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Making Peace at D-Q University
From September 3-18, 80 people gathered at D-Q University in Davis, Calif. for the Regenerative Design Institute’s Peacemaking and Permaculture course – a two-week permaculture design certificate program aimed at healing the land.
The Regenerative Design Institute held the course at the invitation of the university's board of directors. More than $10,000 in scholarship money poured in from RDI donors to allow as many Native American students as possible to attend the course.
"My hopes were that the course would help enliven the community around D-Q University and bring new energy and awareness to the site,” Penny Livingston-Stark said. For more than a year, Penny had worked with the D-Q University Board of Directors to find ways of revitalizing the campus.
Traditionally, RDI has held its permaculture courses at sites that inspire participants with their beauty and abundance. The inspiration for the D-Q University course came from the participants, the starkness of the landscape, and the clear need to care for land that meant so much to so many.
With no warm running water, hot days and mosquito-bitten nights, personal comfort was not part of the agenda. Great community was. Each day, participants shared communal meals and dove into the day's activities. Topics ranged from basic permaculture skills to peacemaking to advanced permaculture design. The course included powerful ceremonies, a sacred fire, and numerous "natural synchronicities."
"Like, Jake Swamp would mention an eagle and then an eagle would fly over," Livingston-Stark said.
Honored guest instructor Jake Swamp founded the Tree of Peace Society, was a former Sub-Chief of the Mohawk Nation, and had served on the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) for 30 years. Swamp said before the course that his work would "address our disconnection from the natural world and from each other." Swamp passed away on Oct. 15, 2010.
"We are thankful to have been inspired over and over again by this amazing elder with his unwavering commitment to sharing and role modeling a message of peace and unity," wrote Jon Young, another instructor at the D-Q course, in a message that went out to the 8 Shields mentoring network. "Through his work at the Tree of Peace Society and other endeavors, Jake brought a good message and guidance to thousands of people around the world."
RDI joins a community of people celebrating Jake Swamp's life and mourning his passing. Fires and vigils are being held around the world. Our deep condolences go to his family and loved ones.
Other instructors at the D-Q course included Judy Swamp (Jake Swamp's wife and a lifelong activist for Native rights), Brock Dolman, Carla Perez and James Stark.
For some who attended the course, it was life-transforming. “It was without question, one of the richest two weeks of my life," course participant Paul Beich said. "I don't think I've ever before been immersed in such a rich mix of extraordinary people, diverse and transformative information and ideas, and a culturally challenging and rich environment... I said to a friend, 'You know you're at something good when you realize that it will take the rest of your life to fully implement what you're learning.'"
Follow or join the honoring of Jake Swamp through Facebook: Jake Swamp Honoring Fire
Many thanks to current Regenerative Design & Nature Awareness (RDNA) program participant Eden Trenor for sharing this photo slideshow. Learn more about Eden here.