Learn about sustainable living and peacemaking at D-Q University

Learning about permaculture and peacemaking is now only a college class away.

From Sept. 3 to 18, D-Q University, a 640-acre Native American college on the outskirts of Davis, will be hosting a class to teach participants how to live a sustainable and peaceful lifestyle with nature and people.

“It’s an all star cast of instructors for this course,” said Penny Livingston-Stark, an internationally-recognized permaculture teacher. “It’s over the top. It’s a pretty epic time for this place.”

Permaculture is a way of designing human communities and agricultural systems that mimics relationships found in nature. It designs sustainable settlements and often uses the same principles found in nature to maximize efficiency and minimize work.

Working with the D-Q University, the Regenerative Design Institute will teach 70 participants with a dozen instructors, both non-Native American and Native American, how to live cooperatively with nature.

Throughout the two-week course, participants will be allowed camping accommodations on the grounds and will be served organic meals. At the end of the course, everyone will have to complete a design project and will be given certification for permaculture.

“The health and balance of the land comes from people … which will be focused on a lot of this course.” Livingston-Stark said. “To move forward and come to terms with history.”

Livingston-Stark, who recently taught a permaculture design training course in the Virgin Islands, finds that living a regenerative instead of a destructive lifestyle is a science rooted in permaculture design.

“It’s the reason why I committed myself to this work [with permaculture], because it’s the most powerful tool to pull us out of this ecological tail spin we’re in,” Livingston-Stark said.

The permaculture instructors come from all over California and are all actively involved with permaculture designs in their work and personal lives.

“It’s not just a hobby for these people,” Livingston-Stark said. “They’re practicing what they’re preaching.”

Permaculture Instructor David Ortiz helped write California laws implementing rain and grey water technologies. He will be teaching sustainable water technologies for the course.

“We don’t have to live outside American comforts to make our houses water sustainable,” Ortiz said. “I live it. Every time I take a shower, do my laundry, water my lawn.”

Ortiz, who is a Native American Blackfoot, will also be sharing Native American music and dance during the evenings.

“There will be a lot going on … and a lot of different styles of learning,” Ortiz said.

Another instructor, Jon Young, pioneered a blend of Native American mentoring and modern ecological field techniques. He will be guiding participants to a deeper connection to nature.

“Paying attention to nature, operating on all levels of your being … will help you in the permaculture process,” Young said.

But for many of the instructors, this course is more than just teaching about permaculture. It is also about restoring peace among community members and revitalizing D-Q University.

Founded in 1971, the university is the only indigenous-controlled institution of higher learning located outside a reservation, according to DavisWiki.

The university offers a variety of courses from agroforesty and food system development to sustainable community development, in addition to their special two-week permaculture course.

“There are a lot of people who believe in a positive future for this institution,” Young said.

To kick-start the course, Jake Swamp, a former Mohawk Sub-Chief and Native American rights activist, and his wife, Judy Swamp, will also be teaching as honorary guests.

“My work at D-Q University will address our disconnection from the natural world and from each other,” Jake said in a press release.

For more information about the course, contact the Regenerative Design Institute at (415) 868-9681.

JESSY WEI can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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