Chair report on Council Face to Face 24 / 25 June

Last weekend the new PiNZ Council had our first proper face to face meeting. The venue was the Ecomatters building in New Lyn, which was a great place to meet, with plenty of space, wifi, kitchen etc. They even have an outdoor pizza oven which we made good use of on Saturday night. Thanks to Guenther for organising such an excellent space for us.....

The new Council consists of 9 people. I am the only one remaining from last year., which offers some challenges as well as opportunities. Some previous councillors had indicated for a while that they were looking to move on after having given many years to the role. Personal life circumstances meant that the others were no longer able to remain. This meant a massive influx of new energy and a very different group of people.

With this in mind, Alandra offered to facilitate some sessions on group dynamics, team culture and decision-making. This was extremely useful. While the Council’s role, purpose, and consensus decision-making procedure are set by our constitution and strategic plan, figuring out how we all operate, and can work together, needed some focussed attention. Like most permaculturalists we are an interesting and diverse bunch of people and have the potential to be enormously productive if we can be integrated together in the right way. Thanks Alandra for helping set that foundation.

One of the things that has held us back a little in the past was the on-line tools we have been using. On the recommendation of Lillee, we are trialling Trello as a project management tool to help keep us on track. We do use a very good on-line facilitation tool for our monthly skype meetings though, developed by New Zealander Rimu Atkinson and called Clarity Rainbow. It is similar to the coloured card system sometimes used in large meetings and I recommend it to anyone who needs to facilitate group discussions over audio link.

We used the 10 year strategic plan ratified by the AGM a couple of years ago as the basis for working out our goals for the year. These included getting the new website live, diversifying and increasing our income, and developing a comprehensive communications plan to guide our engagement with members, regions and the wider permaculture movement as well as people unfamiliar with permaculture. We also plan to pick up, in discussion with PEG, some of the work that has been done on making PDCs eligible for funding.

I think we all came away excited and inspired by our time together and what we can achieve over the coming year. I certainly did. I look forward to keeping you all updated as we go.


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