Preface

A large portion of the Finnish population (5,52 mil) lives in the Greater Helsinki region (1,4 mil). That is ~ 25,45% of the entire Finnish population. The rest of the population is scattered across the country, with some larger cities (>100.000) in southern and middle Finland, like for example Tampere, Lahti, Turku, etc. On the other hand Finland’s area is about 338.424 km² while the Greater Helsinki region is only 3.697 km², which is only about 1,09% of the countries area. (from Statistic Finland)

The membership numbers of the Finnish Permaculture Association show a different world. There are more members from the Greater Helsinki region – nearly 50%, while the region around Turku and Tampere both have 13%. So, nearly 80% of the association's members are around bigger cities. The remaining 20% come from are all over Finland.

Scope

This design is to show that the dissemination of knowledge and news about permaculture is an integral part of an associations work. It uses the permaculture design philosophy with its ethics "Earth Care", "People Care" and "Fair Share" and its principles throughout the design.

Earth Care in this design is to make sure that the knowledge on how to take care for this planet is brought towards the people. Permaculture needs to be a household name and we need to make sure that with every action we take more people start to follow its ethics and principles. While I won't be able to make permaculture a household name in Finland this design aims to help the Finnish Permaculture Association to aim for it.

People Care is to makes sure that there is a balance between what people from the Greater Helsinki region want and the demand coming from the countryside – those two are not necessarily the same all the time. Both are important and need to be in balance. We have to care for all people not just some. It is also about the balance and the care for people in the Finnish Permaculture Association, especially those that are engaged in its activity – people who contribute resources of any kind!

Fair Share is distributed by my volunteer work for the association. A fair share for me would be that those different permaculture projects finally realize that they have to share their info, events etc. with the association. That they realize that the way of wanting permaculture to be something seclusive, selective, fancy-pansy has to come to an end. It would be a fair share that those isolated players realize that they have to contribute with their findings and not just some Instagram photos. Fair share should be sharing of findings and knowledge for everyone. But I know that this is just a wish and that it boils more or less down to Fair Share in terms of what I can give and get within the Finnish Permaculture Association.

Context

The design started in 2019 and went on through 2020. In 2019 the chairman of the board notified the board that she will not be available for 2020 since she was having burnout. That also meant that in communications it was only Lumia and me. The time I designed most of the parts of it fell into the transition from a board only model to sociocratic circles.

Design Process

Since I want to use Looby's design web at least once more during the Diploma I identified this design as the one I'm going to use it for the last time. Since it is not LAND based it totally makes sens to use Looby's design web. So, after "Introducing Jean-Luc", "Rivat's garden" and "Permablitz designCamp" this is now the 4th time. I hope I don't break anything as this design will be far more complex compared of what I have designed before. And since I don't have a clear vision yet, other than "the old way clearly isn't working" I started with helps.

Helps

There was a lot of data collected from 2016 to 2020.
The findings below:

  • Association's Weebly website -> most things didn't work
    • the map didn't work
    • the calendar didn't work
    • it was slow
    • SSL didn't work
    • everything additionally costed money
    • publication relied on a HTML WYSIWYG that used outdated code for structure and display
  • Internal communication
    • until 2019 mainly by mail
    • limited mainly to the board
    • often telephone between two members
    • conversations and decisions often not logged and not available to the rest
  • Members
    • Usage of Holvi bank's store sets limits in how to manage members
    • Members are members for lifetime even if they don't pay yearly membership fee
  • Google
    • Google drive documents only accessible to board members and former board members
    • Google groups created but not used
    • G-Suite only for mail used
    • Google drive is a private folder not a shared folder (team folder)
  • Social Media
    • posting frequency is very low
    • mainly Facebook & Twitter
  • Newsletter
    • with Mailchimp
    • 3 to 4 issues a year
    • > 110 subscribers
  • Documentation
    • No policies what to post
    • No document that clarifies who-is-responsible-for-what
  • Structure
    • The communications team is made of 3 members
  • Network
    • LAND centers are not reporting information back and they don't contribute to the website
    • Study circles are around but they are not visible – you have to know it or you don't
    • Most Permaculture projects in Finland are not interested in sending information to the Permaculture association
    • Some Permaculture projects badmouth other projects in order to get an "advantage" for example when it comes to selecting a place for teaching
  • Events
    • only Helsinki & Turku but not in Tampere

All the findings were put into a mind map. You can click to enlarge the image of the mind map (usually all images can be enlarged) or scroll down to Download section for a PDF

Who needs to know what and when

Another tool used was introduced to me by a fellow member of the Finnish Permaculture Association. We once worked on a mapping of events that happen during the year that involves different parts of the association. I asked her if she could scan the drawing from her notebook but she never shared the document with me, so I had to create it on my own again.

Who needs to know what when table
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec  
Yearly fee mail x                       Comms
Reminder Yearly fee     x                   Comms
Preparation for Spring Assembly x x                     Comms & Board
Preparation for Autumn Assembly                 x x     Comms & Board
Newsletter preparation   x         x   x   x   Comms

Workflow diagram

The problem with the lifetime membership is that there are benefits for members, like for example reduced entrance to events, etc. With the lifetime membership those members get the benefits for a lifetime while only paid for it once, and in 2020 membership fee was 25,- €  or 10,- € / year. 

Limits

But data is just data and it needs some evaluation to become intelligence. Therefore I did a PMI & SWOC analysis.

PMI

Topic Plus Minus Interesting
External communication      
Website security handled by hosting one person responsible DNS is handled outside
  proper corporate Design professionally made map didn’t work G-Suite can be decoupled from hosting
    calendar didn’t work  
    very slow  
    SSL broken  
    add-ons costed money  
    inline CSS, bad code  
Social Media likes in FB are high posting frequency is low mainly Facebook and twitter
    interaction with posts is low  
Newsletter managed well with Mailchimp > 120 subscribers
  3-4 issues a year takes additional time  
Mail using G-Suite only one person answering mail G-Suite can be decoupled from hosting
Internal communication      
  happening regularly limited to the board Google group is used
    lots of telephone conversation that not all board members are part of Lot of tools around that can be used
    not logged conversation  
Holvi Holvi is a bank, which the association needs Using Holvi’s bank sets limits how to manage members Holvi offers a web-shop
    GDPR makes contacting members more difficult  
    Membership is for lifetime even if they don’t pay → benefits while not paying  
Google G-Suite used for mail Google Drive documents only accessible to board G-Suite is not fully leveraged
    Google group created but abandoned, creator of the group is unresponsive  
    Google drive is partly a mess  
Documentation   No policies what to post  
    No documentation that clarifies who is responsible  
Structure in communications 3 people 3 people is often not enough technical knowledge around
  overlapping responsibility   startup knowledge around
Network      
  LAND centers must share knowledge LAND centers don’t share knowledge The information flow from person to person is fast
  Study circles are around Study circles don’t share  
  Many projects want visitors and participants Nearly no one shares info with the association  
    Association member’s have to run after permaculture projects to get info  

SWOC

SWOC (strength, weakness, opportunity, challenge) is an adaption of SWOT (the t stands for threat) 

Strength Weakness
continuity Web-design
internal communication Web-development
Mail, writing amount of members that take on work
translation  
   
Opportunity Challenge
new Website Sociocracy as OS
Sociocratic circles old personal networks
transparent communication information hub
LAND centers social media
Newsletter integrated forming new networks
publication of articles  
information hub  
Social Media  
Subscription based membership  

From the SWOC I'd like to dive deeper into Opportunities and in some of the Challenges. I can't take on all of them. Otherwise my successors won't have anything to do. :)

What about those opportunities and challenges? In order to dive deeper into the opportunities and challenges I run another PMI.

  Plus Minus Interesting
new Website no more errors takes a lot of knowledge integration with other services
  working for us not working for it    
Sociocratic circles better structure setup and transition consumes time permaculture and sociocracy go well together
  Enhances internal communication different flavors → different terms / language  
  transparent communication is a must    
LAND working concept current team shows
old patterns
allows creative thinking
Newsletter & Website combined more people subscribed than members integration into the website takes time takes less time once established
  doing work once not twice    
publication of articles & information hub enabling others to publish setup of workflow takes time  
  reaching more while doing less getting the word out will take a lot of time  
Social Media still a lot of people using them supporting something that is not good new types of SOME emerging
old personal networks some of the networks work well causing constant problems  
    not penetrable for outsiders  
    gate-keeping  
forming of new networks allows transparency takes a lot of time  
  allows information for everyone    

 

Principles

The principles always help me through the design. I see if I can come up with something that I haven't identified yet. It also might be repetitive and show me items that I really value as important.

  • Use edges
    • the more diverse output of the association's content we can use, the better
    • use as many channels as possible
    • use the edge between different communities -> needs identification
  • Use & value diversity
    • different authors
    • user driven content
    • make it possible for all members to contribute
  • Slow & Small solutions
    • contribution will take time -> be patient but don't lose momentum. The website is a big change. Again: it will take time
  • Apply Self regulation & accept feedback
    • Besides a contact form we could have a feedback form and other kind of forms
  • Everything gardens
    • everyone can contribute
  • The yield is theoretically unlimited
    • Let's check the numbers of engagement, hit rate, stats and see if members interact, or not
  • The problem is the solution
    • I often wanted to do too much -> I should do less
  • Work with nature rather than against
    • the nature of content dissemination is to use as many different ways and be as effective as possible while using the least amount of resources
  • Each important function is supported by many elements
    • dissemination happens over multiple channels
    • multiple authors
    • multiple communication circle members
    • multiple communication managers (people that can manage accounts and understand the processes)
  • Each element performs many functions
    • while most elements are informative they also allow feedback and let people engage
    • more edge due to different channels

Vision

Let’s compile a vision:

  • A stable high quality website that serves the purpose of the association and its members by integrating the members into the content creation process. An information hub. A portal into permaculture in Finland.
  • A working internal transparent communication and access to all data for all members (except passwords & members list and other personal information - GDPR)
  • Engage people interested in permaculture through different channels
  • Embrace sociocracy by explaining why things are done in a particular way instead of just doing things

Let’s start with Opportunities – the low hanging fruits

I have got a lot of information from limits, helps and principles.

Limits

The costs for the new website are definitely a limit. Costs are generally an issue. A full Slack setup would cost the association 6,25€ / month / user. That would be 3300 € / year. The Finnish Permaculture association doesn't have the money to pay for such services or the development of a feature rich site. In order to get a decent website with all the feature I need to find a way that is in balance with the "Fair Share" ethics. I can't really give away a website of that size for free. Perhaps some background: Together with my wife I run a marketing agency called Chase & Snow and we offer web-design & -development.

The amount of time members of the association can put into the association is limited – that is for sure. And also the amount of people that want to put their time into the association is limited.

Patterns

While putting up an actionable list I soon realized that there are limits what can and can’'t be done – or not done alone. Therefore I will check for patterns next.

not helpful

  • me pushing everyone too hard
  • me doing all the work instead of delegating things (as Operational Leader of the communications circle) or asking for help

helpful

  • since I used Looby's web now more often I can identify the unhelpful patterns faster and work on a solution
  • breaking through my internal "look in"
  • People Care in the sense of taking care of the people I’m working with.

What I’m getting of this is: Don’t do everything alone. Don’t insist on your point of view because your right. Ask for help if you need it.

Integration

What are my needs with this design?

I personally have difficulties with projects that do a lot of work and are actually pretty professional but the website doesn’t reflect on that.

External communication:

As I’m a professional web-designer for me a good functional and good looking website is a must for a project. And I also need a website that cares for people in terms of serving accurate up to date information. I also like to work less. For me the newsletter is a good way to reach a lot of people in and on the edge of the permaculture community but working twice, writing a blog and then creating a newsletter is not good.

Internal communication:

While I’d love to see and meet my fellow members I don’t want to sit in endless meetings. Coming from web development I love lean and agile.

With external and internal communication I need them to be transparent. Only if people have the same information we can create equality.

The network:

For me a unity with in the network is important. While we all are individuals only with unity we can reach certain goals. I need this design to come up with ideas how to unite the players.

What systems could be put in place to meet those needs?

I can build the technical infrastructure on my own based on existing OpenSource technology, but it would take a lot of time and would be beyond the limits I set.

In order to get things done quickly I need some systems to exist before I can start:

  • A Workspace where members of the association can exchange information and discuss topics. The association’s is using Slack for some time now.
  • A document space where the association can keep documents. Since the beginning this is the Google Drive
  • A space where we can have online meetings. We switched years ago form Zoom to Jitsi.
  • Kanban for Tasks. In the beginning tasks can sit in the meeting minutes until an kanban software (cloud service?) got set up

Action

from the SWOC and PMI I found that it first needs a fix of those things that clearly don't work. After that everything is surplus.

I usually don’t work with timelines but tasks and sprints. A sprint comes from agile development, especially Scrum – read https://www.scrum.org/resources/what-is-a-sprint-in-scrum.

The higher at topic is in the list below the earlier it gets worked on. There is no timeline for this (!important! - no timeline)
The website tasks got split up into smaller tasks and put into my companies kanban. Tasks that involved members of the association, especially communications are in the backlog part of the minutes of the communications team and on a trial basis at the association’s Trello kanban.

Task Resources
Slack Comms
Setting up all channels Comms
Setting up documents that explain Slack Comms, Translation
Inviting all members to use Slack Comms, Translation
new website with the following features:  
Map of Permaculture Projects / LAND center / LAND learner Me, Translator
allow everyone to submit their project Me, Translator
Event Calendar Me, Translator
allow everyone to submit Permaculture related events Me, Translator
iCal importer to import events from Facebook if the association gets notified Me, Translator
Blog Me, Translator, Authors
encourage others to write blog posts Me, Translator, Authors
Integrated Newsletter Me, Translator, Authors
including links to social media + "become a member" action Me, Translator
working SSL cert Me
the website needs to be rented instead of bought since the Finnish Permaculture Association doesn't have the money to buy it. Chase & Snow, board
Linking all channels of the association Me
Mail  
G-Mail footer that informs about the possibilities at the website Comms
Trello  
Configure Trello kanban board Me
Setting up Google Drive & Groups Comms
membership in the “members” Google group gives access to the Google drive in "comment" mode Comms
membership to the “core” Google group gives access to the Google drive in "full access" mode -> only given to members active in circles -> circles need to report to the communications circle who is active Comms
Google group allows discussion about Permaculture topics that are not association related Comms
Remove access to Google drive to those that were given access in the past because of their board membership Comms
G-Suite is available for free for non-for-profit -> someone should check the details Comms
Social Media should be handled by people who are into social media Comms
Policies & Helps  
Information starts at the association's communication Slack channel (Zone 0) form there it goes outwards (zoning from an association perspective is a valid tool to use) Comms
Zone 0 → People  
Zone 1 → Slack  
Zone 2 → Website  
Zone 3 → Newsletter  
Zone 4 → Social Media  
Zone 5 → The undiscovered country  
1st read documents for new members of communications Me, Comms
Social Media rotation plan for Facebook Me, Comms
Setting up Communications circle monthly meetings and topics Me, Comms

Below is the screenshot of the Slack workspace shows the communications channel. Note the top of the channel window. It stats that the channel is sociocratic, who are the members of that channel and where the kanban can be found.

There graphic above shows the concept of zones applied to the dissemination of content.

With all that tasks set up in action the association gets a new website which fulfills my needs. The association also gets transparent communication. All members can see what is going on using Slack and the Google Drive. It strictly follows “Integrate don’t segregate”. The newsletter has been sent out twice using the integrated system. It came with a funny bug where the names of people got mixed up. (luckily only one subscriber complained). There are now articles from different authors, even non-members, on the blog. Social Media is focused around Facebook at the moment of writing this design and if there are no news we can rely on social media rotation plan. More about it at Reflection.

Momentum

The website took a lot of energy, a lot, but what was more difficult is that the website was there but only some were interested in it. From SWOC I already pointed out that the network is more of a challenge than the website. There are a lot of players in the field in the Finnish permaculture community but many don't play well together or don't want to play at all because they are "just using permaculture" – but then later complaining that not that many people came to their courses.

Individualism vs. community

One of the sentence I hear again and again is: "Permaculture is made of individualists and that is what makes permaculture strong". Individualism has nothing to with letting others, outside of the permaculture bubble, know what is going on in the community. Sending an e-mail with the information of an event is hardly a difficult thing to do. Publishing ones own project on the association's website is hardly anything negative, yet it feels like selling something that is unwanted.

Multiple associations that are about permaculture and sustainable living

There are many projects that have their own association in order to get Eramus+ and ESC money. Usually such an association has 2 to 7 members and does nothing more than apply for funding. The prerequisites to form an association in Finland are pretty low, hence there are loads of them. And each is working on their own. There even was another permaculture association 20 years ago that fell apart because of individualists and false beliefs and teachings. One of their members commented on why she didn’t join the current Finnish permaculture association with “I have my own permaculture association”.

The difficulty of putting the word out

Only a marginal amount of people of those that are aware of the association and its services reported their events, like for example an “Introduction to Permaculture”, to the association. Same was with Philipp Weiss's course in Salo. I had to write to the course organizer to point out to send it to the association as well. The association's communications team needs to constantly run after the players and asks them to be part of the association and the information sharing. I’m not sure why that is the case. I can only speculate.

Old traumas

Over the years I came across some older women that seem to be traumatized when it comes to permaculture. The trauma goes back to the former permaculture association and to some individuals. Kalle put it like this: “during that time permaculture was known as spermaculture”. As far as I heard it from different source it was about mixing tantra sex with permaculture on the one side and on the other side crowdfunding projects where people lost a lot of money.

Summing it up

All this digging around in the past brought me to the understanding that permaculture in Finland has a very different standing compared to permaculture in Denmark and Sweden. There is a lot of distrust coming from “the old days” and those people that went though that time. Once I understood the problems they have gone through and all the in my opinion wrong teaching that came with it was clear why no one of those old permaculture projects is interested in sharing. If you look to the article about permaculture at the Finnish Wikipedia the understanding of the community deepens even more.

The picture that is forming how permaculture looks to a Finn who has for the first time heard about permaculture is a little scary. As that person I have seen multiple projects that are not connected. I have seen multiple individuals that try on their own to get things going. It shows how permaculture is still about gardening and agriculture and not about the social aspect. That’s why most questions in the association’s Facebook group is about how to make a garden bed or how to compost and not about permaculture design. Finnish permaculturists are seen as gardeners with more knowledge. But not as the holistic system thinkers we are.

If you want to create a forest you have to think like a planet.

- Dominik Jais

Ok researching all the history took a lot of energy away from me since I believed that one of the fundamental principles is "integrate don't segregate" but yet everything is the other way round. Everyone is doing their own thing. What is need urgently is Ubuntu – unity. (not community)

On the other side is knowing a lot about permaculture, especially in context of Finnish permaculture and its history, something that keeps me going. It is something that helps me kind of understand problems of the past, and finding solutions for the future. It kind of keeps me happy, but it also sometimes saddens me, especially if the findings are not what I hoped for.

The challenges – networks & co.

When I run a SWOC analysis I found some challenges.

Sociocracy as OS<
old personal networks
information hub
social media
forming new networks

In order to get some clarity I first turned to helps

Helps

During an event held by the Finnish Permaculture Association there was a discussion about how to get in contact with the different players to reach a "critical mass". One of the suggested ideas was "cold calling" and explain what the association has to offer. There were of course a lot of other suggestions too. I used the findings from the event and combined it with my own:

Who can help? What external resources are available? Which part could it help with?
LAND centers  
should (I’m actually closer to must) share knowledge (accreditation criteria no. 4) information hub, networks, social media
Opintopiiris (study circles)  
exist but the majority of them are not visible for the public. They don’t share their findings, knowledge beyond their Zone 1 information hub, networks, social media
Authors  
the association's website should function as a hub / platform information hub, networks, social media
article that describes the possibilities of the website -> needs to be in all channels information hub, networks
Ask the members of their opinion of “What is permaculture?” information hub, networks
Ask the members to take on specific tasks, like for example research who is out there, identity projects, connect with them networks
International network  
Swedish Permaculture Association Sociocracy OS, networks
Sociocracy for all Sociocracy OS, networks
Danish Permaculture Association networks
Norwegian Permaculture Association networks
What resources do I have within me?  
Patients, leadership, knowledge, trust all

 

Action

In order to set things in motion the following tasks / steps are necessary. Again there is no timeline attached to it.

Task Resources
Information hub  
craft a document that explains the website features to others Me, Translator
make sure that in the one of the next newsletters the services are described and that we ask members to submit events & projects or talk to projects they know. Me, Translator, Comms
Old personal networks, forming new networks  
clarify LAND criteria with LAND coordinator Me, LAND coordinator
clarify LAND details with LAND coordinator from other country Me, Danish LAND coordinator
clarify the position and duties of the LAND circle within the sociocratic structure of the association Me, LAND coordinator
request info about findings from the LAND centers (in 2020 there is only one in Finland -> Koroinen) - didn't respond – needs Person-to-Person discussion instead of mail / phone Me, LAND coordinator, Koroinen
identify permaculture projects and call or write or visit them (some don't have telephone numbers or contact details) explaining that it would be in our mutual interest to share information with the association National Network, members
Sociocracy as OS  
introduce the sociocratic circle methods Me, Circles, Sociocracy for all, Swedish Permaculture Association
bring all circles together and introduce general circle Me, Circles
Free for non for profits  
Google for Non-for-Profits Comms, Lumia, me
Slack for Non-for-Profits me

In August 2020 I came across something that is called Google for Non-for-Profits and I asked Lumia if she could apply for it. Some days later Lumia mentioned that the Finnish Permaculture Association could now use a GSuite for Non-For-Profits for free. With that so many new doors opened.

And while the other software the association is using heavily is for free but has certain limitations I also applied for Slack for Non-For-Profits and the Permaculture Association is now using Slack for free.

In August 2020 I also met with the LAND coordinator in person and discussed the open questions. Cathrine answered me a lot of questions about LAND and how it is handled in Denmark.

Pause

What about Falafel? I know this nice little Falafel shop 2 blocks from here. Just joking, but seriously it is time for good homegrown food. There is nothing more powerful than growing tomatoes in Finland :)

Momentum

Coming out of the pause after 2 month with a lot of momentum and energy. It is like using a slingshot ride from IO to Europa to Ganymede to Callisto. The question is: What is still missing?

The internal communication isn’t yet up and running to its full capacity. In Sociocracy the internal communication happens over the double linkage between the circles. The Finnish Permaculture Association has 3 sociocratic circles while writing on this design (September 2020), the board, communications and LAND. But the General circle that connects those 3 hasn’t yet met. On October the 3rd the association will meet for its Autumn General Assembly (there are two General Assemblies a year, one in spring, one in autumn). Since it is a get together of the association I will use it to showcase the circles. Ever circle has 1 hour to meet. This meeting is public and the leaders of the circle should reserve 5-15 minutes of time for questions coming from people interested in that circle. During this event the General Circle will meet for the first time and by that then the transition towards the sociocratic circle method, which the General assembly in December 2019 decided to do, will be finished. There will then be an information flow between the active parts of the association and of course there will be the chance for all members to come up with new circles.

Action

On the 3rd of October 2020 the General Assembly of the Finnish permaculture association came up.

Meeting schedule

10:30 - 11:00 | Grab a coffee
11:00 - 13:00 | LAND assessment & tour
13:00 - 13:30 | Launch break
13:30 - 14:15 | Comms | LAND
14:15 - 15:00 | Board
15:00 - 15:45 | General Circle
15:45 - 16:30 | Grab a coffee
16:30 - 17:30 | GA

The meeting schedule didn’t work. The LAND assessment & tour took over 2 hours and most of the other meetings got squeezed a little.

During the General Circle meeting there was finally an information exchange and Communications is now working with LAND to help them address some of their communication problems. One of the biggest problems is that LAND is addressing on our website the people that might apply for becoming a LAND center but not the general public that is looking for places where they can experience permaculture. 

Since the meeting also included the reassessment of the LAND center I took the opportunity and shot a small video:

The language dilemma

When I thought I was coming to an end with this design something happened.

Idea

Offering a UK magazine to our members

Some time ago the Finnish Permaculture Association got an offer to sell a UK permaculture magazine. I then proposed that we give this magazine to our members as a welcome gift and that we also sell it in our shop and split the price with the publisher. The proposal was presented in the board’s Slack channel where only board members should comment. Since then some non board members started to comment I cross-posted the proposal to our #welcome channel (for all members).

From that proposal a large discussion started. The arguments against it were the following:

  • we should not introduce knowledge into Finland that is not usable for our climate and bio-region
  • the material is not in Finnish and therefore we could be associated too strongly with the publisher and the UK
  • since we don’t have our own member magazine people could mistake the UK magazine as the Finnish association’s member magazine
  • Finnish as a language is a minority language and therefore should be taken care of
  • some members might not understand English

I then asked if my proposal could harm the association. And then there weren’t that many concerns anymore since most of it those points is opinion are personal preference. But let’s look at them one by one.

Helps

Topic Plus Minus Interesting
material is not adapted to Finnish context if we make sure that only applicable content is served we make sure that false integration doesn’t happen we are gate-keepers how do we decide if we don’t have the knowledge to know if something works or doesn’t
  we support our language we show ourselves as the ones who decide what is applicable content There is continuously new material from abroad coming to Finland
  we create terms in our language Social permaculture doesn’t know anything about bio-region Our members are adults and are able to decide on their own
    we need a lot of translation work going  
    we need a lot of hands to get things translated  
because we give an English magazine out we might be seen as too strong associated with UK it emphasizes the Finnish nationality it doesn’t value diversity Speculation
the UK magazine to be mistaken as jäsenlehti (member magazine) if that really happens we have a jäsenlehti! people might wonder why we have an English magazine as jäsenlehti Speculation
    we might get some e-mails with questions  
some members might not understand English     since we don’t know the percentage of members who don’t understand English it is difficult to value this

 

Principles

From my "observation I interact". For me offering this magazine is a "small and slow solution" and it "uses and values diversity". I have "obtained a yield" for the association. I have "produced no waste" since it is digital. I "use the edges of the association and value the marginal" since such offers are really on the "1 in a 1000 times side".

Integration

What are my needs with this design?

I need benefits for the association's members and this magazine is one. It is too good of an opportunity to pass by and the offer actually came from one of our members. I need this design to come up with a new proposal that addresses concerns formulated by members.

Action

Formulate the welcome mail in a way that there will be no misunderstanding about the intention of the magazine. Something like: “The Finnish Permaculture Association started a cooperation with a UK permaculture magazine. As a member you receive the latest issue as digital copy with your boarding package. Please check the attachment of this mail.”

Momentum

The proposal addresses the two in my opinion real concerns: That we could create confusion. With the boarding mail update this possible confusion will be counteracted on.

There are still a lot open topics about language. When I was in Koroinen I had a chat with Lotta and also Matambo.

Lotta put it like this: “everything for the diploma needs to be translated to English, that’s why it takes so long for all Finns”. And Matambo, he is a diploma holder, put it like this: “we need our own diploma system, all the Uk people have no idea of the climate here” and he continued: “We need the diploma to be in Finnish”.

Marja put it like this about the magazine: “For me the concern is that this way we will be more associated to UK association, not really Finnish permaculture association.” She continued: “Instead of just copying things from south we should also teach them. I think if we offer UK magazine as a member magazine we give totally opposite message. Are we just followers? Are we bringing just UK permaculture here to Finland? This concern is not about to do or not to do but how we do it.

For the Finns their language is of high value and of course an integral part of their culture. I don’t restrict what information about permaculture is coming to Finland – since I’m not a gatekeeper and don’t want to be one. I think that the control of knowledge never leads to anything good. It is for the members themselves to decide if the information given in a magazine is usable or not. After all our members are usually adults, many with higher education.

Content creation, translation, and everything related is a process and has no ending. But for a design there need to be limits what can be done. The members of communications circle have spoken very clearly what they expect form other members if those want content in Finnish → the Finns need to deliver the content they want to see.

 

Reflection

About the outcome

One of my most important principles during this design was "use and value diversity". I listened to different people privately or in public discussions. I asked a lot of questions and came to different conclusions.

What are the goals? More members? Less work for association's volunteers? What I didn't want to do is chasing members to submit information. If it is beyond their "Fair Share" to give the association the information about their project or event they might have a different point of view about "people care". In my opinion not sharing the information with the association but calling themselves permaculture farm or permaculture project is not permaculture at all. They can for sure play their own game, but then everyone else suffers. This is about unity – not about the one ring to rule them all. We are in the same boat and we don't need superstars in the permaculture community that are functioning as idols, idols that are beyond any reasoning, public figures that get any support they want without paying anything anymore. 

I looked at what I wrote in the preface and I think that the design achieved some but not all of the points:

  • There is now an information hub and the association is slowly getting more members to contribute to the different parts.
  • The hub can attract everyone interested in permaculture – it doesn't matter where the visitor is from or what the level of knowledge is.
  • Slack as a workspace is working and since the Google Drive is open, all members can contribute. A side effect is that we now have a mailing-list that is protected by the association, where people can share their projects, introduce themselves, etc.
  • The understanding of the communication team of the information hub. We are only partly authors but mostly we are content and process managers and of course designers. 
  • The language problem is now better understood and discussion about it is open

A lot of things have changed over the past 1 ½ years. See the mind-map below. Scroll down to the download section for a PDF version.

The new mind-map reflects nearly all the changes made. There is a lot more going on than before, which doesn't mean that it is more work. It is just more complex.

Who needs to know what when
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec  
Yearly fee mail x                       Comms
Reminder Yearly fee     x                   Comms
Delete from members directory       x                 Communications
Boarding of members into Google Group x x x x x x x x x x x x Comms
Boarding of members into Slack x x x x x x x x x x x x Comms
Preparation for Spring Assembly x x                     Comms & Board
Preparation for Autumn Assembly                 x x     Comms & Board
Newsletter preparation   x   x     x   x   x   Comms

By changing the membership from lifelong to paid annual we made sure we only have members that are really interested in the association. The board is taking membership now far more serious. 

The design web

The design web is great and by using it more often I feel that I'm getting the hack of it. I personally find it much better for complex designs but I guess that parts of it can be implemented into other processes. The essence is: I like it.

Ethical software choices

Some time ago I wrote about ethical software choices. I wrote that basically many permaculture associations and sustainable or regenerative projects don’t choose software according to permaculture and in that article I also offered a lot of alternatives. But since Google got dropped on me I had to think it through. The Google Drive is a mess. It is the worst piece of software I have seen in 15 years. It is so bad that if you have the choice to not use it: don’t use it.

What is bad? (from an admin view – you can skip this and continue reading at "Never ending story" if you are more of a user)

  1. Folders in a private drive can’t be copied to a shared drive because a person that is part of the G-Suite domain can’t be given ownership in a private drive. (ok, I guess I lost you here – believe me it is a nightmare)
  2. Google-native documents can’t be synced to local. They become just links and therefore can’t be synced back into another folder.
  3. Files in a private drive can only be copied to a shared drive (aka team drive) only by the owner.

It makes is a long time journey to move a private drive into a shared drive. The G-drive is not really something to be expected from a company that has that many code slaves at their disposal.

What is good?

  1. The shared drive access rights are managed by managers and not on an individual file basis
  2. All documents are owned by the association and not by individuals
  3. Several different shared drives with different access settings

What is interesting?

  1. That even the biggest company with all its quality control and people at their disposal makes a lot of mistakes

Never ending story

While communications is a process, a never ending story, the design itself has to come to an end. I guess that over the years I and / or others will tweak it here and there. It is not perfect and there is still a lot of work ahead when it comes to straighten out the wrong doings of the past. When Maria moved into her new apartment and the suddenly Alexis also moved and got a new job and then Lumia also had a lot of work for another association I concentrated on doing other things. Identifying the pattern of “pushing to hard” helped. Usually I would have just pushed forward on my own, doing all the things that are in the kanban – but not this time. Permaculture and especially Looby’s web is really helpful. While writing this design the following tasks are still open

  • Write an article “What is permaculture”
  • Upgrade the LAND center page at the websites
  • Create an education page for the website that explains to newbies how to get education in permaculture
  • Create marketing material, like handout and roll-up

The tools used

PMI and SWOC are kind of a bread and butter tool for the design or actually to most of my designs. It is kind of fun to create a workflow to pipe the findings of the one into the other and then run it again. I think both are very useful. I like the mind maps which I use very often. Workflow diagrams are also useful to me as they let me visualize what is happening. Screenshots, videos, all works for me. I love the different kanbans and of course Slack (ok, I would prefer rocket.chat but that's another story).

Data

Usually data doesn’t lie and therefore I have the stats available from the website for 2020 (until November).

As you can see the frontpage “/” had of course the most views. Second is /jasenten-projektit. This is the map and list of the permaculture projects. The third one is /ajankohtaista, which is the news. After that /tapahtumat, the event calendar, LAND and then all the different permaculture projects. 

My conclusion is: If someones project is not on the map, or their course is not on the association’s event calendar, they let an opportunity just slip away.

Since the numbers on those different parts of the site are relatively high I think that my findings and assumptions from the beginning were correct. It was important to get the website's services fixed.

It was also a good move to include the newsletter into the website. It is now from technical point of view only some clicks to send a newsletter. Of course the courses, news, etc. had to be published and written before. Subscription numbers rise constantly. In November 2020 there were 164 subscribers.

Slack as a transparent communication tool seems to work. I pulled some stats and created graphs. 

Data is one thing. Data usually doesn’t lie – it needs interpretation. Direct feedback from people is something different

Active member feedback

In order to get a different perspective I created a questioner for the communications circle and the board. I got answers from 4 people. Maximum would be 7.

Do you think Slack serves the purpose of transparent communication? (yes / no / other)

  • 4 yes

Are you satisfied with using Slack? (very satisfied - very dissatisfied) 

  • 4 satisfied

What do you / don't you like about Slack? (free text)

  • Simple but difficult in the beginning

Does the new website serve the needs of the association? (yes / no / other)

  • 4 yes

Are you satisfied with the content published at the website? (very satisfied - very dissatisfied)

  • 3 satisfied | 1 neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

What do you / don't you like about our website? (free text)

  • More basic information about permaculture
  • Missing content in Swedish and English
  • More content in general
  • The look & feel

Do you feel empowered to do things within the association? (yes / no /other)

  • 3 yes | 1 Other

How familiar are you with sociocracy  (very familiar - not at all familiar)

  • 2 Very familiar | 2 somewhat familiar

Do you feel valued in your role as an association active (yes / no / other)

3 x yes | 1 x other

The feedback is of high value to me. It is from people I continuously work with. For me it seems like the team likes what is going on.

 

Did the design achieve what it should achieve?

Let’s look at the SWOC’s opportunities and challenges again:

Opportunity  
new Website Done
Sociocratic circles Done
transparent communication Done
LAND centers Communicated what is need
Newsletter integrated Done
publication of articles Done
information hub Done
Social Media Done
Subscription based membership Nearly done
Challenge  
Sociocracy as OS In transition
old personal networks Learned about them
information hub Done
social media Done
forming new networks Continuous work

 

Appreciation

It was a fun project and a colleague of mine pointed out that "the technical infrastructure is decent enough" while someone else pointed out that "it is important to have a decent website since you can have the best project with an ugly website and that won't work". It is now up to its members to fill it. If they don't do it, no one else will. The prime directive of permaculture is pretty clear about responsibility. This actually is true for the entire association: if the members don’t do a thing nothing will happen. It is up to the members not to some board members to get things going. An association lives with and from its members. Otherwise an association is useless, or?

I highly appreciate the help from Lumia, Maria and Alexis. Alexis took over leadership of the communications circle. There are interesting projects on the list which will soon be online (or are already). I appreciated to work with the different circles and the different persons.It is really wonderful to be surrounded by dedicated people.

I feel supported by Lumia, my friends and colleagues in the communication circle – but also at the board.

About myself I appreciate that I can put things now aside and let them just rest. The permaculture association is important for me, but I appreciate that I can bring it into balance with the rest of my life. I'm also thankful that I could make an entire design of it. I feel blessed. 

Accreditation criteria

I’m using the categories described in Cathrine’s designs.

Demonstrating design skills

  • Looby’s Web
  • Ethics
  • Principles
  • Looby’s Zones applied to dissemination of information
  • PMI
  • SWOC
  • Mindmap
  • Helps & Limits (part of Looby’s web)
  • Communications design
  • Who-Knows-What-When
  • Workflow diagramm
  • Kanban project management
  • Spreadsheets
  • Feedback forms

Applying permaculture in my own life

Not quit sure if this is applicable here. I take care of information as it would be a tree I need to care for. I constantly use the ethics to evaluate decisions against it. Basically they are constantly in my mind.

Applying permaculture to my work and projects

I'm constantly working with the subject of communication and design because I have a marketing company. For me this is every day in my daily life.

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