From School of Integrated Living:
Black Mountain, NC – In a rural valley in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of the United States, the School of Integrated Living (SOIL), is a small school with big intentions. SOIL’s mission is to inspire and empower people to live responsible and creative lives by providing experiential education in integrated living and regenerative systems.
SOIL implements its mission primarily through the Farm & Ecovillage Immersions, which are multi-week, residential service-learning opportunities in which adult participants are immersed into the village, homes, lives, businesses, and farms of their hosts and faculty for a hands-on, skill-building, service- learning experience.
SOIL’s programs take place at the farms and neighborhood homesteads within and near Earthaven Ecovillage. This village and farming community is the ideal living laboratory for a whole-life skills curriculum. SOIL’s curriculum is designed to put students in touch with a dynamic and alive type of learning that results in nature awareness, interpersonal skills, economic literacy, and sustainability solutions.
Says Lee Warren, SOIL’s Co-Director, “Most of us lead disconnected lives; from each other, from nature, from the very stuff that keeps us alive. Place-based and hands-on education means falling in love with the world around us. It means choosing to connect to a land-base, a people, food, water, and energy systems, and a local economies through real-life experiences.”
The Farm & Ecovillage Immersion curriculum is based on the “three-legged stool of sustainability” and approaches the topics of personal, social, ecological, and economic issues through a variety of service and content-based modules with a specific focus on organic food production, inner awareness, regenerative systems, and community living. SOIL’s “in-the-field” curriculum weaves a tapestry of the following topics:
§ Small scale or homestead agriculture (both animal and vegetable)
§ Medicine Making and Empowered Home and Community Health Care
§ Nourishing Foods Cooking, Preparing, and Eating
§ Soil Building, Composting, Recycling, and Regeneration of Waste
§ Local Economics, Social Enterprises in Human Settlements, and Issues of Global Economics
§ Emotional Literacy, Effective Communication, and Conflict Resolution
§ Community Building and Effective Self-Governance Models
§ Visioning, Project Development and Stewardship
§ Mindfulness and the ability to create and honor commitments
§ Effective Time and Energy Management
§ Inner Leadership: Cultivating Gratitude, Balance, ‘Inner Resilience’ and Grounding Practices
§ Renewable Energy and Off-grid Living
§ Ecological Footprint and Eco-literacy
Immersion participants will walk away with a unique “Whole-Life Skills Tool Bag”: a collection of concrete skills, habits, mindsets and approaches to improve their wellbeing and effectiveness as a conscious community citizen.
SOIL’s next Farm & Ecovillage Immersion is starting July 4, 2014. SOIL’s Immersions are a certified program of Gaia Education’s Ecovillage Design Education curriculum, which is currently taking place in 34 countries and is an official contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. College credits are available through Santa Barbara City College in California.