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I am concerned about the price of these PDC's.  Why so much?  Priced me out for sure.    I am sure to someone with the extra cash it is well worth it, but come on who needs to make that much money in such a short amount of time for teaching what you believe in.    I think that true learning comes from hands on practicing and hearing from an expert.  If permaculture will save the planet then learning how to practice it will have to be available to all, specifically the PDC courses.

Edit: I accept that I could be totally out of line here
        I would still love to see a breakdown of the budget for these things.
 
Kelda Miller
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Ryan: totally. I've worked for months to get grants so we can do PDC trainings for free in the county where I live (western washington), still to no avail. BUT, from industry/govt standards it's freaking cheap. They say "wow for about $1,000 a head you can do All this training!!??! And people create jobs afterward!!??!!" It's phenomenal according to their data.

When people see the price, it's expensive compared to What is the thing? A college teacher took my last course and I asked him how many credits he thought it'd be equivalent to if it was in a community college. He said between 12 and 16 credits, depending on how much time someone puts into their final project. It's equivalent to Master Gardener trainings, and native plant trainings. But with those trainings its important to remember that some gov't entity (and ones I don't tend to agree with) foot the bill. I'd love to find stats on how much $$ they pay per person. As I think PDCs still win out. And when your class is sponsored by the State Noxious Weed Board, or by chemical companies puppeting at the State Extension Agency, then you're training will reflect it. Luckily, our local Master Gardener trainings just started getting funding by our County Solid Waste dept, so that's heaps better than chemical company, and then strangely enough, the Master Gardener's could now recommend organic options. You do the math.

Also, the PDC we're talking about is a residential. They're more expensive because that's food and housing for two weeks!!! In the city I do mine cheaper because we only pay for lunch and we don't pay for accomodations. But the downside is that 'residential PDCs' like this one in Montana are really live-in, life-changing experiences. And you won't have to pay for food for two weeks!

Noone is getting rich. I'm sure any PDC coordinator would be willing to show you the budget and you'd see that. This is more than 72 hours of class time and I don't know where you could get that kind of thing for totally free. Someone is always footing the bill.
 
            
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Thanks Kelda.  I understand a little better now. I did not realize that this is a residential, that changes things a bit.  I agree about the Extension classes.  A PDC cannot be compared to any offerings by the state, maybe someday the state will connect with the people.  I would like to see the budget break-down to be reassured. 
 
paul wheaton
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They are offering the PDC for hundreds of dollars less than what I suggested.  Frankly, I'm mystified at how they can pull it off so cheap.  I'm used to paying $2000 for five days of instruction in the geek world.

If the price is too high, don't go.  There are heaps of free resources.  Or, try to arrange a work trade.


 
Kelda Miller
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Ryan, if you're seriously interested in taking the PDC and seeing the budget break-down would be important, than I say contact Skeeter or Marisha about it and tell them I sent you. If you want to see an example of a residential PDC's budget, just for curiosity's sake, I'll attach one.

And a note about what amount the teachers make: Remember they're responsible for the classroom for 2 weeks straight. Or in my case with weekend classes, for 100 hours of classtime. BUT there's easily just as much work (in my case I'd say 2x as much work) preparing for everything that goes into the classroom before the PDC even starts. That's doing publicity/free events, preparing slideshows, classroom materials, hands-on projects, etc. So take their amount, divide by 100 per hourly classroom wage, then divide that by half or even twice-half for hourly out-of-classroom wage. Also, most of the permaculture teachers I know have willingly taken severe budget/income cuts if students don't have funds and most want to do worktrade.

Additionally, I'm happy to answer any other questions about what the different roles are. And Paul, this might be good to separate into a different thread at some point.
Potential-Residential-PDC-with-Workforce-Grant.xls
[Thumbnail for Potential-Residential-PDC-with-Workforce-Grant.xls]
 
paul wheaton
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I split this out from the sepp holzer thread. 

It seems this topic comes up about every six months (either here or in other places).  And, frankly, I am completely baffled every time.

If you think the price is too high, you have options:

1)  try to arrange work trade

2)  don't go

3)  offer your own PDC for a price that you think is good

I have seen PDC's offered as cheap as $350 - but it was for three weeks, and you were expected to put a fair bit of backbone into it.  And, there wasn't any budget for marketing, so most people never heard about it. 

I think that it would be good to have an annual PDC that cost $3000 and was at some sort of resort and the instructors would be the best-of-the-best.  Then, any PDC that cost $2000 would seem like an amazing discount for a PDC that would probably be almost as good as the $3000 PDC.  And the $1500 PDC would seem super duper cheap. 

I think there are a lot of people that would never go to a $1500 PDC just because it is so cheap, the information must be lame.  But they would go to a $3000 PDC. 

I think that what is offered at most PDCs is well worth $3000.  And it is mighty generous of the PDC provider to offer it for so much less. 

 
paul wheaton
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Another option:

4)  If you don't like the price of a PDC, donate $20,000 to the provider so that they can cut the price in half


 
paul wheaton
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There's a 200 acre farm for $450,000.  Too expensive for me.  Should I keep shopping or start a campaign "Hey, people need farms, and that price is just too high.  How do you expect people to be able to buy farms at that high of a price?  Are you some sort of Elitist? I am sure to someone with the extra cash it is well worth it, but come on who needs to make that much money in such a short amount of time for a farm they don't even want to farm anymore?"

Or I'm at the organic food store and I want a sandwich, but the price is $5.50:  "Hey, people need food, and that price is just too high.  How do you expect people to be able to buy food at that high of a price?  Are you some sort of Elitist? I am sure to someone with the extra cash it is well worth it, but come on who needs to make that much money in such a short amount of time for a sandwich they aren't even going to eat?"

I see a lot of excellent PDC instructors working very hard to do good things, and they give away a mountain of freebies, and after hundreds of hours of hard work, budgeting and risk to get the event to happen ...  I very much want to help them.  The message is a good message.  And I think they are working very hard for a price that is far too low.  I think they should charge more and then they would be able to spend more time teaching more PDCs rather than having to cobble together other jobs to make ends meet.


 
                        
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Posted this on "permaculture and money" thread.  Seek out free or by-donation courses, they exist. I went to a by-donation course in July/August sponsored by the Possibility Alliance of Northeastern Missouri.  Great people.  I don't mean to say that those making money off of permaculture are not.  To each their own.  You can find a way.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Ryan H wrote:
If permaculture will save the planet then learning how to practice it will have to be available to all, specifically the PDC courses.


Why "specifically the PDC courses"?  People can learn permaculture from books, from messageboards like this one and from observing other people practicing permaculture.  

If one wants the teaching certificate, maybe a bunch of friends and family could get together to pool their resources and send one to a PDC, then one could return home and teach all the friends and family for free!  

 
Tyler Ludens
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Hey, I know!  Maybe we here can set up some kind of scholarship fund to send a permie to a PDC, then they can teach us (online) for free and we can all get certified to teach, and teach a bunch more people for free! 

But we would have to trust each other enough to invest in one of us taking a PDC and agreeing to teach us all for the cost of whatever we donated to the scholarship.   
 
                              
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I can think of two online PDC course that are half the price of a live one.

And there are some people setting up a free online PDC course. They're still taking money donations afaik as well as content:

http://www.impermanencefilm.org/the-free-pdc.html
 
Tyler Ludens
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pebble wrote:
I can think of two online PDC course that are half the price of a live one.


Can you link to them, thanks.
 
Derek Brewer
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http://mediasite.online.ncsu.edu/online/Catalog/pages/catalog.aspx?catalogId=f5a893e7-4b7c-4b79-80fd-52dcd1ced715
Free online permaculture course. Anyone can watch it at any time. Just no cert and you miss the practical/hands on stuff.
 
                              
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Ludi,

http://permaculturevisions.com/Pm-desc.htm

http://www.pohara.com/weston/PDC%20Correspondence%20Course.htm

There are people at the PRI forum who have done the first one, if you want to check it out with them.
 
                            
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I did my PDC with permaculturvisions.com .  I chose them mainly because they were cheap.  To some extent, you get what you pay for.  I had been reading PC books, magazines, websites, etc., for years and knew most of it already.  I wanted to have the paper to prove I knew as much as I thought I did.  One good thing about doing the course though was if forced me to look at some of the things that I hadn't really been interested in.  That made some of the parts fall together better.

I'm sure I would have learned more with more hands-on training, and so I recommend taking a course in-person if you can,  but if you can study well on your own and really need to stick to a tight budget, on-line can work too.

I hope to offer my own course someday.  I'll not be competing with my teachers on price.  There is a lot that goes into putting on any class that you don't see until you do it yourself.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks!  I'm mainly interested in getting a certificate to teach, as I think I'm learning most working on my own place and corresponding with all you folks here over the months and years. It's unlikely I would ever be able to take a hands-on course.

I would like to be able to teach at my place here. 
 
                              
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I haven't done a PDC, and I'm still unclear about whether it's sufficient to teach from. It used to be that if you'd done a PDC, the course content was set up so that each graduate could then teach the PDC (so permaculture could go viral). But in reality I'm not sure if that's true anymore.

I've heard good things about the permaculture visions course, but I think their statements about copyright of the word 'permaculture' (there is no such thing) is inaccurate and so their advice about who can use the word is somewhat misleading. I can't follow what they are saying about teaching - the Mollison's Permaculture Institute used to hold a register of teachers, but there's been conflict over this and I don't know what the story is now (I think PRI Australia was meant to be sorting it out). The whole set up in terms of who can teach and who is a good teacher seems messy to me. I'm not sure if it's any better in the US, but it might be a good idea to contact the PRI there and ask them what is needed in order to teach.

Paul Wheaton's Third Ethic podcast with toby hemenway has a bit of interesting discussion on this in a US context.
 
                              
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Homesteadpaul, thanks for that. I've also been wondering if I know enough now to not get so much value from the correspondence course. But I also feel there will be gaps in my knowledge because I've only worked with what I've needed to learn in my own life, not the broader permaculture. It's hard to tell, but PV do have a reasonable outline of the curriculum on their website.
 
Tyler Ludens
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pebble wrote:
I haven't done a PDC, and I'm still unclear about whether it's sufficient to teach from.


Weird.  I wonder if anyone here knows! 

 
Neal Spackman
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I took a PDC for $1500 in Jordan.  It was worth every penny.  It included lodging for 2 weeks, 2 meals a day, 72 hours of coursework, plus we got to do a design for a local business's landscape that they later implemented.  Of course I had to fly to Jordan (but I was already in the area).

The content of the PDC is supposed to be all from Mollison's Design Manual.  you can get most of the same information from the book.  The real advantage to a PDC is the networking, the teacher, the practices you get to do, and having a certificate for teaching. 

That's not to say that I'd consider myself a teacher at this point--i've only been practicing permaculture for a couple years--but I am prepping a class to do in Arabic, hopefully in the next year or two. 

As for the copyright:
The word permaculture is copyrighted and owned by the total number of people with a PDC.  From the preface of the Designer's Manual:  "Permaculture's copyright is vested in the Permaculture Institutes and their College of Graduates, and is guarded by them for the purposes of consistent education." That's the real reason it's copyrighted. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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Pneal wrote:

As for the copyright:
The word permaculture is copyrighted and owned by the total number of people with a PDC.  From the preface of the Designer's Manual:  "Permaculture's copyright is vested in the Permaculture Institutes and their College of Graduates, and is guarded by them for the purposes of consistent education." That's the real reason it's copyrighted. 



No, it is not copyrighted  There is no copyright on a word or concept.  It simply does not exist in any legally accepted meaning of the word. 

 
Jonathan Byron
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Words can be trademarked, and if they are unique creative expressions, they might be subject to copyright protections. ... for example, one might get into serious legal issues if they tried writing books that used the term "The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" even though all of these words were pre-existing when Douglas Adams wrote his book.

With respect to Permaculture, it is my understanding that the general idea of Permaculture is not subject to any legal protection or exclusivity, but that the term 'permaculture design course' is. People can write books about permaculture, they can teach classes on permaculture, but they cannot call their course PDCs unless they have approval.
 
Tyler Ludens
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There is no trademark on the word "permaculture" at the present time. 
 
paul wheaton
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I think the point of trademark/copyright is legally debatable.  Further, I think if it were tested in court, the results would depend greatly on the quality of the laywers and the mood of the judge.  (I major element to consider is "natural" trademark, which does have legal weight)

More importantly, I think that if a person wished to use the word "permaculture" in their stuff, they would think that it appeals to people familiar with the word.  However, a lot of that community believes that using that word without having taken a PDC is a violation of something-or-nuther and generally considered icky.  So where the intent was to draw permies in, you might end up actually driving permies away.  So to use the word "permaculture" without having paid your dues seems like a generally bad idea to me.

On the other hand, there are people that have gotten away with it, but it does seems like their accomplishments are pretty massive.  And they are not attempting to teach a PDC.  So people tend to look the other way. 

I made the choice to take the PDC to be able to use the word in my stuff.  More out of respect for the rest of the permaculture community than over any concerns with the legal aspects.    Although I do think there could be some legal ground there if somebody because passionate enough about it and could afford a good lawyer.




 
Tyler Ludens
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paul wheaton wrote:
However, a lot of that community believes that using that word without having taken a PDC is a violation of something-or-nuther and generally considered icky. 


This idea makes me feel sad, because even Bill Mollison said people could use the word if they adhere to the ethics and principles of permaculture, not because they took a PDC.     I like that everyone here on the board could use the word "permaculture" to describe their endeavors if they're adhering to the ethics and principles of permaculture.

"The word 'permaculture' can be used by anybody adhering to the ethics and principles expressed herein.  The only restriction on use is that of teaching; only graduates of a Permaculture Institute can teach 'permaculture', and they adhere to agreed-on curriculae developed by the College of Graduates of the Institutes of Permaculture.'  Preface, Permaculture a Designers Manual by Bill Mollison.

emphasis mine

I feel sad that a lot of people in the permaculture community want to make the word "permaculture" off-limits to more people, not more accessible to more people.      That kind of artificial roadblock seems to be inhibiting the spread of permaculture, if people who aren't doing anything wrong are seen as trying to "get away" with something, in my opinion. 
 
Benjamin Burchall
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I feel sad that a lot of people in the permaculture community want to make the word "permaculture" off-limits to more people, not more accessible to more people.      That kind of artificial roadblock seems to be inhibiting the spread of permaculture, if people who aren't doing anything wrong are seen as trying to "get away" with something, in my opinion.   


^ This is one of the issues that drove me out of wanting to be bothered with permaculture circles before.

I think the point of trademark/copyright is legally debatable.  Further, I think if it were tested in court, the results would depend greatly on the quality of the laywers and the mood of the judge.  (I major element to consider is "natural" trademark, which does have legal weight)


I think someone would have a very difficult time at that. Hasn't "permaculture" already passed into the public domain (at least the US) as a result of widespread use of the word without it having been first trademarked as a coined word. I'm reasonably sure the patent/trademark attorney I know would say that. (Maybe I'll ask specifically about this.) From what I've read Mollison has tried to get "permaculture" trademarked and failed because he didn't trademark it before publicizing it.

If someone hired a high powered lawyer to stop others from using the word if they haven't taken a PDC, that would seem to me to be imitating a style of business I consider icky at this point and potentially damaging to the movement.
 
            
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@ Paul: Thanks for your perspective.  I regret using the word "elitest".  This is not a word that reflects the permaculture community. 
A $350 PDC that we put a lot of work into is exactly what I think could work well.  A gathering of people sharing the work equally.  There are ways to market these events locally for free, given a few will  donate their time.
How many people are earning an income exclusively from either running a permie farm or teaching full-time, maybe better would be both.
What is considered a good income for someone doing this type of work? 
What are the risks of teaching a PDC on land that is producing goods from permie systems?
What are the budget issues?  I thought we were feeding people and teaching them permaculture. I do not understand fully the complexities of this. 
I understand that teaching a PDC is work and that a fair trade is beneficial to the teacher, and that it is there right to charge what they wish. 
If a small farmer wants to attend a PDC that they cannot afford, due to being a small farmer, how can they attend?
What does work trade look like at an event like this one?  I thought everyone works together equally.
No disrespect intended to the instructors whatsoever.  Good luck with your noble endeavors!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Ryan H wrote:

A $350 PDC that we put a lot of work into is exactly what I think could work well. 


Have you looked into a PDC for work trade in your area?

 
Phil Hawkins
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I'm not in the market for a PDC, but given the small size of the possible target market and consequent training specialization that it implies, the costs seem to be very reasonable, and extremely cheap when compared to other professesional training courses.

I am a software engineer by trade - I paid a lot of money for a piece of paper, since most everything I learned there I could have taught myself for free, or at worst for just the cost of my text books (noting it was before the WWW windfall of free knowledge at your fingertips). I needed the piece of paper to get a job in the field, and that to start a career. Nowadays, my university years are just a vague memory, and there no direct links between what I do every day to pay the bills, and what I was taught all those years ago.

The way I see it, the difference with Permaculture is you only need the piece of paper if you want to sell something with the brand on it (and I think it's obscure enough that doing so doesn't really make financial sense). If you want the piece of paper, or the training that goes into getting it, enough then you'll find the money (or trade).

Permaculture is part of my post-career "retirement" plan - specifically reducing the amount of money I need to save or passively generate (which I think is flawed anyway). If I save $100 per week on food (conservative), that's $30,000 (very conservative!) I don't need in the bank when I stop working. Now if I think the $3000 WheatonCorp Residential PDC package is going to improve the success probability of my plan by only 10%, then it has just paid for itself.

A little more grist for the mill...
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think the costs are reasonable, but reasonable doesn't mean affordable by me  I make expensive stuff for a living and charge less than most of my competitors, but I would not be able to buy one of my own productions.   
 
                        
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There was some discussion of this on Paul's latest podcast and I must say I am in total agreement with Paul on this issue.  Now I am going to rant

Nobody expects a doctor to treat people for free and good luck with getting a plumber to come out and put your plumbing in (or even supervise while you do it) for a cup of coffee and a slice of pie unless he or she is a friend from other situations. Yet people somehow seem to expect the experts in the permie  field to offer their expertise and time for nothing. If they did this, how are they to support themselves? If they are all struggling to make ends meet because they are flying around the countryside spreading the message for nothing, then how is that going to inspire anyone to take what they say seriously?  "Oh yeah  he says this is a great system but I saw him getting food at the food bank last week."

If I was an expert in something and someone wanted me to come to an event and share my expertise and wanted me to PAY for the event as well, I would be highly insulted and tell them to take a hike in no uncertain terms.

It seems to me that people need to stop expecting a free lunch. If you want to learn permie stuff and can't afford to go to a $3000 event (I can't!) then there are the other options already mentioned..there is a TON of info on the web..on this site alone!! so the info to get started at least is there. Or look into offering to help with the setting up and running of the event..ask what they need done...moving chairs, helping to cook or clean up, painting signs or whatever needs done in exchange for part or all of the fee; x number of hours of work for x  number of free course hours. If the organizers of one event won't go for it, then try another.

This sort of complaint annoys me the same way as kids coming to the house and asking me to pay them for reading books annoys me. If you want me to pay you then you do something for me, something I agree needs done, like wash my windows or stack some firewood or something. That's the way the real world works. Asking the teachers and organizers to take much less than they should for the sharing of their knowlege is asking them to subsidize your education.  Just exactly why should they? Aside from anything else, they are taking time out from their own endeavors to share what they know, time they will have to make up somehow.

If someone wants something an artist has made, that's very nice, but why on earth should it be free or even very cheap just because they want it to be? Do you operate that way with the stuff you value?If I want your car that you have for sale for $15000 but can only give you $1500 for it, then will you let me have it  for my price because I need a vehicle and want it? What exactly is the difference between that and suggesting that people who have spent years of their lives learning something ..to the degree that you want that knowlege...should give that knowlege to you for less than it's worth? And if you don't think it IS worth whatever they think it's worth, then you are certainly free to bypass the event. You are no more entitled to force them to lower what they consider to be the fair market value of their expertise than I am entitled to  force you to accept  my $1500 offer for your car. Or to feel guilty for not letting me have it for $1500.

End rant.

 
Derek Brewer
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I'm not sure if it's the same everywhere, but here in NYC the first thing you get asked in the permaculture circles is where you took your PDC and who taught it. I got the distinct impression that I wasn't cool enough to sit at the big boys table from many folks (not all) in that group until I proved that I knew my stuff despite the lack of credentials.
I am now taking my permaculture course as a series of weekend classes in MA (Huzzah for employment again!) and I have to admit I'm learning things I didn't know before, and I'm actually getting hands-on experience doing things, instead of reading/studying them... But not $1000+ worth of things. I'm doing some serious work for this site and paying to do it, and that is what irks me a bit. Normally I bill out at a pretty steep hourly rate and here I am paying to bust my butt!
Bottom line is, though, that it's a good experience overall. I'm going to stick through the course and help everyone in it out, but I'm doing so more for the credentials at this point. Maybe if I view it as a series of weekends with a private trainer... 

 
            
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Maybe this should be in the FRUGALITY thread

How to teach Permaculture and survive!
 
Tyler Ludens
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In many locales there's Continuing Education programs in which people teach their area of expertise generally for a very modest fee.  "Learning Annex" is one, here in my region it's called "Club Ed."  Seems like folks could teach permaculture through these kinds of venues.
  It's a part-time gig, though, so one would need some other means of support, just like the other folks who teach through these venues. 
 
Lorenzo Costa
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hi to everyone, the thread is old i know but since i wrote in biography something on the prices of pdc i would like to write something on this. i think you speak about a situation that is very different from other countries. I don't know if you all live in the states but I live in Italy and there is a lot of courses that cost much and are not done on farms. here we don't have a lot of hands on stuff. permaculture is very theoretical and we don't have many farms that actually produce using permaculture principles. I am establishing a farm and I want to do it following the permaculture principles apart form writing here and to authors of books that I am reading showing my ideas on how i can transform problems in resources, asking what they think about them, i sincerely don't think i will take a pdc. I have two children, have to work all day and my companion works to, i would not have the time nor the possibility here in Siena to attend a course, nor the money, i guess this is the biggest problem here. we don't have as many situations as you do. I don't think pdc's should be free i think though that teachers should think about how much they earn from an entire class not the single individual. not having farms here it is difficult to have the possibility to work to pay for your pdc.
do you really think that I can't use this form: permaculture farm, under the name of the farm, just because i have'nt taken a pdc?
I don't know all I can say is I will put my design on the web, even here, and ask what teachers think about it, I am very serious about my project.
the big thing is I where to teach but i don't i want to live harmoniously with the land and have the possibility to work in the open air. thats all.
hope nobody feels strange about this.
 
Matt Powers
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I'm thinking of individually pricing the days so you can do as much as you want and then to get your completion you'd have to join us the next time around for those select days.

15 days over 3 weeks
5 hour classes
72 hrs total

23 dollars a day? $345 for 15 days?

That's a little over $4 per hour.

Reasonable?

MP
 
kirk dillon
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Location: Maple City Michigan
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Ryan H wrote: If permaculture will save the planet then learning how to practice it will have to be available to all, specifically the PDC courses.

Take a PDC. Take the best one available (maybe several). Get a loan if necessary. Become an expert. Teach others at whatever price you need to to get your money back. Then you have the power to become the change you seek. Give your knowledge away for free to everyone you can. If not YOU, then WHO?? Maybe all of the teachers out there are just trying to get their money back before they teach for free.
 
Destiny Hagest
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I agree, the price of a PDC can be daunting. I know it is to me. Until I remember what I spent on my college education that I never finished

I tend to break it down in terms of labor and lodging costs. How much do these guys make in a day, plus their travel expenses to get there? That's a big chunk of change right there. Then on top of that, you can factor in camping or accommodations fees, and general facility costs that come with that sort of thing, whether that be paying staff to prepare the site, maintenance, insurance, etc.

I think it all just breaks down to logistics, and when you look at it that way, most of these courses are pretty reasonably priced. Especially compared to conventional education.

The PDC coming up at Wheaton Labs this summer is coming at a bad time for me personally for instance, so I can't go, but it's seriously only $895 for a two week course, and it's PRI certified, so you can actually take this education and apply it towards a career within permaculture, with a fancy piece of paper that says you know your stuff (which goes pretty far in today's world, as it turns out).

So when you say, that's $900, it sounds expensive, but when you say, that's $400 per week for intensive hands on education, including camping, and break that down with all of the costs involved with that sort of event, it's really a drop in the bucket.
 
I will suppress my every urge. But not this shameless plug:
Permaculture Playing Cards by Paul Wheaton and Alexander Ojeda
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Paul-Wheaton
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