This article came across my smartphone, and I think it makes some good points and raises important questions. I think permies.com already solves some of them, the Build a Better World Book solves some of them, the drL consciousness amplification instrument solves some, and some really are a puzzle.
How to get permaculture/truly whole-systems-design principles applied on a municipal or global scale?
How to replace broken economic systems with better ones?
How to have permaculture serve social and employment needs as well as governance/decision-making?
Thoughts? Anyone want to comment on the article itself? (It got only one response.)
Community Building 2.0: ask me about drL, the rotational-mob-grazing format for human interactions.
There are some things in that article that seem to be overly simplified so the article can be shortened or the writer doesn't really understand the concepts of grow local, eat local instead of the "few feed the world" ideology of current Modern Ag. corporations so they can push their artificial chemical compounds on the producers.
Permaculture has many levels that it will work for in the field of Agriculture, but in order for it to become what it has the ability to become, the world economy has to change when it comes to foods.
Permaculture works on the local level now, many people are practicing at least some of the principles and reaping the rewards of healthy soil and nutritious foods grown in that soil.
It can also work for commercial farming, but first we need a revolution in thinking about what farming is and how to do it to make a profit. (farmers farm so they can make a living after all)
Many people are saying that permaculture isn't working but they are operating from the wrong point of view. They seem to think that all farmers would jump on the wagon or should jump on the wagon, which with the Bayer's, Monsanto's and 3M's of the world pushing their chemical solutions to raising food, that will be a hard sell at best. However, there is hope as more farmers are giving the principals of permaculture tryouts, they are finding that the principles do indeed work and that they can make as much profit or more profit without spending all the money for the chemicals they used to believe they had to use.
Changing the minds of people set in their ways over the last century or more, is not ever an easy task, it takes time and people who are willing to show that what was, turns out to be flat wrong for large swings in change to take place.
I do agree that looking at what's *not* working is just as important as patting ourselves on the back for what is. That said, there are different ways to interpret the evidence they're identifying. I've only gotten as far as point 4 - the rest may not happen until tomorrow as the sun is breaking through the clouds. For now, these are my take on what's been said:
"1. Permaculture is a global movement but does not act like one." I actually see this as a strength, not a weakness. I feel there are too many global organizations that are examples of more "hierarchy" in a world that has little evidence that multinational companies and trade aren't too large to solve local problems.
"3. The lack of communication among permaculture practitioners limits the development and spread of permaculture." Seems like here on permies, we've found a way around that problem. Think of all the guest authors we've had on the forums, and how many people visit Wheaton Labs?
part of 3. "Permaculture has no international learned journal, no equivalent of a scholarly publication, where practitioner research and experience can be published." I've read medical "scholarly publications" before - difficult to read, focused *very* narrowly on a specific element of a specific problem, and often full of jargon. To me, permaculture is "holistic" - large system research is difficult to do on the usual time scales of "professional research", so again I see this as a strength not a weakness. Insistence on permies dot com to "leave room for other opinions" is an example of that in action. That said the comment about the need for an online in-depth discussion place is something I respect. Permies already has certain forums that are either "private" or require certain qualifications to participate in, so there's certainly room for that model to exist.
"4. Permaculture's lack of an advocacy capacity leaves it vulnerable." My one concern with fixing this, is that we'd be painting a larger target for the people who most benefit from the status quo to focus on. I was pretty disgusted when I found out how much "big business" money was being donated to charitable organizations in an effort to derail or shift their focus.
I have two gut and conflicting reactions. There is a political truth in the u.s., want to change things politically a lot? Start local, make changes on a state basis, the federal will follow. See the legalization of gay marriage as an example. If that’s true, focusing locally is just right, but it needs direction and/or coordination perhaps?
The reasons I do not dive into permaculture 100% are addressed in that article.
I am not a political activist. I am not interested in becoming one. I don’t believe there’s only one way to do things, or accomplish goals. There are days I stay away from here because it sounds liKe an echo chamber. I don’t think the ideas are wrong, but I don’t necessarily agree that the ideas are always right either. I think there might be a different way, something in between Monsanto and being self-sufficient, and I think there needs to be that possibility, or it will not grow sufficiently to do very much.
It’s my opinion, that’s all. But I think that unless permaculture can find a way to talk to the unconverted in a way that doesn’t require them to change their lifestyle all at once, it will never take hold. The Wheaton scale only addresses those of us who start down the same path, but not the ones who don’t.
I want to get chemicals out of my life as much as possible. Air Fresheners may smell great but at what cost? We are finding permanent chemicals (PFAS) are now resident in our blood.
I have found in just 2.5 years my chemical free environment is growing way better than it did when I fertilized and sprayed. My Crape Myrtle were hit by scale two years ago and it was worse last summer but now the scale is completely gone. No sprays of any kind were used.
I admit is is hard work taking the soil back to what it was before the trees were removed and houses were built. I am learning a lot and may expand to a small farm to utilize what I have learned. I use more of what I learned here, because it seems to flexible and adaptable type of permaculture.
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." —Albert Einstein
"6. Permaculture has too-limited a connection with domains of life of greatest concern to people." I agree with much of what they say in this section, and the results. Permaculture sometimes seems like the "extreme fringe" rather than the "guy next door". That said, it's been discussed on permies before that someone two to three levels up from one's own level on the road to a sustainable society is "a little weird" and ones further up, "downright crazy" in their eyes and from their perspective. For that reason, often it is the movements that push "veggie gardens" rather than permaculture that brings people onto the first rung of the ladder. It's only when they start to look for better ways to grow those veggies that they trip over and investigate permaculture. The information is out there - particularly on the internet, but also in public libraries. The reality is that if Western Civilization were to suddenly and completely give up on consumerism, our financial and business model would completely collapse - we already got a taste of that when the US housing market went up in smoke. How do we give our current society a soft landing, or is it even possible to do so? I think it's one of those - be careful what you wish for scenarios?
"7. Social permaculture is too-limited in scope and outlook" Valid point, but that's *really* big picture stuff that may look scarily different from what our current society has been raised to see or think. I got an interesting reaction at a meeting where the presenter kept talking about the importance of "sustainable development" and didn't like my suggestion that I found that term an oxymoron - she basically said that our current society sees "sustainable" as too scary after a lifetime of being told that growth is essential.
"8 The focus of permaculture design courses (PDC)is too variable" Disclaimer I don't have my "PDC". Thus as an outsider, courses I've seen that have focused strongly on big picture systems of design resulted in people who knew the theory, but were limited in their ability to apply it without multiple more years of getting down in the dirt. Courses with a strong practical component, seemed to result in people with good competence in a narrower segment of what permaculture is.
I pretty much agree with any numbered points that I haven't mentioned. I'm old enough to truly believe that perfection is a journey, not a destination, so I totally agree that an important takeaway in our everyday lives is too look at what *isn't* working and ponder the "what/why/where/when/who" of the situation. If we don't know there's a problem, we won't look for a solution.