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  • Jeremy Lynch

Makeshift: IPC India 2017

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

Make: to form (something) by putting parts together or combining substances; to construct or create.

Shift: from Old English sciftan ‘arrange, divide, apportion,’ related to German schichten ‘to layer, stratify.’

To makeshift is to build—from what is readily available—something temporary; to build by layers, combining existing materials in planned obsolescence. The elements, briefly constructing a whole, are designed to return to the essence of their parts.

To the casual passerby, our week of Convergence would appear makeshift. For five days, on a rural plot of land edging a shallow lake in central India, a community of over 450 appears suddenly upon the land, like a sprouting field of winter rye after a late autumn rain.

The structures around us embody temporality: curved wooden posts lashed into tension with thick rope suspend massive colorfully patterned cloth tents; production concrete posts and timber raise a thatched roof raining the dry dust of flowers; sheets of bamboo swing on hinges exposing in-ground humanure pits. Each is a sum of its obvious parts, housing a diversity of theory and practice imported for this brief window of time.

Throughout the week, threads of engagement aim to create consistency—to build momentum beyond this latest gathering. A team of facilitators, including Robin Francis, Andy Goldring, and Starhawk, have led a series of afternoon workshops, inviting the broader permaculture community to participate in the growth of the collaborative information sharing and connectivity project called CoLab.

As a concept, CoLab was seeded four years ago at the International Permaculture Convergence in Cuba. Two years later, IPC London hosted nascent workshop sessions to advance the concept into first action. At that time, and in the interim since, the CoLab Stewardship Council has worked to define a Vision, Mission, and Aims for the project.

The mission of CoLab is "to work together to enhance the coherence and effectiveness of local to global Permaculture networks both formal and informal." The question of "How do we become more strategic as a global permaculture network?" is pursued via a diverse set of aims premised upon the vision of "a healthy, peaceful, and socially just world in which we care for the earth, each other and future generations, in harmony with nature."

This week's CoLab sessions aim to clarify direction and identify people as resources in pursuit of the vision. Organizing actions are determined to ground the conceptual framework in collaborative relationships between active partners.

As CoLab is designed with sociocracy as a model for its eventual operating structure, emphasis is placed on group work grounded in consent-based decision-making. As opposed to consensus decision-making, consent is premised upon agreement via "non-objection." As well, sociocracy requires that all decision-making bears in mind not the individual goals of voting members, but the overall aims of the organization. This is the form of our discursive workshops throughout the week.

According to Andy Goldring, a primary goal of CoLab is to "turn the permaculture design process into a permaculture research process." In doing so, CoLab will serve as a hub and digital platform for the exchange of information by and among the permaculture community.

In coordinating our localized and regional efforts via a network organized by operative subjects, the goal is to foster engagement across a wide range of interests and levels of commitment. The subgroup committees formed during this IPC will continue to function remotely as a support structure for the General Circle, the overarching voting body of CoLab.

These sessions will advance the vision of a collaborative network of global permaculturists housed on a digital information-sharing platform. An iterative needs assessment process will begin to define what exactly CoLab looks like.

To connect with the CoLab project or to access the program user guide, contact

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