Letter from the Chair, May 2018
Kia ora koutou
It is very exciting to be writing this as I am getting ready for the annual hui over the next few days. Once again I am looking forward to a long weekend of learning, sharing and connecting with my permaculture family and it is going to be great!
There is lots to report from the past year. The big news, of course, is that the new website is LIVE!!! It has taken a very long time, with many, many obstacles along the way, but we finally got there. The basic structure of the site is in place and it is now up to our members to fully take ownership of it, to use it to connect, share information and to learn.
You can use it to advertise your permaculture related events (short courses, permablitzes, workshops, meetings etc), and PiNZ affiliated teachers can advertise their PDC’s. You can share stories about what you have been doing, what cool things other people have been doing, and things you have read or watched or listened to. You can access all kinds of resources (and if you have suggestions for great things to go on the resources page, please get in touch).
One of the most useful things about the site is people can now join on-line, using a credit card or account-to-account transfer. The database will send out automatic receipts, and reminders of when your membership is due to finish so you can renew. You will also in future be able to book for hui and pay on-line at the same time.
There are a number of developments that will be rolled out over the coming few years. We may reintroduce a forum, if there seems to be a demand. We are looking at establishing a section for a professional designers network to promote their members and services. We are looking at supporting a program to link PDC graduates with internships around the country. The potential of the site is huge, so now we have the basics up and running we will look at polishing it, improving it and developing it further.
So please do get into it, explore it, use it, post on it and promote it. It is your networking tool.
Apart from the website, we have had a full-on year. At the last AGM, PiNZ members elected a council of 9, up from 5 people the previous year. I was the only member from the previous year who stayed on - some people had signalled that they were stepping down but others had various things arise that made it difficult to give council the focus it needs. This left us with a very large, very new council, so a lot of energy was spent on building a cohesive team and orienting ourselves to the work. To be honest 9 is a big committee and things were quite a bit easier to manage when not everyone could make the meetings. A council of around 7 seems to be an ideal number.
Previous councils had spent some time and resources initiating an Oceanic Permaculture Convergence, and the idea was supported at a number of past AGM’s. The new council picked this project up and attempted to progress it but the idea was eventually put on the back burner. A frank look at our capacity led to the decision that, while the idea was sound, we needed to put it off for the meantime. Similarly an invitation to apply to host the International Permaculture Convergence in 2022 was ultimately not followed up after we spent some time thinking it through. We decided that we wanted PiNZ to be more stable financially and organisationally before committing to such a significant project. At the same time we think it would be a great thing to do in the future.
We have been fundamentally rethinking our communication strategy and what the underlying intent is behind the various things the council does. A sub committee has been working on it and that work is still in progress. We have also been looking at how to make our own meetings more lively and how to sustain the great energy generated at our face to face meetings between our get togethers. Part of this is making most effective use of on-line organisational tools, and we have been actively exploring new tools.
I want to really thank all the council members from this year: Alandra Bryant, Sean Murphy, Lillee Star, James Andrews, Louise Shaw, Robina McCurdy, Guenther Andraschko, and Kharen Hope. It is quite a big commitment of time to make all the meetings and do the work that needs to be done and everyone has worked together really well and built a good team culture. Guenther and Kharen are not restanding for election at this AGM, and I want to acknowledge their contributions this year.
I also want to mention Clare Wimmer, who has been our bookkeeper and done a great job in organising our financial systems. Hopefully the new website will be a good tool for building memberships, and we have talked about doing a membership drive once it was live. Having good systems in place for when more transactions are going through the accounts is very helpful. Clare’s contribution to PiNZ also a good organisational model – people don’t need to be formally part of council and attend all the meetings to be able to contribute in really useful ways to our organisation.
Finally I want to thank this year’s hui organisers for a massive effort to make this hui happen. The hui is a really important part of what PiNZ does as an organisation and having different areas take responsibility for organising it each time means that each hui is different, specific to the location and the group, and each one is enormously valuable. My thanks to you all.