Reviews

Reviews from the 2015 Optical Surveying for Earthworks course

5*s My experience at Optical Surveying was awesome.  I received a very extensive/hands-on education that I will be able to implement and build on for multiple projects.  Hazel, Karen & Melanie are great teachers and the entire course was full of very practical knowledge.  I look forward to returning for the social forestry class.  I feel that I have a practical understanding of all tools used throughout the course.  All methods covered during the course make sese as well and I feel confident that I can begin using both tools and methods in the field to complete projects.

4.5*s This course had a consistently advanced level of high-quality information.  Tom's teachings were insightful and professional.  Participants are treated as colleagues.  This is an essential course for anyone who wants to do permaculture design at a high level.

4.5*s A wealth of knowledge from Hazel and all instructors.  Great course.  Come ready to learn and expand your view of permaculture by learning to survey.  It's really nice to learn with traditional analog technology and not smart phones.  Alternative builders could really benefit from this class.

5*s The best course in the northwest, hands-down.

4.5*s Tom has a wealth of knowledge and experience.  Tom tells lots of interesting stories relevant to a variety of subjects.  Review trigonometry before the course because there is little time for math lessons.

5*s I got all I expected, which was overview and confidence in beginning to implement (and understand) keylines, topography, soils and how to read and map them into a plan.  Thank you!  I have a lot more to learn, but I am very satisfied with the course!

4.5*s Need to cover a little more to be perfect.

5*s I learned so many useful ways to assess a landscape  Without surveying up to now, I've been shooting in the dark.

5*s If you are a homesteader, this course will give you the tools to map and plan what goes where on your property, especially with placement to maximize efficiency and care for the earth.

4.5 *s The course was packed with information and activities to put practice to the information.  I am going away from here with a whole new level of understanding of surveying and earthworks.

Reviews from the 2014 Optical Surveying for Earthworks course

5*s This course is rare and wonderful.  My work as a landscape designer/permaculturist will be informed in so many ways.  They surveying skills are fundamental tools, but the context about when surveying is important and the ecological world view conveyed are life changing.

5*s This course has provided me with a solid skill-set for improving my layout and design on both large and small projects.  It is an excellent blend of theory and practice.  Highly recommended.  The three instructors work really well together and have a very complimentary dynamic that makes the class both informative and fun.  Thanks!

4.5*s This was an excellent course for an introduction to basic surveying and mappling skills.  But more than this, the course offered me opportunities to deepen my understanding of my surroundings and my connection to nature.

4.5*s Great course to learn and practice basic surveying skills for earthworks, waterways and trail systems.  I loved the hands-on practice, way above what I've experienced in other permaculture workshops.  Tom is very visionary in how these concepts can be applied and has a wide view of the applications of surveying.

5*s Excellent content, clear instruction, with adequate time devoted to repetition of concepts for full understanding.

5*s This course gave me the practical, analog skills for design, survey and layout so that I can de Permaculture design and development without being dependent on expensive technology.  Now I can survey with or without electricity or digital tools.  I feel blessed and honored to have teachers, mentors and elders of this quality.

The course provides real world training and gave me confidence in my own abilities as well as third party map accuracy and usability.

Reviews from the 2013 Optical Surveying for Earthworks course

5*s This has been THE best educational experience that I have ever had! This is a practical application of survey techniques.  The wealth of information that Tom has to offer goes light years beyond the scope of this course.  I wish I had more time to spend with them completely and overwhelmingly engaging.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You all are so nice and so helpful; I loved it that questions were encouraged.

5*s Clearly this was a 5 star course and experience.  I have looked near and far for a course covering these analog surveying skills and I am impressed with the spread and depth of the curriculum and the steepness of the learning curve.  This course is ideal for every serious permaculturalist who is eager to implement his/her own earthworks.  Tom is among the best and most experienced permaculture teachers I have encountered so far. Thanks for the great teaching, patience and great organization.

5*s This course provided the opportunity to learn the beginning surveying skills needed to take the leap from theory into actual design.  The wealth of both permaculture wisdom and surveying skills imparted was priceless.  Teaching staff were excellent, attentive to individual needs and knowledgable.  That you for your dedication to moving the leading edge forward, for your sharing of yourselves and your individual skills and knowledge sets and for your great hearts and humor.

5*s for such a broad spectrum of surveying.  We covered a lot of information in such a short amount of time.  If I had more time in my present life I would love to go in depth into each aspect of surveying covered, but I appreciated that this class is offered so it can fit into my life & schedule.  We stumbled through the math in some of the activities, but we have the formulas to practice with which I plan on doing with my sons who are more excited about math than I am.  How with the project at home, they can apply their math in a real way.

5*s Tom, Melanie and Karen are a great team.  They combine a huge amount of knowledge with great practical skills working in the field.  Tom's zany stories are a welcome addition and break amidst the teaching of some complicated materials.  This course is a must for anyone who wants to truly learn how to design a property with loops all closed.  Thanks so much for a great learning experience!

5*s Optical surveying with Siskiyou Permaculture is a rare treasure chest of in depth practical knowledge to start the observation process in the most accurate way we have available.  The knowledge I gained during this course is not available anywhere else with this level of accessability. I feel very much empowered to start practicing surveying on any land.

5*s Wow.  That's a lot of information!

Reviews from the 2011 Optical Surveying for Earthworks course

5*s Optical Surveying with Tom Ward give the nuts and bolts hands on experience with surveying and earth/water works, including a grounded foundation in math needed to confidently initiate permaculture design.  I think the course should be mandatory.

4*s It was frustrating to not have a full understanding about what we were doing and why--even after reading the handouts and briefing; better clearer handouts with cartoon schematics would help, especially when it's hella hot and uncomfortable.

5*s The course was chock full of basic surveying principles to give us strategies for earthworks layout, design and implementation.  This course should be a mandatory part of all PDC curriculi.  thank you for being such great hosts/esses!

? Tom is a master teacher, storyteller and ecologist.  He interweaves stories of the land, indigenous people and the topic at hand in ways that make for a very rich learning experience.  The course is both challenging and fun.  I learned a lot about basic surveying tools and methods that gave me a good foundation to continue learning and applying to my own projects.  This course and what you have to offer is so valuable.

5 *s If one is looking to explore the fundamentals of surveying, thru the lens of permaculture, keyline & whole systems design and dimension, perspective & a foothold in the most relative activities.

4*s This course gave me the confidence and experience to build earthworks.  It offers hands on technical experience on how to evaluate sites for swales, ponds, trails, roads & keyline ripping patterns.  I'm grateful for all the work everyone put into this class; I learned so much.

5*s For the grand scheme; 3.5-4 for the end result (for me), and I know that has a lot to do with me.  A great intro, but for me I would like more time in the course for the absolute basics.  If you already have a good basic grasp of the tools & methods, this could be perfect.


Reviews from the 2010 Optical Surveying for Earthworks course

***** Coming into this with an engineering background and forestry skills, I learned so much more than I thought I knew.  There really is no cookie cutter best practice.  You must survey!  I had a blast!
Would you recommend this course?  Yes, may require it for designers on my team.

**** The course provides a good overview of optical surveying for permaculture in a a real-life setting where some of these concepts can be understood and internalized.  It comes close to an immersion program.  Thank you.

Would you recommend this course? Yes


***** I feel this course was a very unique opportunity for me to get more professional with landscape design, and it gave me a lot of ideas, inspirations and practical methods to apply the ideas.

Would you recommend this course? Of course! 


***** Tom weaves wisdom, technical and local historic knowledge into a course that expands the basic practices of optical surveying for earthworks into a truly integrated survey skill set for permaculture and whole systems design.  Thank you gratefully for being you, and being so damn inspiring, and such an artful teacher.

Would you recommend this course? Yes!!


***** Tom Ward's Optic Surveying Course is a mind filling educational experience.  Learn how to use surveying methods to use for assessing, designing and laying out permaculture earthworks.  Thanks for sharing your knowledge, stories, experience and expertise.

Would you recommend this course?  yes


*****Great skills building and deepening of how to use hand tools.  Great referencing of permaculture principles and projects. Great weaving of energy descent future and practical ways to prepare for it.  Great overview of permaculture counseling and quick fixes, retrofit and optimal permaculture design--how to point out what is necessary while not limiting or compromising your opportunities.  Bravo!!  I'll be back.

Would you recommend this course?  Absolutely.


*****Great course.  Just what every new permie needs to know in order to get out and break some ground.  I would have liked a third and fourth weekend with some hard labor.  A more advanced surveying course would be awesome.  I found Tom's house extremely interesting.  I would love to have a whole course devoted to learning about all that is going on there.

Would you recommend this course?  Definitely.  I think it is cretical knowledge for PDC grads.


***** Thanks to Tom for giving me direction.  I felt a bit lost and stagnant with my own permaculture practice.  This course challenged me in more ways than I ever thought possible and that's good!  I also want to thank Tom for making the course affordable and making himself and his experiential knowledge available.  He is a permaculture elder to admire.  Thanks to Melanie for helping with my own logistics.  Without her help this experience might not have been possible for me.  Keep up the good work Tom!  Truly amazing.  It makes me happy to know that this much earth is under your watch.

Would you recommend this course?  Yes definitelyl!  I'm not going to shut up about it.


*****  At the end of the first weekend, my mind was swimming with information and tools I didn't quite understand.  By the end of the second weekend, I felt confident to go out and survey keylines, trails, water drops and more.  Everything was tied to practical permaculture usage and filled out with fascinating stories.

Would you recommend this course? Yes.  Essential skills.


**** Great hands-on experience with an energetic and qualified instructor!  Please do more advanced permaculture courses.

Would you recommend this course? Yep.


****  I came to the class because I have a small property where I want to improve the spring fed irrigation system and lay out trails in a forest.  I have used some of the surveying equipment 10 years ago while doing habitat surveys, but was not at all confident about how to tackle my project.  This class has helped refresh my old skills and expanded my understanding of surveying theory and practice.  I feel confident that I have the surveying skills I need now.  I also really appreciated learning more of the technical requirements and surveying methods for other types of earthworks.

Would you recommend this course? yes


**** Beautiful location! and basic but very functional camping facilities.  Really enjoyed the communal meals and the group of people.  Very good instruction.  Challenging but also time to review and practice so came out feeling like I learned a lot and have new skills I can use.  So much to cover and many different needs to meet.  You guys did a great job of adjusting and being sensitive to different people.  Seems like we could have spent more time on more subjects--possibly 3 weekends.

Would you recommend this course? yes


****-1/2 This was a great course, with tons of great information, teachers and students.  Well done--great job.

Would you recommend this course? yes


**** Provides a great foundation to familiarize students with optical instruments so they in turn can develop expertise for their own surveying needs.

Would you recommend this course? yes

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