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Episode 047: Building Community Resilience and Empowerment Through Social Permaculture with Shera Sever

Jul 28, 2020

In the past few months I've been hearing about more and more people using social permaculture to uplift those around them, build community, and create positive impact in the world. This week's guest on the podcast, Shera Sever is a prime example of this. Shera  has spent years gaining knowledge about traditional permaculture applications, as well as social permaculture topics like communication, and is now using her knowledge in all sorts of ways in order to help build resiliency and empowerment in communities around the country. But social permaculture can kind of be this huge, nebulous topic. So here in the blog post we're going to break down some of the big aspects of social permaculture that Shera brought up in hopes of inspiring you to further apply Social Permaculture into your life, home, and community. But first, if you'd like to find out more about Shera and the amazing things she's moving forward, go check out her website at

We Are Creatures of Interdependence

One thing I absolutely love about nature and permaculture, is that you can apply it to everything, as Shera did over and over in the podcast today. One great example that she brought up was the reality that just as plants are interdependently reliant on their ecosystem, so are we. We cannot achieve our biggest visions and create the impact that we want to have in the world if we are working alone. We are part of an ecosystem, and are nourished by it. We've brought up the Give and Receive Cycle before, and this is just another example of this. In order to be impact makers, we must have this cycle humming in our lives, and functioning within the ecosystem we're connected to. 

Fostering Safety and Vulnerability

One thing that can really cut us off from the Give and Receive Cycle, and interdependence that will truly help us thrive, it shying away from vulnerability. Shera brought up vulnerability a few times in the episode, and mentioned one of our favorite authors, Brene Brown. Brene often talks about the power in being vulnerable, and the problems with shying away from it. I love how Shera brought up the online spaces she's a part of that foster safety and vulnerability. If we don't have these spaces, we can't step into our full selves, and our potential. If you don't have a space like this, create one. People around you in your ecosystem are also in need of this, so use it as a project to create a close community with those around you. 

If you're needing a space to be vulnerable with the projects you're undertaking, you're welcome to come join a bunch of permies doing the same thing in our virtual MOKR Masterminds on Thursdays from 5-6:30pm MST. You can gain access to Google Calendar with all the information to hop on through our Slack community.

Maintaining Curiosity and Empathy

Once we gather our community, which is very different from our "tribe" as Shera points out, in order to move forward we need to maintain curiosity and empathy. I loved where Shera brought up non-violent communication here. I've been starting to dip my toe into it and it is a fascinating way to interact with the people around us. If we are really going to be an interdependent part of a community, we need to approach that community with openness, being curious enough to fully understand those around us and their goals, and empathetic enough to put aside any resistance on our own end. One really great way to increase our empathy for others, which Shera brought up so eloquently, is to keep in mind that people are either acting out of love, or as a call for love. If we can go into every interaction with people, keeping that in mind, imagine to unity and understanding we can foster. By doing this, we become a more active player, and are better able to positively impact those around us.

Community and Youth Resiliency

Shera brought up the really important aspects of community empowerment in the forms of community and youth resiliency. Community resiliency can take so many forms, from food resiliency like gardening and supporting local farmers, to local economic resiliency through things like local barter exchanges, supporting local businesses, and of course, personal financial resilience. I feel like as COVID-19 struck, this became more of a priority for many communities around the world.

However, all of these efforts will be stunted if it is only the older generations engaging in it. I loved how Shera brought up the need for youth to be actively engaged, leading, and developing within a community. There will come a time when our torch much be passed - it is vital that the next generation is prepared for their responsibilities to the earth and to each other. 


Keep Growing!

Previous Episode: The Life of a Permie-Preneur with Steven Bourne