An Offer Not to Be Refused
The best laid plans… are too tempting (to the invisible powers -to-be) to unfold as planned. Late summer / early fall 2013 was, in my mind, booked solid with the need to make enough brooms to fill my booth graciously at the upcoming October Southern Highland Craft Guild show.
Yet, what to do when an opportunity arises that may not be refused, without the price tag of always wondering how the remainder of one’s life would have been, if the opportunity had been availed? What to do?
Just Do It!
The irresistible opportunity was an invitation to Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, to do a permaculture design for the Royal Botanic Garden: the brain and heartchild of Princess Basma bint ‘Ali.
The Royal Botanic Garden (RBG) is several years in the making, and several more before being open to the public. In the meantime, in line with the dreams and desires of the Princess and RBG staff, as well as the consulting recommendations of several well known directors of Botanic Gardens around the world, The Royal Botanic Garden is laying the foundation to join the ranks of world class Botanic Gardens.
Permaculture and its’ potentials, are fairly well know in Jordan, thanks in large part to Geoff Lawton and his “Greening the Desert” project (see Youtube: Geoff Lawton: Greening the Desert).
In addition, Princess Basma is one of the most ecologically evolved individuals I’ve had the pleasure to meet, and has been awarded numerous global awards for her many good works in service to both Jordanians and the world.
I had a very small window of opportunity in which to travel to Jordan and complete this design project.
Other large scale events occurred as my departure date was nearing; ones with potentially serious global implications, most especially nearby where I was headed. Use of poisonous gas by the Syrian regime was confirmed, and there were strong concerns that my country could be dropping bombs soon.
My departure date was postponed a week, until the dust settled; closing my window of availability somewhat. With relief, I finally received clearance to travel, albeit with a shorter time in Jordan.
My project involves a hilltop, a few kilometers removed from the main RBG site; overlooking and dropping steeply down to a fairly remote, large reservoir (one of Jordan’s largest).
An important part of a permaculture design is termed the “Client Interview”. To my great delight, the client was Princess Basma and some of her key staff.
From this 30-40 minute interview, I learned that the hopes for this site were a permaculture design including an eco-Hotel; small housing units for interns and long term volunteers; functioning demonstration gardens and orchards; and animals (such as pigeons, chickens, and honeybees).
Upon my second (and final) visit to the hillside, I moved slowly through the landscape, allowing impressions and feelings to surface consciously. Certain spaces invited images of several of the design elements. Of these I made note.
Back in the comfort of my hotel, I made cutouts of most of the major elements. Since the site was fairly large, and the maps available to me not being to scale, a rough map was the best I could do.
Upon my rough map, I placed the major elements, according to my earlier impressions. With the cutouts, I could easily reposition elements. (In permaculture terms: Random Assembly)
The more I repositioned, according to permaculture principles
as well as site realities, the more excited I became as the design materialized.
I presented my design to Princess Basma and staff. It was well received, and is scheduled to be sent off to their Landscape Engineers in the UK for scale replication and final design of this initial phase of the site development.
Two of my final days were spent in the company of four other volunteers (experts in their fields) traveling to Petra (Jordan’s World Heritage site)and continuing southward towards the Dead Sea, and traversing representative ecosystems of this desert country.
Ahh… On the food side of things: local, world class extra virgin olive oil; many varieties of olives; figs to my heart’s content; and many delicious local foods (too many to recall, except for Chicken livers cooked in Pomegranate syrup; Humus (like none I’ve ever tasted at home)and many other delicious foods.
The people I met were friendly, intelligent, and gracious .
Given a chance, I will gladly return…