Center for Ecological Culture 
Collaborating with Nature's Wisdom
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Socio-ecological systems designThe human activity systems from which societies emerge are distinguishable from other types of systems (including physical and biological systems) as they encompass qualities and influences of human subjectivity and culture that together function as appreciative subsystems; those manifestations of any organized group effort that express human values and human intentionality. Yet, the dominant socio-political and economic institutions of our post-industrial society often operate in a mechanistic manner, producing outcomes no one intends or desires. In this course, we examine the theoretical foundations and practical tools that enable collaborative small groups to lead purposeful and intentionally-guided processes of social transformation, including processes of self-guided cultural evolution that enable organizations, networks and communities to express the dynamic and adaptive qualities of healthy living systems.


Dialogue-to-Change Facilitation Training – A well-facilitated and inclusive small group engaged in public dialogue can be a powerful tool for social change that upholds the values of a living, participatory democracy.  This weekend course is designed for both novice and experienced change leaders who wish to acquire practical knowledge and skills for organizing and facilitating citizen-led change initiatives.  Facilitator-trainees will learn how to create safe space for dialogue and small group problem solving that enables citizens of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to collaborate effectively, honor diversity, and access their collective human potentials for solving complex social and environmental problems from the “bottom up.”  This course encompasses community dialogue-to-change tools derived from Everyday Democracy, and current research in generative and strategic dialogue, and social system design.


Permaculture Design Certification - This course is an introduction to permaculture, an organizing framework for the application of systems thinking and ecological design to implement a vision of consciously designed landscapes, and related social systems, yielding an abundance of food, fiber and energy for provision of local needs. Building on a core set of ethical precepts and design principles, students will gain practical knowledge in designing productive and resilient landscapes that mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature. The course explores the regenerative implications of permaculture at the site-specific, local, bioregional and global levels of scale, as well as applications in the areas of food security, public health, environmental justice, site remediation, waste management, energy and water conservation, community resilience, disaster preparedness, and economic revitalization. The full design certification course involves 72 hours of instruction, including a substantial experiential component, during which students work in teams to implement permaculture design projects with defined community benefits sponsored by nonprofit, school, or government organizations. 


Cooperative Business Practices and the Sharing Economy - [under construction]


Engaging the Mythic Imagination to Transform Self and Society – A primary form of imagination, the mythic imagination is not based on objects from the external world, but on “the creative and visioning power of life itself” (Larsen, 1996, 48). Our lives resonate to the myths (the constellation of beliefs, feelings, images, and rules operating largely outside of conscious awareness) that we spontaneously create to explain the past, account for the present, and guide us into the future. Collectively, our lived mythologies shape culture and the political, economic, technological, and spiritual decisions that will determine the fate of our world during this era of rapid societal change. In this course, we learn how to form a conscious alliance with our evolving personal and cultural myths, and in the process discover the roots of mythic conflict, transform obstacles into opportunities, and renew the purpose, plan, and possibilities of our lives.


Ethnoautobiography: Recovering Indigenous Consciousness for Personal Emancipation and Cultural Revisioning – One of the central facts about being human is that we are storytellers. Whether through oral telling or the written word, storytelling is a human capacity that shapes our awareness of ourselves and the world around us.  In essence, we become our stories. Ethoautobiography is storytelling that heals and reclaims self-identity by enabling access to rich inner resources that are accessible to people of all colors and cultural backgrounds. It involves the dimensions of community, place, nature, history, personal and cultural myths, ancestry, gender, dreams and spirituality. It is decolonizing practice that enables us to embrace our hybrid ethnicities, deconstruct whiteness, heal divisions that separate us from each other and the more-than-human world, and cultivate a participatory or indigenous sense of presence. In this course, we collaborate to attain these learning outcomes through a combination of conceptual knowledge, experiential activities, and development of practical skills.


Designing the Edible Forest Garden – In this skills-oriented workshop, we learn how principles and patterns derived from close observation of healthy forest ecosystems, including their structures and multiple functions, can be adopted through design to achieve a garden that is self-maintaining, self-renewing and self-fertilizing as a forest ecosystem mimic.  The goals of forest gardening are to produce abundant, nutritious and tasty food (and other products) and promote economic sustainability, while restoring ecosystem health, beauty, elegance and spirit in the landscape.  

Creating the Caring Economy - In this workshop, we explore a most basic question for our future:  What kind of social conditions support or inhibit the expression of our human capacities for consciousness, caring, and creativity rather than for insensitivity, cruelty, and destructiveness?  Heeding a call to action inspired by the work of eminent macro-historian and author Riane Eisler, we will endeavor to look more deeply at the larger social matrix which gives rise to our economy, so as to better understand why prosperity in our current economic era requires cultural transformation – not just economic transformation.  We will explore three dimensions that help us understand where we are on the domination- partnership continuum:  social and economic structures; traditions of violence; and gender relations, and in so doing, we will identify specific policies, investments, and measures of economic health which contribute most to the well-being of humans and our planet Earth. Learn how to add  your voice to the caring economy movement that is transforming our economy and our national culture!

Theory U: Leading from the Emerging Future - [under construction]


Active Dreaming Workshop series - [under construction]