Author Archives: Sebastian Burch

Sebastian Burch

About Sebastian Burch

A Deep Ecologist absorbed by all the subtle qualities of Landscapes; I am a Gardener, farmer and land-artist. Since a child I've been fascinated by the meaning of Life, I'm a bit of a Biologist but mainly try to be a Holistic Learner. I'm guided by the Senses of Place, Self and Community in my work as Program Coordinator, IT Designer and E(co)facilitator. - ;)

Sebastian Burch

The Way of Council


I first encountered “Council” as part of a two day group experience called “Council of all beings”, an empathy building process held by deep ecologists to help ease the sense of alienation from the living Earth that many people feel today.

However, the way of council is a theme that is being explored by practice in different non-formal learning environments world wide. Wherever dialogue takes place, the practice of Council can nurture the experience.

This age-old practice of listening empathetically and sharing heartfelt stories in a circle is as useful today as it was in the past.

There are four basic instructions for participating in council:

  • Listen from the heart.
  • Speak from the heart.
  • Be spontaneous.
  • Be lean.

Council references

A council begins when someone recognizes a need to deepen, clarify, or resolve relationships between individuals or in a group and calls for a council. Sometimes council is called as part of a larger process within a group structure. Everyone involved agrees to participate at a specific time and place. The topic can be chosen by the caller of the council or agreed upon by the participants. It helps to have a central altar or focus, which can be as simple as a flower or a candle. A dedication for the council, spoken out loud, with or without lighting a candle, sets the intention that orients the direction of the council’s unfolding. A talking piece is chosen which can also be as simple as a rock, a stick, a shell or a flower or some more elaborate sacred object that has meaning to the group. All participants agree only to speak when they hold the talking piece and not to make comments when others are speaking. THE WAY OF COUNCIL – Lynnaea Lumbard, 2003 -
Sebastian Burch

Tree of Expectations


The tree of expectations is a group feedback tool that serves as a check-in point for participants in a meeting. Expectations are drawn on the leaves of a tree that symbolically represents a flowing cycle of energy.

Each participant shares with the group how much their expectations are being met by starting the first day by placing the leaf-expectation on the floor, whilst reading it out to the group.

 As the meeting goes on, every day each participant tries to spend sometime under the tree. Looking out for others expectations and raising or lowering his or her own as it feels right.

 The tree we grew during our first meeting had three types of leaves. Each color leaf held a special expectation related to one sense. They were the senses of place, self and community.

By Sharing expectations related to three kinds of senses, we avoid over simplifications and dualism. We allow participants to open up an inner journey, as well as place to discover and a group to belong to. A ritual brings the tree into being and a ritual set it free.

Some of the leaf-Expectations during our first meeting:

Sense of Place

  • Appreciate more the landscape and all the different herbs you can eat
  • To discover, try and learn new hidden places where stories come into being by themselves.
  • I would like to explore the place, find ideas for the place and for myself through the place.
  • see the place through different eyes
  • Share my knowledge and views about what I see here

Sense of Self

  • I would like to be filled up with clean air. Get new inspirations, tastes, recipes and ideas in the 4 fields.
  • Learn to put in practice how my knowledge can be communicated and how I can educate others
  • Being visionary and creative about food
  • being more conscious about my food
  • Confidence in the new food culture

Sense of Community

  • Always Learn
  • Learn something very new and interesting
  • To discover new ways of sharing this space
  • Help with some of the products and wherever help is needed.
  • create harmony, unity, family, inspiration and joy


Sebastian Burch

Planning for Head, Heart & Hands


Before a learning experience takes place, there is usually a period where a program and time-table of activities are created, with the intention to set a purpose and a framework to the future meeting.

When designing such a meeting program, it is easy to get carried away by a strong feeling that our time together should be “efficient”, and therefore we end up filling the whole agenda with structured activities around defined topics or questions. The reason why we do this, is that we feel the responsibility to produce desired or intended results. These “Structured Activities” are very useful and constructive ways to move forward in a defined line of work, and of course to achieve set goals; however, they can become overwhelming to some and quite often hinders the desired agency of participants in a partnership. By agency I refer to the capacity to act independently whilst openly sharing a common learning experience.

There is a growing acceptance in the lifelong learning agenda that we learn from each other by exchanging ideas, by engaging in practical work together as well as by emotionally supporting each other. The acknowledgement of the later two is becoming wide spread in the field of non-formal learning and slowly making its way into formal but alternative learning environments.

This is why, when the Future of Food Learning Partnership got together in November in Spain, we worked around a program that applied the learning principles of HEAD, HEART & HANDS in an attempt to create a Holistic Learning experience for all. Our intention was to compensate the time we spent talking, writing and presenting ideas with practical work growing, collecting and preparing food as well as feasting. We also intended to create space and time for personal feedback to the group in a well cared and ritualistic way, making sure that the needs, feelings and wishes of the group were present all the way through.

First we highlighted the three fields of learning H,H,H – by setting a color theme for the time-table, the fields became apparent in a natural flow of activities that blended with the day to day of the place. The overall expectation was not to give each field an equal time in the agenda, but to give it the right time and space, so that it felt authentic in itself and contributed positively to the healthy learning atmosphere of the group.

There are always changes until the last minute and its a great group exercise. This is the program we ended up with on the first day of the event:


HEAD in the program is represented as blue and a light-bulb. program presentation, structured conversations about products, roles, finances, fields of work and evaluations are some of sessions that need to be covered and fit into learning with the head.

HEART is represented as green and a heart icon. Everyday the official program starts with a group time to hear personal needs, summarize personal goals, sharing an inspirational reading and warm up from a different person every day. By caring for the morning circle and sharing lunch and dinner as a group FEAST The heart is cared for everyday, helping people to know each other. To make sure there is a specially cared and respected space a Council was held on the third day.

HANDS is represented by orange and a hand icon. Everyday the program included time to walk around the farm, forests and gardens identifying and collecting edible plants and food resources. Spontaneous, small and practical work groups were born with the objective of creating and documenting new stories and recipes with ingredients from the place and feasts co-designed by different countries.

This is something that fascinates me,  lets start a conversation!

PLEASE share any comments ;)

Sebastian Burch

El Futuro de la Comida

Pronto os contaremos algo sobre el futuro de la comida!

Another Gallery:

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