The idea for this design started in 2017 during a meeting of the Finnish Permaculture Association. When I became chairman of the board in 2019 I was in a unique position. The association was in transition towards sociocratic circular method. The chairman before me had burnout. There was nearly no one around other than Lumia where I could have turned for help. Most members that have been in the board were occupied with their own projects. And who was really interested in communication before 2020 other than me?
When the Finnish Permaculture Association got founded we met in Koroinen, Turku for 2 days. During that time we set up the different departments, the rules, the statutes, etc. From that point on our membership number constantly grew. But something felt terribly off. The association hasn’t had a real connection to its members others than the 2 yearly general assemblies (ga). The ga was usually accompanied by a public event but also more or less kept separate from it, sometimes even hosted at a different location on the same day. What I felt is best described as a wall. A wall that was designed to segregate board from members. In 2019 I became chairman of the board and it was time for change. Or to put it with Ronald Reagan's words: “Tear down this wall!”.
This design is to show that communication is an integral part of a permaculture association and thanks to permaculture design communication can be designed. I’m using the permaculture design philosophy with its ethics "earth care", "people care" and "fair share" and its principles throughout the design and also to set a goal.
Earth care in this design is to enable others to bring information on how to take care for this planet is brought towards a broader public.
People care is about the balance and the care for people in the Finnish Permaculture Association, especially those that are engaged in activities – people who contribute resources of any kind! But also people interested in permaculture get the information they need to take responsibility for their own lives and their family.
Fair Share is distributed by my volunteer work for the association and what comes back from it. Meet new people, learn about all kinds of topics, perhaps even earn some money.
This design is not about PR or a communication strategy. It is about infrastructure, principles and fundamentals in communication. It is also a first aid approach on fixing things that were in limbo.
Since I want to use Looby's design web at least once more during the diploma I identified this design as the one I'm going to use it for the last time. So, after "Introducing Jean-Luc", "Ritva's garden" and "Permablitz designCamp" this is now the 4th time.
This design was run from early 2017 to early 2021 and is subject to a review in 2022.
Let’s compile a vision:
- A stable high quality website that serves the purpose of the association and its members by integrating the members into the content creation process. An online portal into permaculture in Finland.
- A working internal transparent communication and access to all data for all members (except to those parts protected by the GDPR (General data protection regulation)
- Engage people interested in permaculture through multiple channels
- Embrace sociocracy
Helps – collecting the data and bringing it together
Help herein is seen as data, information and intelligence that can help to formulate an action plan.
Observation is always very helpful to me. More helpful is to write what was observed down and make it available for processing.
There was a lot of data collected from 2016 to 2020.
The findings below:
- Association's Weebly website -> most things didn't work
- the map didn't work
- the calendar didn't work
- it was slow
- SSL didn't work
- everything extra cost additional money
- publication relied on a HTML WYSIWYG that used outdated code for structure and display
- Internal communication
- until 2019 mainly by mail and online meetings
- limited mainly to the board
- often telephone communication between individuals
- direct conversations and decisions often not logged
- Usage of Holvi bank's store sets limits in how to manage members
- Members are members for lifetime even if they don't pay yearly membership fee
- Google drive documents only accessible to board members and former board members
- Google groups created but not used
- G-Suite used only for e-mail
- Google drive is a private folder not a shared folder (team folder)
- lot of ownership problems
- lot of transfer of ownership problems
- Social Media
- posting frequency is very low
- mainly Facebook & Twitter
- with Mailchimp
- 3 to 4 issues a year
- > 110 subscribers
- No policies what to post
- No document that clarifies who-is-responsible-for-what
- The communications team is made of 3 members. One has burnout, the other is chairman of another association
- LAND centers are not reporting information back and they don't contribute to knowledge crafting
- Study circles are around but they are not visible – you have to know it or you don't. Most of them are treated like a secret club one gets invited to – or not.
- Most permaculture projects in Finland are not interested in sending information to the Permaculture association
- Some permaculture projects badmouth other projects in order to get an "advantage" for example when it comes to selecting a place for project
- only Helsinki & Turku
Most of the findings were put into a mind map. The mindmap is also available as separate PDF in the download section. The mindmap already shows some connections, some basic information flow.
Who needs to know what and when
A fellow association member and I once worked on a mapping of events which happen during the year involving different parts of the association. The outcome below is rather important. It is like a maintenance plan of an already running project.
|Who needs to know what|
|Yearly fee mail||x||Comms|
|Reminder Yearly fee||x||Comms|
|Preparation for Spring Assembly||x||x||x||Comms & Board|
|Preparation for Autumn Assembly||x||x||x||Comms & Board|
boarding of new members
The wall between members and board
The workflow for boarding a new member is pretty simple. But with that workflow new members get no access to internal communications. Basically membership in 2020 is a one way street. The board communicates towards the members but for the other way round members needs to go to the general assemblies in order to meet other members and then get into the board to get things done.
From 2016 until before implementation of this design the association was mainly board driven. Each board member had a department had they took care of. One board member was responsible for communications the next one for international affairs, etc.
The association was structured in a way that it was difficult for members to do anything. Everything had to be run through or by the board. And by design it segregated the association into board and members. There was a hidden wall.
The needs of communication
Within an association there are some basic communication needs from a from to where perspective:
- Non-members must be able to get in contact with the association
- Members must be able to communicate with other members
- Members must be able to identify who is responsible
- Members must be able to get in contact with members responsible
- The board needs to be able to get in contact with members
- The circles must be able to communicate towards members and non-members
- The public needs to have access to permaculture information in Finnish
- The association needs to send official documents and info to members
Besides the basic needs an extensive analysis on communication needs was done by Tanja Korvenmaa (from 2016 – 2019 chairman of the board). This analysis is available as document for all members of the Finnish Permaculture Association.
The center of everything
During a meeting of the Finnish Permaculture Association in 2017 I used the connection map tool to let members of the association identify the most important part of the association. They identified communications as the most important department. They put communication in the center of everything and also stated that the association won’t work without it.
Limits – evaluation of findings
Data is just data. It needs some evaluation to become intelligence. Therefore I did a PMI & SWOC analysis to get a clearer picture.
|Website||security handled by hosting||one person responsible||DNS is handled outside|
|proper corporate Design - professionally made||map didn’t work||G-Suite can be decoupled from hosting|
|calendar didn’t work||The broken parts leave a bad impression of what the association is – it hurts the association|
|add-ons costed money|
|inline CSS, bad code, low quality|
|Social Media||likes in FB are high||posting frequency is low||mainly Facebook and twitter|
|interaction with posts is low|
|Youtube / Videos||High exposure||Videos take a lot of time||A lot of o opportunities|
|Another channel to take care of|
|Newsletter||managed well||with Mailchimp||> 120 subscribers|
|3-4 issues a year||takes additional time to craft it|
|using G-Suit||only one person answering mail||G-Suite can be decoupled from hosting|
|Meetings||happening regularly||limited to the board||Google group is used|
|lots of telephone conversation that not all board members are part of||Lot of tools around that can be used|
|not logged conversation|
|G-Suite used for mail||Google Drive documents only accessible to board||G-Suite is not fully leveraged|
|Google group created but abandoned, creator of the group is unresponsive|
|Google drive is partly a mess|
|Documentation||No policies what to post|
|No documentation that clarifies who is responsible|
|Structure in communications||3 people||3 people is often not enough||technical knowledge around|
|overlapping responsibility||startup knowledge around|
|Overall structure of the association||Easy to understand||Gate keeping|
|Lots of tasks for a few people → burnout|
|No access for members to documents & internal communication|
|New members for the board only during physical events|
|The board is almighty, drives and does everything|
|Segregation of board and members|
|LAND centers must share knowledge||LAND centers don’t share knowledge||The information flow from person to person is fast|
|Study circles are around||Study circles don’t share|
|Many projects want visitors and participants||Nearly no one shares info with the association|
|Association member’s have to run after permaculture projects to get info|
|Holvi||Holvi is a bank, which the association needs||Using Holvi’s bank sets limits how to manage members||Holvi offers a web-shop|
|GDPR makes contacting members more difficult|
|Membership is for lifetime even if they don’t pay → benefits while not paying|
SWOC stands for strength, weakness, opportunities and challenges. It gives me an idea what I will be able to implement easily, low hanging fruits, and what will be more challenging.
|Mail, writing||amount of members that take on work|
|new Website||Sociocracy as operating system (OS)|
|Sociocratic circles||old personal networks|
|transparent communication||information hub|
|LAND centers / Oppintopiris||social media|
|Integrated newsletter||forming new networks|
|publication of articles||language|
|Subscription based membership|
|Free for non-for-profits|
The costs for the new website are definitely a limit. Costs are generally an issue. A full Slack setup would cost the association 6,25€ / month / user. That would be 3300 € / year. The Finnish Permaculture association doesn't have the money to pay for such services or the development of a feature rich site.
In order to get a decent website with all the feature I need to find a way that is in balance with the "Fair Share" ethics. I can't really give away a website of that size for free. Perhaps some background: Together with my wife I run a marketing agency called Chase & Snow and we offer web-design & -development.
Time & Manpower
The amount of people who want to put their time into the association is limited. The amount of time active members of the association can put into the association is limited.
Brooks’ Law is an observation about software project management according to which adding manpower to a late software project makes it even later. It is defined in the book “The Mythical Man-Month”. The mathematical equation is n(n − 1) / 2. Let’s say we have 20 people that are working in a project: 20(20-1)2 = 190, which is a pretty big number. 190 is the amount of communication connections that can happen. Let’s scale it up to 50 then it will be 1225. Or scale it down - let’s say 7 - then it is 21. That’s why smaller teams are effective and productive. There communication possibilities can’t get out of hand.
This is why the EuPN’s general circle (~ 66 members) doesn’t work and hasn’t met for a long time.
This is why it takes ages for the Nordic Permaculture Institute (~25 members) to come to conclusions.
When permaculturists think they can defy science nothing good happens.
The image above shows how zoning works with communication. The further the zone is away from the center the more work and time is needed and the less the information can be controlled. But, the further away the zone is from the center the more people can be reached.
I see if I can come up with something that I haven't identified yet. It also might be repetitive and show me items that I really value as important.
- Use edges
- the more diverse output of the association's content we can use, the better
- use as many channels as possible
- use the edge between different communities -> needs identification
- Use & value diversity
- different authors
- user driven content
- make it possible for all members to contribute
- Slow & Small solutions
- contribution from members will take time -> be patient but don't lose momentum. The website is a big change. Again: it will take time
- Apple Self regulation & accept feedback
- Besides a contact form we could have a feedback form and other kind of forms
- Discussion in the communication circle
- Everything gardens
- everyone can contribute
- The yield is theoretically unlimited
- Let's check the numbers of engagement, hit rate, stats and see if members interact, or not. How many articles got published?
- The problem is the solution
- I often wanted do too much -> I should do less
- Work with nature rather than against
- the nature of content dissemination is to use as many different ways and be as effective as possible while using the least amount of resources
- Each important function is supported by many elements
- dissemination happens over multiple channels
- multiple authors
- multiple communication circle members
- multiple communication managers (people that can manage accounts and understand the processes)
- Each element performs many functions
- while most elements are informative they also allow feedback and let people engage
- more edge due to different channels
- Integrate rather then segregate
- The segregation of the members from the board needs to end
While putting up an actionable list I soon realized that there are limits what can and can’'t be done – or not done alone. Therefore I will check for patterns next.
- me pushing everyone too hard
- me doing all the work instead of delegating things (as Operational Leader of the communications circle) or asking for help
- forget about telling what I do, just doing it
- since I used Looby's web now more often I can identify the unhelpful patterns faster and work on a solution
- breaking through my internal "look in"
- People Care in the sense of taking care of myself and of the people I’m working with.
- More sports and Yoga → less anger
What I’m getting of this is: Don’t do everything alone. Don’t insist on your point of view because you think you’re right. Ask for help if you need it.
This helps is where I can turn to for help and for which part I might be able to get help.
|Who can help? What external resources are available?||Which part could it help with?|
|should (I’m actually closer to must) share knowledge (accreditation criteria no. 4)||information hub, networks, social media|
|Opintopiirit (study circles)|
|exist but the majority of them are not visible for the public. They don’t share their findings, knowledge beyond their Zone 1||information hub, networks, social media|
|Ask the members of their opinion of “What is permaculture?”||information hub, networks|
|Let members know that they can publish at the website → needs guidelines|
|Ask the members to take on specific tasks, like for example research who is out there, identity projects, connect with them||networks|
|Swedish Permaculture Association||Sociocracy OS, networks|
|Sociocracy for all||Sociocracy OS, networks|
|Danish Permaculture Association||Networks, LAND|
|Norwegian Permaculture Association||networks|
|What resources do I have within me?|
|Patients, leadership, knowledge, trust||all|
Let’s check the topics that I want to implement with a SMART analysis. SMART is a mnemonic acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound. There are several different versions of the acronym around. I for example us Track-able for Time-Bound since I work with track-able tasks in a kanban.
|publications of articles & information hub||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Social Media (SoMe)||no||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Subscription based membership||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free for non-for-profits||Yes||Yes||Yes||no||Yes|
|Old personal networks||Yo||no||no||no||no|
|forming new networks||no||Yes||Yes||Yes||kind of|
|Sociocracy as OS||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Unspecific items get handled once there is time for it. Forming new networks is a continuous task anyway. It won’t stop after this design has been documented.
Anything that has a “no” gets dropped.
The limits and helps revealed some do’s and don’ts and thanks to the SMART analysis I already see the picture ahead. But now, let’s dream big. Far bigger than what this design will be able to achive.
A self serving multi purpose website. Members can publish blog posts, add their events, share their project. There is a self service teachers and members directory. The newsletter is integrated into the website so that we don’t have to publish things twice. There is a lot of relevant permaculture information in 3 languages, Finnish, Swedish and English available.
Membership could be annual and subscription based. In the first 2 month of the year we get all membership fees and from that we can have a clear picture what is feasible through the year. I’d love to raise the membership fee up to 35 or 40 € a year – but that needs the yes of a general assembly.
I’d love to see some Finnish videos about permaculture up on the website. It would be nice if members can be motivated to create videos about permaculture to show diversity.
A teal association is a great opportunity. Being self managed, encouraging wholeness, evolutionary purpose – I’d love to see that.
I have gathered and evaluated a lot of information. It is now time to bring it all together. I will lead communication and the change.
The communication principles are as follows:
- Transparent communication in all channels → what, who and why (need)
- All circles need to log their meetings and decisions accessible for all active members
- All circles are bound to Brook’s Law – maximum size is 12. It is also the rule for the general circle. Therefore a maximum of 6 sub circles can be connected to the general circle.
- Specific for communication circle:
- From Zone 0 to Zone 5 – dissemination is outwards driven. The further the communication channel is away from Zone 0 the longer it takes, the more time is needed and also at one point out of the association’s control.
- 4-eye principle. Nothing gets published in an external communication channel that has only be seen by 1 person.
- No focus on time, BUT rather task and need driven and relative – for example no newsletter on the 30th of November when the general assembly happens on the 28th of November (relative release date)
The implementation strategy for this design:
- In order to start I need a basic infrastructure
- Transparent internal communication using Slack including the different proposed circle. Embrace sociocracy and transparency by example. Make sure all members get access.
- A document space where the association can keep documents. Since the beginning this is the Google Drive.
- A space where we can have online meetings: Jitsi (OpenSource)
- Kanban or tasklist for Tasks. In the beginning tasks can sit in the meeting minutes of the circles until a kanban software or tasklist got set up and tested
- Start to implement the low hanging fruits – the identified opportunities
- Start to implement the more challenging parts as soon as most of the opportunities got implemented
The actions follow the integration plan and also the ideas.
The higher at topic is in the list below the earlier it gets worked on. There is no implementation timeline. The website tasks got split up into smaller tasks and put into my companies kanban. Tasks that involved members of the association, especially communications circle are in the backlog part of the minutes of the communications team.
Most of the tasks are non-blocking. Which means many tasks can be worked on at the same time. Those that are blocking are marked.
1. Infrastructure Prerequisites
|Setting up all channels – including the proposed sociocratic circles||Comms, Transition Circle|
|Setting up meeting documents for the communication circle||Me|
|Setting up documents that explain Slack||Comms, Translation|
|Inviting all members to use Slack – allows transparent communication throughout the association. Stopping the segregation of board and members.||Comms, Translation|
|Integrate a simple header that explains the document, helpful links, etc → a template for the minutes||Me|
|Preparation of the Google Drive to allow access from all members||Me|
|new website with the following features:|
|Map of Permaculture Projects / LAND center / LAND learner||Me, Translator|
|allow everyone to submit their project||Me, Translator|
|Event Calendar||Me, Translator|
|allow everyone to submit Permaculture related events||Me, Translator|
|iCal importer to import events from Facebook if the association gets notified → makes live really easy for the website admins||Me, Translator|
|Blog||Me, Translator, Authors|
|encourage others to write blog posts||Me, Translator, Authors|
|Integrated Newsletter||Me, Translator, Authors|
|including links to social media + "become a member" action||Me, Translator|
|working SSL certificate||Me|
|Rent the website||Chase & Snow, Board||x|
|Linking all channels of the association||Me|
|G-Mail footer that informs about the possibilities at the website||Comms|
|Configure Trello kanban for experimentation purposes||Me|
|Setting up Google Drive & Groups||Comms|
|membership in the “members” Google group gives access to the Google drive in "comment" mode||Comms|
|membership to the “core” Google group gives access to the Google drive in "full access" mode -> only given to members active in circles -> circles need to report to the communications circle who is active||Comms|
|Google group allows discussion about Permaculture topics that are not association related||Comms|
|Remove access to Google drive to those that were given access in the past because of their board membership||Comms|
|G-Suite is available for free for non-for-profit -> someone should check the details||Comms|
|Social Media should be handled by people who are into social media||Comms|
|Policies & Helps|
|Social Media rotation plan for Facebook||Me, Comms|
|Information starts at the association's communication Slack channel (Zone 0) form there it goes outwards (zoning from an association perspective is a valid tool to use)||Comms|
|1st read documents for new members of communications||Me, Comms|
|Setting up Communications circle monthly meetings and topics||Me, Comms|
|Free for non for profits|
|Google for Non-for-Profits||Comms, Lumia, me|
|Slack for Non-for-Profits||me|
|Video + Video challenge||Me, Lumia|
|Create a starter video introducing the challenge + text about the video challenge. The question is “What do you think is permaculture?”||Me, Lumia|
|Subscription based membership|
|Proposal for the board||Board, Me||x|
|Check services and workflow||Lumia||x|
|Detailed proposal for the board||Lumia, Board, me||x|
|Details of extended workflow, communicating it to the members||Lumia, Comms||x|
|Switch to subscription based||Lumia|
|Voting out of members who have not paid||Board|
Once most the opportunities got implemented I continued with the more challenging parts. Some of the tasks run simultaneously.
|craft a document that explains the website features to others||Me, Translator, Comms|
|make sure that in the next newsletter the services are described and that we ask members to submit events & projects or talk to projects they know.||Me, Translator, Comms|
|Define the standard for articles released at the website||Comms|
|Sociocracy as OS|
|introduce the sociocratic circle methods||Me, Circles, Sociocracy for all, Swedish Permaculture Association||x|
|bring all circles together and introduce the general circle||Me, Circles||x|
|Old personal networks, forming new networks|
|clarify LAND criteria with LAND coordinator||Me, LAND coordinator|
|clarify LAND details with LAND coordinator from other country||Me, Danish LAND coordinator|
|clarify the position and duties of the LAND circle within the sociocratic structure of the association||Me, LAND coordinator||x|
I dove into the history of Finnish Permaculture (I’m going to put most of the findings into a separate article once I have time). I sum my findings up since it is relevant to the design and to the communications circle, especially when writing about permaculture on the association’s website.
- There are individuals who don’t want to be part of a larger community
- There are multiple associations for different permaculture projects in order to get Erasmus+ and ESC funding – the Finnish permaculture association might compete for funding money
- Players are hard to convince to play together. It is hard to understand why they have so many problems in sharing. It is like permaculture is something they found and won’t share with others.
- Old traumas that are still present, coming from a permaculture association from the ‘90s
What about falafel? I know this nice little falafel shop 2 blocks from here. Just being funny, but seriously it is time for good homegrown food. There is nothing more powerful than growing tomatoes in Finland :)
Since some of our members had some changes in their lives, pause will take a little longer or to say it with other words “Pause is inevitable.”
Coming out of the pause after 2 month with a lot of momentum and energy. It is like using a slingshot ride from Io to Europa to Ganymede to Callisto. The question is: What is still missing?
It is important to continue the sociocratic circle method and practice it continuously. It is also important to keep everything transparent. The members are an association’s greatest asset and there never should be any barrier between the active members and those who want to become active.
On October the 3rd 2020 the association met for its autumn general assembly (there are two general assemblies a year, one in spring, one in autumn). Since it is a get together of the association I used it to showcase the circles. During this event the general circle met for the first time. With that event the transition towards the sociocratic circle method got fully implemented. The active parts of the association now have an information flow going and of course there will be the chance for all members to come up with new circles.
Since the meeting in Koroinen also included the reassessment of the LAND center I took the opportunity and shot a small video (multiple functions per elements)
I first looked at what I wrote in the preface and I think that the design achieved all of the goals set:
- There is now a new website with multiple opportunities for members and non-members. The association is slowly getting more members to contribute to the different parts. It is open and transparent.
- Slack as a workspace is working and since Slack and the Google Drive is open to all members, all members can contribute and stir the direction of the association. They just need to take responsibility for themselves.
- Many members understand that they can publish content and contribute. Not all of them like how the rules work.
- The communication team has a common understanding that the permaculture association's website is offers a lot of opportunities. The communications team is only partly author but mostly they are content and process managers. The team members take care of each other. We don’t push to hard – things get done when they get done. The team tripled the publication numbers from 2019 to 2020.
- The circles hold and should hold the sociocratic principles up. Every circle has transparent minutes, transparent ways of communication. The established sociocratic circles are a living example for others.
- There is no more segregation between the board and the members. Everyone can be in a constant dialog / discussion about topics relevant to the association. It feels by far better than it did in 2016. It feels very natural, like an organism.
- I’m happy that I didn’t go for the old networks.
Ethical software choices
Some time ago I wrote about ethical software choices. I wrote that basically many permaculture associations and sustainable or regenerative projects don’t choose software according to permaculture ethics and principles and in that article I also offered a lot of alternatives. Just to mention that Google and Slack were not my first choice but since we got it I tried my best to use it from a permaculture point of view.
The tools used
PMI and SWOC are kind of a bread and butter tool for the design or actually to most of my designs. It is kind of fun to create a workflow to pipe the findings of the one into the other and then run it again. I think both are very useful. I like the mind maps. I’ve used them now for decades. I actually came across something different that is scientifically proven to work better than mind maps. I have to test it. Workflow diagrams are also useful to me as they let me visualize what is happening. Screenshots, videos, all works for me. I love the different kanbans and Slack. The SMART analysis was helpful to drop some of the parts. I think I will include it now more often. It’s a time saver.
The design web
The design web is great. I find it much better suited for complex designs but I guess parts of it can be implemented into other processes. I still have some trouble fitting Observation and Evaluation form Obredim into it.
Communication in 2020 had 4 members: Alexis, Maria, Lumia and me. When Maria moved into her new apartment and then suddenly Alexis also moved and got a new job and then Lumia had a lot of work for another association I concentrated on doing other things. Identifying the pattern of “pushing too hard” helped. Usually I would have just pushed forward on my own doing all the things that are in the kanban – not this time. Permaculture and especially Looby’s web is really helpful in that particular aspect.
The new mind map reflects all the changes made. It is now more complex than it was in the beginning of the design. This mindmap is available as PDF in the download section below.
|Who needs to know what|
|Yearly fee mail||x||Comms|
|Reminder Yearly fee||x||Comms|
|Voting out of members that haven’t paid||x||GA|
|Delete from members directory||x||Communications|
|Boarding of members into Google Group||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||Comms|
|Boarding of members into Slack||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||Comms|
|Preparation for Spring Assembly||x||x||x||Comms & Board|
|Preparation for Autumn Assembly||x||x||x||Comms & Board|
The above table is the new maintenance plan for the association in context of membership.
Workflow diagrams - evaluation
By changing the membership from lifelong to paid annual the association now has real numbers of membership. The membership is operational business and can be handled by a circle.
The website stats for 2020 (until November) showed a good picture. As you can see the frontpage “/” had of course the most views. Second is /jasenten-projektit. This is the map and list of the permaculture projects. The third one is /ajankohtaista, which is the news. After that /tapahtumat, the event calendar, LAND and then all the different permaculture projects.
Since the numbers on those different parts of the site are relatively high I think that my findings and assumptions from the beginning were correct. It was important to get the services the website offers fixed.
It was also a good move to include the newsletter into the website. It is now from technical point of view only some clicks to send a newsletter. Since it doesn’t involve any styling non-digital publishing trained persons can do that. It is straight forward – easier than Mailchimp. In November 2020 there were 164 subscribers. 60 more than in 2019.
After the change to paid annual the association has 63 members (End of January 2021).
Slack as a transparent communication tool seems to work. I pulled some stats and created graphs.
Active member feedback
In order to get a different perspective I created a questioner for the communications circle and the board. I got answers from 4 people. Maximum would be 7.
Do you think Slack serves the purpose of transparent communication?
Are you satisfied with using Slack?
What do you / don't you like about Slack?
Simple but difficult in the beginning
Does the new website serve the needs of the association?
Are you satisfied with the content published at the website?
3x satisfied | 1 x neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
What do you / don't you like about our website?
- More basic information about permaculture
- Missing content in Swedish and English
- More content in general
- The look & feel
Do you feel empowered to do things within the association?
3 x yes | 1 x Other
How familiar are you with sociocracy
2 x Very familiar | 2 x somewhat familiar
Do you feel valued in your role as an association active
3 x yes | 1 x other
The feedback is of high value to me. It is from people I continuously work with. It seems like the active members like what is going on.
Did the design achieve what it should achieve?
Let’s look at the SWOC’s opportunities and challenges again and see what got done:
|LAND centers||Communicated what is needed in both directions|
|publication of articles||Done|
|information hub||Done, Framework exists, Continuous work|
|Social Media||Done, Continuous work|
|Subscription based membership||Done|
|Sociocracy as OS||In transition|
|old personal networks||Learned about them, not SMART|
|information hub||Done, Continuous work|
|social media||Done, Continuous work|
|forming new networks||Continuous work|
I also did a PMI to evaluate the situation after implementation
|new Website||no more errors||takes a lot of knowledge||integration with other services|
|Is is working for us not we working for it||Costs can be reduced close to zero since rented from my company Chase & Snow|
|Sociocratic circles||better structure||setup and transition consumes time||permaculture and sociocracy go well together|
|Enhances internal communication||different sociocracy flavors → different terms / language|
|transparent communication is a must|
|Integrated newsletter||more people subscribed than members||Some software glitches||Publishing frequency can be higher now|
|Easy to use|
|doing work once not twice|
|publication of articles & information hub||enabling others to publish||Sometimes difficult to explain why things are done in a certain way||Interesting people that write articles|
|reaching more while doing less|
|Social Media (SoMe)||Rotation plan is partially in play||Still takes time and effort||new types of SOME emerging|
|Subscription based membership||Finally an overview of active members vs. inactive||More effort in January|
|Lifetime membership got stopped|
|Videos||Can transport a message very quick||Takes a lot of time to produce||If high quality is not an aspect can be produced fast|
|Gives a new edge for the association → new members|
|Free for non-for-profits||A lot of features for free||Someone needs to learn the administration||Getting experience in administration of Google G-Suite and Slack|
|forming of new networks||allows transparency||takes a lot of time|
|Allows same information for every member|
Subtitle in English for the published videos would be great but those videos are first of all a “first step in the pond”. While the websites structure is rock solid there are some old articles that need an upgrade.
A review of the implementation will be scheduled for March 2022.
While compiling what is needed in the beginning I got lucky. Another client of my company ordered a website that was similar to the association’s website and therefore a lot of the necessary work got cross-financed. Since fair share works both ways I have a pretty good association website which I can offer other associations or companies for rent.
It was a fun project and it is now up to its members to fill the website with content. If they don't do it, no one else will. The prime directive of permaculture is pretty clear about responsibility.
I highly appreciate the help by Lumia, Maria and Alexis. Alexis took over leadership of the communications circle. There are interesting projects on the list which will soon be online (or are already). I appreciated to work with the different circles and the different persons. It is really wonderful to be surrounded by dedicated people.
I feel supported by Lumia, my friends and colleagues in the communication circle and at the board.
About myself I appreciate that I can put things now aside and let them just rest. The permaculture association is important for me, but I appreciate that I can bring it into balance with the rest of my life.
Cathrine didn't like my first documentation. I appreciated that she suggested to do a self assessment. I also appreciate Dan for giving me feedback and a direction on my first approach.
I'd like to thank the comms team of the Finnish Permaculture Association during the time designing. (in alphabetical order): Alexis Jutras, Lumia Huhdanpää-Jais, Maria Gremmelmaier Candido for their constant input and joy.
I'd also like to thank the former chair of the board, Tanja Korvenmaa.
Third, I'd like to thank Dan McTiernan - who read through this design 2 times.
Demonstrating design skills
- Looby’s Web
- Zones applied to dissemination of information
- Helps & Limits (part of Looby’s web)
- Communications design
- Workflow diagram
- SMART criteria
- Kanban project management
Applying permaculture in my own life
This was a design in the make for 4 years. But only in 2019/2020 everything was in position for me to move. While working on this design and all the articles, videos, photos, etc. I have learned a lot and increased my knowledge about permaculture. It is useful to me on a day-to-day basis. In order to complete this design I even took a course in writing, which now helps me at other projects. My company has yet to move into monetizing the software created.
I think that sometimes I can’t really describe with words what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. It sometimes feels so natural to me that I don’t think about it and then later got told by someone else “this is pretty difficult”, “this is heavy shit”, “how can you go so fast?”. The association got a brand new look and feel inside and outside. We are finally in the future and I used earth care, people care and fair share to achieve it. It is funny how the principles can be used for any design task. Whether or not it is a good design is for others to judge. From my perspective I can live with it for a very long time.
I have to admit that I like highly abstract designs. I can do them. They are something I like to do. Why should I stop?
Applying permaculture to my work and projects
I'm constantly working with the subject of communication and design because I have a marketing company. For me this is every day in my daily life. I actually use combine permaculture and communication constantly to come up with new products, ideas, systems, etc.
Learning from and developing your permaculture practice
Using permaculture to create websites is not something a lot of people do. It is pretty uncommon and often permaculturist’s websites need a lot TLC.
I used some fancy video tools to shoot some of the videos used for communications. It is fun to learn those. Video is usually very time consuming but also worth the effort. But video is also energy consuming so it is kind of important to produce no waste.
Zones to describe how information gets disseminated makes sense. Using zones for communications is actually a pretty simple communication strategy.
I already reflected about Looby’s web earlier in this design. One of the differences this time is, I’m using PMI and SWOC as evaluation tools additionally at the end.
While working with people it is always nice to get feedback – feedback is a gift. It was for me for the first time in the association to ask for feedback from colleagues and friends.