Posts Tagged ‘permaculture’

The Center for Nature and Christian Spirituality

By Christopher Peck

I’d like to introduce you to a new program founded by my client, Nancy Wiens: the Center for Nature and Christian Spirituality. CNCS is a collaboration between Westminster Woods Christian Camp and the San Francisco Theological Seminary, and represents an exciting alternative financial model and educational program. For young adults aged 22-30, the program provides a fantastic, eleven-month, living and learning experience in a residential intentional community, with very little cash exchanged. Designed to be “budget cut proof,” the program includes an incredible array of learning opportunities, including an environmental education apprenticeship, challenge course leadership certification, permaculture certification, holistic financial planning (led by yours truly), a wilderness rite of passage, wilderness first responder certification, and last but not least, the Spirituality Concentration at San Francisco Theological Seminary, which includes 8 graduate level credits.

The financial model Nancy developed allows the program to offer an unprecedented value to the apprentices and the collaborators, on a shoestring cash budget. The apprentices receive educational programs and in exchange they work for the providing institutions, adding value in a variety of ways. For example, I taught a Holistic Financial Planning workshop for the apprentices and they returned to our small farm and helped us install a rain garden and rehabilitate the small creek that flows through our property. Meaningful value was exchanged instead of cash.

Nancy is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) with an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Christian spirituality, ritual studies, and the dialogue between theology and science. Her primary goal is to help people “deepen their relationship with God and respond to God’s calling more fully in their lives.” I had an opportunity to speak with Nancy recently and ask her a few questions.

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Regenerative Finance

By Michael Kramer

This piece first appeared in the January 2009 edition of the Natural Investing newsletter

Last month marked the closure of an important chapter in my life. For the past 18 years, I’ve been a teacher of permaculture design. Coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the ‘70s, permaculture is a hybrid word reflecting the notion of forming a permanent culture based on the wisdom and high functionality of natural systems. While most applications of permaculture relate to food, water, shelter, and energy systems, I’ve tended to focus more on the “invisible structures” – economics, politics, organizations, and interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics.

Esalen central garden 300dpi 2 6x2in

As some of you know, I taught permaculture courses for many years, served a term as Executive Director of Permaculture Drylands Institute, and more recently facilitated permaculture teacher trainings with NI partner Christopher Peck. Now the successional process is complete, because two of the students we trained to be teachers demonstrated in a week-long workshop in early December at Esalen Institute that they can facilitate this course from now on. It is, in permaculture terms, evidence of natural succession, and I couldn’t be happier to mulch myself. People often say I’m full of, um, compost, but that’s another story…

Natural investing is a permaculture strategy, since its purpose is to care for people and the planet while demonstrating economic viability. Certainly the triple bottom line found among today’s socially responsible businesses is fully aligned with permaculture’s ethics, so I haven’t strayed from my core purpose in focusing more on finance. The aspects of this field that are most relevant to permaculture are community and regenerative investments that empower people and facilitate a harmonious business relationship with the environment.

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