Our Tent with some flair.

The Orlando Permaculture team had a spectacular time this past Sunday playing frisbee in the hot Florida sun, while enjoying a platter of hummus and chips, hula hooping, slack lining, and taking a walk through Jay Blanchard’s trails at this month’s outreach event.

We would like to thank Body Talk for not only inviting us to speak to their group of amazing millennials but also for the good vibes and positive atmosphere. May’s outreach event was another great opportunity to expand the Permaculture movement in Orlando by collaborating and merging with Body//Talk [a group of highly energized millennials focused on creativity, free expression, and community] for a day.

 
Phil Santos and Jahfre Colbert, organizers of Body//Talk, had reached out to one of our organizers in April. Expressing their hope to create a new and exciting event for their group, Jahfre Colbert wanted to fuse play and education into one memorable gathering.A typically Body Talk event congregates in the milk district [in downtown Orlando] or at a local venue periodically throughout the month to bring people together to connect, dance, and play. Alex, one of the event’s moderators, expressed that “Body//Talk is a place for the hippies, the hipsters, the goths, the punks, the nerds, the spiritual seekers, the nature lovers, ANYONE who feels as though they have not found a community to learn and grow with.” This event was a little different in that it not only focused on connecting people, while having a damn good time, but also learning about our connection with the world around us, especially nature.
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After some fun in the sun and a short meet and greet between both groups, we turned our attention to the afternoon’s feature presentation, “A Walk in Nature with Orlando Permaculture.” Along with Body//Talk’s very own Agustin Elias and Alex Bryson, we gathered the group together to introduce our activity. Body//Talk did an amazing job introducing Orlando Permaculture to their members, explaining why they had decided to organize the day’s event, highlighting their desire to shift their group’s focus towards efforts that will improve the Orlando community.
As everyone gathered at the entrance of the trail, they were asked to silence their minds and be present as they walked the forest. The challenge was to “listen to the sounds of the forest, smell it’s scents, touch and connect with the plants, to gaze upon the beauty that is a natural Florida forest.” The walk consisted of making brief stops where the facilitators would discuss different plant species or natural occurrences found in nature when we observe and interact. Making distinctions and parallels, the facilitators would link what was being discussed in the moment to our own culture. Specifying on current social and environmental issues, our goal was to plant seeds of personal inquiry that would challenge our audience to rethink their place and purpose in society as a conscious living being.
Our first stop was by a native milkweed, highlighted by Anna, she explained how plants become native to an environment comparing the native milkweed to the foreign milkweed from Mexico that is more commonly grown. She explained how it is currently harming the Monarch Butterfly population in Florida and how the lack of understanding between native species and foreign ones can damage the delicate balance of our ecosystem. The next stopped was at a native citrus tree, Justin explain the forest’s layers, how large trees such as pines and oaks are the leaders of the forest creating a large canopy for smaller trees, shrubs, and bushes to develop underneath. The next stop of the walk was near a dried up stream, here Matt Sosa spoke on how energy is used, reused, recycled, and stored in a natural system. Compared to the wasteful techniques humans practice, he drew an example of how leaves and tree trunks store energy during their lifetime. When they fall to the forest ground everything is recycled back into the forest system. Very little in nature is wasted.
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It was during these moments that we had taken the opportunity to create a dialogue with our audience, a dialogue that not only included them in the overall purpose of the day’s event, but allowed us to turn our attention to a functional and sustainable system that offers us solutions to many of our most critical and challenging problems on the planet. Questions were asked, opinions and thoughts were shared, and this is what allowed us to witness the interaction found between humans and nature when nature is viewed as a source of knowledge and wisdom. Where applicable solution can be utilized in our ever advancing pursuit towards justice and change.

One of our last stops on the trail we talked about the density of the human species and natural systems. Justin got us thinking about our population density problem, how we are currently experiencing huge rises in our population at cost of the environment. We clear forests for housing and spray harmful pesticides for growing plants without thinking of the damage to the entire system. This problem was compared to the over population of the potato vine an invasive plant species found in Florida’s forests. Two years ago before the state had begun an extermination process, potato vine would cover most of the vegetation in the forest. The vine which is not a native was transported to the area, another example of our disconnection with nature. Not understanding the vine and its natural system, it was placed here thinking it would be beneficial. In fact it was the complete opposite,  the vine without any predators or fair competition quickly took over the forest choking out many shrubs and bushes. This gives us insight into solving our future’s problems by reestablishing our connection to the natural world around us. Nature is truly our best teacher.

Overall, Orlando Permaculture and BodyTalk thought this event went exceptionally well. Both groups enjoyed time playing in the sun and enjoying the beauty of nature. Check out our gallery for more pictures!