Many current and past student associates have greatly benefited from the liberating structure Gaia U provides to you during your program. Through the projects you create, you can build your own career path doing exactly what you love in support of the people around you and the planet. Bachelor’s degree graduate and current Master’s degree candidate, Nicole Vosper, writes:
I have never felt so liberated in my life until I started with Gaia University and realized that I was completely responsible for my own learning. The fact that I can design my pathway completely around my own desires, projects and commitments to changing this world has been the ultimate empowerment. No longer does study have to feel like a distraction from everything else I want to do, now I can be supported by a worldwide community to maximize the effectiveness of my work and focus energy on the most important areas of my life.
Project work is core to everything you will be focusing on within your Gaia U courses and programs. Some associates enter their programs with a clear vision of what project(s) they want to work on – like Eden Vardy, who started the Aspen Tree organization during his Masters degree with Gaia U in 2008 “to shift the negative tone and guilt-driven action that was pervading the environmental movement, and to provide tools for our community and youth to make it fun to care for our planet and food source”. In the final reflections of his program, Eden did a cost benefit analysis to see how the investment in his program paid off. What he found was that by the end of his program he had profited over double the amount that he invested in his entire program! This is what we encourage from our associates – build a livelihood for yourself through your projects.
However, some associates are less clear on exactly what project they will engage in. The Online Orientation is designed to help you gain that clarity and develop your project ideas and designs. We encourage you to feel completely comfortable joining Gaia U without clear knowledge of what you want to focus your project work on. If that is the case, your first “project” is to find your first project! Our facilitators and advisors will be happy to assist you fully in that process.
The following list–inspired by the THRIVE movement’s 12 Sectors–is intended for inspiration and is not in any way prescriptive. You are entirely free to develop your own project specifications according to your needs and the ethics of permaculture (Care of the Earth, Care of her Peoples, and the commitment of surplus towards these ends).
Initiate a neighborhood art project to bring together otherwise alienated sectors of your community to facilitate a fresh dialogue whilst creating a public art piece illustrating the process of awakening.
Work on liberating the artist within, especially if you are not sure there is one!
Check-out the Theatre of the Oppressed and its techniques and convene a group of would-be actors in your community who can use these powerful tools for their work.
Initiate (or join an existing) Transition Towns project in your community ready to build local resilience and produce an energy descent plan.
Outline and implement a strategy to get the majority of the people in your family, neighborhood, church, school, or town to bank locally.
Learn about Complementary Currencies and survey to see how feasible such a strategy might be in your community.
Establish an income-sharing and capital sharing group in your family or neighborhood ready to invest in small, ecosocial enterprises as they emerge.
Develop your own regenerative enterprise while studying with Gaia U. Explore various business structures, models, and financing strategies, extending your concept of value beyond cash alone. Document stories and case studies with other explorers in the regenerative enterprise field. Find partners with whom you can bring your enterprise idea into fruition.
Community and Ecovillage
Promote community connection through design and action. Ally with community leaders to create new projects or support ongoing ones. Create an ecovillage community or support a traditional community in incorporating regenerative practices. Support best practices and design strategies. Learn from traditional elders and document and share your learnings.
Help develop ecosocial curriculum for different ages and strategies for how to get it into schools and available to homeschooling families and organizations. Use Gaia University to home-school yourself and the other young and older adults in your life at minimal cost and maximum ecosocial effect. Start an un/learning school in your town.
Research the process of setting up your county as a local GMO-free zone and do it. Use your experience to become a mentor for other counties seeking a similar outcome. Learn to be a permaculture designer and become a leader in transitioning your community to local food, fuel, and fiber resilience.
Become a compost master and divert organic ‘wastes’ including green materials from prunings out of the trash stream and into a comprehensive composting system in your city/county.
Investigate what it would take for people to ban corporate financing of elections in their city, county, or region and do it. Use your experience to become a mentor for other counties seeking a similar outcome.
Attend a Democracy Now! School and work up and get passed local ordinances that outlaw fracking, groundwater mining, toxic sludge dispersal, and other destructive practices in your area.
Design a detailed approach for a local community to move away from government control and towards voluntary cooperation.
Experiment with governance and decision making in your circle of family and friends, in the organizations you belong to and work to have these model the open, flexible style of governance you would like to see at local, state, and national level.
Work with others to develop a local zoning plan that moves your community towards ‘walkability’, shared rides, public transport, deliveries of shopping, and other forms of energy efficient travel and distribution. Work on reducing your own transport footprint.
Look at how to localize goods and services – work out how to move retail buying (do this first yourself) so as to emphasize locally-owned retailers selling locally sourced foodstuffs, think about establishing a local internet service provider, what else could be bought back into localization.
Check-out open source production – how could people in your area support the development of this work so it becomes something you can deploy in your area?
Ensure that your local services make it possible for staff to work from home (telecommute) whenever possible.
Research who in your area gets an unfair share of the attention of the justice system, either too much or too little. How could you act as allies to these folks to help to balance things out?
Research how the current national military budget impacts the economy in your city, county, region. Work on schemes to generate livelihoods in your area that are independent of military funding ready to replace those that do depend on this source.
Become an activist in the field of Climate Justice in which you seek to have (amongst other things) the polluters pay for reparations to those people negatively affected by climate change (including people in countries other than the wealthy north).
Research financial conflicts of interest in the media, including corporate and independent stations. Join campaigns to increase transparency of funding. Do the same for Universities in your area – who funds the research and how does their funding affect what is researched and what is not?
Make media – there has never been a time when publishing has been more open – develop your digital literacy so that you can podcast and videocast.
Learn about the threats to net neutrality and how to network with other activists using secure social networking sites (not Facebook or Google). Get involved with campaigns to keep the internet independent.
Explore the latest thinking about how you can eliminate any unconscious oppressive thinking and behavior from your own repertoire and how you can liberate yourself from any internalized oppression that causes you to self-limit your ability to take power in your life.
Work out how to be an effective ally to other people working on their struggles to liberate themselves from oppression by others and from self-limitation through internalized oppression.
Go on to design a think and do tank for cross-cultural participation that will address key issues for reconciliation with Native Americans in your region, including a budget and time frame.
Explore your purpose, learn about communicating and resolving conflict effectively, explore ways to keep your life in balance, etc. Keep a journal to document your process and share any key insights with your advisers and in your documentation.
Consciously become a support person for people already taking appropriate leadership in your community.
Determine what research you need to happen in order to feel as if the research establishment, especially in Universities, is working for you and your community. What are the issues you want answers to and what data would you want to be able to see to be able to make a realistic appraisal of the current state of your community.
Research investment opportunities and open source business models for New Energy Technology development so that global distribution is inevitable.
Keep a journal, reflect on your own spirituality, note how well it handles the needs for ecological sustainability, and social justice – write a paper about your conclusions.
Work at clearing up any tendencies for hostile judgments of other people – learn to know that we are all connected, all in this together even if we each have our own paths to liberation to follow.
Study various worldviews, especially your own and those of other people in your community, to work out how various worldviews shape decisions and determine where resources get deployed. Look at the justice of this and work to make things increasingly equitable.
Take up peer counseling (rc.org) for personal growth, better emotional health, and the progressive elimination of systematic oppression from within our societies.
Research non-pharmaceutical routes to well-being and better health (for example good nutrition, exercise) and develop strategies for assisting other people to take up these approaches.