After we had agreed that we would work together, Mark said the first thing we should do would be create a Synthesis Document with all the jobs and functions that this project will need to fulfill. This document will help guide the design – because we will be able to look at the design and check off how all the jobs and functions are going to be met.
You can be flexible about your process and what you put into this document. We decided that we would give each function or job an importance rating: 1 is “nice to have” to 5 is “can’t to the project without this”. We would rate each function according to how well we are doing it already: 0 is “not doing this at all” to 5 “wow, we are doing a bang-up job, don’t mess it up!” We would add little notes to ourselves with details or relations to other stuff, and our meetings would be in ad hoc locations.
We quickly made Big List of Functions with some cool, exciting stuff like: Grow Food; Enjoy the garden; Demonstrate the site to others; Increase biodiversity; Capture carbon; Build a hugelkultur; Sleep outside; Handy garden tool storage. But because we were trying to capture all the functions of the food forest/ our back yard we also included mundane functions like: Storage for wood, bikes, the emergency generator; Drying laundry. Mark wanted to be very sure we dedicated Room for Shoveled Snow, having bad memories of the 2015 Snowmageddon with four consecutive blizzards and piles as high as a grown person next to our driveway.
Next, we went through each item on the list and talked about them all over the course of a few walks in the woods and car rides. We went back and forth between the cool, exciting functions and the more humdrum stuff in order to keep the conversation going. Notes from the walks were quickly scribbled down at home, and in the end, Babette made up a synthesis document with the most important functions at the top. It is very useful to have and it was pretty fun to do!
Here is the Synthesis Document: Click here to see it!