Activity 3.3: Sit Spot.

Sit spot is a technique that is both simple and complex. It is a very effective way to begin to know your landscape because it encourages prolonged, thoughtful observation of one place in the natural world with the observer continually asking questions, noticing patterns, and seeking information to apply to her/his own design.

From Wildness Awareness teacher Jon Young:

"Find one place you can get to know really, really well. This is the most important routine you can develop. Know it by day; know it by night; know it in the rain and in the snow, in the depth of winter and in the heat of summer. Know the stars and where the four directions are there; know the birds that live there, know the trees they live in. Get to know these things as if they were your relatives, for, in time, you will come to know that they are. That is the most important thing you can do in order to excel at any skill in nature.

Nature and your own heart are the best teachers, but your body, mind and spirit all have to attend the class, and do the homework. There is no replacement for this experience!"

From Kamana 1: Exploring Natural Mystery by Jon Young, page 98:

"The purpose of your sit spot is ultimately to improve and deepen your understanding of natural systems by devoting yourself to consistent time in them. Seeing the same spot at different times of day and during different seasons allows you to see the dynamics of nature unfold. We spend much of our time learning about, teaching, and thinking “about” natural systems in this course, but this is a chance to spend time IN the system, learning directly from it."

Your task is to:

  • Find a sit spot at your design/home site, one that is easy to visit and where you can feel safe and somewhat secluded from a human-dominated landscape. Water features, trees, and the likelihood of sighting wildlife are all desirable attributes, but it is most important that the spot be a place you will be easily able to visit.
  • Visit your sit spot 2 to 3 times this week for a minimum of 10 minutes on your first visit. If you are antsy set an alarm for 10 minutes and here are some ideas to maximize your experience:
    • Focus on one sense at a time, trying to “stretch” the sense as far as possible. For instance, cupping your hands around your ears helps amplify any sounds and you can learn to discern sounds that are close by versus those that are far in the distance. Or spend the entire time with your eyes closed.
    • Bring a pad of paper or journal and sketch a scene, leaf, or plant specimin.
    • Ask a multitude of questions beginning with “Why?”
    • Examine the layers of vegetation, evidence of animals, patterns of past human use.
    • Zoom your focus from the entire scene in front of you to the smallest leaf/insect/spec of earth. Then repeat; back and forth.
    • Continue your sit spot 2 to 3 times for at least one more week. Try to slowly build to a solid 20 to 30 minutes visits.
    • After completing a few Sit Spots, consider journaling the following:

      • 1) Where is your sit spot? Describe it so someone who has never seen it can envision it.

      • 2) What did you see, smell, touch, feel and hear in your sit spot? What lessons did you learn?

      • 3) What other tools do you use to help you read landscapes?

      • 4) Do you feel practices like sit spot are important to a person having success in permaculture? Why or why not?

You are welcome to submit any of your writing.