NWPCC 2016 - A brief report

Wow! What an awesome event!  Congratulations to everyone who participated in making this such an exciting event.  The amount of information exchanged was phenomenal.  There were so many heart to heart connections. There were so many reunions of old friends and the making of new friends.  The babble of voices was deafening at times (especially in the dining hall).  The event was very high energy.  Lots to do and see. 

618 people attended! This is the biggest turnout in NWPCC’s history.  We had 500 at the South Seattle Community College in 2010, 500 at St Helen’s Oregon fairgrounds in 2011 and 500 at the River Road Rec Center in Eugene in 2015.  

About half of the participants stayed on site, camping or dorms. This allowed for a lot of interaction in the evenings and the early mornings. 

Our kitchen staff served incredibly yummy, gourmet food!  There were also incredibly long meal lines since space only allowed for 2 serving lines.  Next time we should find a venue with space for four lines. A huge amount of chatting at meal times. Certainly one of the most important times at the event in terms of face to face exchange.

Paul Stamets gave a great keynote on Friday evening to a packed house.  Incredible graphics on the screen and some of the latest findings on ecosystem functioning, fungi, honeybees and more.  For instance, the just-discovered fungal mat that undergirds the oceans seabed sediments.  Cutting edge views into the fungal kingdom and its key role in the health of our bee populations and all the Earth’s ecosystems.

Pandora Thomas gave a great keynote Saturday morning. Engaging, stimulating and inspiring.

Bill John, Lummi elder and his wife Ane Barrett (Director of Service Learning, Social Science Faculty of the Northwest Indian College) spoke on the Indigenous Voices panel.  Bill spoke of his life, told stories and shared bits of his Lummi language with us.  Some words that caught my attention were that racism, whether by white, red, yellow, or black people, all colors, hurts everybody involved.  He looked at our permaculture audience and said “You individuals are not the cause of my pain”.  Bill is a Vietnam war vet and it was challenging to be at our event because he recognized that some of us were like the peaceniks who had spit on him and hit him when he came back from the Vietnam War. Thank you Bill John for your compassion and open-mindedness.

The Biochar Track turned out as great as it looked going into the event.  Great presenters, lots of demonstration burnings, lots of knowledge shared and enthusiasm generated. Go, biochar, go.

Stormy Ganton reports that the Women’s Circle was very good.

The fruit and nut display was awesome with about 200 accessions to look at.  Sam Benowitz and friends led a fruit tasting on Saturday night and a smaller one during Sunday lunch.  Most of the apples and pears that were left were packed up to send to Standing Rock.  4 apple boxes with well over 50 varieties.  The fruit and nut workshops were many and well attended.

The skillshare area moved en masse on Saturday morning from their windy exposed site to a more sheltered location between the teaching cabins.  It made that area a really vibrant area full of comings and goings.

On Friday night there was a meeting of the pc pioneers next to a meeting of the pc millennials. Perhaps 20 in the greying, pioneers group and 30 in the larger millennials group.  At the end we combined for a group hug and a report to each other.  A very heartwarming exchange. We both want to work more closely.  We both wanted to set up some sort of northwest permaculture mentoring system so we could find good links.  The pioneers want to have a weekend retreat sometime to talk about this in-depth.  As one of the millennials said “We want to mend the torn fabric of intergenerational knowledge exchange.”  More will come of this brief exchange. People from the millennials group or the pioneers group are invited to give a fuller report. 

On Sunday we had group photos of the different age groups.  The 60s and older group photo. A group photo of people in their 50s, people in their 40s, people in their 30s, people in their 20s and people in their teens and younger.  We got to see who is in our cohort.  We decided that the goal of this convergence wasn’t to pass the torch from the older to the younger generation but that we wanted all age groups to co-create a better world together. We all have something to contribute. No age group is more important than another.  After those photos we got together for one big group photo with a sign in front of us that read. Standing with Standing Rock! Look for those photos on our website at some point. 

M. Revathi, of RevivingEarth.org, in India was a surprize, honored guest. Paul Taylor (one of our biochar experts) arranged for permaculture teacher and practitioner M. Revathi to attend. Revathi has developed a regenerative farming system over many years of farming in India.  Her work has now involved over 1,100,000 farmers in India and 400,000 farmers in Sri Lanka. Bill Mollison awarded her a scholarship to the last course he ever taught (in India with 80 students). Bill had Revathi teach her methods at many of the sessions. She is very grateful to Bill and has incorporated permaculture into her work.  Through Revathi, permaculture is reaching a huge number of farmers in India who are facing tough times.  Suicide is high, climate change has ruined many crops in the last decade, Monsanto is doing bad things and it is like a war is being waged on small Indian farmers.  Revathi gave a talk on her work the last session on Sunday. 

At the Sunday morning NWPCC general meeting a whole new crop of Board of Director members were nominated and acquiesced to by the general membership.  The BoD has increased from 5 members to 13 members including a lot of young blood.  A fuller report on that at some point.

It looks like the NWPCC will break even or close to it.  We won’t know for sure till the dust settles and all the bills come in.  We do want to have a good kitty for putting on future NWPCC’s so if you are feeling grateful please use the donation button on our website. 

Sure there are things we could have done better, but all in all the 2016 NWPCC ws a huge success.   Thanks again to all our participants, sponsors, presenters, worktraders, and staff.  Lots more could be said, these are just a few of the highlights for me. 

Let us continue observing, adapting and working for a more ecological and socially conscious world.

Permacordially,

Michael Pilarski, Overall coordinator.

Our webmaster has put up a forum where everyone can share their feedback, observations, comments, proposals and gratitudes for the convergence.  There will be photos and videos posted here over time, so come back and check.

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