The Challenges of a Designer

As a System Designer, you have a lot riding on your shoulders.  Whether you’re a Permaculture Designer, a Consultant, Landscaper, Urban Planner, Landowner or full-time Farmer, design can make or break your plans down the line. As a consequence, most of us want to get it right the first time.

However, there’s a lot of challenges when you set about creating a master design plan, especially if you’re a beginner.

  • You might face a steep technological learning curve if you want to create a professional design.
  • You might not feel confident that the decisions you’re making are the right ones.
  • You might lack the experience of a great designer, or lack access to experts who can help.
  • You might feel overwhelmed by the amount of options, data, math and all the technology you’ll need to deal with!
  • You might feel discouraged by regulatory hurdles in your way.

Though the challenges of designing might seem mountainous, there are always answers, there’s a way to cut your learning curve drastically.

Why we created this series

Neal Spackman

Neal Spackman

Director- Two Visions Permaculture and the Al Baydha Project

When I started with the Al Baydha Project, I had no experience in dryland restoration or in permaculture design.  It had been a hobby I pursued through reading and study, and something I was dying to get into.
  But I wasn’t hired to Al Baydha because of my knowledge of sustainability; I was hired because i knew the culture, the language, and had at least background knowledge of what the land management would require.
  I took my PDC with Geoff Lawton in October, 2010, and that PDC solidified a lot of things in my head, but i still was very inexperienced and insecure about my own abilities. Immediately after the PDC I had Geoff to myself for two weeks in Saudi Arabia.  The project hired him as a consultant, and I treated it as an apprenticeship.  I observed his methods as a design consultant–how he approached new climates and new sites, and his strategies. It was this two week apprenticeship that gave me the confidence to tackle the permaculture aspects of my work for the last five years.  Without those two weeks I would have felt very lost.
Neal Spackman
It made me wonder…How many people who take a PDC actually go on to do work in permaculture?
How many of us are stuck in this grey area between inspiration, and actually having the skills to work on the projects we want?
The Sustainable Design Masterclass is my attempt at providing a similar experience to people who need to observe how professionals go about their job–a virtual apprenticeship– to push them from being observers and dreamers to being doers.

Raleigh Latham

Production Wizard
The first time I ever created a Design was at a Permaculture Design Course in New Zealand.  I stayed up all night, obsessively drawing all the design details with colored pencils, until I felt satisfied with the result.
I was excited to learn that the site owners actually went on to use my design, despite it looking like it was drawn by a 10 year old.
That design course started a journey for me. I was fired up, and excited to work on large scale land transformation projects, but I realize my skills were severely lacking.
Over the years, I took Internships, Apprenticed, and worked with Permaculture Designers around the world, but doing it myself was a whole different ball of wax.
When you look at designers like Sepp Holzer, Darren Doherty, Mark Shepard, and Geoff Lawton you realize just how far you can go down this road when you stick at it. I truly love this work because it give you the chance to learn from people who are doing projects that inspire your soul.
That’s why I was excited to team up with Neal to create something akin to a crash course in design, for people who are wildly enthusiastic, but need to level up their design skills quickly.