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postcards from lynedoch ii

Time flies when you’re busy which is absolutely what I have been. After taking the weeklong module on Leadership and Environmental Ethics (referred to in the last post), which was an excellent reflection space and different way of teaching from what I have been used to, because it put students’ experiences at the centre of the learning, I continued to explore other facets of this space.

I helped out with some aspects of the after-school care programme that primary school kids from the Lynedoch Primary School housed within the SI building participate in. Reading English and sitting with them as they did their homework. I couldn’t help much with homework as the medium of instruction here is Afrikaans. I also sat in on a karate class for the kids which is great that they’re learning self-defence.

Sustainable agriculture learners and I planting carrots & beetroot

For one and a half weeks I worked in the organic gardens that are part of the Ecovillage alongside three young people doing their internships as part of a Sustainable Agriculture course. I have to say… farming is hard work. Although with the way it is often spoken about in environmental circles and popular media you would think it was simply joy and sunshine (which it is, plus cold in the morning then lots of heat during the day and tired aching back and frustration and boredom and monotony…)

But it helped me begin to understand some of what the Sustainability Institute is trying to do: trying to figure out how sustainability can exist in this world, practically. And in this case, how organic farming can be done in an amount of space and be viable and actually feed people. This is significant especially for South Africa where a lot of the food grown is exported and a lot of what is sold in markets is imported. How frustrated I was to discover there weren’t markets to buy food, only supermarkets… Added to that, the staple crop of this place, maize, is grown from genetically modified seed…

The food from the gardens is used to make the food that the guesthouse and the kids in the creche and in the aftercare programme get, as well as sold in a kind of internal market. The Sustainable Agriculture course also runs in partnership with a local farmer across the road so that the students can experience two different scales of operation, one more commercial than the other.

Then I helped with research on getting an Earth Club started with the primary school kids. This got me thinking about environmental literacy in general and how that can be integrated into a programme of learning. An interesting programme I found that has built a curriculum on environmental literacy for young adults (especially those in troubled situations) was Roots of Success. They combine environmental knowledge with job skills training in a unique way.

Beginning tomorrow I am taking another module (can’t get away from school…jk). This one will be on Facilitation for Just Transitions. Can you tell how excited I am, even though it means class from 8am to 5pm for the next week and on Saturday and assignments and group work…and readings and great conversations, and deep thinking and reflecting….

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