We had our first Knoxville Permaculture Guild Meeting last night, July 19, 2008. Fourteen, total, attended. The meeting lasted about 3 and a half hours with most of that being social time which was an important factor seeing that most of the people didn't know each other. Chad and I invited interested people who we have met over the course of 10 years. These folks either have a deep knowledge of the permaculture lifestyle and/or have a driving interest to learn more. Some friends, I knew, weren't aware of the term permaculture, but I knew from talking with them over time, that they would find these issues compelling. Overall though, about half of the group was from our neighborhood here in Parkridge, but half were from other parts of Knoxville. The beauty of it was how well everyone mingled. It seems that with a base like permaculture, we all had such a common ground that socializing, comparing notes and asking questions came freely and easily.
We made the meeting a sort of potluck asking people to BYOB and to bring an appetizer type of food to share. Everyone brought so much good food. We feasted. Yum.
The actual "meeting" started some after five and went to before seven. We went around the group and asked folks to introduce themselves and tell a bit why they thought this guild would be beneficial or why they were interested in permaculture. With fourteen people, this took about half an hour, but I think was a critical part in getting to know each other and set a foundation for the guild. Everyone's backgrounds are diverse, yet the common thread remains.
After introductions, Chad went over some of the basics of the guild using often the Phoenix Permaculture Guild's guidelines that Jennifer, their founder, so graciously has shared with us. I wanted to note how appreciative we are of Jennifer's guidance and advice.
One thing that Chad mentioned was meeting once per month whether for a demonstration or a discussion. Of course, it is not mandatory to attend, but important that the guild plan at least one activity a month. He stressed the importance that each person go the extra distance and educate themselves in permaculture principles. The group decided to schedule meetings at least three months in advance which will soon be posted along with the topics so attendees can research the topic before attending. Upcoming topics include: solar greenhouses at a member's home who has a solar greenhouse; community gardens at a member's grassroots community garden on the French Broad river; and building codes at a member's acreage where a permaculture community is planned.
Another important topic that arose from conversations was how to communicate. Seeing that the group was diverse, communication preferences also diversified. We decided that main messages and announcements would occur on this website, but a few people opted to build a phone tree in addition to using electronic means.
We hope that the Knoxville Permaculture Guild shares the same success as the Phoenix Guild and other guilds that have sprouted up nationally and internationally. Hopefully growth will continue and guilds internationally will link for a broader range of ideas and networks.
Overall, it seems a good time was had by all. I, personally, look forward to the next few months and watching the guild grow. Soon, there will be events every weekend and people buzzing and talking of Knoxville's permaculture future.