The Permaculture Podcast

    Episode 1538: Community Building (Clear Creek Round table)

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    This is Episode 1538 of The Permaculture Podcast with Scott Mann, a listener supported program. If you listen to this podcast as part of your regularly routine, such as when gardening, running, or on your daily commute, visit the contribute tab and find out how you can keep this program going and growing. Now on with the show.

    Today’s show is a round table discussion I recorded during my August visit to the Clear Creek community in Kentucky.

    On a warm summer evening, with individual tables arranged to create a single continuous space down the center of a one room schoolhouse, I was welcomed in to the community composed of farmers, WWOOFers, artists, teachers, builders, and architects. Together we shared a meal and sat as an extended family for the evening before beginning to pass the microphones from one another up and down the table. That lead to the conversation you are about to hear.

    As we begin I give thanks to PermieKids and Jen Mendez for sponsoring this episode of the podcast and helping to make trips like this one, far from my home in Pennsylvania, possible. Find out more about her work on educating future generations and building community, a recurring theme of this episode, at, or by visiting the sponsors tab and clicking on her banner.

    If you want to find out more, I recommend contacting Eric Puro of who can get you in touch with others in the area. When they get the community website completed expect to find links shared through Facebook, Twitter, and all the other forums for connecting with the podcast.

    A standing invitation remains for me to go back down to the area and currently I have plans developing for my next trip. I want to record an extended interview with Susana Lein of Salamander Springs Farm, who in addition to speaking with us here, appeared in the film Inhabit.

    Ziggy and April from The Year of Mud also live in the area, and I plan to tour their space and speak with them on record during this next trip. Ziggy and I traded email message during the lead up to my trip to Kentucky, and I found out he traveled north to Ben Falk’s place while I journeyed south, but we both intend for our paths to cross soon.

    Opportunities like this trip to Kentucky depends on the support of listeners, and the sponsorship of people doing good work such as Jen Mendez at PermieKids. In addition to her own podcasts that explore the topics of children, permaculture, and education, which I recommend you check out if your life involves any of these three subjects, she also offers a number of courses on Educational Design, an ongoing series of EDGE Alliances — topical webinars with featured guests — and personal consultations. Recently she added a series of electronic campfires, in cooperation with Dr. David Blumenkrantz and the Center for Youth and Community, that expand on the recent conversation we shared on Youth and Community Development and Rites of Passage. Find out more at

    Should you decide to join in on any of these courses or other offerings, know that Jen extended a discount of 10% off of her courses and other materials to Patreon supporters.

    Revisiting this material and spending time in Clear Creek showed the possibilities we create when living with one another, rather than living near one another. Once our basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and human interaction get met space opens up to explore the many roles that each individual fills and their relationships with others. Time existed for conversations that, as Philip mentioned in the round table, go deep. That dialog and space allow hard problems to get worked out, without the need for a judicial system. Explicit rules become unnecessary to keep and maintain the community when those involved know, trust, and care about one another.

    That reinforced for me the need that each of us get right with ourselves and right with others so we can come to truly live in community and rely on our fellows so when a crisis hits people come together to create a plan and take action, rather than pay lip service or do nothing.

    That gave me a better understanding of what I personally require to create an intentional community, and how to make it work. We build the kind of intimacy and trust that, at the moment, I only have with a handful of people. Moving forward in my own life, once the current dust settles and I land on my feet again, I want to adopt that idea of Sunday coffee and keep my door open for whoever wants to come by and talk and get to know one another better. To create a standing invitation for whoever wants to break bread with me on a scheduled day of the week.

    A tradition I once participated in called Soup Night saw a bunch of people get together over a few pots of soup with bread and other foods to spend time together. Though we all came from different backgrounds we met around the table, around the food, and talked. Sometimes late into the night. Though I last participated in Soup Night nearly a decade ago, some people I met there count among those I could live with in community. Many people I know now, I don’t know well enough to feel comfortable doing so.

    Building community does not require everyone living there to drink beer together and hang out every night of the week, but we should have the trust and respect to know that if anything happened to one or the other we would be there to see their basic needs get met. That the intention and desire to create community come from a place of authenticity and concern for others. With how far so many of us live from one another and how little time we seem to have because of the many priorities and requirements of this modern life we live, we need a shift. To give up some of those time sinks. To make building community a priority. To get to know one another with depth and understanding.

    Food. Drink. Celebration. These ways, these rituals, we can come together around.

    How would you bring people to your table and into your community?

    I’d love to hear from you. Call: 717-827-6266 or Email:

    From here, the next Permabyte episode comes out next week, based on my trip to the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. After that I release the interview with Jason Godesky to talk about collaborative storytelling, culture, and his tabletop roleplaying game, The Fifth World.

    Upcoming interviews begin with a member of the Office of Sustainability from Western Michigan University to discuss The Gibbs House, a permaculture focused initiative on campus. After that Sandor Katz joins me to talk about fermentation.

    If you have questions for them, or me, get in touch.

    Until the next time, take care of Earth, your self, and each other.

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