Pathways to Village Building
Authoring a Real Story of Change
Meet Janani. She is the founder of GRIN (Growing In Nature), dedicated to connecting children to nature for a healthy, happy future. Based in the city of Bangalore, India, GRIN is a social enterprise working to build a sustainable and equitable solution to helping every child in India play in Nature.
Like so many creative projects, GRIN emerged in service to a set of intersecting needs in the local community...
Janani observed how young adults were moving into the urban environment from the surrounding rural areas to find work and new livelihoods; these new community members had grown up close to the outdoors and were keenly familiar with nature’s patterns. Could their outdoor experience be shared with their new urban community in some way?
Meanwhile, youth growing up in the urban environment typically had little safe access to nature, and could benefit from guides who could inspire and mentor them towards their own personal connection with the earth.
Recognizing opportunity, Janani gathered with other stakeholders. Over a period of five years, the group has continued working to co-create a robust mentoring environment that supports mentors to share nature’s wonders with the next generation, with amazing results.
Janani isn't implementing this strategy in isolation, however. She has a proven, repeatable map that allows her to look at the bigger picture of her community, helping her to assess the strengths of what is already in place and working well, as well as to identify many of the gaps and needs that are waiting to be met more effectively.
Janani also has tools that help her choose where the most effective places to leverage connection and change might be within her community, so she knows where to start, with a clear vision of what she is working towards. She also observes the gifts and skills of others in her community and is able to gather a network of support when needed, so that she doesn't have to go it alone. Rather, she helps empower and engage others in a collective movement of community building.
Instead of simply experiencing the existing story of her community operating in increasing isolation from nature, Janani’s efforts enliven her community members to work together to intentionally author their collective experience moving forward. Her community members become active authors of the positive changes they seek to experience together. You'll have a chance to hear more about Janani's story in a video interview later on this page...
Her story is one example of a unique strategy for change that has been successfully implemented by many other communities around the world, too.
The tools and strategies that Janani implements for building a spirit of collaboration, and enabling mentoring and planning powerful gatherings, are part of the 8 Shields Village Building Map, a pathway for building strong community connections and resiliency.
If you are a community builder, school leader, volunteer coordinator, or anyone interested in deepening connection and engagement for members of your community or team, you can learn and implement these strategies, and adapt them for your community’s needs, too.
Join us for the next cohort of Pathways to Village Building, our nine-month distance training in the art of positive changemaking for community connection and resilience.
Are You a Village Builder?
This course is ideal for people who want to catalyze and energize 8-Shields-based activities in their local regions. It will also benefit those looking to support and inform their existing community building projects and organizations, with an elegant set of simple design principles for creating connection and regenerative culture.
So whether you are working to help more people in your region connect deeply with nature, or you are looking to help bring more social coherence, peacebuilding, collaboration, and intergenerational support into your community, this course can help.
Please join us if any of these are true for you:
* If you are new to the 8 Shields model, we generally recommend beginning with the 9-month distance training Rebuilding Nature Connected Communities (RNCC), and then continuing for a second year with Pathways to Village Building.
RNCC guides participants in understanding and embodying the Natural Learning Cycle, along with creating connective community events supported by the Acorn Team model. These foundations are important tools that Village Builders often rely upon in facilitating larger community building projects.
Email us at support (at) 8shields.org if you have questions about which program is the best fit for your situation and experience level.
About Pathways to Village Building
Pathways to Village Building is 9-month distance training program, coordinated by regenerative community designers Deborah Benham, Root Cuthbertson, and 8 Shields founder Jon Young.
This program connects you with a network of peers and experienced changemakers from around the world. Grow and discover through ongoing live discussion and mentoring, as you learn and implement the practical tools and philosophy of Village Building.
Training methods include:
online course portal for accessing multimedia materials
video meetings, via Zoom and Maestro, for both keynote presentations and peer sharing
guidance for the implementation of a local project
one-on-one phone calls with your program mentor.
We support your learning by offering:
-How to enhance connection between people in your community.
-How to build the social “soil fertility” in your area, so more regenerative aspects can emerge.
-How to identify and recruit allies, partners, and future village builders.
-Cultural mentoring to role model pathways for more deeply nature-connected people.
-Community facilitation models that build harmony and strengthen existing relationships.
-Ways to support the healing of challenging relationships.
The Power of Three...
It's possible to get started on Village Building as a solo changemaker, since it’s important to start right where you’re at! And, we’ve found that a group of invested stakeholders who “hold center” often experience a special synergy that jumpstarts the Village Building process. Particularly, a group of three...
A group of three forms an ideal collaborative team, with each member bringing a unique set of strengths and gifts to the emerging Village. We call this core group of three stakeholders a “triad.”
Since 1995, the 8 Shields Institute has repeatedly employed the Triad Model with great success. Worldwide, it has proven to be the most efficient way to build capacity, integrate leadership, and train stakeholders in the 8 Shields Model.
We strongly recommend the Triad Model if you:
- want to jumpstart an Art of Mentoring community in your area
- seek expanded capacity to rebuild a regenerative culture in your area
- are a social changemaker cultivating a more resilient community
While you can opt to begin the Pathways to Village Building as an individual and find other stakeholders over time, we encourage registering as a triad to share the training fees and resources. This is the most supportive approach for both learning and community building. The Triad Model works!
We also offer a discount for joining as a triad, (or a dyad). Learn more about tuition splits for triads in the [registration section] at the bottom of this page.
Experience 9 months of comprehensive training in Village Building, with access to one new in-depth study module per month. Each module includes themed coursework, assignments, reflection study questions, and Q&A sessions with the course facilitators.
Explore the theoretical path and practical implementation of building the village through group mentoring, custom 1-on-1 mentoring sessions, and curated online training materials. Click the tab titles below to learn more about each component:
- Group Mentoring
- Custom mentoring
- Online Training Materials
Learn and grow your Village Building skills,
through Group Mentoring:
Engage with two Group Mentoring calls each month. You'll receive access to all of the session recordings, with 16 calls total from October through June. Each call is 1.5 hours. Calls are held on Thursdays.
Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Dates coming soon...
Sessions include two special types of group training calls:
Group mentoring calls with Deborah Benham: Each month, look forward to connecting with a global network of peers, as you share the results of your Village implementation and dialogue around how to work with the best practices you are learning each month. These one hour calls are held monthly on Thursdays; choose from either 4am-5am Pacific, or 12pm-1pm Pacific (a third option may also be added).
Group mentoring calls with Jon Young: Get inspired and learn core principles and best practices of Village Building, drawing on Jon’s 30+ years of on-the-ground Village Building experiences with communities from around the world who are implementing the 8 Shields Model. These calls are held monthly on Thursdays; choose from either 11am-1230pm Pacific, or 5pm-630pm Pacific call times.
Training participants receive three 1-to-1 mentoring calls with Deborah. On these calls, you’ll hone in on the key leverageable impact areas for where you are currently at in your Village Builder journey, clarify any questions that arise as you go, and chart your unique path forward with support from Deborah’s unique skillset and understanding of regenerative community design.
* Dyads and Triads that have registered together receive the three custom mentoring calls together as a group (we find this especially helpful, as your local group will speed up the collective learning curve as you journey together on these calls).
Online Training Materials:
As a group, we will progress step-by-step through a curated set of 8 Shields learning materials, so that you can comprehend the information and integrate appropriate pieces into your project. You'll gain a library of helpful references that you can utilize as needed each step of the way, and that you can refer to anytime you need in the years to come.
- Online Course: Introduction to Regenerative Community Building including videos with Deborah Benham, Root Cuthbertson, Jon Young, and 4 case studies of “Village Building in action” from alumni in our network.
- Webinar: Designing For Peace 4-part series
- 2 Audio Toolkits with Jon Young: Village Builders, All About Anchoring. Through engaging stories, Jon’s in-depth audio series guide you step-by-step in the theory and practice of weaving supportive person-to-person connections, across ages and stages.
- 6 Videos on Applying Cultural Elements from Jon Young’s 512 Project. Discover universal principles that help you to build connection as you build the Village.
Resources for local community mapping & how to build effective collaborations.
Glossary of Village Builder concepts for easy reference.
Special Topic Recordings with Jon Young. Jon shares insights to support your Village Building journey, with techniques often overlooked in community-building efforts, and strategies that can boost connection.
The 8 Methodologies - What are some proven techniques that help connection to take root? Learn a set of methods specific to 8 Shields, aimed at making long-lasting changes in the individual and the community as they relate to connection and well-being.
Inner Tracking - Village Building is a transformational process. One gift of community engagement is that interaction helps each individual to recognize more of their own internal gaps and edges of awareness; Inner Tracking skills help transform wound patterns into gifts that empower vision and connection.
Cultural Appropriation - Cultivating Awareness & Respect - Learn about 8 Shields’ organizational stance on increasing awareness of relevant local histories to avoid unintentional harm while supporting connection to emerge.
Small Group Facilitation - Village Building implies community interaction, which can be supported through simple communication processes; learn basic techniques helpful for leaders of small groups.
Creating Connective Containers - Learn processes that principles that help individuals to feel safe to courageously explore their growing edges with authenticity and presence.
Life-Stage Transitions - Discover the key role of village support for children, teens, parents, and Elders during major life stage transitions.
Eldering Pathways - Why is it essential for a culture to help prepare younger folks to eventually become skillful, empowered Elders with a conscious role to play in community? What systems can support this development?
Regenerative Design - Long-term success in community resilience means moving beyond sustainability. Holding Regenerative design as a north start means we aim to improve human and natural systems year after year.
Succession Planning - Change is inevitable. Successful Village Builders account for this by learning to design good endings and transitions in leadership.
Special Topic Recordings with Deborah Benham:
Self-Care - strategies for increasing well-being and avoiding burnout.
Clean and Clear Meeting Protocol - for clearing a potential conflict prior to a team meeting.
Clearing Procedure - for clearing a negativity between two people.
Group Agreements - establish strong foundations with helpful strategies utilized successfully by many Shields groups.
Mapping the Village - Part 1: Team roles & recommended first steps for any village building team. Part 2: Tools and techniques to map existing local and regional resources.
Governance & Decision-Making - including everyone’s voices while remaining agile enough to make some decisions quickly.
Groupwork & Stakeholder Core Routines. Sourcing from her expertise in effective community initiative design, Deborah shares strategies to help your team members to maintain clear agreements, peaceful communication, and support for one another’s well-being. Topics include:
Monthly Training Modules
Click on the titles below to learn more about each module.
Module 1 (October): Orienting to the Village Building Core Model
Module 1 (October): Orienting to the Village Building Core Model
Review of the 8 Shields Model. What is the mission of 8 Shields? Why are communities around the world recognizing the importance of this mission in meeting today’s unique emergent challenges? As Village Builders, how do we relate to that mission? How are we supporting both people-to-people and people-to-nature aspects of connection?
The 8 Archetypes and the 8 Attributes. When we connect to the 8 basic energies of nature, we step into our fullest creative potential. As we do this, we awaken the internal attributes of peace, joy, full aliveness, and other qualities that indicate the presence of true connection in our lives. These Attributes become our North Star, and the Archetypes become helpers that engage and align us with this guiding vision. As Village Builders, how are we embodying the Archetypes? How can we tell if the Attributes are emerging in our village?
The 8 Acorn Roles. An Acorn is an intentional team that supports connection during group events of any size. As Village Builders, one of our roles is to understand the community from the bird’s eye view, and look for opportunities to build Acorn groups to support specific community needs. How will we distribute leadership in our teams? How do we identify our teams’ needs and fill the gaps?
The 8 Methodologies. What is connection modeling? What is cultural mentoring? Why is the way we do things (conduct) as important as what we actually do (content)?
The 4 Village Stages. How will our villages develop over time? What specifically needs our attention at each stage?
Case studies. Learn from case studies highlighting practical, real-life applications of the model. Discover inspiring successes, top tips, and key things to avoid as you move forward on your journey.
Module 2 (November): Understanding Needs in Cultural Design
Cultural Critique & Analysis. What are the roots of dis-connection in modern western society? What strategies for de-colonization are creating connective cultures?
Historic Context & Historic Trauma. How does the past inform our village building? Which histories are especially relevant to our locations? What sensitivities may be present for people in our area?
Re-designing the commons. How can shared commons re-vitalize our villages? How do we share a sense of “place”? What strategies have worked well in urban or rural areas?
Longing for the village & the 200-year plan. How do we meet people in their longings? How do we role model vulnerability, perseverance, and faith?
Grief-tending. How do we prepare to include grief when it arises? In our teams and our villages, how will we provide regular opportunities for grieving? Explore public vs. private, and group vs. individual grief tending strategies.
Healing. As Village Builders, we recognize that it’s not our role to go it alone. Effective Village Builders know how to weave together the support and expertise from others in the community, so that the village is collectively held and tended, and that each member is welcomed to share their gifts and skills. How are we involving grief-tenders and healers in our village? What historic traumas are specific to our area, region, or village? Which pathways for healing may help?
Module 3 (December): Teams & Anchoring
Mapping The Village, part 1: Team roles, 1st half (N, E, SW, NW). Explore the roles of Designers, Nature-connectors, Peace-builders, and Grief-tenders in the Village. Why focus first on filling these four roles? How do we find likely candidates for these roles? What are some recommended first steps for any village building team?
Self-care. Practice strategies for increasing well-being and avoiding burnout. How can we support well-being in both teams and individuals? How does designing for regular rests, pauses, and leaves of absence create a more connective culture?
Receiving Anchoring. Why is anchoring recommended for all village builders?
Module 4 (January): Supporting Peace, Communication, and Group Harmony
Peace Building. Introduction to the 3 levels of Peace, the Peace Principles of the Great Law of Peace, and the 4 axes of the 8 Shields model. Why are the Peace Principles fundamental for all village builders? How do we build on foundations of peace?
Appreciation & Feedback. What specific communication techniques create a more connective culture? Practice in choosing our finest words.
Conflict resilience. What techniques result in preventing or reducing conflicts? How do we increase empathy, especially for dialogues across difference? Practice in forgiving easily.
Inner tracking. How do we take responsibility for any sensitivities arising from our personal histories? How can we see more of our own blind spots? How do we communicate about this with others?
Clean & Clear. Learn two protocols: One, for clearing any potential conflict prior to a team meeting. The second, for clearing negativity between two people.
Origins of the 8 Shields Peace Principles. What is our relationship to the Haudenosaunee Story of the Peacemaker? What treaties have been made? Going forward, what agreements do we consider?
Cultural appropriation & appropriate cultural sharing. How do we recognize and avoid cultural appropriation? Who might we ask for help?
Module 5 (February): Designing For Creative Collaboration
Collaborative culture. How do we replace individualism or competition with collaboration? How do we balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the group? How do we empower consent, and identify and avoid coercion in group dynamics?
Shared values. Review of the 8 Handshakes. How can groups clearly articulate shared values? Practice in picture forming.
Group agreements. What specific agreements are common for 8 Shields groups? How do we “call to” someone who is out of alignment with group agreements?
Small group facilitation. Explore basic techniques for leaders of small groups. How do we lead without disempowering others? How do we include diverse individual perspectives while encouraging progress toward shared goals?
Module 6 (March): Supporting Regenerative Leadership
Transformational Leadership. What are the gifts and shadows of leadership? How are we de-colonizing our perceptions and attitudes about leadership? How is leadership expressed in our groups?
Mentoring. How are we expressing our commitment to mentoring? What pathways do we put in place, for ourselves and others, to become good mentors?
Role modeling. Which connective routines, for individuals and for groups, are we actively modeling? What aspects of our conduct are we consciously rippling out into our village building?
Giving Anchoring. How are we providing support to others? Are we over-focused on problem-solving, fixing, or seeking resolution?
Connecting to spirit, intuition, & creativity. What is our genius? How do individual creative gifts relate to the village? What is a good leadership role for those who can perceive extraordinary or subtle vibrations?
Module 7 (April): Tools for Connection
Connection to nature and to people. What is the neurobiology of connection? How do humans develop into moral and relational beings who care about themselves, each other, and nature? How do we tend our relationships, and grow our ropes of connection?
Cultural elements. How can we introduce experiential design elements to create a more connective culture? How do we normalize new practices which may at first feel inauthentic?
Creating connective containers. Specific techniques for leaders of small groups. What elements need to be in place for individuals to feel safe enough to be authentically present, and courageous enough to explore their growing edges?
Activities to increase connection. Case studies and examples from successful projects in British Columbia, Washington, California, Ontario, Vermont, North Carolina, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia.
Module 8 (May): Preparing the Groundwork
Mapping the Village, part 2: community and region. Tools and techniques to map existing activities and local resources: venues, funding, adversaries, allies. Things to avoid and top tips for building local relationships.
Community consultation. Practice listening to neighbors’ voices to hear what they need. What strategies encourage transparent communication and build trust?
Life-Stage Transitions. What is the role of the village in celebrating or marking passages together? How can we create relevant ceremonies to support transitions for children, teens, parents, and Elders?
Role of Elders & Eldering Pathways. What are the qualities of an Elder? What village roles are particularly suited for Elders? How do we prepare younger folks to become good Elders?
Team roles, 2nd half (NE, SE, S, W). How do we prepare for our teams to grow? What other team roles can we consider?
Module 9 (June): Bigger Picture Needs
Regenerative design. How do we design not only for sustaining human and natural systems, but for improving them, year after year?
Succession planning. Who will replace us? How do we provide for the next generation? How do we design good endings and transitions in leadership?
Calendar planning. What natural cycles do we honor? When do we gather to celebrate or mark passages?
Renewal of Creative Path. How do we reflect and integrate lessons learned?
Governance & decision-making. What structures empower a distributed leadership? How do our groups take the time to include everyone’s voices while remaining agile enough to make some decisions quickly?
8 Village Pathways & specialist guilds. As our village grows, what other village roles will be needed? How do we identify pathways and provide mentoring for those expressing their gifts?
Village Builders In Action - Video Interviews
Village Building is an intentional process of community connection, serving to connect people-with-people and people-with-nature. Check out what Village Builder alumni are doing in their local communities:
In this video, 8 Shields mentor Josh Lane interviews Janani Eswar (GrowingInNature.com) and Siddharth Bharath (ScienceForThePeople.org) about their experiences with implementing Village Building strategies and techniques in their ongoing community projects.
Meet the Course Coordinators
Deborah Benham has been involved with 8 Shields and the Art of Mentoring since 2011. A participant on the 2015-2016 Village Builders program, she has since witnessed many successful applications of the program’s principles. She is the current course coordinator for the Pathways to Village Building program and also coordinates a number of online and in-person short courses for 8 Shields.
Since 2017, Deborah has led a UK-based team incorporating a non-profit organization to support the development of 8 Shields activities in northwest Europe. Prior to this, as managing director of a sustainable living center, she introduced village building principles in support of developing a residential community and its educational programs. Part of the strategy team for 8 Shields Institute, Deborah is fascinated by the application of regenerative culture within organizations. She also works for the Transition Network, with a particular focus on social change, regenerative culture, and Transition Trainings.
Deborah holds a Ph.D. in wildlife conservation, nature education, and the people/nature interface. After 15 years working in this field, she realized that the critical problems facing wildlife habitats are caused by disconnection and systemic problems within modern human societies. Searching for frameworks amplifying deep nature connection and regenerative culture, such as Gaia Education and Transition Network, she has been passionately committed to 8 Shields ever since discovering it. Deborah lives on a co-operative smallholding in East Devon, England, collaborating with the other members to embody and develop village building and nature connection principles in everyday practices.
Root Cuthbertson loves dancing, music, poetry, public libraries, matching needs with resources, monofloral honeys, generously inclusive humor, and stories about healing and hope. He has lived in a variety of village settings: nine summers as a youth at an 8-week overnight summer camp in the Lake Sunapee region of New Hampshire; and ten years as a young adult in housing and dining co-operatives. He has travelled to live and work at ecovillages and sustainability projects like Lost Valley Education Center, Pachamama, Wind Spirit, D Acres permaculture farm, and Rowe Camp and Conference Center.
Root holds an M.A. in Environmental Education from Vermont College of Norwich University; he is a curriculum designer for 8 Shields Institute and Findhorn College; and former education director at The Newbold Trust, a sustainable living centre in northeast Scotland. He is a certified trainer in Gaia Education eco-social design, and has co-led courses with Deborah and Jon at Schumacher College, in Spain and in Thailand on aspects of social sustainability and cultural mentoring. He attended the California Art of Mentoring camp in 2016, and since 2017 has staffed the first-time adult program at the Vermont Art of Mentoring camp. He is part of two teams developing weekend programs: a UK-based one introducing folks to 8 Shields; and a New-England-based one combining 8 Shields with social change practices.
Root is grateful for the savvy and soulful members of the co-operative smallholding in East Devon where he resides with his partner, Deborah. With Deborah, he co-ordinates the online course “Introduction to Regenerative Community Building” and the 3-part webinar called “Designing for Peace.” He is currently developing new courses with Jon for 8 Shields Institute, including “Designing For Peace 2.0.”
Jon Young is a co-founder of the 8 Shields Institute, a nature connection mentor, naturalist, wildlife tracker, author, workshop leader, consultant, public speaker, and storyteller. A leader in the field of nature-based community building, Jon has spent over 30 years researching the impact and significance of nature on human development.
Jon has authored several books on nature connection and mentoring, including What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World (2013), and Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature (2007). In 2016, he received the Champion of Environmental Education Award for his innovative work, which has inspired positive developments in the field, and fostered the growth of the global nature connection movement.
"Our children and the coming generations need us now, more than ever, to rise to our genius and our greatness…"
Over the last 30 years I’ve had the honor, the pleasure, and the responsibility to share the tools of culture repair and nature connection mentoring with people all over the world.
Constantly I look for patterns in the communities who have adopted the 8 Shields Model, especially where it is really taking root. I have found that there is a particular kind of individual behind the scenes that helps the community to flourish. I like to call these individuals Village Builders.
We are now seeking Village Builders to join us in a very special relationship to help understand and develop the networks of support required to build intergenerational cultural mentoring structures in their own communities.
I see the participants of this global initiative as an integral part of transforming the culture on the planet worldwide and restoring peace and well being for all and for future generations.
If you would like to join us on this journey, please apply now.”
-- Jon Young
Join a global movement exploring best practices in nature-based cultural mentoring, designing for peace, healing historic trauma, and building community:
Registration & Tuition
About Tuition Fees For This Training:
The 8 Shields Institute's financial model is a social enterprise. Every year we rely on generating a large percentage of our operating income from program fees. This covers essential operational costs, like online hosting platforms, creating and updating content and materials, and staff time. We are also working steadily to secure grant funding to make all our offerings more affordable, and to provide discounts for those in need.
We intentionally keep prices low to be as accessible as possible. A portion of the proceeds from this course will be allocated to the 8 Shields Reparations Fund, lending support to BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous, Persons-of-Color) organizations working to establish racial equity in Outdoor Education and Nature Connection.
At 8 Shields, we value diversity in all its forms and commit to actively building a community that is diverse across many dimensions, including race, sex, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, ability, culture, nationality, socioeconomic status, occupational status, education, life experience, religion, political opinion, and level of comfort and experience with the outdoors. We commit to identifying, minimizing and removing barriers to participation in our programs.
Choose from our sliding scale, payment plan, or group discount options below.
Sliding Scale Options
Please choose one of the pricing options below, based on whether you are on a low income (sea level), mid-income (prairie level), or feel comfortably provided for with some to spare (mountain level) - this option enables a lower income person to attend.
We encourage those who are able to contribute to our “Community Coffer” fund (Mountain level option). These contributions are earmarked for folks who apply for discounts on program fees. When you add $100 or more to your program fee, you support someone who may not otherwise be able to participate.
You can choose to pay in one installment or a monthly payment plan over ten months. Payment plans include a 10% administration fee to cover the extra work needed for our staff to manage these.
Payment Plan Options
Small Group Discount Options
Previous participants report that the Village Builders program generates tremendous impact when the training and implementation process is shared by a small group of stakeholders. We encourage triad group registrations, and we offer a reduced package price for triads.
- Triad package $3900 ($1300 per person). Use this link to make one payment for the entire triad; to arrange individual payments, please contact support (at) 8shields.org.
- Triads receive 3 x 90-minute 1-on-1 mentoring calls (instead of 3 x 60 minutes).
- Triads receive 3 x 90-minute 1-on-1 mentoring calls (instead of 3 x 60 minutes).
- Dyad package $2920 ($1460 per person). Use this link to make one payment for the entire dyad; to arrange individual payments, please contact support (at) 8shields.org.
Access special discounts on our other trainings... Village Builders will receive a registration code, valid for 12 months, to receive discounts on our other programs:
- 50% off Village Talk - a community of practice and particularly recommended for folks who do not have a local group or triad. You can learn more about Village Talk here. You can opt in or opt out of Village Talk seasonally, 4 times per year.
- 50% off other 8 Shields digital courses - If you wish to explore other online courses during your 9-month course
- 15% off an individual 9-month course (Year 1: Rebuilding Nature Connected Communities or Year 2: Pathways to Village Building) if you have attended a residential or live event. Not valid in combination with small group discounts.
Frequently Asked Questions
This training is for me if...
If you are relatively new to 8 Shields, we recommend completing our 9-month course Rebuilding Nature Connected Communities prior to undertaking Pathways to Village Building. For others, we recommend 3 or more of the following:
3+ months experience applying the 8 Shields model in your own project, organization or community.
significant experience designing and leading face-to-face 8 Shields nature-connection activities.
significant experience staffing or attending several Art of Mentoring camps, or similar gatherings.
completion of at least three 8 Shields online short courses, ideally on cultural mentoring, e.g. Introduction to Regenerative Community Building.
completion of a substantial program with similar content offered by a like-minded organization (e.g. Animas Valley Institute, Bolad’s Kitchen, Gaia Education, Global Ecovillage Network, Leadership Initiation Project, Non-violent Communication, Orphan Wisdom School, Permaculture Design Course, Placemaking Design Course, Regenerative Design Institute, Surfing the Creative, Transition Training, Work That Re-Connects).
significant experience leading a project for community outreach, engagement, or networking.
significant experience in social activism, social justice, peacebuilding, or changemaking.
How much time do I need to do this course?
2.5 hours per month for live calls
2 - 5 hours per week for reviewing materials
2 hours per week for answering discussion questions in writing, or holding discussion groups to explore same questions
2+ hours per month, meeting one time or more with your Village Building triad or local group.
1 or more times per month informal gathering of your community (e.g. shared meal, lively discussion about community plans, etc)
as many hours as you like of implementing village building activities!
Do I need Internet access for this course?
Yes. The live trainings, video recordings, and all course materials are digital and require a modern browser and good internet connection. You'll receive a unique password to access the member's portal, where each recording will be posted. The calls require Internet or phone-based access via the Zoom meeting platform.
I’m super busy - What if I fall behind?
You retain access to all your course materials indefinitely, so you can choose to work at your own pace. Also, when the course is next offered, we can invite a limited number of participants from previous years to join live calls for their second year.
Do my triad members need to be local?
Local collaborators are definitely best for local community building.
Ideally, to facilitate good relationships and local community engagement, you will be able to meet with your triad members in person at least one time per month.
If you must collaborate remotely, we strongly recommend meeting in person at least 3-4 times per year, in addition to regular online meetings.
We have seen effective remote collaborations for projects which do not have a local focus, e.g. setting up a new 8 Shields program or planning for an Art of Mentoring camp.
If your group does work together remotely, we strongly recommend building in connective social time. During online and in-person meetings, make sure to include gratitude, check-ins, or chats about personal lives, friends, or family.