Viewshed Sanctuaries. Interview with Permaculture Designer & Member Jadene Mayla,, Portland, OR. By Willi Paul
Viewshed Sanctuaries. Interview with Permaculture Designer & Member Jadene Mayla, Portland, OR. By Willi Paul.

"Community greens and plazas create places to develop deep relationships and spend time outside yet away from traffic. Gardens and efficiently layered plantings offering a variety of year-round plant foods buffer plazas from streets and homes. Fine gravel paths wind through these planted areas to plazas from each home, making all common spaces available to all residents. Tillers, lawnmowers, and other tools are stored in community sheds to reduce waste and cost for residents while building relationships based on sharing belongings and exchanging experiences."

Winner: First Place - H.O.P.E.S. National Design Challenge by Jadene Mayla

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Interview with Jadene by Willi -

"What do you mean by 'steppable' plants?

There are plants labeled as steppable available at nurseries nowadays that are basically low-growing species which can handle foot traffic.

Please give us details on your Permaculture master plan for a double lot in Portland, Oregon.

This project needed to provide the client with grow space for production gardens. She wanted to produce unique varieties of food crops to sell at farmer's markets in town. I took her front yard and turned it into a network of planting areas and paths while creating a formal entry garden using the cinder blocks she had on site. I snuck in swales with habitat logs to help control pest insects and hold water in the soil. Pathways for access and appropriate plantings nestled the buildings and maximized use of the perimeter fence while inviting pollinators into the gardens to support fruit production.

In back, a dilapidated building became a rental with garden beds, privacy screening, and clear access. A large hoop house sustained nursery production, with paths through outdoor beds connecting the chicken house, rental, and orchard to the house. In the orchard, layers of ground covers and other plantings supported tree flowering, while a patio and path system encouraged interaction with the trees and allowed for easy harvesting. Bioswales and thick mulch added nutrients and moisture retention capabilities to a once barren and flat area. A small area of eco-lawn replaced the traditional grass lawn that once covered the entire back yard.

Please describe your design process for the Circular stone patio layout in Veneta, OR.

I enjoyed watching sailboats go by in the distance while doing site observation. The design was a large circle to be used ceremonially by the client, who was a shamanic drummer. The property was a jewel, set up a gentle hill from the West Eugene Wetlands with views of the water and neighbors already sharing straw bales and goats within a few weeks of my client moving onto the property. The sails of the ships made for an active viewshed and suggested flagstone rather than square pavers. As the sun moved over the property, the drum head shape of the patio would be partially illuminated, just like the moon.

What non-permaculture professional organizations do you belong to? Why?

I have been affiliated with the Association of Northwest Landscape Designers and have decided to join the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. I'm more interested in the aim of APLD to uphold the standards of the profession. I'm working with Safe Water Oregon on keeping fluoride out of Portland's water supply, because I am drawn to working on water purity and want to support this group in their work. I promote Farm Sanctuary, a group dedicated to securing humane reforms in factory farms. I'm basically a hard-core environmentalist and animal rights activist in Permaculture clothing!

Do you see conviction and vision at the Portland Permaculture Guild?

I love the sharing that I see. I'm excited about Permaculture Exchange for its potential to generate collaborative project ventures among the Permaculture community. There is a group in Northeast Portland working to reduce its high asthma rates through environmental advocacy. I'd like to do a collaborative project to help that group plant trees and shrubs along MLK and other thoroughfares in that neighborhood to catch pollutants from traffic.

Do you see a political role for Permaculture?

Absolutely. Permaculture is poised to save humanity. One way to utilize it in this way is to hold truck pulls in America's Midwestern states, sponsored by Permaculture groups and other similar organizations. I think it has to be "here's how Permaculture can increase your property value, production, and reduce your overall costs" to populations currently entrained and trapped by the status quo mainstream political line.

What is sacred to you? How has this changed since childhood?

I honestly have always been in communication with the Universe, since I was a very little kid. It 'pulses' me like a great ocean, and what could be more ecstatic? I honor the sentience in animals and plants and speak with appreciation to Great Spirit every day. A photo from an old calendar of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge still sends chills through me.

Do you have any Nature-based myths, songs or symbols to share? How do these elements inspire your client designs?

If I were to share my myth of Nature, it would be that of Great Spirit, residing around the Universe as the ocean surrounds and penetrates a fish, calling a song of utmost high vibrational frequency that we all must perk up within to hear. That song calls us home to our highest purpose and our true identities as a bioenergetic species of organism in a dimensional Universe. The song of Life can be heard in the wind through trees and the behavior of wildlife observable in habitat gardens. My design work stems from a sense of the sacred in diversity and a desire to honor natural resource flows across a site."

Jadene Mayla Bio -

HI, I am an award-winning certified Permaculture Designer with a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture (UofO) and a professional certificate in Permaculture Design (Cascadia Permaculture Institute). My experience since 2004 spans projects ranging in scale from an urban side yard to an 18-acre forest marshland. My interest is to empower people to become more interdependent and sustainably grounded in the landscape. My focus is on native wildlife habitat, storm water retention on-site, beneficial pollinators, edible planting design, re-used & local materials, community-building, aesthetics of ecology, resource efficiency, year-round production, cash crops, appropriate technology, and zombie survival.

Connections -

Jadene Mayla
jadene at
Jadene Mayla,

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