Learn hands-on about how to build a sustainable and regenerative world.

We are Ashley and Patrick, a couple of Chicagoans turned Uruguayans. We have moved our family to Uruguay to learn how to live sustainable and resilient lives, and to share that knowledge with with others.

South America is at the cutting edge of envisioning a sustainable future from the landless peasants movement of Brazil (MST) to being home to the former ‘poorest president in the world’ Jose Mujica. Uruguay is an ideal place to consider a future that is not only sustainable, but regenerative. We want to consider how to find a way for humans to live well while making the Earth healthier and more habitable, both socially and ecologically.

The project of Rizoma Field School is four parts: research, teaching, activism, and living. In our research, and especially in Ashley’s book, we ask questions about the adoption of sustainable technologies, social structures, and communities of practice. We seek to publish this research in accessible language so that others might learn and adopt sustainable livelihoods. In our teaching, we incorporate experiential learning; students spend time doing hands-on work with members of our community here in Uruguay who live sustainably, and we then discuss what students are seeing through the lens of scientific research. We have also begun teaching through Rizoma School online, pairing students with local mentors on hands-on, practical skills related to sustainable living.

As activists, we work with local networks like Slow Food Uruguay, or the Agroecology Network, as well as international networks like Degrow US or SCORAI to help build connections and support political movements. Finally, we try to practice what we learn through our own living: we use low technologies like clotheslines, solar water heating, passive solar, greywater gardens and a composting toilet, we self-produce food through permaculture and regenerative animal agriculture, and we try to live a low-consumption life. We want to be a living example of living sustainably while not sacrificing quality of life.

In our courses and projects, we consider how to take on this task by melding classroom learning with international field experience. How do you set up a cyclical waste system and why is it important? How does social equality contribute to a resilient society? How do economic systems impact how we interact with nature? What are the ways in which our micro decisions scale-up and how do we consider those decisions in daily life? We will contemplate these questions through the lens of history, philosophy, literature, cinema, art, agriculture, sociology, and environmental studies. We want to teach you both the philosophy and practice so that you may bring these principles to your corner of the world.

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