3 sites in Saidoun and nearby Rimat were outlined for us, including the land around the houses of Rita Khawand and Bassam Khawwand from SOILS. But before we got to go there, we talked about working in groups and understanding the dynamics of teamwork. In any group, there is a normal progression along different phases from forming to norming, storming, performing and finally, celebrating.
As the suspense mounted, Klaudia Van Gool gave us an extensive crash course in basic mapping for permaculture, refreshing in our minds lessons about geography we had learned as kids. Then we had one more practical session where our instructor Betty Khoury taught us to build an A-frame and a "Bunyip" (basically a transparent tube folded in a U-shape and filled with water to reach equal levels) to trace contours along a slope. It was quite an exciting and challenging exercise. For Sarah Lily Yassine and Maya Karkour who are actually urban landscapists and architects, it was fun to go back to these basics in their specialization.
Finally, equipped with pen and paper, we formed 3 groups which headed for each of their designated sites with a single instruction: map, don't design. With all the possibilities that Klaudia and Betty opened for us in the past week, it was a little hard to stick to this, but we carried on.
Over the next few days, we will have more visits to our sites and gradually understand their location, soil and other specifications so we can come up with permaculture designs for them.
In the evening, several of us organized a sharing session where they demonstrated skills which could definitely be of use to us in permaculture or for recreational purposes. Bassam gave an expert presentation on grafting according to local lore, Joey El Khoury brewed some Kombucha tea with a mushroom he had brought with him from Canada, Sarah got us sketching and understanding light and shadow, then Joey and Jihad Chanehsaz got technical with photography. Then before calling it a night, Ghassam Al Salman and Salim Khalil, the "Gusleem Band", broke down playing the guitar and percussions for us. What was meant to be an hour-long session actually extended to 3 full hours of fun which we had to cut short so we'd be awake for our visit to an organic farm tomorrow.
We'll tell you all about this in our next post. For now, goodnight and good thoughts.