PANYA PROJECT ::: V. Community Living

by kaiconfusion

Table of contentsIMG_3581


Written by the author of
currently (2012)  working at the Panya Project. Photos and editing by kaiconfusion.

In the last four posts I have tried to introduce into important practical aspects of alternative and sustainably living. In this 5th post Mich
and I, are trying to introduce in how we can live together and how such life can be organized which is just as well a very important aspect of sustainably living, again at the example of the Panya Project and this time the community.

In Permaculture there are three core values:

Thus Permaculture is not just gardening or agriculture, it is a holistic and sustainable design system in which humans and community are a very important factor within the entirety of the complex interconnectedness of all life.

Panya Community

Besides being a Pemaculture education center, the members of the Panya Project form an intentional community which integrates living and working together, sharing responsibilities, profits from courses, meals, decision-making and more.

It is the community’s intention to demonstrate a different, more sustainable lifestyle and plant seeds in guests and volunteers to take these experiences around the world – promoting and living a more sustainable life.


Everyone in the Panya Community is a volunteer. The volunteers are basically of three categories:

  • The long-term volunteers (LTVs) are those that are running the community, take decisions, organize meetings and activities, coordinate guests and short-term volunteers. They stay long-term, which at the Panya Project means at least 6 month. Because the LTVs are in the position of educators and Permaculture teachers they are required to have taken a Permaculture Design Course and have relevant practical experience which they should be able to transmit to other people. Because of the housing opportunities and the income of the community the number of LTVs and MTVs is currently limited to 12, with a maximum of 10 LTV that are part of the profit share.
  • The mid-term volunteers (MTVs) are the community members that have committed to stay at least three month after their month trial as a short-term volunteer. They share some of the LTVs responsibilities and therefore are able to stay for free, however are not part of the LTVs profit share. The MTVs are often in a position where they don’t have that much Permaculture experience but became very passionate about it whilst being at the Project.
  • The short-term volunteers (STVs) are guests that come to volunteer for a minimum of a week. They pay 250 baht for a days’ stay, which pays for everyone’s food. Besides their daily fee they are required to participate in the morning working sessions and a rotation system of daily duties.

People requesting to become LTVs or MTVs need to fulfill the newly composed requirements and then, as long as there is space for them to join, the LTV community goes through a consensus decision-making process to decide whether they are accepted or not. (


At the Panya Project there are five days of organized group work in the mornings from Tuesdays to Saturdays. The group meets in the morning at 8.30 to discuss the day’s activities. This little meeting mostly starts with a check-in.

Check-ins are commonly practiced in intentional communities and Permaculture groups. They usually consists of a round where everyone has the possibility to express how they feel and place any requests to the group. For some people this a very important part of community life to guarantee that everyone is on the same page and to avoid misunderstandings between community members due to lack of communication.

After the check-in the morning’s activities are announced. These depend largely on the season and the actual work that needs to be done. These morning sessions are usually led by the LTVs or MTVs and are supposed to keep the community’s general activities going: gardening, food foresting, natural building, alley cropping, recycling, site maintenance, cleaning and composting.

The Panya Rotation System is a wheel that includes the four duties of cooking, sweep and tidy, pot wash and Mettā and is what integrates the short-term volunteers instantly into the community. It engages them along with the other community members in the most basic duties that need to be done everyday. Everyone’s name at the Panya Project will be written on the wheel which is turned daily. Cooking includes cooking lunch and dinner, the sweep and tidy team keeps the Sala, the living and dinning room clean and tidy, the pot wash team washes the main dishes, mainly the pots after every meal, while everyone washes up his/her plates and cutlery themselves, and the Mettā  (Pali for loving kindness) team is there to spread love.


There are usually two meetings a week. One meeting consists of a general check-in and the organizing of the next week’s working sessions. This meeting is attended by the LTVs and MTVs. The other meeting is hold if necessary to discuss any other pressing issues and topics and to take decisions for new proposals.
The current decision-making process that the Panya Community uses is consensus decision-making. Rather than majority voting the process of consensus decision-making is designed to include all participants, even minority voices. Inevitably it involves an element of compromise as the group works towards a joint decision which is acceptable to all. In consensus decision- making, the community is concerned with creating win-win situations in placing the good of the whole group above individual preferences. Therefore the process is not necessarily one of seeking full agreement of everyone, but general consent. For a decision to be taken a proposal has to be discussed and clearly formulated. Usually, in a group of ten, we accept two people not agreeing and standing aside of the decision.  If more than ten people stand aside the proposal has to be reformulated according to the groups opinion and everyone’s need. Every member has the possibility to block a decision. This however is considered an extreme measure that should only be taken when someone is convinced the decision will seriously harm the community. More @


The LTVs are required to take on management roles. There are currently 32 management roles that go from gardening to meeting management, social well-being to vehicle maintenance, energy and water system to shopping. Each LTV can chose his/her preference, while each one needs to take on some responsibilities that are not first choice. Many management roles are covered by groups rather than individuals so that a few people share responsibility. Being the manager in a specific area does not give you the sole right to act in this area nor does it take away the right for others to get involved. It simply gives the responsibility to a person to be there when questions arise and make sure that specific areas of the Panya Project don’t get neglected. Once a month the community has a management meeting, where the activities in each area are discussed.


The Panya Project has been running many courses over the last few years. Permaculture Design Courses and others like Non-violent Communication courses are run by guest teachers that are invited. Besides these, the community members organise courses themselves that are either run by the community, as the Permaculture in Practice Internships, or by some members themselves. From the income of courses, the community members can earn some of their expenses back. Usually, half of the profit goes to the main teachers of the course, a quarter to the project and the other quarter is shared between the rest of the community members. This little income is supposed to at least pay for the LTVs visa runs regularly necessary In Thailand.


The challenge at the Panya Project is the transient nature of the community. The founder of the Project gave most of the responsibilities to the community, however the fact that none of the community members owns the land or earns enough money to live here sustainably over a long period of time makes it difficult for the Panya community to build consistency. Basically, the core group that’s running the Panya Project today is to probably 80 percent different from the one that was here 6 month ago. Decisions taken then might not be wanted today while information is often not passed on to new groups so that the same mistakes are done time and time again.


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building new garden beds…                  playing wired community games…             cooking amazing food…

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sitting at the fire…                               planting out forgotten territories…            making name tags for plant identification…


shredding wood…             building new compost piles…   being ridiculous…              backing things in the oven…

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flipping compost…                                            Having Pizza night!…                                        building clay ovens …

and so many almost infinite things more… !




5 Responses to “PANYA PROJECT ::: V. Community Living”

  1. liebe kathie.
    ich habe heimweh nach dir.
    heute is besonders schlimm.
    dicke umarmung vom bücherwurm

  2. Hey Kai, great post, nice editing.. love it, thanks!

  3. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Check out for other great posts about the Panya Project, Permaculture and alternative ways of being …

  4. oooh its like a dream. Keep it up!!!! Never stop discussing, its up to you guys to chenge everything in the project even when structures and procedures seem crystallised!!!!


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