Jillian spent much of her younger years in the outdoors whilst growing up in the province of Quebec: riding and training horses, working as a white water river guide, teaching downhill skiing, and working in the bush. She was deeply imprinted by nature through these experiences, and they developed in her a facility to see and feel patterns and flows. Jillian went on to study the biophysical world at the University of Guelph in the province of Ontario, and followed her heart and gut through her studies which culminated in a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Though she enjoyed what she learned, she thought that there was much that was missing. Permaculture helped to remedy that when she took her Permaculture Design Course at The Ark on Prince Edward Island in 1996.
Jillian took to permaculture like a duck to water, and immediately founded the Permaculture Working Group in Guelph, and went on the next year to run the Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm in Tennessee where she co-taught permaculture design courses. Upon returning to Ontario, Jillian became a core member of the Permaculture Community Action Worknet, and the Eastern Permaculture Teacher’s Association, whilst she was pursuing a Masters in Environmental Studies, focused on Sustainable Community Planning and Design.
At the turn of the millennium, Jillian founded The Sustainable Living Network to provide support and inspiration for people and organizations to move towards sustainable and healthy living. The offices and gardens served as learning grounds for scores of volunteers and summer students, and the Sustainable Living Books community service bookstore supported thousands through the resource material it made available at eco events over a decade.
Jillian has worked on a wide variety of projects internationally, from urban balconies, to full communities. She works collaboratively with people, discerning the patterns of the systems, including the human systems of an environment, as a wholistic frame for catalysing healthy change. This set of practices has included one-on-one coaching over the years, which is one of Jillian’s most satisfying areas of work in the world.
Another true passion for Jillian is teaching, and she has taught at a variety of colleges and universities, as well as dedicated eco institutions such as Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and the Ecosa Institute, and also at a number of permaculture education centres in North and Central America. Jillian is pleased to be returning to teach with Aranya and Peter Cow at High Heathercombe this year, as it provides a great opportunity to cross-pollinate between lineages of teachers, the richness of which helps us all to learn and grow.