Institute for Bioregional Studies

Institute for Bioregional Studies

SUBJECT: INSTITUTE FOR BIOREGIONAL STUDIES From: capferra@ZEUS.CS.UPEI.CA (Phillip Ferraro) Date: 3:48 pm Oct 25, 1993 GMT Reply-To: Phillip Ferraro

Phil Ferraro Box 174 Blanchard Hall Univ. of Prince Edward Island Charlottetown, PEI C1A 4P3 (902) 892-9578

Institute for Bioregional Studies, 446 University Ave. Suite 126 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada C1A 8K3 Phone:(902) 892-9578 e-mail:

The Institute for Bioregional Studies (IBS), has commited its efforts to sustainable agriculture and the design and management of sustainable communities for well over the past decade. We have been able to synthesize knowledge of economical land use idea s from a multitude of disciplines: ecological theory, biology, anthropology, sociology, landscape architecture, energy conservation, plus urban and rural planning.

The creation of our Integrated Resource Management training program, at Holland College, in PEI, plus our summer camp, in Nova Scotia, is aimed at young adults whose curiosities may lead them to seek careers in environmental sciences, teachers who wish to better inform their students and others desiring to pursue ecologically responsible business'. The summer program presents a comprehensive exploration of the critical ecological problems our society faces and provides the tools to reconstruct a bioregi onal perspective.

The directors of IBS, Phil and Annie Ferraro, have an affinity with a healthy, interdependent community that includes many skilled and resourceful neighbors. This community, includes people who teach environmental science, manage organic farms, produce a portion of their own energy, maintain an ecological community land trust, operate a marketing cooperative, and maintian the communities cultural roots through the Fundy Folk Society. A portion of this communities activities was recently featured in a rec ent CUSO movie on sustainable living titled, 'So Who Lives Here Anyway?'

While focusing on the skills that support community health and self- reliance the Institute is making an important contribution towards the evolution of a truly environmental science. Write to us for a program summary (free via e-mail, $8.00 via Post Office)

------------------------------------------------------------------------ The Directors of the Institute for Bioregional Studies would like to invite you to participate in the creation of an environmental training program.

Several leading universities and colleges have bolstered our confidence that our summer program will be viable by expressing an interest to accredit the proposed classes within their programs. They have also indicated that they can assist in the marketin g of the classes and expect that the projected level of enrollment at the suggested fee is an attainable goal.

The Institute's site has been developed as an ecological farm that includes appropriate technologies and close assimilation with the surrounding community.

Bioregionalism along with the complimentary studies of Permaculture and Social Ecology are areas of growing interest and importance. The Institute's farm, is a suitable location to establish a range of classes and will benefit the region economically th rough their provision.

We would be very pleased to discuss this with you further and would appreciate your positive input and suggestions.

Sincerly, Phil Ferraro


To establish a residential summer program at the Institute for Bioregional Studies which will operate on the North Mountain in Kingston, Nova Scotia.

Study Terms of Reference;

1. Feasibility of an Institute for Bioregional Studies

The study management team has already concluded research leading to a clear identification of the products to be offered by the Institute, the cost and method of delivering the products, and the specific marketing information necessary for obtaining the necessary enrollment. This information will be the basis of a business plan for the Institute.

2. Arrangements between the Institute and the Local Community

Phil and Annie Ferraro, directors of the Institute, are full time residents of the Institutes farm. For the past ten years they have worked to build a strong interdependent community that includes many skilled and resourceful neighbors. This community in cludes people who manage organic farms, constructed a community center, organized a community land trust, operate a marketing cooperative, and maintian the communities cultural roots through the Fundy Folk Society. A portion of this communities activities was recently featured in a recent CUSO movie on sustainable living titled, 'So Who Lives Here Anyway?'. Numerous other resource people, including health practitioners, artisians, craftspeople and environmental activists, in the community will be availabl e for participants to learn from and apprentice with.

Principals of Bioregionalism:

A bioregion, or "life region," is the basic geographic unit that integrates human governance within ecological law. It is an area of "soft perimeters" characterized by similar flora and fauna, climate, geology, human language and culture, and drained by a cohesive system of watersheds.

As an emerging way of thinking and being in the world, learning to live within the limits of the place we inhabit in a sustainable manner teaches us to value the local and regional.

Rooted in ecological wisdom, the bioregional movement synthesizes permaculture, watershed management, and home ecology as practical skills, to be used alongside more philosophical efforts that forsee the revitalization of places, people and local culture s.

The Philosophy of Social Ecology:

Social ecology defines the ethical nature of bioregionalism. Its philosophy proposes that humanity can create a holistic future by renewing the relationship between human culture and natural ecosystems. It advances a coherent critique of anti-ecological trends and a reconstructive, ethical approach to social life and economic growth.

The social implications of the environmental crisis are monumental. The dangers cannot be overstated. Growing numbers of people are aware that something is wrong with our view of 'development'. While leading scientists agree that we must turn things arou nd the question is not just what to do but how. Social Ecology presents a comprehensive exploration of the critical ecological problems our society faces. While the theory may not present patent answers to all the issues, it provides the tools to recon struct a bioregional perspective focusing on the process of ecologically oriented social, technological and economic change.

Permaculture Strategies

Permaculture is a relatively new concept in land use planning. When first introduced to North America in the 1970's, the ideas circulated through informal networks of associations primarily commited to sustainable agriculture. In the last few years netwo rks have begun to coalesce around the world with valuable techniques for the design and management of sustainable societies. Permaculture synthesizes knowledge of economical land use ideas from a multitude of disciplines: ecological theory, botany, anthro pology, horticulture, landscape architecture, energy conservation, plus urban and rural planning. It is the working tool with which bioregional planning is transformed into action.

Permaculture's cardinal rule of design is to maximize functional connections for their synergistic effect.

Practioners participant in the collection and analysis of the elements and principles that are essential to supply the needs of a city, a small settlement, a farm or family. While focusing on the skills the support community development self-reliance it is also making an important contribution towards the evolution of a truly environmental science.

Proposed Summer '94 Program

The institute will plan on running three, four week cycles of its summer program. The sessions will focus on acedemic studies combining social theory with reconstructive skills for sustainable development.

First Summer Session: May 17-June 12

Second Summer Session: June 19-July 17

Third Summer Session July 24-August 21

Academic Program: *Introduction to Social Ecology *Community and Development: Building a Green Society *Food, Technology and Community Self-Reliance *Permaculture Design Course *Visiting Lecturer's *Apprenticeships within the community

All three summer sessions will feature visiting guest facilitatiors whose expertise in sustainable development will compliment the scheduled programs. During the course of study students will select neighboring farms, cooperatives or community organizati ons to study with.

Learning Modules

A series of learning modules will be created which will allow students to work at their own pace. Listed below is a sample of what some of these modules may consist of. These activities involve students in Role Playing, the Inquiry Approach, Problem Solv ing, Decision Making, and Cooperative Learning. Each activity demands use of Critical Thinking Skills: Analysis, Synthesis, Prediction, and Evaluation.

Ecology & Biological Development;

The objective of this module will be to develop the student's awareness of the inter-relatedness of all species, plant or animal in the environment. Ecological principles that can be applied in all natural resource careers will be presented.

Bioregional Resources and Limitations;

One of the limiting factors for the long term development of a bioregion involves the ability of resources to regenerate within limited boundaries. This module will help students identify resources that need to be managed in a sustainable manner.

Communicating Critical Issues;

Students will work on fundemental communications skills while reporting on successful and practical solutions for specific environmental issues. Use of a word processor in areas of written, developmental and organizational procedures will be encouraged. Students will conform to accepted standards of format when corresponding with institutions and will provide proper notations in research reports.

Permaculture Design;

Permaculture is a relatively new concept in land use planning. While primarily commited to sustainable agriculture, it also synthesizes knowledge of economics, ecology, botany, anthropology, horticulture, landscape architecture, energy conservation, pl us urban and rural planning in a design system that allows designers to assemble components in a pattern which functions to benifit all forms of life. Student will collect and analyize essential data in an exercise that transfoms the design process into an action plan.

Computer Networking and Research Applications;

Students will become familiar with specialized software applications plus computer networks for research relevant to the field of study.

Bioregional Stewardship;

Students will conduct independent library research as well as personal interviews with residents of a selected watershed. Each student will present a written and oral report on the method of care and the values that people place on the 'natural', 'human' , and 'built' resources of a bioregion.

Business Management & Contracting

There is a growing recognition that rather than taking away jobs, environmentalism has the potential to create many new resource based industries. This course will provide the student with the information understanding required to start a business in an ecological society. The module will be aimed at sustainable resource related business' but may be applied to other projects as well.

Ecology as the Basis of Design;

This module will make a persuasive and well documented case for the ecological design of human settlements and the agricultural landscapes that will support them- one which would enhance the possibilities for a sustainable, long-lived future. Students wi ll gain an understanding of the precepts of biological design that will aid in the redesigning of ecological communities, sustainable landscapes and emerging technologies.

Resource Economics & Environmental Ethics;

Students will develop an understanding of how environmental quality effects regional economies. Subjects will cover the distinction between rights and responsibilities, and the techniques for evaluating market and non-market values. Students will also le arn the distinction between financial and ecological values with regard to public benefits.

Managing Biodiversity and Liberating The Human Potential; Students will focus on problem solving and facilitating strategies for sustaining large ecosystems. The objective will be to maximize the biodiversity while defining the human potential of a region.

Integrated Resource Management: Creating Successful Communities; This module is focused on the impacts of urbanization on social and ecological systems. The student will learn how to employ growth management strategies to protect and enhance specific natural resources. Field trips and field studies will document the e xtent of pollution in soil, air, and water. Issues regarding erosion, landfill, waste processing and social unrest will also be examined.

Naturally Resourceful People; This module introduces the student to the importance of working with the support of community organizations. Topics such as organizational structures and developing a set of community goals will be covered. The students will also be introduced to the iss ues of collective decision making, mutual aid, motivational techniques and the resolution of group conflict and stress.

Appropriate Technology: Theory and Practice The study of applying technologies relevant to the context in which they will be used has been recognized as an essential element in all development work. This module explains the origins of the idea of 'AT' and will demonstrate its challenging applicati ons. Students will learn to design and incorporate appropriate technologies to meet the needs of our transitional society.

Watershed Management; The focus of this module will be to review ecological restoration plans and to develop a bioregional plan for a specific watershed, including productive strategies for business'. Student activities will include the inventory and mapping of natural resources and the creation of a human resource data base.

GLOBAL PROBLEM SOLVING; This module involves students in world issues and encourages them to develop a global perspective. Students will debate issues and develop action plans for some of the greatest problems confronting humanity. Students then compare and contrast their plans with those of the world community and individual nations. A concluding exercise could be developme nt of an all- encompassing Action Plan for The Twenty-First Century since students will quickly learn all the issues are inter-related.

SUBJECT: RE: INSTITUTE FOR BIOREGIONAL PLANNING From: alaszlo@MTECV2.MTY.ITESM.MX (Dr. Alexander Laszlo) Newsgroups: bit.listserv.devel-l Date: 24 Aug 93 22:32:20 GMT

Given the stated objectives and aims of the Institute that you are plannning, I highly recommend you link forces with Merriam Hill Center and their Geocommons program. The call of this program is "education for sustainability and mindful living," and it is carried out in association with the Gaia Education Outreach Institute and the University of New Hampshire (USA). Just to give you an idea of their orientation, let me cite their guiding question:

What fundamental knowledge, skills, and relationships do we need to lead lives that are sustainable, creative, compassionate, and fulfilling?

The Merriam Hill Center offers a nine-month educational program (for college credit, if requested) consisting of four courses that allow students to focus in depth on key areas of this question. The courses include lectures/dialogue, reading/composition, theory/practice, as well as evaluation/demonstration, and the approach throughout is disciplined, wholistic, experiential, and interdisciplinary.

Each student, alone or in a group, designs a project around an aspect of sustainable living. Projects may be scientific, artistic, service oriented, or practical. The projects, along with journals, portfolios, and new planning skills, lead toward the identification of "next steps" for after the completion of the program.

About the institutions:

----------------------- Merriam Hill Center is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create and nurture forms of education addressing environmental and social problems. They have been building bridges between innovative communities and mainstream society for the past twelve years. MHC has assumed primary responsibility fot the continuation of a GeoCommons College project and hired its founder to direct the program.

Gaia Education Outreach Institute is a non-profit organization working for a world education that promotes sustainable, creative, compasionate living. They piloted the GeoCommons College in 1991 and are now designing a coalition of "schools in the Geocommons" and working toward a future eco-village project.

University of New Hampshire is offering administrative and faculty support in making the Geocommons program available with academic credit.

For more information, please DON'T contact me, but DO contact directly:


Merriam Hill Geocommons Year 148 Merriam Hill Rd, Greenville, NH 03048 USA Tel. +(603) 878-1818 or Director's Office (603) 654-6705 (Sorry, they don't seem to have an e-mail address).

Good luck....................................Alexander

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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