us: [email protected]

 

Interview with Plan NH Member: The City of Dover

by Michelle McDonald | Feb 26th, 2016 | Leave a comment

Member Highlight- Interview with The City of Dover| Chris Parker is in his 19th year of working for the City of Dover. After working in various roles he was named City Planner in 2007 and serves as Assistant Manager now. But, Chris doesn’t think of Dover as is work place, it’s his home. 

Plan NH: What’s been happening in town? What’s changed over your time here? Dover_mural

CP: I have lived here for a long time. I don’t think about what has changed since 97, while working, but I look at what’s changed since I’ve been a kid. The community volunteerism and engagement have been the same [in a good way]. But, there is more opportunity and more diversity now–diverse community in economics and homes. We have the Liberty Mutuals as well as the Mom & Pop shops. We have the “McMansions” and unique apartments in the mill. And, over the past 5 years, people have embraced multi-family housing, and have embraced that housing being on top of coffee shops and businesses.

Dover has been leveraging the market and bridging the gaps, and has made decisions that took hold in 2007 chapter master plan, to embrace the downtown. We recognize the historical assets and reinforce that downtown is the way and where to build. We promote the idea that if you provide opportunity for people to live downtown, you will provide a lot of opportunity.

Some odd stats, Dover has more mass transit opportunities than anywhere in the state. Before they completed the Downeaster between Portland and Boston, Dover was the only station directly downtown surrounded by full services and attractions. I’m glad my predecessors fought for the station.

We encourage citizen leadership and civic engagement on regional and state level. We do a local engagement series in the fall to involve people with the municipality and on an economic level.

We don’t want to be Portsmouth or other neighboring communities, but looked at what they have and thought about what could happen in Dover.

Plan NH: What else makes your community dynamic and vibrant?

CP: We are unique with high quality amenities. And, there is a very strong sense of community and pride of the downtown. People like how it works. There is diversity in types of business, and there could always be more and more that are different. People like using the downtown, where you can buy a hammer and milk. We have figured out a way to have a tourism draw and a vibrant restaurant scene. And, have a reality check that you can go to the grocery store while downtown.

Plan NH: We have heard from a lot of people, Dover is transforming in a positive way. What would you say helped Dover transform from the old to the new?

CP: There is a very thoughtful, progressive demographic here. One benefit in [Dover’s] planning community is we have an open-minded constituency. People aren’t afraid of density in downtown or Accessory Dwelling Units or electric vehicle charging stations.

Plan NH: We noticed recently you tweeted, calling for opinion of transportation options from community members. What feedback did you get?

CP: We got about 150 responses with cohesive answers. A lot of drivers deal with congestion downtown and congestion at exit 7. The most outstanding aspects of the survey were the very low response on who uses the bus, but the fact people applauded having the bus and are willing to pay for it.

Plan NH: What about the renovation of the mills? How has that impacted community? There are apartment buildings and restaurants. We even noticed Dell. What was the before and after like?Dover Mills

CP: The mill life-cycle is an interesting concept. In the 1820’s it was an economic engine of one sort. In 1943, the City took control of it until the 1980’s. We looked at it from a vibrancy perspective, and thought the only way to have vibrant downtown is to have people living downtown. We looked at density and decided working parameters were needed in the downtown. There is so much character there. The mills have commercial potential, but commercial spaces don’t tend to pay for themselves. If you are a commercial business owner, landlords subsidize it. Mill owner can keep Dell there by offsetting rent cost balance using the economies of scale.

Plan NH: What challenges are faced within the City?

CP: One of the biggest is demographic shift. People who grew up here, who want the past, have different expectations of the community. Also, we face the opioid challenge in the community, like state and federal.

One challenge of being the oldest community in the state is that we don’t have much undeveloped land left. Most parcels have been through development once and will be redeveloped. Pro or con, it’s a challenge.

Also it is challenging maintaining the diversity. We don’t want all mobile homes and we don’t want all Mom & Pop shops. We want diversity, but the market drives so much. We want Dover to remain attractive and affordable.

Plan NH: What advice could you offer to other NH mill towns?

CP: Keep in mind that the shell of the building is most important part. What you see is the active mill, what’s inside is economic. You should be encouraging the adaptive reuse of the mills. There are things that prevent adaptive reuse, like safety, but you need to keep an open mind and relax density requirements. It pays off by adding more people and lowering the development cost, and it gets the tax development increase.

You need to help provide affordable housing. Someone needs to be able to go through all of the “home-changes” in one community. A lot of people in the mills are not fresh out of college they are the adults who had a house and now have downsized.

Plan NH: Is Dover planning for change over the next decades? If yes how?

CP: The biggest way is to continually update and review the Master Plan and Strategic Plan. We constantly keep our longer plan in mind. Also, we try to keep a flat infrastructure budget, keeping our roads maintained and not having financial spikes as we put out fires. Financially, the exception right now is the plan for a new high school. Continually planning long-range helps the impact because the plan is constantly being reviewed.

Plan NH: What would you recommend if someone were to visit Dover? What cultural and social assets are there to visit?

CP: I would tell people to park and go downtown. I think you’ll be able to see something you like. I would tell them to go to William Pond outside of town. More diversity in Dover: there is plenty of rural. The conservation commission does a great job protecting resources. Their work reinforces the importance in concentrating development, much of the rural portion of the community has been persevered.

What does it mean to you to be a Plan NH member? I think Plan NH is a great envoy that the built environment impacts the natural and vice versa. It offers educational opportunities and advocacy opportunities for people to learn about the value of the built environment and mix uses in the “village.” Also, the people in the group are very accessible and happy to talk about issues at hand.

What would you like to continue to see for Plan NH? Plan needs to continue to broaden its appeal. I would like to see APA partnerships or with OEP, and form partnership with other organizations. I would like to continue to see [Plan NH] forge relationships with other natural collaborators. And, be proud of what it does.

What would you like to see for the State? The state needs to invest in statewide planning activities. Due to changing demographic and volatility of the economy, we need to have strong statewide planning advocacy.

streetview

Now, check my interview with Dover resident, Tina: HERE.

Walkability 101.2

by Michelle McDonald | Dec 01st, 2015 | Leave a comment

As you remember from Walkability 101.1, walking isn’t just for exercise, right? Imagine burning calories on your:

Useful, Safe, Comfortable, Interesting walk, that just so happens to put you and other people first.

In Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step at a Time, Jeff Speck explains why communities that appropriately use walkability principles ooze excitement! But walkability doesn’t only work in large cities. It can happen in small town centers, too. Like we mentioned before, your walkable walk should be useful and

Safe| Protect the pedestrian.

If a sidewalk, crosswalk or area feels unsafe, it probably is. No matter the amount of sidewalks or retail space, you probably won’t walk around downtown if you constantly dodge cars. Curb bump-outs, pedestrian islands or street elements that provide buffers between people and cars enhance safety. Safety can also be improved by welcoming bikes. Bicyclist presence will help slow cars. And, bikeability means it may be less necessary to drive.

A number of other factors can determine a car’s speed such as lane width, visual cues and turning options. Consider a “road diet” with your community if drivers treat your main street like the Daytona 500. A road-diet can improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, increase downtown business and be the most cost-effective way to achieve street vibrancy.

Overall, more street activity creates cautious drivers. Pedestrian safety is key to a walkability transition, especially transition from an unvisited downtown to one “you’ve gotta visit.”

Is your community already walk and/or bike-friendly? Tell us about it! Stay tuned for more steps… until then, learn more with these resources:

Video! What’s a “Road-diet?” ; guide to creating a “bike to school day” in your town; US DOT initiatives; guide to complete streets

My Day as a Designer

by Michelle McDonald | Jan 18th, 2016 | Leave a comment

A Discovery|  I noticed the flier while perfecting my Joe at a coffee shop. Attend an introductory permaculture design course! With The Resilience HUB from Portland ME. This is it, I thought, this is my chance! Maybe I’ll design something… like a rain garden!  So, for two November Saturdays in Eliot, ME at a Bed & Breakfast and private residence, I eagerly waited to draw a beautiful design

The class met in a cozy, rustic house, equipped with a wood stove. Here, our class absorbed permaculture history, like how in the 1970’s, Permanent-Agriculture “Permaculture” concepts developed. And how, amazingly enough, the permaculture methodology was being created simultaneously yet separately  by Australians Bill Mollison & David Holmgren and Japanese Masanubo Fukuoka. Permaculture embraces ecology and is grounded by its ethics – Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.

Permaculture involves using existing assets shared among people, plants, animals and non-living things. It inspires you to recognize patterns found in nature, and encourages you to mimic the beneficial ones. Permaculture aims to harvest a yield from the efficient, mutually beneficial interactions. All of this should occur while using resources most efficiently and increasing the benefit for the entire system.

The Class| 

Regardless of the subject, our class celebrated one theme continuously: diversity. The B&B owners (clients of the HUB and pupils of the class) demonstrated their diversity love-affair with their enchanting 5 acre property. They guided us through the site, introducing us to their goats and chickens, cats and dogs. We meandered below white pines, along hillside gardens and among a congregation of oaks. We handled herbs and rejoiced in the soothing smell of lavender.

The owners not only envision their home being a B&B. They dream of a community gathering space filled with eager families learning how to forage in an edible forest. They imagine the renovated barn, busy with neighbors enjoying homemade pizza at community movie night.

The owners recognized the need to design the property to best use its bounty and beauty, while saving them energy and time in caring for it. Here is where we came in.

Our class assessed which spaces had present and anticipated human activity for the growth of the B&B. We reenacted daily walks from the main house to the chicken coop then to compost pile. And, the occasional strolls into the patch of woods. We learned where the last snow melted and where the sun travels both during summer and winter. We observed and pondered these spots. We considered how patterns— the sun, microclimates and wind among many others—do and could affect these spots.

Zone mapping from a Resilience HUB project, courtesy of HUB

On personal maps we transcribed all activity into zones. Zone 0 being self/house, Zone 1 visited every day and so on until wild, barely visited Zone 5 which may not appear on every property. Permaculture designers pay particular attention to zones to carefully consider where travel occurs on a site   – and why. “Permaculture focuses less on the objects themselves than on the careful design and the relationships among them —interconnections—that will create a healthy, sustainable whole” (Gaia’s Garden, T. Hemmingway). My experience in November, ended with our class of novice permaculturalisits (very good ones, I might add) giving design suggestions to the B&B owners. No matter the novelty, our suggestions were valid, useful and creative.

Among many the lessons I took from the course, one has stuck with me; if we start with what we have and integrate, rather than segregate our resources, we build capacity. We can build capacity with the relationships between all moving parts– of an ecosystem or a community or anything, really.

We can extend this lesson far beyond the garden gate. Perhaps this is why the meaning of permaculture has been transforming from “permanent-agriculture” to “permanent-culture.” Maybe we can all be permaculture designers, if we look at our yards, homes, communities and even ourselves, holistically.

A Lesson|  By the end, I understood that I wasn’t going to design a pretty picture. Permaculture is not about drawing or planning a specific thing. Permaculture is a toolbox, a lens through which you can look at a combination of relationships and discover ways to make everything self-sustaining… and better.

Isn’t this what we want for community development and planning? We don’t plan for one building, even if it is a marvel, to remedy economic challenges or mitigate storm water run-off. Likewise we don’t expect one thing, whether a building or garden, to improve the well-being of people. We are continually affected by a combination of factors and relationships among people, place, plants and more. All from which comes the opportunity to learn, adapt and appreciate.

PS. I think you should check out permacultureprinciples.com during your coffee break.

Interested in the B&B? Search for them on AirBnb.