Village Builders or Rebuilding Nature Connected Communities?

​Exploring Roles that Support a Connected Community

Village Builders or Rebuilding Nature Connected Communities (RNCC)? Which one should I choose?

This is a common question about our two nine-month distance immersions. In this post, we'll dig into what these two programs are all about, and which one might be the best fit for you to begin with if you are interested in supporting more people-to-people and people-to-nature connection in your school, team, or community.

Pathways to Village Building
8 Shields rebuilding nature connected communities distance mentoring 9-month training

From a ten-thousand foot view:

A Village Builder learns to see and support the big picture of what's happening in their community.

With a "North Star" of connection, well-being, and engagement for all community members, the Village Builder works with other community stakeholders to intentionally design a pathway that helps community members experience and flow together towards these collective goals.

What does this look like in practice?

Often, successful Village Builders engage in some or all of the following:

  • Assessing current needs, gifts & strengths, and possibilities in the community
  • Finding and gathering a diverse team of stakeholders and facilitators, volunteers, or team members to help lift connection for various ages & stages of life in the community
  • Inviting specialized teams & groups to form and supplying them with training tools for effective facilitation (which in the 8 Shields model, includes Acorn-based teams and Natural-Learning Cycle based practices)
  • Supporting communication across community teams through seasonal gatherings that gather all the different ages and interests together

This sounds like a lot, and it is. However, through the Village Building Map, it's possible to learn how to weave a basket of support in doing this so you don't have to go it alone. You'll also learn how to stage this development out in a natural progression so that you don't get overwhelmed. After all, it takes a village to raise a village!

As you can see, the Village Builder is often helping coordinate connection on a large-scale level, across many aspects of ​community.

Because of the wide skill set referenced in nature-connected community development, we generally consider our Pathways to Village Building training a "Year 2 Program"... 

This is because it helps tremendously to have some grounded experience for oneself in ​the team-based tools and Natural Cycle practices that support connection, which are ​explored and practiced in-depth in RNCC.

​​​How does RNCC training support the nature-connected Village?

First, we recognize that connection (whether person-to-person, or person-to-nature) is a practice. When we practice routines that support connection, we begin to embody connection. Then, we naturally bring a connective approach into whatever we are doing.

Because of this, RNCC focuses on helping participants to embody connective practices.

Natural Cycle 8 Directions

Over nine months, you'll be guided to directly experience the 8 Natural Archetypes through nature connection practices. These Archetypes are present in all of us, and when we connect to them through the Natural Cycle of the day and seasons, we can strengthen our awareness of each Archetype and how it helps us engage and connect.

When you discover the feeling and patterns of the Archetypes on a sensory level, you gain a personal understanding that will guide you in how to apply the 8 Shields methodology in any context, whether it's to empower your team with the Acorn Process, or to design an event or experience using the Natural Learning Cycle.

In the RNCC training, you'll learn step-by-step how to create seasonal events that you can include your friends and community in, that help you connect with Nature in each part of the year.

These events are a space where you can put the practices of Acorn Team methods into place, to generate deeper layers of engagement and connection for everybody there.

Whether you want to support an Art of Mentoring event in your area, or you want to create a vibrant nature-based learning space with staff, volunteers and docents at your school or community event, the RNCC training will guide you in how to amplify learning and engagement through embodied practice.

Rebuilding Nature Connected Community experience is also a fun, inspiring way to experience the deep personal transformation that comes with connecting in nature.

Many participants choose to focus initially on their own journey and relationship with the Archetypes, and return later to the materials (or even to the course for a second round!) to focus further on the Acorn and community implementation. In this way, RNCC is a "choose your own adventure" and you'll be supported in whatever way feels best as you go through the course.

If this sounds like a good fit for you, learn more and register for Rebuilding Nature Connected Communities here.

How do the two approaches of Village Builders and Rebuilding Nature Connected Communities fit together?

A Village Builder supports a variety of connective systems to take root in a community.

Different groups form to serve different needs - whether it's a nature connection event team, a Renewal of Creative Path annual gathering,  a Parent's group supporting children who are in a nature program, an herbalist's guild, a Bird Language club, a Board of Directors, or an Elder's Practice group (or even a banjo picking club!).

The Village Builder helps community stakeholders recognize and step into facilitation of these different groups, as guided by interest and skill. It's not the Village Builder's job to do it all, just to keep track of the bigger picture and help everything to flow smoothly.

Each specialty group in the Village draws upon the Acorn and Natural Learning Cycle techniques shared in Rebuilding Nature Connected Communities. So, a nature-connected village benefits from having a number of RNCC alumni present who are helping to boost connection through these techniques. And, the more connection is embodied as a practice, the more the connection transfers and naturally spreads throughout the village ecosystem.

​What is the result of a Connected Village experience?

the 8 attributes of connection

When a Village ecosystem is humming, each person's gifts are being shared, and there is an ongoing space of deep engagement with nature, rich conversations and mentoring, and ongoing personal transformation.

This transformative space results collectively in what we call the Attributes of Connection: a sense of greater embodied well-being, with more inner peace, joy, creativity, and vitality available for all ages and stages across the community.

We've seen this model positively impact thousands of lives as it's been implemented to various degrees around the world over the past thirty years. Stay tuned for more about this, as we interview and share real-life stories from Village Builders.

In the meantime, what do you envision for your community? What's working now? Where is there room for transformation? What would you envision experiencing in your village in five years, ten years, twenty years?


Ready  to learn more? Watch our Open House webinar recording to learn more about Rebuilding Nature Connected Communities and Pathways to Village Building, and to gain tools you can apply to support your own community of connected practice.

Want help implementing Village Building step-by-step in your community, school, or team?

Village Building is an intentional process of community connection, serving to connect people-with-people and people-with-nature.

​These tools and strategies ​ are designed for building a spirit of collaboration, and enabling mentoring and planning powerful gatherings.  Learn more how to get started with these regenerative practices using the 8 Shields Village Building Map, a pathway for building strong community connections and resiliency.

Learn more about our Pathways to Village Building 9-month distance training, where you can engage with a dynamic learning community of peers and experienced mentors. Cohort members gain a comprehensive road map and tools for supporting connection that help you to build engagement and resilience for groups of all sizes.

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.

8 Shields

Our north star is to re-awaken the attributes of deep nature connection in people and in turn help heal the widespread disconnection and loss of culture worldwide.