The Home Grown Institute
sustainable and
Regenerative Skills
Planning The Home Grown Institute with an Eye Toward “Human Sustainability”
Last month I met with Allen (not his real name), a director of a local non-profit. He arrived looking harried - unshaven, cheeks drawn, exhausted. As much as he wanted to pay attention to my “Big Picture” presentation, it was clear he was having a hard time. That is... until I mentioned the silent dining option, voluntary simplicity workshop and guided contemplative walk in the Wissahickon. He smiled, a spark in his eyes. His shoulders released. He was engaged.
In contrast, last week, I had a conversation with Sharon (not her real name). Like a sponge that has just met the ocean, she wanted to take every class I mentioned - seed saving, beehive building, lawns to meadows, growing mushrooms in the shade, worms in the basement. And she’s excited to teach what she already knows about raising chickens.
These stories confirm what we already know... that when it comes to sustainable and regenerative practices, everyone has their own unique path. It also reminds us that sustainable practice is more than organic food and composting. It is also about how we take care of ourselves. I call it “Human Sustainability” and it guides our planning at The Home Grown Institute.
Three Guiding Principles for Planning The Home Grown Institute
1. No “Shoulds”
For thirty-five years, researchers have been asking the question “What helps people make and stick with healthy habits?” Results? Every single study has drawn the same conclusions. There are three and half factors that lead to success. The first one is Intrinsic Motivation. You gotta wanna do it. Every step of the way at The Home Grown Institute, we are going to help you remember that..
2. Minimize Decision Fatigue
On August 17, John Tierney reported in the NYT on Decision Fatigue saying that “the very act of making decisions depletes our ability to make them well.” It was the most emailed of all articles for days. (This was not news to me... I used to deliver a stress management workshop called “The Personal Sanity Policy Seminars” as part of
Conferences have a reputation for contributing to overwhelm, and participants often suffer from TMC and FMS - Too Many Choices and Fear of Missing Something. The Home Grown Institute is determined to break the mold through Mindful Conferencing.
It starts with Mindful Conference Planning - designing options to minimize Decision Fatigue - for example,  in addition to the more decision intense “pick one from column A, and B, and C, and D,” option, The Home grown Institute will offer “track” options such as the “Can Someone Hold My Hand? Beginning Organic Gardener Track,” the “I Need Silence... Contemplative Track,” or even the “I Want It All! Homestead Sampler Track.”
It also means Mindful Conference Attendance on the part of you who register. Do you want to steep in activities that help you do more? do less? do more with less? Here’s a suggestion: Just before you sign-up for classes, imagine you are a sponge... Are you, like Sharon, excited to meet the ocean, knowing you will find joy and energy from pouring over the choices in columns A, B, C... or are you feeling more like Allen, bloated by your fullness and breathing a deep sigh of release as you imagine yourself on a guided contemplative walk through the Wissahickon, not asked to make more decisions...
3. Bring Back Reflection!
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it happened - that the speed of technology started to outrun the pace of humanity. Use of fax machines in the mid 80s? Before then, given the human pace of couriers, there was time for reflection between action and reaction. All of the sudden it was instantaneous. Expectations changed. Email has only made it worse.
The Home Grown Institute say “Bring Back Reflection!” and asks students and presenters to consider questions such as “Is this right for me?” and “How does this impact my relationship with everything around me?”
If you’d like to be part of the Mindful Planning Committee, a variety of positions are available. Contact
Sarah Gabriel is an author, educator and the managing Director at The Home Grown Institute – organizing community-centered, skills-focused, action-driven events that teach home-scaled sustainable and regenerative practices.
Mindful Conferencing
Sunday, August 28, 2011