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Westcliff Permaculture Design Course, spring 2010

Announcing a full Permaculture Design Course to be held in Westcliff on Sea this Spring.

The full 72 hour Permaculture Design Course is a vital stage in the development of understanding of permaculture ethics, principles, design processes and implementation techniques providing essential skills for the post-peak oil world.

Held over 5 weekends at a venue less than an hour from central London, we will be running this course in partnership with Southend in Transition, Milton Community Partnership and Growing Together

Dates: 7 – 8 May
21 – 22 May
4 – 5 June
18 – 19 June
2 – 3 July

Times: 10 am – 6 pm, with optional additional sessions and/or social events on the Saturday evenings

Accomodation: options for attendees from outside of the Southend area are available, more details to follow

Cost: £450 – £300 depending on income, some concessionary places available, please enquire to Milton Community Partnership (see below) £50 secures a place

Led by: Graham Burnett and guest tutors

Full course details here

For enquiries and bookings contact Milton Community Partnership or tel 01702 213264

Please note that booking of places for this course is NOT through Spiralseed, please contact the MCP directly, thanks

‘Permaculture – A Beginners Guide’ book signing event, Southend Library, Sat 28th March

Permaculture a Beginners Guide by Graham Burnett



Date; 28th March 2009

At; Southend Central Library, Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea

About the book; What is Permaculture? Why do we need Permaculture? What are Permaculture ethics and the principles of working with nature’s patterns? What are the Basics of the Permaculture design process? What are concepts such as Zones, sectors, edge, stacking and succession, and how they can work for us? How can you use Permaculture practically in your life, home, garden, land or community, whatever your situation? Plus Practical tips, including; reading your land, saving energy, year round food from your garden and how to use your weeds….

About the author; Westcliff based author and illustrator Graham Burnett is a co-founder of Transition Westcliff, a project exploring what low carbon life will be like after the age of cheap oil. He is also Trustee of the Permaculture Association (Britain) and holds the Diploma in Permaculture Design. He has run introductory and full design courses since 1998 with organisations and projects including Naturewise, OrganicLea, Green Adventure, the Vegan Organic Network, Thrive, Transition Town Brixton, Birmingham Decoy and Ars Terra in Los Angeles. He writes for publications as diverse as Permaculture Magazine, The Raven, Growing Green, The Vegan and The Idler.

For more information see www.spiralseed.co.uk/flyer


Transition Town Brixton, 2nd October 2008 – “The Great Unleashing”

Last Thursday evening saw a truly historic event, the ‘Great Unleashing’ of Transition Town Brixton in South London. Having done some work with TT Brixton on their ABUNDANCE food growing project, I thought I’d join the celebrations and went along with my camera. This was an amazing and inspiring event, as I’m sure the photos below and at the Transition Westcliff Flickr site show.

TT Brixton was initiated by climate change activist Duncan Law after being inspired by a talk given by Transition Town Totness founder Rob Hopkins 2 years ago. After some 18 months of awareness raising and hard slog networking and creating partnerships, the project has grown into a positive and inclusive movement, reaching a critical mass of energy that tonight needed to be “unleashed before it tows us away!” The unleashing marked the official beginning of work on drawing up an ‘Energy Descent Action Plan’ for Brixton. This is a document that will be put together by all sections of the community, visioning a sustainable, abundant and resilient post-cheap oil future for Brixton that focuses on areas such as food production, transport, energy, health, building, economics and culture.

For a more detailed write up check out Amelia’s Blog entry

The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins reviewed by Graham Burnett

This review was written for ‘Growing Green’, the magazine of the Vegan Organic Network and has also appeared in Permaculture Activist

The Transition Handbook


  • Paperback: 224 pages

  • Publisher: Green Books; 1st edition (6 Mar 2008)

  • ISBN-10: 1900322188

  • ISBN-13: 978-1900322188

  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 22.6 x 2.2 cm

Concepts like ‘climate change’ and ‘peak oil’ can cause us to feel confronted by something overwhelmingly huge that we cannot do anything about. The central message of the this book is that “this state of mind is not the place to start from if we want to achieve something, do something or create something.” Indeed, by shifting our mind-set we can actually recognise the coming post-cheap oil era as an opportunity rather than a threat, and design our future low energy societies to be thriving, resilient and abundant – somewhere much better to live than our current alienated consumer culture based on greed, war and the myth of perpetual growth.

The Transition concept emerged from work permaculture designer Rob Hopkins had done with the students of Kinsale Further Education College in writing an ‘Energy Descent Action Plan’. This looked at across-the-board creative adaptations in the realms of energy production, health, education, economy and agriculture (plenty of scope for vegan organics when petro-chemical based farming and high consumption of animal products are things of the past!) as a ‘road map’ to a sustainable future for the town, and was unanimously adopted by Kinsale Council.

The idea of ‘Transition Towns’ was subsequently rolled out to Totness in Devon before becoming an almost viral movement across the country as communities from Lewes to Brixton began to consider how they might become more resilient by, for example, localising food production (food feet, not food miles!), developing renewable energy sources, building with sustainable natural materials, enhancing regional economies (LETS, local currencies, etc) and promoting distinctive ‘cultures of place’.

Emerging from this context, The Transition Handbook is pretty much a permaculture manual for redesigning human communities. The book is split into three highly readable sections; ‘The Head’ – why peak oil and climate change mean that small is inevitable; ‘The Heart’ – why having a positive vision is crucial and ‘The Hands’ – exploring the Transition Model and how to make it work. It’s not a one-size-fits-all prescriptive blueprint, rather it provides a range of tools, activities, case studies and techniques that can be adapted to all kinds of situations, including a suggested ’12 step program to Transition’, how to overcome the ‘Buts…’ that can stop us being proactive, and a very interesting section applying the psychology of addiction to our current oil-dependency. It’s not without a sense of humour either – cuttings from newspapers of the future inform us that the top TV shows of 2012 include ‘Celebrity Love Allotment’ and ‘Pimp My Patio’ and that Posh and Becks will one day enjoy nothing better than snuggling up on their cob bench after a hard days mulching!

The Transition Model isn’t about waiting for our ‘leaders’ to come up with the solutions that will save us, but instead encourages us to take responsibility and ‘get up and do it’ ourselves. Indeed, here in Westcliff on Sea our local transition initiative was born out of a pub chat and has been steadily growing ever since. We try not to stop and think too often about the enormity of what we might have taken on, but certainly this wonderful book will make our journey far, far easier. And lots of fun too.

Graham Burnett is the author of ‘Permaculture – a Beginners Guide’ and ‘Earth Writings’ (www.spiralseed.co.uk) and is currently involved in setting up Transition Town Westcliff (www.transitionwestcliff.org.uk)

You can obtain copies of the Transition Handbook here