Zones and Sectors

  The Zones & Sectors model is a design tool 
  that helps us map elements according to frequency of visits.

  Below we give the original or 'traditional' use given to this model
  (Mapping Physical Landscapes)
  and a variation on the invisible landscape of 'community' (instead of 'land')
  (Mapping Invisible Landscapes)

Mapping Physical Landscapes

Some factors that change in zone planning as distance increases

 Factor or Strategy  
 ZONE I            
 Main design for:
 House climatic, domestic sufficience
 Small domestic stock & orchard
 Main crop forage, stored
 Gathering, forage, forestry, pasture
 Establishment of plants
 Complete sheet mulch.
 Spot mulch and tree guards
 Soil conditioning and green mulch.
 Soil conditioning only.
 Pruning and trees
 Intensive cup or espallier    
 Piramid and built trellis
 Unpruned and natural trellis
 Seedlings, thinned to selected varieites.
 Selection of trees
 Selected dwarf or multi-graft.
 Grafted varieites and plants managed.
 Selected seedlings for later grafts.
 Thinned to selected varieites or by browse
 Water provisión
 Rainwater tanks, bores wind pumps.
 Earth tank and wells, bores, reticulation.
 Water storage fire control
 Dams, rivers, in soils.
House/Greenhouse, storage integration.
Greehouse and barns, poultry sheds
Feed store, field shelter.
Field shelter gorwn as hedgerow and woodlot.
 InformationStored or generated by people
In part affected by other species.
As for II
Arising from natural processes.

Mapping Invisible Landscapes

Stella July 2014 - written as a response to a "Zone00" article, here.

We are very interested in arming students with all sorts of life design tools, also to design one's life, so we adapt tools that have traditionally only been used for 'external quadrant' designs (landscapes, etc.) to design with 'inner quadrant' landscapes, wherever we can.

During the course we do an excercise using the zones & sectors model that consists in challenging our students to map 'their community as a landscape' with a zones & sectors framework. Takes about 15 minutes and I've seen it change people's lives, quite literally...

We start off with saying this is an adaptation of a model used to design landscapes that they will meet later, adding that because like all design tools it's just a conceptual model, we can apply it to other things if we want, like 'invisible landscapes'.

The context is that there's research that suggests that the 5 people we regularly spend most time with (even just mentally, eg. authors) profoundly influence our quality of life (state of mind, world-view, even things like income & health).

Since the zones & sectors is a 'frequency of visits' map, essentially, we can use it map our communities in terms of function: you're in the centre because you're always with yourself (zone00), whoever you live with, and interact with every day, goes in zone0, people you see nearly every day but not so closely go in zone1, a few times per week in zone 2, few times per month in zone3, etc.

The sectors are different influences (supporting influences, or 'sectors of your life') like work colleagues, family, friends, ... & when someone asked what to do with negative influences we added a 'vampires' sector :) People get quite creative with this, as most humans do when we are given some rational framework and invited to play with it (stretch it as much as you like, but don't break it).

Then we superimpose two maps: dots of one colour to represent the people in your life now, and dots of another colour (or another map) how you would like it to be ideally (how you could design it to be).

Everyone finds this interesting & useful to do. I've seen people declare major insights just by doing this simple quick mapping process, which usually invites them to look at their lives in quite a different way than they are used to (take a new perspective). And it's wonderful to see students actually design something as empowering as their emotional & social lives (something they have much control over) right from the beginning of the course.

We tell them they can keep their maps private, but they usually want to share them & by doing so they also get to know each other better. It also multi-functions as a very interesting observation tool for the teachers.

We put it right at the beginning of the course because we think it's important to 'set the scene' of design being about everything, and the context of their lives is an essential & usefully big practical one to start with.

But also we try to put it toward the beginning of the course because we get a very useful glimpse into the world of the student with these maps, which is important for seeing what kinds of support they are likely to need later. In a glimpse we get to see what kind of support they have and would like to have, we can quickly see if they are isolated or surrounded by family, what kinds of 'tribes' they belong to, what is important in their lives & how satisfied they are with their lot, also.

We do the excercise because it's fun and because it's always useful to 'fix' ideas (like the zones & sectors model) with practical design excercises as soon as possible, & we find that not everyone comes to the course with a physical project they can or want to design with, but everyone is constantly designing their own community (& usually mis-designing because we're doing so unconsciously. So mapping such an elusive idea on paper is a great way to change that).

But mainly I use this excercise because I see that model literacy (being able to play with models, not to take them literally, to use them flexibly & creatively adapt them to different functions) is what good designers excel at. Sadly, it seems even general creativity & playfulness is badly lacking in most people who've been spewed out by the education system. But creativity with models is a major factor in increasing intelligence, and all of these - creativity, intelligence, flexibility... are totally basic design skills. Which we can teach or at least stimulate in our students.

The infuriating 'copying instead of designing' disease I see far too much in the permaculture movement I put down to lack of imagination + model illiteracy. 
Imagination has to be modelled, but model literacy can be taught quite directly - and permaculture design is ridiculously full of opportunities to do both.