The Small Earth Institute

katharine stavrinou - House10a (1)


The Small Earth Institute is an initiative for the development of ecological awareness and development in social institutions through permaculture and deep ecology experiences.   We offer courses, workshops, and retreats aimed at developing ecological sensitivity and appreciation as well as understanding of permaculture and Earth systems processes. Our aim is to stimulate ‘earthfulness’; an awareness of our connection to, interaction with, and interdependence on the Earth.

We believe in an ecological imperative for individuals and society ; that the development ecological consciousness  and action is essential in order to protect and preserve the health and viability of the planet we live on and indeed, of ourselves as well. home treesThis is becoming more widely acknowledged and there is a growing insistence in the scientific community as well as more and more in the mainstream, for urgent action in this regard.  However, setting requirements  for or limits on others all too often results in resentment and opposition.   Instead, we prefer to focus on developing ecological understanding through nature experiences, activities and reflection.   The development of the imperative will then come through nature experiences which will lead to deep awareness and a re-identification with wider nature.  DeepTimeWalk forest bathing azadehIt is this identification and commitment that leads naturally to action, whether in one’s own life, or in social institutions.    These ideas were introduced by the famous Norwegian ecologist Arne Næss and elucidated and developed by Dr. Stephan Harding, resident ecologist at Schumacher College, UK.


Permaculture Design Principles offer both metaphorical and practical constructs for developing ecological understanding in practice in individual and social contexts.   Permaculture is a term coined by Bill Mollison, an Australian researcher, teacher and field biologist who started the permaculture movement.  Permaculture is a design protocol, a method for seeing and creating sustainable structures and cycles based on ecological principles, in order to develop productive systems that mimic the stability, diversity and resilience of natural ecosystems.      deep time walk vestfold fall 2017 trees green

To this end, permaculture principles and design methods are applicable to all structural entities, both natural and social.  As a design protocol, permaculture principles are based on those found in nature, and natural solutions are proposed for solving problems in the environment.   In a social context, permaculture provides a methodology for creating sustainable social structures.

The Small Earth Institute has developed a series of initiatives to provide for deep ecological and nature experiences, as well as for the introduction and application of permaculture design principles to planning, and processes in schools and businesses. Use the menu bar above to explore these offerings further or to learn more about regenerative ecology and permaculture.


Some comments on recent Earth Awareness and Schools Seminars include: 

  • The activities were quite interesting, thought provoking, and soul searching. There was an excellent balance between the theory and practice, allowing one to easily flow with the information, and not to feel overwhelmed.  (STAMS Montessori, Stavanger)


  • Jeg likte opplegget på fredag med Katharine. Det var en helt ny tilnærming å se klassemiljøet på. Jeg visste ikke mye om permakultur før, så dette var en fin introduksjon. Hun hadde med gode eksempler på hvordan en tankegang innen dette feltet kan være når det oppstår problemer, både i klasseromssetting samt i andre settinger.(STAMS Montessori, Stavanger)


  • I feel that the seminar we had today was very informative and Katharinelooked at everybody so we all felt included. She gave information that is stuck in my head because of the way she spoke. She always kept it interesting. You could easily see that she has a burning fire about life itself in all forms. I would really like for here to come back and visit us again at the new school. (STAMS Montessori, Stavanger)


  • In order to help us understand our place on this wonderful planet Katharine takes us on a ‘time walk’ where she introduces to us the length of time the planet has been in existence as we walk through the forest. We become aware of our senses our movement sight smell. We begin to understand all the different phases the Earth is been through……And the we come to our present time……what we are doing to ourselves and the planet….what egotism is doing…but there is hope. Thanks Katharine for a truly inspiring day. (Deep Time Experience,Skoppum, Norway)


  • Det var konkrete taktikker på hvordan en kunne bruke denne tankegangen for å utforske andre løsninger. Øvelsene var kreative og det var inspirerende å gjøre øvelsene sammen. Fikk mange ideer om hvordan vi kan bruke disse øvelsene sammen med elevene. (STAMS Montessori, Stavanger)


  • Most often we move from point to point in our lives(straight hurried lines), not thinking of the more meandering lines of journey that allow us to connect with our surroundings through our senses and gain perspective of our relationships and being.  Katharine is gently inspirational. (Skagerak International School, Sandefjord)


  • Turen ute i starten av opplegget var som en slags meditasjon med faktabasert informasjon underveis. Denne turen viste også konkrete måter å jobbe sammen med elevene på. (STAMS Montessori, Stavanger)