MSc in Integrative Ecosocial Design
Gaia University

Richard Kühnel

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Final Review
Learning Map

The area I want to explore the most in the coming years is "ecosocionomic" design and its application to different disciplines. I want to work on some land-based projects and gradually add social and economic projects. The following lays out an action learning plan to achieve this.

Project Continuation
To implement the vision we have for our home will take several years - in total I think at least 5 and up to 10, depending on available resources and other circumstances. In order to gain more skills, experience and practice in design, drawing and implementation, I plan during the main portion of the winter of 2007/2008 to take a step back and work on new drawings and documentation for the redesign of our property. As long as the weather allows here is the plan for implementation for the remaining time:
  • Complete the North portion of the driveway, which needs some more brick laying and finishing the top layer for the car parking space.
  • Covering the planting strip with black plastic or, if possible, with cardboard to prepare for planting next year.
  • Fill gravel between the pavers of the West footpath.
  • Re-attach the board of the siding on the South side that was loosened by the plum tree.
  • Do some research for a fall planting of edibles that can be harvested throughout winter.
  • Convert some of the new raised beds to cold frames / green houses by adding a run of boards, level the stakes flush, put straw bales around them and add a glass cover. Plant them in the fall.
  • Finish the porch at least to the point where the walls are plastered, the floor insulated and filled with gravel to grade, and the soil back filled. If possible, frame it in and add the roofing. For the framing the design has to be finalized and the material ordered and purchased. The same is true for the roofing.
  • Landscape and build those garden beds in the front yard that are not in the way for completion of the porch.
  • Remove any unused soil.
  • Plant some of the perennial vegetables in the front and side yards.
  • Set the fence posts on the West side, build the fence, gate and storage area.
  • Build the fire wood storage area.
  • Put a gutter up on the West side and collect the rainwater in a rain barrel.
  • For pruning some bushes and trees I am thinking to hire help.
  • Clean up behind the backyard fence.
  • Reserve appointment with roofer for next year.
Fall and Winter 2007/2008
My learning plans for the coming fall and winter are as follows:
  • As mentioned, I want to work more on the overall design and also in more detail on several elements and systems, including the food and irrigation systems. One of the outcomes will be an updated project and budget plan.
  • Research landscape software and train myself to use it or learn more Auto CAD.
  • Study seed and plant catalogs and research options to learn more about plants in a fun and easy way.
  • Re-read some gardening and permaculture books.
  • Attend a drawing class that gives me some tools and techniques as well as do some self-studying in landscape drawing.
  • Complete the article "Design and Designing" and submit it for publication.
Spring and Summer 2008
  • Finish anything that did not get completed last year (from above), especially the porch and increase food production.
  • Develop a curriculum for an urban permaculture class in 2008 from notes taking during the winter study time and previously taught classes.
  • Learn about chickens in backyards and urban environments and how to build a chicken tractor, as we would like to keep 2-3 chickens.
  • Find out more about sacred architecture, biodynamics and Perleandra.
Fall and Winter 2008/2009
  • I plan to research and continue the design work for all water related systems, including roofing materials, rain water catchments systems, freshwater systems, composting toilets, swales, ponds, solar hot water and hand pumping groundwater. This in preparation to start implementation in 2009.
Personal Development
Even though the following is a rather short list, my personal path, the journey of my life and growing as a human being is the most important area I want to learn in.
  • Continue to keep a journal as a primary tool for documenting the activities regarding this project, reflecting insights into design, nature, myself and challenges.
  • Reviving playing an instrument and make music, maybe piano or accordion.
  • Attend inspiring events and meet inspiring people.
  • Join a peer-to-peer counseling group.
  • Attend further medicine wheel classes and continue my journey with it.
  • Compose a brief letter of introduction that I can send together with a link to a special portfolio site to some of the people I really would like to learn from and work with. Maybe as assistant or in some form of apprentice ship involved with some project they are doing. This maybe each year for 1 - 2 months.
  • See if I can start building a support network of peers, supporters, mentors and experts that review each other's work and designs and provide constructive feedback. Maybe this could be an advanced ecosocial design review program.
Events and Classes

I plan to attend the following events and classes:

  • Retreat of the Northwest Ecobulding Guild in October 2007.
  • A Permaculture Teacher Training Class geared towards our climate in 2008.
  • A cob building workshop that gives me the basics on which I can expand in 2008.
  • Find an opportunity to co-teach a full PDC course.
  • Attending some wilderness skill classes.
    I think that it is always useful to know how to be in the wilderness doing the least harm and also how to survive outdoors in cases of emergencies. Additionally, it could very well be that these skills can contribute valuable information in the use of plants, perception and identifying water sources and edible plants.
  • Attend a Heart Circle facilitator training
    The following is from the Heart Circle web site: In a Heart Circle you sit together weekly with a small group of people that you care for and trust. You practice communicating directly what you are feeling in the moment and what you're wanting in life. As you do this together, your heart opens and your friendships deepen. In this way you bring more focus and joy into your personal life while strengthening the community in which you live. And its strong individuals in resonant, local communities that are needed today.
  • Attend a Forum training.
    Here an explanation of what Forum is from their web site: Forum is a ritualized form of communication for communities and groups with a common goal. By being a group process it goes beyond all mediation and personal growth work on a one to one basis. It creates a space to experience social communication in an intimate atmosphere of trust. Trust is created when processes in the community are transparent and understandable for all involved. Trust is the glue that keeps community together.
  • Participate as time allows in the Village Convergence in Portland, the Bioneers conference in San Rafael and the EcoCity conference in San Francisco.
  • Attend a workshop on Open Space Technology and similar group facilitation tools.
Ecosocial and Ecosocionomic Design

While a Google search for "social ecology" returns over 600 hundred thousand hits and "ecosocial" still returns 74,400s, a search on "EcoSocial Design" returns about 406 hits (as of September 12th 2007). These numbers represent a strong increase from when I did these searches last time in March 2007.
"Ecosocionomic" returns only 7 hits. Surprisingly enough I found one web site that used this term in 2004, which is way before I coined that word. "Ecosocionomic design" returns only four hits and they are all from my site.
In order to better grasp what ecosocial and ecosocionomic design is or better what this discipline will contain, I want to learn more about the fields of ecology, sociology, social equity, sustainable economy and design and their application in a variety of disciplines that use quite different methodologies, like architecture, landscape design, product design, interior design, software design, systems design and others. This, I expect, is a process that will start during this year of study and continue well afterwards. For that purpose I am starting to gather information resources and review literature. I hope to learn about "Social Ecology" and research other existing or emerging disciplines or fields of expertise that could be relevant to the core development of ecosocial design, like for example, biomimicry.

Sandpoint 2030

In reference to the world's first plan of energy decent, called Kinsale 2020, I would like to start a similar effort here in Sandpoint. I would like to model this by learning from the Transition Towns initiative. Both projects were started by Rob Hopkins in England.


Working on this project has given me a much more focused, clearly directed effort that is visible through the changes on our property. It is carried into the wider community by consciously integrating the social design aspect. At this point, outreach is happening by the various discussions with the help, including Berta's two nephews, contractors and vendors, by meeting the neighbors and sharing with people, who are passing by, what we do.

Above all I have a vision for myself, life and humanity:

"I want to live a fulfilling life of fun, joy, arts, vitality and exciting projects, deeply connected to myself, others, mother earth, the seen and unseen universes and be part of creating a culture for all of us that supports that. I want to live in a world that honors and respects every child, living being, plant, stone, flower, drop of water, seed, every single element, as equally important and intrinsically precious. I want to be outrageous from time to time, follow my interests in research and community by seeking out more education, teaching and projects in these areas that benefit the community, clients and myself. Continue with shamanism and healing arts. Smile and laugh a lot. Personally I want to fulfill my potential, fully experience this human existence and join the circle of love, compassion, light, serenity, hope, joy, humility, integrity and wisdom. I want to have fun. Bring my personal values inline with my actions, live in integrity. Overcome challenges. Complete what I start. Learn more about my strengths and where to improve. Work in an enjoyable atmosphere, at a comfortable pace. Alternate and balance between deskwork and hands on work. Make it all manageable, affordable and beautiful. Balance between free time and fun time, livelihood time, study time, day-to-day activities, quiet time, family and friend time. And I wish that everyone can follow their hearts dream for the highest good of all!"

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