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Thursday, April 07, 2005 - 12:43 AM

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Community ThrivabilityFounded in 1999, Common Vision is a solution focused non profit organization. Common Visions mission is to cultivate awareness and respect for the Earth and to generate social and environmental changes towards sustainable lifestyles.

Common Vision and the Nomadic Institute
commonvision.org | Blog | Video

Our organization does this through four branches of focus,
education, restoration of degraded lands, direct action, and
documentation of those projects and other projects for positive change.

We integrate concepts of ecology with the traditions, music, and art of cultures
that live or have lived in harmony with the Earth.


Re-imagining education
Common Vision offers workshops that address the different ways people learn. Past workshops have included Applied Permaculture Techniques, Biodiesel, Diversifying Food Systems, Closed Loop Water Sytems, Using Whole Foods, The Importance of Organic Farming Methods, Timber Harvest Analysis, and many more. We work primarily in California, but serve the world at large.

Most recently Common Vision has been organizing biofuel-powered Spring fruit tree planting tours. These tours bring fruit trees to schools in California to get students in touch with the Earth. Our methods fuse hands-on service learning with the music, art, and story from indigenous cultures. Particularly we build a spring board experience based on West African Agricultural practices where the people play music while working in the fields. We bring drums to the students and after explaining a little bit about the West African Ways, we explain that all indigenouse cultures that make music share one rythym in common¬Ö THE HEARTBEAT. Native people play the heartbeat music to recreate the heartbeat of the Earth. Here we ask our students, ¬ěwhat does it mean for the Earth to have a heartbeat?¬î After concluding this discusion we create a planting celebration with half the students playing the heartbeat rhythm and the other half the students planting trees that we bring to the school. Student groups switch off at a half way point playing drums and planting trees. We have found this program format to be remarkably effective. Students have been receptive, teachers delighted, and adminastrators impressed.

Common Vision has also been facilatating pilot programs for the The Nomadic Institute.The Nomadic Institute is an idea that continues to grow out of the work of Common Vision. The Nomadic Institute is a school made of traveling courses that visit models of sustainability to learn from real world examples and provide credits towards higher education degrees. These courses are mobilized by a Mobile Resource Center (MRC) which is a biofuel powered bus and contains an onboard library, living space for students, solar powered operation system for laptops, and documentation equipment, a solar shower, and kitchen.

Our pilot programs have toured farms and aspiring permaculture sites to weave together their different existing elements of wholistic systems in to a clear vision of what sustainability can be. Aside from covering the mandatory curriculum for a Permaculture Design Certificate, the program has been broken into three parts; Observation and Research, Hands On Service Learning, and Test By Teaching.

Observation and research lay the foundation for hands on service learning projects. Past service learning projects have included biofuel refining, cob/strawbale construction, water system development, and organic gardening. Our students are tested by their ability to teach what they’ve learned. In spring 2004 our students developed and applied a garden based curriculum for San Antonio Continuation High School. By the end of their semester our students and their students built an organic garden at their campus. Our students received college credit from their college for their participation in our program.

The future of the Nomadic Institute is a two year program that awards college credit. This program involves multiple Mobile Resource Centers, each studying a different facet of sustainability. Individual three month courses topics are Water, Eco-construction, Alternative energy, Organic food systems, Pro-active protest, Indigenous people/ethno botany, Urban retro-fitting, and Eco- Restoration. Following the format of our pilot programs each of these topics will be broken into the three parts; Observation and research, Hands on Service Learning, and Test by Teaching. The Test by Teaching Method changes slightly in that student groups in each course are expected to develop and apply an introductory, hands on- service learning workshop on their topic for all the other Mobile Resource Centers when they come together in the same place every three months. After students present to their peer group they then present the same workshop for the general public and other schools. These student facilitated workshops are geared to focus on one of the following; Retro-fitting existing schools in to physical models of sustainability, advancing Organic farm systems to be more sustainable, or developing the Nomadic Institute Center for Humanly Ecocentrism (NICHE)

The idea is that by using the Nomadic Institute student labor force we can begin to heal the physical realities of learning environments and food systems so that we can eventually connect them in a way that begins to localize and empower community existence and commerce. Once schools become physical models of sustainability students embody lessons modeled in their learning environment and schools can become propagation centers for Community Food Forests and Food Forest Corridors. All state regulations of curriculum can be met and exceeded by transforming schools and curriculum to revolve around the healing of our current dysfunctional systems into a system modeled after the abundance of the Earth. As schools mature in this design, education from these schools will embody the ethics and services of stewardship. This way as students grow their connection to the environment and the community they live in, their sense of ownership of these things will enable good decision making for people everywhere as a whole.

Nomadic Institute students, after a two year program, return to their communities with the experience necessary to organize the advancing of this work with other community leaders.

Can you imagine what you and your community would look like if this was the type of college degree you were able to pursue? Can you imagine the types of Jobs that can be created by the transformation of physical environment to be modeled after the Abundance of the Earth? Can you imagine Food Forests? Can You Imagine?

If these ideas interest you, or you would like to help further the work of Common Vision and the Nomadic Institute visit our website:
www.commonvision.org



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