A two week course on permaculture and regenerative design presented by the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas is underway at D-Q University. Plans are in development to revitalize the physical environment of the 640 acre campus which is located several miles west of Davis.
D-Q University was founded in 1971 with goals of preserving and teaching Native American values and beliefs and of providing alternative ideas and methods of education to Native American people. It was accredited from 1977 to 2005 and has been the site of financial, philosophical, and enrollment difficulties. D-Q University board member Gennie Seely believes this course could be the beginning of a turnaround for the university, stating that “We have nowhere to go but up.”
Guest instructor Brock Dolman reported that about 80 students, teachers and tribal elders were attending the course; 20 of the students are Native Americans who have been awarded scholarships. While there is no requirement to do so, the hope is that these students might become a force for change here, helping to teach others the ideas and skills they will learn.
The federal government requires the university to provide educational courses in order to maintain their claim to the land so this course is important in that light. It is also important in that “permaculture is a tool for healing places, people and communities,” as stated by Penny Livingston-Stark, renowned permaculture teacher and director of the Regenerative Design Institute. There is much healing that needs to be done here. D-QU has been the site of vandalism and theft, both of which have taken a physical and emotional toll.
Permaculture can be defined as a basis for a sustainable lifestyle and includes practical skills in land and water use, food system development and sustainable community development, all of which can be applied to any environment. It is a way of caring for the earth and all people. Another component of the course will be peacemaking, presented by guest instructors Jake Swamp, founder of the Tree of Peace Society and his wife Judy, a lifelong activist for Native rights.
It is the hope and belief of many of the people who were present at the opening ceremony on September 4 that change is possible here and that this course will pave the way for that change.