EAT participants 2009 at Landmatters in Devon. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Way back in the misty days of summer 2009 I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate on the EAT course, which stands for Earth Activist Training: planting the seeds of change.
Designed to combine spiritual, earth based philosophies with the more fervant strand of environmental activism, the EAT course is held several times a year in America. It doesn’t come to the UK that often – so this is the first year it comes back since 2009, and it will once again be hosted by Landmatters, a super inspiring low impact Permaculture co-operative in Devon. The course is always co-hosted by the amazing Starhawk, or Star to friends, a well known and highly revered activist and white witch.
Starhawk gets stuck in.
It’s A permaculture design certificate course, grounded in earth based spirituality, and with a focus on organising and activism. What this means that it is a jam packed two weeks of intense training – learning all the ins and outs of Permaculture through hands on experiential learning. On my course we were trained by the head of the Permaculture Association, Andy Goldring, who will once again be co-running EAT this year. He was an extremely joyful and bouncy tutor who managed extremely well when faced with awkward questions about meat farming (from staunch vegans) and I learnt a huge amount of truly fascinating stuff about the way in which we can best live with the earth.
Andy Goldring teaching on EAT.
Permaculture provides an incredibly solid basis for any ongoing work, be it gardening, art activism, general life organisation, social planning or community-wide projects. For instance an EAT course inspired artist and activist John Jordan to set up the Laboratory of Insurrectory Imagination, or LABOBFII, as an arts organisation based on the principles of permaculture. The beautiful and radical Landmatters was set up by six people who met on EAT and were inspired to live the change they wanted to see in the world. The first Climate Camps were planned on Permaculture principles to ensure that tents, facilities and neighbourhoods were placed in the most harmonious way possible.
Lessons take place inside a spacious yurt.
Activism is a key component of the course, and during my time at Landmatters I met many other people who were working on Climate Camp alongside those who work with No Borders, queer rights and urban land projects… to name just a few. It was inspiring to listen to people’s tales whilst enjoying the amazing vegan food at every meal time, sometimes so different and yet so very similar.
Many activists don’t really spend any time considering the spiritual side of their engagement with the planet – and even though the opportunity to learn from Starhawk was one of my top reasons for wanting to go on the EAT course, there were some on my EAT course who were very resistant to her rituals and chants. But needless to say by the end of two close weeks together everyone felt differently, with even the hardest of activists softened around the edges, and all of us more grounded and connected to the reasons we feel the urge to engage in our individual choices of activism.
Rooh Star of Landmatters was one of our guest teachers.
Some of the amazing dwellings at Landmatters.
Taking cue from Jon Young‘s teachings we also spent time alone at our sit spots each day, developing our nature awareness. I chose a spot that overlooked the wonderful woods that surround Landmatters, and every day looked forward to reconnecting with the shifting patterns. A time to relish in the fast wash of my life.
The EAT course was undeniably hard work, but so incredibly fabulously worth it. You can read some inspiring testimonials here.
If you fancy applying for the next course, due to take place between August 20th and September 4th 2011, then you don’t have long left to apply RIGHT HERE – only until the end of April. You will need to define your particular activism and talk passionately about your plans to spread the ideas that you will learn. This really is a chance in a lifetime and I urge you to take it!
The full cost of the course is expensive, but EAT does its best to offer many partial or whole scholarships, depending on need – which in these cash strapped times is greatly to be admired. To ease funding problems this year’s course will be partly crowd-funded so if you can’t go yourself but you understand the importance of the work the EAT course does then please do donate at IndieGoGo. The hard working volunteer organisers need all the help they can get to ensure that those who are underfunded are still able to attend this year. People like me!
Permaculture, Magic, Social Change – nothing could be better, as EAT demonstrates.
2011, activism, Activists, Andy Goldring, Climate Camp, Co-operative, community, Crowd Funding, Devon, E.A.T., EAT, EAT course, Indiegogo, John Jordan, Jon Young, LABOBFII, Laboratory of Insurrectory Imagination, Landmatters, Nature Awareness, No Borders, Pagan, permaculture, Permaculture Association, Queer Rights, Rituals, Rooh Star, Sit Spot, Star, Starhawk, White Witch, Witch
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