Under the Paving Stones, the Soil! Online course in Permaculture, Art and Social Change

24 April—7 August 2021

In order to provide good teaching conditions and enable a better discussion and exchange between the participants, we decided to split the course into two groups:

Due to the health problems of our course teacher last month the first group will start the course not on the 10th of April as planned but a bit later – on the 24th of April.
This is an updated list of all sessions:

Session 1: April 24, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CET
Session 2: May 15, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CET
Session 3: June 5, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CET
Session 4: August 7, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CET

Each session will have a following structure:
10.30–12.00 Part 1
12-12.30 Break
12.30-14.00 Part 2
14.00-15.00 Lunchbreak
15.00-16.30 Part 3

Apart from these sessions, we organize two check-in sessions in-between for questions, advice etc.:
May 5, 5-7 p.m. CET
July 7, 5-7 p.m. CET

The second group has different hours – here we decided to adapt (at least a little bit ;)) to many participants from other time zones for whom our hours were in the middle of the night. Here is the list of sessions for this group:

Session 1: April 29, 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. CET
Session 2: May 20, 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. CET
Session 3: June 10, 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. CET
Session 4: August 12, 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. CET

Here we assume a break in the middle, appr. from 7 to 7.30 p.m.

Here we will also have two check-in sessions:
May 12, 5-7 p.m. CET
July, 14, 5-7 p.m. CET

In English

This innovative course will explore the philosophy of permaculture and how it relates to urban gardening and social change. We are living in an unprecedented time of crisis: climate chaos, economic recession, ecological collapse, the rise of far-right populism, and more. However, the Chinese symbol for crisis is a combination of the symbols danger and opportunity: despite the risks, there are now opportunities to build the world we want to live in, right here, right now, within the shell of the old world that is collapsing all around us. Permaculture is a holistic design system that works on social as well as the ecological structures. It is like a pair of glasses that allow you to see previously unseen possibilities: that rubble-filled urban lot as a food forest; your neighbourhood as a vibrant and resilient community; and yourself as part of a hugely complex web of life and the natural patterns which form the world around you. “Sous les pavés, la plage!“ (“Under the paving stones, the beach!“) is a slogan from the social upheaval in Paris in May 1968. In this course, we will bring together practical, hands-on permaculture techniques for growing food with the rich theoretical framework that permaculture has to offer to cultural workers. We will invite you to think, practice, debate, play, observe, strategize, experiment and invent more sustainable, resilient, and just forms of working and living together. The participants will also receive individual advice concerning their own permacultural projects.

Course Facilitator Alfred Decker is an award-winning permaculture designer, a certified educator with the Permaculture Association Britain, and one of Europe’s leading permaculture educators. Since his first PDC in 1998 in California, Alfred has been involved with social movements and projects throughout Europe and the Americas. He is the founder of the 12 Principles Permaculture Design consultancy, Permacultura Barcelona and the Forest Gardens project at Can Masdeu; co-founder of the Spanish Permaculture Academy (Academia de Permacultura Íbera); and a former member of the European Permaculture Teachers Partnership and the Permaculture Council of Europe. Alfred holds a post graduate diploma in sustainable architecture and renewable energy from Centre for Alternative Technology.

The course will be accompanied by a seminar with Nicole Wolf (May 25, 7:30pm CET) who will reflect and expand on an interdisciplinary urban permaculture design course “Soil – City- Solidarity” and the symposium “’Tell me what matter was the ground’ – Repair beyond redemption” (both in 2019 and part of the Arsenal project Archive Ausser Sich).

Through the organization of the course the CCA Temporary Galery would like to create an international group of art practitioners involved in permacultural practices in order to exchange experiences and think together how the daily practice of taking care of soil influences our art-related activities and helps us to reimagine the art system. By means of “learning by growing” and permaculture as a thinking method we will try to reclaim rural and urban spaces for our communities and receive a sense of agency that might be so easily lost facing growing inequalities and climate change.

The course includes 4 long Saturday sessions and two short check-up sessions in between. It will be conducted in English. In order to register write an email to info@temporarygallery.org, include 1-2 paragraphs about yourself and your motivation to participate. Registration deadline: March 31, 2021. Course fee: 95 EUR (45 EUR for members of CCA Temporary Gallery). We are convinced that all people must have access to cultural events, that's why we also offer free participation option.

For the participants living in Cologne there is an opportunity of joining a group organized by the CCA Temporary Gallery involved in the work of the community garden NeuLand Köln.

The course is a part of the project “and only the birds fly first class...“, which invites reflection on the structures of the art system and possible reactions to them. Its aim is to go beyond ordinary criticism of the mechanisms of the art scene and present progressive ideas and solutions. The title of the project comes from the song “Mr. Nichols“ by Coldcut and Saul Williams, which is a very apt description of the emotional state of despair, disorientation and the need for turnaround in order to achieve a world in which “only the birds fly first class“, i.e. a world without inequalities.

The project is curated by Aneta Rostkowska, director CCA of Temporary Gallery.

Image: Cecylia Malik, 365 Trees. Accacia. 18.09.2010 Zabłocie Street (http://cecyliamalik.pl/).

Partners: BBK Cologne, And She Was Like Bäm!
Funding and support: Kunststiftung NRW.