Welcome back to another episode of the Seed of Tao Podcast, this week with not one, but two return guests who we know and love, Adam Brock and Marie-Pierre (MP) Bilodeau. This week is a unique episode, MP is sharing her community food forest project in a diverse neighborhood, and the struggles she is finding along her way, and Adam is weighing in with his extensive knowledge of social permaculture.
If you’d like to get in contact with Adam or MP, they are both in our Slack community, or here are their individual contact resources…
In the episode this week there is just an abundance of wisdom and insight from the conversation, but a really important place the conversation started was with relationships. MP was sharing about the other two people who are spearheading this community food forest project with her, and Adam chimed in to emphasize the importance of relationships in the success of our projects. He related, “If the group doesn’t really trust each other, all the shadows within that group will be projected outward, into all of the things that group does together.” Sometimes we will band together with people because we share a common vision, and yet if we’re not working on that interpersonal relationship with them, we’re undermining the potential for that vision’s success.
On a smaller level, Josh and I have definitely lived this working poor and working well. A few years ago we started a business that was reliant on both of us. Surely being married and in business couldn’t be so bad, right? Well, let’s just say it added some stress to the relationship we weren’t prepared for and we didn’t get as far as we had hoped. Luckily, we took a break from that business, worked on ourselves and our relationship without the added pressure of a business on our shoulders, and gradually got back to a place where we could work together towards a common goal, which is exactly what we’ve been doing for the last year and some change with Seeds of Tao. We realize now, however, that only by taking care of ourselves and our marriage FIRST, are we able to move forward as a united team to seriously push awesome things forward.
You may not be married to your business partner, or fellow board members, but the principle still applies that strong relationships are key to successful forward motion to create a positive impact. Try to focus on getting to know those around you and how you can fill their cup, and they’ll be much more willing to work with you and fill yours.
Further on in the conversation, MP and Adam discussed how the people MP was really trying to onboard for this community food forest project were indigenous from various locations who were living in her neighborhood. Putting together community projects is hard, and if those community projects involve immigrants, the disadvantaged, or first nation peoples, the playing field gets increasingly more complex. Adam advised, “Start with the recognition that trauma exists, and members from the first nations are working from a place of profound loss and disconnection.” There is so much trauma and so many inherited emotions and paradigms that are often overlooked by the “white settler” trying to come in and positively change these people’s lives. It’s a very simple strategy we can follow to ensure success here though, Observe and Interact.
We will never be able to truly help people if we don’t understand them. That’s really what they need though, understanding, recognition of the past, and a cooperative plan to move forward into the future. We must not ignore the issues these people have been dealing with and come in to preach our “better way of doing things.” Luckily, as a whole, the permaculture movement tends to be more aware of this than most and tries to bring to light where the land that they live really came from, and express gratitude to those who were there before. Gardening together is a great place for us to come together to understand these intricacies. As MP notes, “Gardening is a light-hearted way to address deeper issues.” With people of different backgrounds we need to find safe spaces where we can come together, feel relaxed and vulnerable, and really connect with one another, and truly open the conversations that need to take place for people to heal and move forward.
No matter what the demographics are of the group we’re trying to bring together, the style of leadership will make or break the group. As MP is dealing with this balance of power in her group, she says, “You have to understand where your power is and how you’re using it.” Adam and MP went into detail, constructing what servant leadership should look like, how we should be able to bring people together, and then step back and let them lead. This is just like growing a food forest. When we implement our will on the land entirely, shaping it into our vision, we cannot walk away without natural flows and processes overpowering our design and returning the land to a wild state. Yet if we work WITH the land, helping to enhance (i.e. serve) the things that are already going on, while still planting positive seeds that will help the existing ecosystem, we’ll create a space that we could come back to in 100 years, that will have only become a better version of what we originally imagined. This is a big aspect of social permaculture. I loved Adam’s analogy, he said “ As white people doing change work we often think of ourselves as the first tree, the core fruit tree at the center of the guild. But we need to start thinking of ourselves as the nitrogen fixer.”
We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode, there was SO much from the episode we wanted to touch on, such great topics of social permaculture were brought up, but if you’d like to continue this conversation, hop into our Slack community where you can chat with the entire global community of permies and change-makers we’ve been assembling for the past year, and if you have a project you’d like to get help with, come join our weekly MOKR Mastermind meetings!
Keep inspiring, keep leading, keep loving, and keep growing permies!
Previous Episode: Bringing the Center to the Edge with Joe Nisbett
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