I want to express my respect and admiration for the courage and insight shown by Michael Skeeter Pilarski upon seeing his recent call and search for interns and helpers. Skeeter's letter juxtaposed with a posting by the Esalen Institute on WiserEarth.com prompted me to try and point again to a serious issue I believe afflicts this larger global community of permaculture. An apprenticeship in its traditional sense of the European guilds is an exchange of labor and generally a 3 year commitment on the side of the young adult for the complete upkeep and education provided by the master and his or her workshop or community. Often in addition to this a small stipend is paid to the young apprentice. I myself have passed through three such apprenticeships which by default makes me a member of the guild system in Europe and I am a master in one of such trades. A master in this instance is the title merited from learned skill as opposed to property and ownership.
The guild system is and has been a wonderfully workable and so far sustainably growing agreement carrying benefits for both the individual as well as for the community. It is wholly dependent on honor and tradition as opposed to government law's oversight and ideological dogma and control.
Asking for financial retribution in addition to the labor is akin to a serf and debt bondage and in practice almost always resulting in indentured servitude. It is clear to many dedicated students of the subject that the addiction of western commercial thinking to the maximization of profits carries with it a condemnation to ever shrinking resources. The resource in this case is the human knowledge and skill which as is obvious can only be carried forward by a few selected and affluent individuals.
This appears to be an unfortunate choice on the side of various otherwise exceptionally well intentioned and dedicated institutions or personal homesteads across the US. It stymies any chance of releasing permaculture as well as horticulture from its grip of belonging to a few dedicated charismatic personalities and rendering it an affluent recreational activity. The poor cannot afford to grow or buy good food and its young cannot afford to learn about it.
I have tried on various occasions to point out this issue, and most recently during the Washington permaculture convergence.
Otherwise I want to express my respect and admiration for all the various institutions or homesteads and their talented individuals, which I have visited in the past. I am confident that permaculture and a few exceptional homesteads around the US would be vastly more successful in changing our agricultural and societal shortcomings if they were to adopt something similar to the guild system.
I apologize for the drawn out commentary and that I was not able to find a more appropriate location on this site. I hope you are able to draw some useful insight from it and wish everyone success in their very admirable work.
well said. I despise the commercializing. particulary the emerging eco-industry. and I don't mean the sale of eco freindly products or services. I mean the sale of inormation (or the sale under that pretense). which all too often turns into a hoodwink industry that preys on naieve young people and turns them into little lemmings that do the bidding for a few individuals both politically and within society.