S4EA – The School for Ecosystem Advocacy

In 2021 Mohawk Valley Latino Association (MVLA) and First Circle launched the School for Ecosystem Advocacy (S4EA) to engage the Cornhill neighborhood and Oneida County Residents to assist in the design of a Permaculture Demonstration Garden at 28 Scott Street in Utica. La Abundancia Community Space and Garden will provide residents of Cornhill a place to grow, prepare and eat traditional foods, celebrate holidays, the arts and the many Latino and Hispanic cultures which make the Mohawk Valley their home. S4EA is a unique curriculum for developing workforce and life skills using the permaculture principles and ethics as a framework.

The benefits to the Mohawk Valley community will go far beyond helping participants to develop workforce skills. Through this program, participants will learn to create landscapes that control stormwater, remediate toxic soil, increase soil carbon storage and create edible landscapes using permaculture design techniques. The members of MVLA and MUCC together with our neighbors in Cornhill will design the property so that it meets these goals. Watch a video which describes the project here.

This training will benefit people of all ages. Our hope is that we will host a class of up to twenty intergenerational and intercultural students. In all aspects of this program, special attention will be paid to engaging with and supporting the voices of people of color. It is anticipated that this training could spark ingenious ways to adapt to the COVID economy, bringing people of color to the forefront of healing social injustice.

Partnerships include an intercultural alliance, which will provide opportunity for shared experience with religious organizations, businesses, NGOs, schools, and civic organizations. Any ecosystem would benefit by applying the principles, ethics and concepts of permaculture.

Next Cohort: We are actively recruiting partners to fund the next training. The schedule will be determined by available funding, and the needs of our partners.

Leadership Team
Project Benefactor and Client: C. Sonia Martinez, Mohawk Valley Latino Association
Coordinator/Administrator: Cimbria Badenhausen, MBA, ENV SP, Certified Permaculture Teacher & Designer
Advisory Board: The Advisory Board will be made up of partners of MVLA and local residents.
Community Liaisons: We hope to be able to engage 3 Community Liaisons who will support the culturally diverse participants based on available funding and the size and makeup of the cohort.

Program Specifics
Certification criteria in permaculture design:

  • 110 hours of coursework based on international standards, minimum 72 hours attendance;
  • Participate in group project to design a natural permaculture garden to benefit MVLA;
  • Design an individual project of their choice in natural, social or economic permaculture, demonstrating their understanding of permaculture principles, concepts and strategies.

Program Outcomes: The key takeaway for the participants is a facility with systems thinking that is transferable to any position or organization with which they engage, either as an employee or as an entrepreneur. Together we will be launching the next generation of Oneida County designers with the tools and resources they need to become dynamic leaders in their communities.

Participants will be trained in the following hard skills and concepts, as well as others: budgeting, building science, energy cycling, energy efficiency techniques, evaluation, existing conditions, goal articulation, hydrologic cycle, inclusion, incremental design, interviewing, journaling, lifecycle evaluation, mapping, measuring, microclimates, pattern recognition, placemaking, recording site elements, renewable energy techniques, prototyping, researching techniques, resource allocation, resilience, resume writing, sector analysis siting, SMART goals, soil health and carbon sequestration, spatial relations, spirals of erosion & degradation, stormwater management & harvesting, systems thinking, time management, working as a team, yield, zoning.

Participants will be trained in the following soft skills, as well as others: accountability, accept direction, accept diverse perspectives, activate leverage points, adapt to change, ask clarifying questions, authenticity, commitment, communicate respectfully, compassion, credibility, define leadership, follow up, forgiveness, humility, integrity, respect, self-analysis, strategizing, teamwork, the 15%*, timeliness, Synergetic Genius*, Unique Genius*, working independently.

*Proprietary Concepts developed by Cimbria Badenhausen, First Circle