Perhaps this is a radical proposition, but my belief is that if permaculture fully succeeds, not only will the world be a much, much better place, with abundant and useful forests, thriving and healthy rural and urban populations, stabler weather, and a resilient economy, but there will hardly be anyone who identifies as a “permie”, and the word “permaculture” will eventually leave common parlance. This is because permaculture is not specific, it’s meta. Permaculture is very good at developing specific systems, but permaculture itself is a very meta design science. For true stability, people have to found their lives and their culture on something specific.
My hypothesis is that any community founded primarily on “permaculture”, and with no specific focus inside of that, will have nothing significant binding it together, and must either create a culture that has some specificity as it’s focus, or fall apart.
I guess what I’m trying to get at here, is that culture is created through a group of people facing problems and creating solutions. Permaculture is not a problem or a solution, it is a sophisticated system for building solutions.
Hence, like any tree, once permaculture’s work is done it will fade into obscurity. A fitting end, for the first system of design that takes the natural law of succession into account; But like all living things, it will live on after is passes away, in the soil of the great forest it has created.
Earthworks are the skeleton; the plants and animals flesh out the design.
Here’s good advice for practice: go into partnership with nature; she does more than half the work and asks none of the fee. – Martin H. Fischer
I think, though, that we don't see the need for solutions until we've already internalised the problems. Anyone pursuing permaculture has already amassed a list of problems to themselves that they feel permaculture is the best fit to fix. I feel that, rather than gathering for permaculture, per se, people form permacultural communities to solve the groups of problems they share. These won't go away because they are based on the ideas of independent sustainability and resilience, with different specific regional or cultural variations therein.
Most communities will gather around their leader figures, some around foundational belief systems, and yet others around collective megaprojects like really large inter-regional food forests/savannas or grazing corridors, or something like the conversion of urban areas into largely self-contained arcologies, city-towers/developments that are based on biology and act as biological filters as a by-product of housing humans that prefer cities (homo sapiens urbana?), leaving the water, air, and materials that exit them cleaner than they entered. Perhaps some will grow artificial islands and seasteads, and that will be the unique feature that ties them together.
I think the far-flung future of permaculture has little to do with individuals building small earthworks individually, and looks more like the depression-era work projects that built swales to try and counter the dustbowl phenomenon.
I think projects of singular vision that promise rejuvenation and renewal of our natural environments will unite us.
Artificial islands built upon inverted artificial coral reefs that shelter nature's climate refugees could let communities of human climate refugees strain the garbage from the oceans and either repurpose it or incinerate it cleanly for energy, to continue to grow their islands (biorock).
Sea-floor-based communities living inside structures also grown from the same material and seeded as coral reefs could grow much of the food people need using vertical mariculture techniques.
And to skip to an extreme example, we could harness asteroid mining to assemble for ourselves hollow, counter-rotating pairs of cylinders of immense size, large enough for an inner hollow cylinder of oceans a kilometre deep could cling to their spinning inner walls and support, you guessed it, floating (anchored) continents of artificial reef, supporting all manner of aquatic and terrestrial life. These we could use to support our civilisation as it extended permaculture to uninhabitable places in our solar system, using the leftover building blocks of life to build custom planets, habitats, and to terraform existing planets. If we could syphon off a fraction of the sun's hydrogen and funnel it to Venus, it would, from what my reading suggests, result in not only a very oceaned, Earthlike Venus, but also an extended lifespan for our sun (too much fuel burns hotter, reducing lifespan).
But I suppose that, on the face of it, I agree. Permaculture itself isn't a long-term reason for community. It is the overarching label to a host of tools that share similar philosophies, that we seek to use to solve different problems. It's the problems we are drawn together as communities to solve. But permaculture isn't what's drawing us together. It's the problems, or the spectre of other, similar issues. Those won't go away. Even if we attain the "freedom" we desire, its price will be constant vigilance. It's that vigilance that will keep us together.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
If you live in a cold climate and on the grid, incandescent light can use less energy than LED. Tiny ad: