Social Permaculture: The Art of Building Community & Relationships

Social permaculture, otherwise known as the "art of designing beneficial relationships," is the study of human behavior in and outside of groups. Many believe that our relationships are the biggest constraining factor towards transforming society. This course will look closely at these relationships through a permaculture lens.

In this course, we will review the work of several well-known social permaculturists both locally and nationally. Students will engage with each other through discussion boards as well as learn about issues affecting their individual communities through in-person meetings with community leaders. Each participant will choose a community project they want to work on over the five-week online course and will share their work with other students online.

According to Starhawk, author of “The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups,” the key insight of social permaculture is that while changing individuals is indeed difficult, we can design social structures that favor beneficial patterns of human behavior. Just as in a garden, we might mulch to discourage weeds and favor beneficial soil bacteria, in social systems, we can attempt to create conditions that favor nurturing, empowering relationships.

Social Permaculture is a five-week online course: Intro Week: March 18 - 22 and Course Dates: March 24 - April 19.

What You Will Learn


Social Permaculture: The Art of Building Community & Relationships


  • Personal & Community Transformation
  • Relationship Zones
  • The Edge of Change
  • Interdependent Communities
  • Historical Composting
  • Nurtured Networks
  • Community Outreach
  • People Power
  • Collaborative Groups

What You Will Learn

  • Tips and techniques from successful social permaculturists
  • Meaningful ways to engage with community members and leaders
  • How to apply social permaculture concepts to rebuilding your community
  • How one person CAN make a difference

Tools & Materials


Social Permaculture: The Art of Building Community & Relationships

The following texts and video will be referenced throughout this course. The main text and video will be referenced frequently. It is required that you purchase the main text and main video (rental is available or check local library). It is suggested that you borrow or purchase the other texts for the best possible experience in this course. Borrowing from your local library or reserving through interlibrary loan (ILL) is encouraged.

Required Text: Brock, A. (2017) “Change Here Now: Permaculture solutions for personal and community transformation”
ISBN: 978-1-623-17-064-6

Required Video: Rokab M.A., S. (2014) "Love Thy Nature" www.lovethynature.com

Suggested Additional Resources

Pinker, S. (2014) “The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier”

Macnamara, L. (2012) “People & Permaculture: Caring and designing for ourselves, each other and the planet”
ISBN: 978-1-856-23-087-2

Starhawk. (2011) “The Empowerment Manual: A guide for collaborative groups”
ISBN: 978-0-865-71-697-1

Hemenway, T. (2015) “The Permaculture City: Regenerative design for urban, suburban and town resilience”
ISBN: 978-1-603-58-526-2

Trought, J. (2015) “The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm: The D Acres Model for Creating and Managing an Ecologically Designed Educational Center”
ISBN: 978-1-603-58-475-3


Online Requirements

Hosted by UNH Canvas learning management system. Participants must be prepared to:

1) access the course regularly via the internet and participate in a dynamic learning environment with other students and the instructor,

2) organize their time to complete assignments and meet deadlines, and

3) respond to an email from UNH IT department to set up an account and access the course online.

Technical Requirements for an online course
1) Recently purchased Mac or PC
2) An internet connection via a hardwire(!) is preferable
3) A high speed wireless internet system at home is OK (Public wireless connections are not recommended)
4) Internet speeds of at least 1.5Mbps/1.5Mbps (up/down). http://www.speedtest.net
5) Laptop camera or USB camera (optional)
6) Microphone or USB headset

In addition, participants should be comfortable with the following computer skills:

Use a word processing application including features such as copy/cut/paste
Attach and upload documents and assignments
Send and receive email
Use a supported web browser to access your course and other online resources on the Web.

Instructor Bios


Social Permaculture: The Art of Building Community & Relationships

  • Traci Bisson

    Traci Bisson is a passionate entrepreneur who started an online community for mom entrepreneurs at the start of the recession in 2008. Her ability to build relationships and foster a strong sense of community for women helped her build the group to over 1,000 members. She sold her company in 2013 and traveled the United States in a 5th wheel for 12 months with her family. After meeting many interesting people and learning about different communities and cultures, she decided to change her career path.

    In 2016, she completed her Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC), became a Master Gardener and a NH Coverts Cooperator. Traci is also a Hoffman-Haas Fellow who has invested time and energy, as well as shared her knowledge of permaculture, with community members and organizations.

    Traci decided to apply what she learned in her PDC course, and on her cross-country journey, with her knowledge of community and entrepreneurism and created It Takes a Village Pet Care. In 2018, she launched this new business concept founded on the principles and ethics of social permaculture.

    Traci earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NH, and is a 2017 graduate of the Leadership NH program, Chair of the Barrington Library Foundation and a Library Trustee. Her recent community projects include, helping the local elementary school start a school learning garden and earn eco-school status, coordinating an internet safety seminar for teens and their parents with the middle school Vice Principal and police department, and raising funds to build a new library.

    She now shares her knowledge of building relationships and rebuilding communities with individuals, organizations and companies. Social Permaculture: The Art of Building Community & Relationships will bring together permaculturists, activists, concerned community members and others to learn and engage in ways that will teach them how to put the ethics and principles of permaculture to work rebuilding their own neighborhoods, towns and cities.



Social Permaculture: The Art of Building Community & Relationships

Community Garden

We are grateful to Traci for her vision and leadership. We could not have launched our school garden program without her guidance and support. Her reliability and collaborative attributes, combined with a joy for gardening and sharing her knowledge have been a wonderful asset to the BES community. Traci’s efforts have contributed to the effective learning and lifelong learning for many students.

Laura ⋅ Assistant Principal ⋅ Barrington Elementary School

Farm to Table - Innovative Learning

Traci approached the Barrington Elementary School (BES) in April of 2015 with an idea to establish learning gardens. Through our collaboration and support from the Eco-Schools Program, we have worked together to help BES become a model Eco-School, as students and teachers embraced her vision for a sustainable garden space which supports opportunities for all students to connect with nature and experience the excitement and satisfaction of growing healthy foods.
Recently, BES established a Farm to Table model. Traci and I developed and presented a workshop to educators at the annual Northeast Organic Farmer's Association (NOFA) Winter Conference, sharing this innovative, hands-on learning model.

Traci is a leader and visionary thinker who is invested in her community and her outreach work in permaculture, gardening, and sustainable living. She is a caring and focused individual who is passionate about making changes to reduce her carbon footprint and teaching others to do the same.

I highly recommend Traci for any outreach education position where she can share her passion and engage others in an interactive learning environment. Traci is truly an individual whose commitment to sustainability is evident in her thinking as well as actions.

Kelly ⋅ Dwyer ⋅ Former Eco-Schools USA in NH Coordinator, New Hampshire Audubon

Community Service

Thanks ever so much for your part in a pack meeting that prompted two pack leaders to call me when I got home to thank me for inviting you. I wore my Everyday Heroes T-shirt to school today - proudly. The student reception was great; they admired the shirt and the message. I used it as an opener to start a discussion on having community service become a graduation requirement. The student's support of the idea was better than I had imagined it could be. Your contribution to my (our) goals is very valued. Thank you. I look forward with anticipation to your continuing successes.

Doug ⋅ Knight ⋅ Parent and Boy Scout Leader

Socially Responsible Entrepreneurship

Traci moderated and provided expert advice on the topic of "Socially Responsible Entrepreneurship" at the NHBSR Spring Conference in May. Her session was ranked one of the conference favorites in post event surveys.

Molly Hodgson ⋅ President ⋅ The Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce, and former executive director of NH Businesses for Social Responsibility

Ambassador for Civic Affairs

Traci’s strong interest in community involvement, civic affairs and youth enrichment drives her to support our efforts in making a difference with the important social issues we serve. She is an ongoing ambassador for us.

Bruce Montville ⋅ Founder ⋅ LifeWise Community Projects, Inc.
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