THE OCCIDENTAL ARTS AND ECOLOGY CENTER

IMAGES: LIZZY ELLIOTT

WORDS: KATE WEINER

Nestled in Sonoma County, the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) is an oasis rich in inspiration for building a better world. The 80-acre research, education, and advocacy center is mapped by a thriving plant nursery, lush garden, seed saving bank, and a network of tiny homes powered by solar energy. And it's entirely water self-sufficient in a state that's been plagued by drought for nearly a decade. Pretty damn amazing. 

When I first visited OAEC, I was filled with excitement at their pioneering sustainability projects as well as a profound sense of coming home. So many of the dreams that I've harbored for how to live in this world are at play in this community of creatives, farmers, ecologists, and herbalists. Over the course of the day, I joined the volunteer crew to uproot beds for new beginnings in the spring and giddily checked out California's first permitted compost toilet in Sonoma County. I visited the yurts where students at OAEC sleep during crisp Northern Californian nights and savored a local lunch in the shade of an oak. These fleeting moments of communion and co-creation sustained me for days after.

OAEC will be featured in our next issue of Loam (you can pre-order a lovely copy of your very own here). But we wanted to share a filament of their story with you because this game changing community center will be guiding three Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) courses this year. These two week-long certification courses are an immersive foray into how to live in a way that truly heals our earth. In the face of global climate change, learning the skills to not only survive but to thrive will be essential.

As OAEC writes:

Permaculture is a design process – based in observation and systems thinking – that enables people to create ecologically sustainable and socially just human settlements based in natural patterns and processes. At OAEC, we apply permaculture as a community-based endeavor in which groups craft their own regenerative living systems beneficial to themselves and the particular ecological and cultural systems in which they are nested.

So if you are searching for a way to embody hope this year—to back up your vision for a better world with concrete tools for change—consider investing in a PDC course. It's on opportunity to enrich yourself, your community, and our earth. 

SPRING PDC    March 18th-31st

SUMMER PDC    July 15th-28th

FALL PDC    September 23rd-October 6th