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should all permaculture stuff be for free?

 
gardener
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I personally have a problem with affixing spirituality to permaculture. Though I believe that we as humans have a responsibility to take care and repair the earth. For me doing what is right doesn't get me to a higher plain as a sefless act would. The opportunity for selfless acts are there for all of us yet aren't often acted upon.
I also find it hard to imagine us going back to a lifestyle as a hunter gatherer. A pure hunter gatherer would be hard pressed to have the food security of a permaculture holding.
I envision a hybrid lifestyle that incorporates permaculture and a far more localized economy. I hope to see it by design and not disaster.
The problem is that there are costs associated with the dessemination of information now, though those costs will fall as more and more people learn and share the knowledge.
Like any new technique or invention it starts out local and radiates outwards. What we have going for this particular methodology is that we all are the local center of that idea and should share the knowledge. There might be some cost associated with my sharing, gas to drive to a location, electricity cost to access a forum like this, an individuals time, all are things that would show up in a debit ledger for someone. Because it exists just like an apple on a tree doesn't mean that someone hasn't planted, cared for, and watered it to make it produce. I can share an apple or two but if one isn't compensated to some degree how do you continue to care for the tree?
 
pollinator
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There's been some talk about withholding information from those who can't afford it. Computers are now prevalent in the slums of Mumbai and on the edge of the Sau Paulo dump. Anyone with access to one, has more information available to them than they could ever absorb. In the thirteenth century, it would have been possible for the elite to control information in order to gain some advantage over the poor. Free information is so prevalent now that so long as the internet exists, there is no danger of an information drought.

Most of what may be learned from those selling information can be picked up elsewhere for free. There are advantages to having knowledge condensed and consolidated in one spot. It saves time, is easier to reference and most importantly, it comes from a credible source. A huge part of what is being paid for is credibility. I think some people discount the credibility thing because they have never experienced it and can't recognize it.

I don't think there's any point in getting worked up over a few dozen or even a few million non producers who make accusations or demands. The opinions and concerns of this lot simply don't matter and never have.

Some people make a career out of working the system and those around them. Paying for stuff goes against their nature or "values".

Don't worry about politicized chatter based on wishes and whims of those with nothing to offer. Consider the source of a complaint or demand before committing time in engaging them. I don't think it's a prudent use of your time when you have discussions with people who are stuck on a particular point. Some people are always going to scream and stomp whenever money comes up. A fool who walks into a store with no concept of how stuff got there has no more credibility than a faith healer at a medical conference.
 
pollinator
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i certainly dont think there is anything wrong with charging for the information, or for charging to teach people.

i also would never buy such a service, have no need of one, can't afford it, and resist the idea that permaculture (paying for or free) is the only way to get this kind of information, as i said before, i wont repeat myself here.

but i realize i have different circumstance than most, having grown up with people who do a lot of farming, or i should say horticulture, and do it the old school way, which is strikingly similar to many permaculture techniques, and was taught from an early age how to grow food, take care of animals, etc.

i do think for people who havent had that experience, they dont know where to start, feel overwhelmed by "experts" and feel they have to have that introduction and that the only way to grow food in a permaculture way is to pay money for that expertise, for those people this is a valuable service which is worth money.

all that said what i feel like is really going on here, as far as to the people who are weird about others charging, the issue can get kinda weird, and they arent looking at the proper context.
the CONTEXT we are living in, where societies values are so backwards, everything is a money thing, and where people who have this valuable knowledge are unfortunately under appreciated and struggling, because they arent embracing the backwards value of the culture...in this context it makes sense for people to seek to get paid for this knowledge so they can keep inching along.

in another context, if societies values werent so backwards, if these people were getting their proper respect and appreciation for that knowledge...well everything would be different. people who have this kind of knowledge would be the MOST valuable people of a society that makes sense...would probably be given everything they need, given huge areas of land to manage because they would be the ones who would be seen as the people who had the real skills to do so effectively and well. if we lived in that context then i might be inclined to think the knowledge should be shared more freely, but we dont...and anyway in that context those people would also be inclined to give away that knowledge, because they would have everyhing they needed and wouldnt be lacking for things, or in need of money.
 
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Leila, that was perfect!
Not to offend the others that have also added great insights.

Everything lies in balance.

Personally, I hate all things money. The use of it, its' existence, making it, saving it and spending it.
I would much rather it not exist and am certain life would be better off without it. In fact history and present indigenous tribes prove this.
This is all great and well and I know that I'm correct, but here's the rub. It's a fantasy.
We are all part of the Western Civilization Empire.
There is no getting around it. Money must be used, will be used and is enforced by goons (I mean guns (I mean goons with guns)).
Okay so there are ways around it but 99.999% of people reading this won't live neither like that nor where that is and I don't blame them.
Otherwise there is jail, being shot (if you don't want to go to jail bad enough) or being the system's bitch (aka slave, like all of us to some degree or another).

So where does that leave us? BALANCE.

The rules are simple.
#1) Use less of the stupid shit!
#2) ONLY use the stupid shit on things that are really needs.
#3) Worry less about the stupid shit. (#s 1 & 2 will help significantly with this)

How about this?
Fact: You need to make money to keep bad things from happening to you. (see above)
Otherwise we can't take care of ourselves or our loved ones.
That is called protection or surviving or resiliency or regenerativeness or self-defense or you get the idea.
This means making money is not only an inherent right but also our duty. (don't think i'm gettin' preachy about the benefits of money, see above above)

Let me take a moment to temper this with my money goals. I don't want people thinking I'm a money grubbing corporate ass or someone always screaming about my rights. I'm just trying to put this whole set of crap into a perspective that most people don't think about i think.
1-2 year very achievable goal: Invest in some more tools and tie up loose ends in the city I live. Then use so much less money than before that it will make peoples head spin.
5-10 year goal: no more money use by me ever. EVER. This won't be easy. It will be fun. It's not for everyone.

So, we have to make money. How much? Using the rules above, far less than if not.

Now, someone tells me I need to give something away for free that I can viably sell.

What do I do?................................................Don't care. Can't give a shit. Go about my day.
Which generally includes making some money, and more often than not giving away for free a bunch of my time and skills and sometimes money willy nilly.

Bottom-line, I understand and feel for these people. The society, surroundings and experiences so far in their life has prepared them for nothing more.
I used to be one. All of them will change, it is inevitable. For better or for worse, who knows?

Furthermore Permaculture addresses the whole money and free and gift thing perfectly in and of itself.
The more Permaculture in the world, the less need for money.
Don't worry if it takes you money to get it there.

I don't give money to bums as a general rule, except when they're honest and not rude. Doesn't happen often.
Then i consider them people and not 'bums'.
Stop expending energy on the bums.
Don't expend energy on nay-saying.
Don't let people saying it can't be done get in the way of you if you are doing it.
Go about your days doing great things and bringing Permaculture to the world however each of you sees fit.

Also why would you give attention to someone who tells or demands you to give something for free when it could go like this?

"Hey, you know what. I like what your doing there."
"This is me, this is my life." (these few words can represent lots of dialogue)
"Oh, and by the way, I don't have any money for that."
"Can we work out a way for me to partake in some of what you've got going on there?"

(I kind of remember what that seems like, wait, was it?... or maybe... OH YEAH! 'Manners')
No Manners! No Matters.

I've personally been on both sides of this type of exchange many times and always with genuinely favorable results.

Douglas Adams said it best (paraphrasing) Most of the problems on earth are caused by humans worrying about little pieces of green paper.
 
steward
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The more I think about it the more I feel like "there is NO SUCH THING as Free". Whether you use money, work, goods, skills, knowledge or a baseball bat; everything costs you something.
In my case I would rather somebody come here and pull weeds for an hour in exchange for a basket of veggies, than to give me money. That's because getting the weeds out is more of a priority than more "Green Paper" right now. Granted, I could certainly use the paper, but the weeds are the priority right now and I'm low on time. So in this case you trade labor for food. We just cut out the middle step of "money". There was no "free" in there anywhere. It costs us both.

To the overall question of Permaculture info being free: It's not. It can't be. It always costs the presenter in time, energy, and resources. You don't get permies.com for free. You get it at the cost of "everything that people do to make it a reality". We couldn't have this conversation if Paul (et al) hadn't put the effort in to get Permies.com as far as it is today.

The other side is this: How are you paying for the info you receive? Are you spreading it freely? Are you using that info to make money, food, better stoves, a nice natural pool? Are you using this info to live a lower impact life? Has Permies and other permaculture resources made you're life better? Are you making other lives better in return? And is this "payment" acceptable to those that present the info at "no-charge".

I get the feeling at times that a lot of the people complaining about things costing too much are the folks who are contributing the least value to the conversation.

Maybe the question is better put to those that are putting out the Info: Is it worth giving away all the info you do, at the cost of your time and effort, to know that some people will make their lives and the lives of other people better? Even if you never see a dime? Even if you never even get a "Thank You"? Does it concern you that some people will take this info and do "nothing" with it, thus wasting your time/effort? Ever further, some will use what you provide as a means to do harm to others. What then?

Just some thoughts as a sip a coffee.
 
Robert Ray
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NIcely put Craig. I had a discussion yesterday about our local property tax bill, 50% of the taxes got to education, regular schools and community college bonds. The other participant in the discussion was saying that his kids at least get a free education in the United States. He is not a property owner. I tried to explain that even though he didn't own property his landlord my business all have to figure that cost into rent and products we sell. Even though he doesn't pay at the door there is a cost associated somewhere with a free education. I included a mention of the County libray tax and how even libraries have a cost associated with their upkeep.
 
master steward
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I read something today where someone was upset that a PDC cost $250. They seemed to feel that all PDCs should be free.

I think that that person should teach a dozen free PDCs every year.

I also read the suggestion that permaculture is some sort of racket, or pyramid scheme because people teach classes. This is the first time I've ever heard anybody suggest something like this for a class. When we explore that permaculture seems to be the only field where people suggest stuff like this I think we get a clear picture of why a lot of the permaculture bigs are ditching the word permaculture.

If somebody wants to teach a PDC for free, that is a lovely and generous thing.

If somebody wants to teach a PDC for $250, that is also a lovely and generous thing.

If somebody wants to teach a PDC for $2,000, I suspect that that PDC might be better than the free PDC and some people will find it worth the money.

If, however, there were thousands of PDC's being taught all over the world for free and they were of a far higher quality than any paid PDC, then I think that the people that are trying to charge for pDCs won't be able to anymore.

So if a person wants to change the way things are so that pDCs are taught for free, all they have to do is teach thousands of amazing pDCs for free.

Of course, attempting to shame or threaten another person to do something that they don't want to do, such as make them teach a PDC for free when they don't want to, is wrong.

I wish to take this moment to point out that last year I facilitated a free PDC. That is the only PDC that has been taught at my property. So I guess I could say that all of the pDCs taught at my property have been free.

I'm sure that will change someday.
 
gardener
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I feel there should be a mix. Some information should be free, to get one started, to offer basics. Then comes paying for the experience, the details, the how-to-do. Ex, I could look up a lot of free stuff on RMH, I bought an e-book version of a basic book for $15 that answered questions, then I bought plans specific for what I wanted, and if I want to do hands on I have to transport my body and pay good $$$ to have an expert show me, and hover over me as I help create one. This is all logical and all I am willing to pay for. If there is a $250 PDC, it would be nice to have a free sampler that would give me an overview (I'm standing in the bookstore and flipping the pages of the book deciding if it's worth $15, $50, $250, etc) to make me decide that the $250 is so worth it that I will scrape the budget and buy.

Perception of the value is important. I need to make a living, but at times I just have to give to continue. I wanted to learn to make bobbin lace in the 1990's. There was a good $16 book out at the time, and though it showed everything and explained everything, having a lot of experience with other crafts of the sort, I decided that it would be best to have classes, and have an expert SHOW me and guide me. I found one and she gave classes, and it was invaluable to WATCH and have her SHOW how. In the end the book did cover everything but it was so much better to 'see it live' and have a living person guide me as I learned. (five years later I happened to return to the shop she gave classes at to buy more thread, and she cried. So many of her students stopped after a few months--I was still making some). So. Free has a balance and there should be tiers of expertise and guidance, and with the free you can at least be educated on where to go next.

Your knowledge and expertise is worth something. You have a right to charge for it. If you are offering a good value it is well worth the physical (money) in trade. Just don't forget though that there should be a pool of the free, so that people can be introduced to what the concepts are and enough other information to decide that your information has value and will be willing to pay for it. I would have LOVED to have come to last year's RMH massive workshop at the Labs, alas it was beyond my budget and my health. The DVD's are out, not quite as good as being there, but, still, that way what was done there can be shared.
 
pollinator
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paul wheaton wrote:

I also read the suggestion that permaculture is some sort of racket, or pyramid scheme because people teach classes. This is the first time I've ever heard anybody suggest something like this for a class. When we explore that permaculture seems to be the only field where people suggest stuff like this I think we get a clear picture of why a lot of the permaculture bigs are ditching the word permaculture.



I am one of the people (maybe the only one) that thinks permaculture as it is being taught is kind of a pyramid scheme, and it isn't because people teach classes. My job is in IT, and I've taken lots of classes, many of them expensive, over the years. I have no problem with that. The reason I feel the way I do about permaculture is because it seems to me that most people that are interested in getting a PDC want it so they can teach permaculture, not so they can do it. Granted, I don't know a lot of people that have a PDC, so my basis for this is small, but I have never met an IT person that took a class so they could in turn teach that same class. I'm sure those people exist, but most people in IT that I have met take classes to learn the subject matter. They may go on to teach at some time in the future, but a person taking a class in something like SQL server administration would never be able to get a job teaching without lots of real world experience as well. I would be interested to see how many people took a PDC class only to gain the knowledge that came from the class for use on their own land, and don't intend to teach it. As far as saying it should be free, I think that is silly. People can charge whatever they like for classes, and the customers, or would-be customers, can decide if it is worth it to them or not. Everyone has the right to earn a living, and knowledge is in no way less worthwhile than material things. It's often the opposite. $250 is not a lot to pay for hands-on experience and a person standing there stopping you if you make a mistake. It saves time learning and possibly saves expensive materials or equipment time. When it comes down to it, it isn't that I think permaculture is a pyramid scheme; it is that some of the people taking the classes are making it into one.
 
Deb Rebel
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Todd Parr wrote:
I am one of the people (maybe the only one) that thinks permaculture as it is being taught is kind of a pyramid scheme, and it isn't because people teach classes. My job is in IT, and I've taken lots of classes, many of them expensive, over the years. I have no problem with that. The reason I feel the way I do about permaculture is because it seems to me that most people that are interested in getting a PDC want it so they can teach permaculture, not so they can do it. Granted, I don't know a lot of people that have a PDC, so my basis for this is small, but I have never met an IT person that took a class so they could in turn teach that same class. I'm sure those people exist, but most people in IT that I have met take classes to learn the subject matter. They may go on to teach at some time in the future, but a person taking a class in something like SQL server administration would never be able to get a job teaching without lots of real world experience as well. I would be interested to see how many people took a PDC class only to gain the knowledge that came from the class for use on their own land, and don't intend to teach it. As far as saying it should be free, I think that is silly. People can charge whatever they like for classes, and the customers, or would-be customers, can decide if it is worth it to them or not. Everyone has the right to earn a living, and knowledge is in no way less worthwhile than material things. It's often the opposite. $250 is not a lot to pay for hands-on experience and a person standing there stopping you if you make a mistake. It saves time learning and possibly saves expensive materials or equipment time. When it comes down to it, it isn't that I think permaculture is a pyramid scheme; it is that some of the people taking the classes are making it into one.



When I studied Reiki, it had moved from the three levels costing $10,000 down to (the instructor I selected charged about $2000) and some supposedly gave it away free, online. I tried a few of those after the training with a knowledgeable person, and they did the 'meat of the matter' but. Some things are much better to be done in person. I see the PDC as being 'earning your chops' so that if you do choose to teach you have something to prove you know and have the knowledge to pass on that makes it worth someone taking a class from you. I don't consider PDC as a pyramid, it's a sort of validation and a benchmark, so those wishing to get the training know what will be covered. (tech/IT, I span keypunch and mainframes to my smartphone... keeping up as it evolves is not an easy task.) And those teaching are free to charge or not charge, what they wish.
 
Todd Parr
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Deb Rebel wrote: I see the PDC as being 'earning your chops' so that if you do choose to teach you have something to prove you know and have the knowledge to pass on that makes it worth someone taking a class from you.



That is kind of my point. Taking a 5 or 10 day class to get a certificate doesn't prove you know something and have knowledge to pass on. If you know IT, something similar happened to it in the early days. Thousands of people went out and got "certified" in different areas, but they had no real-world experience. The IT field had a glut of "paper dragons" that had certs, but frankly, didn't know shit. It didn't work the same way as permaculture because in IT, the people got certs to get jobs in the field, but the certs weren't worth the paper they were printed on. A ten day PDC course doesn't make you into Geoff Lawton. Actually getting your hands dirty and getting the experience does.
 
Deb Rebel
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Todd Parr wrote:

Deb Rebel wrote: I see the PDC as being 'earning your chops' so that if you do choose to teach you have something to prove you know and have the knowledge to pass on that makes it worth someone taking a class from you.



That is kind of my point. Taking a 5 or 10 day class to get a certificate doesn't prove you know something and have knowledge to pass on. If you know IT, something similar happened to it in the early days. Thousands of people went out and got "certified" in different areas, but they had no real-world experience. The IT field had a glut of "paper dragons" that had certs, but frankly, didn't know shit. It didn't work the same way as permaculture because in IT, the people got certs to get jobs in the field, but the certs weren't worth the paper they were printed on. A ten day PDC course doesn't make you into Geoff Lawton. Actually getting your hands dirty and getting the experience does.



Very true, that's why I sometimes seek out and pay others good money to learn stuff 'hands on'. My spouse can code, my forte is digging malware and the like out of systems, he's no good at that and I can't code to save my life. Still, I'm more likely to pay to go to a class that someone has taken instruction from a real pro in the field instead of someplace I can't trace. So it is somewhat 'let the buyer beware' but, with internet we can often check the credentials first. I don't consider Wheaton Labs PDC 'pyramid' but merely a source for goodness to spread from. Give it ten years and it won't seem such a small bottleneck.
 
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Deb Rebel wrote:Give it ten years and it won't seem such a small bottleneck.



Hasn't Permaculture had 30-some years?

Granted, only the last 15ish or so has had the boost of majority internet access, and the internet is becoming more ubiquitous all the time [to the point we've already plateau'd and are now just slowly creeping along on that particular progress vector.]
 
Deb Rebel
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:

Deb Rebel wrote:Give it ten years and it won't seem such a small bottleneck.



Hasn't Permaculture had 30-some years?

Granted, only the last 15ish or so has had the boost of majority internet access, and the internet is becoming more ubiquitous all the time [to the point we've already plateau'd and are now just slowly creeping along on that particular progress vector.]



I only heard about the entire bit about a year and a half ago. Through gardening links. (this is my 50th year of gardening). So no I wasn't aware of how long it's really been around, thank you. I'd say the last five years has seen a major explosion in information access, connectivity and more. So look at what another ten will give...
 
steward
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I haven't met anybody whose plan is to turn around and start teaching PDCs right after taking one. Most people I've met who have taken a PDC were just seeking more knowledge for themselves. A pretty small minority wanted to get into paid consultation.

I think anybody who pays for a PDC taught by someone with no experience other than they themselves took a PDC will get pretty much what they deserve. You've got to do a bit of research on the teacher(s) before you pay good money for a course! I think that's pretty obvious.
 
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My opinion:

Permaculture "stuff" is already free.

Anything anyone could possibly learn about permaculture already is out there for anyone that has the gumption to sit and search for it, digest it, and put it into practice.
But, most people are not autodidacts, they need someone to structure knowledge and feed it to them in a systematic way that helps them learn and put it in practice.
This also provides a way to test and assure the person has a clear understanding of the knowledge and hasn't skipped over important bits.

If teaching permaculture is a pyramid scheme, then so is teaching Spanish or small engine repair.
Those are both things one can teach themselves for practically free given the motivation and time.
 
Todd Parr
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Cris Bessette wrote:

If teaching permaculture is a pyramid scheme, then so is teaching Spanish or small engine repair.



I don't think anyone ever said that teaching permaculture, Spanish, small engine repair, or anything else is a pyramid scheme. Permaculture does not equal PDC. I said PDC as it is being used seems to me to be somewhat like a pyramid scheme, when people take a class in order to teach the class to people so that they are then certified to teach the class... If the certification isn't so that a person can hold it up and say "see, I'm certified in this", then what is the point? You don't need a certification to go dig a swale, or build a hugel bed, or anything else. If you go to a PDC class to learn the material, I'm all for it. I have spent hundreds of dollars a day for classes, seminars, etc. to learn material I was interested, and I doubt many people can find fault with that. To say that I or anyone else to my knowledge said that "teaching permaculture is a pyramid scheme" is not just misleading, it's false.
 
Cris Bessette
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Todd Parr wrote:

Cris Bessette wrote:


I don't think anyone ever said that teaching permaculture, Spanish, small engine repair, or anything else is a pyramid scheme



I don't think anyone ever said that teaching permaculture, Spanish, small engine repair, or anything else is a pyramid scheme.




Mr. Wheaton said in his message above that he had seen it referred to that way, I was responding to that.
 
Todd Parr
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Here is an example of what I'm talking about (with credit to Midwest Permaculture and their website):

"Bottom line: So, if any PDC Course Graduate has the ability to deliver a quality 72-hour PDC Course that includes all aspects of the PDC Curriculum (as outlined in Mollison’s: Permaculture – A Designer’s Manual), they have the right to do so and to offer their own PDC Certificates to their graduating students."

"Permaculture is a pyramid scheme" seems to me a strawman. PDC on the other hand, seems ripe for abuse.
 
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I think the point is being missed. Sure I would love to see all permaculture information free. I would love a million dollars too. There is a problem though.

Even if the person gives the information away for free there are costs associated with that. Say they teach a day long class and there are 10 students. Say it is a day's travel away from where the teacher lives. That means already their costs are travel, food, housing for 3 days. So say they spend $100 on gas and wear and tear on the car. A cheap motel room off season will still run $50 a night so another at least $100 there and finally food on the road even if they pack some of it will likely run another $50 minimum.(8 meals assuming the mid day class meal is part of the class). Already that class should cost $25 per person even if the information was freely given. This ignores what the person could earn on those days assuming they stayed home and worked. At the very least you have one day off work if you did a Sat. class and a typical work week. I will argue the weekend still has value whether it is used for family time or whether it is used advancing projects. Lets say their day is worth $100. 1 day or 3 days for another $10 or $30 per person in the class. Then lets say there is a mid day meal with the class and and stuff for a morning and after noon breaks. There is another at least $5 if you cut corners and probably closer to $10. Now the person teaching the class shouldn't be coming in and just winging it so there is prep time and time to prep materials. Lets say that takes another work week so there is another $500 of value or $50 per student. So already you are looking at the cost per student should be conservatively $115 for the day long class with the information itself having no value.(likely the actual cost will be a bit higher still) At that price the information is free even if the class costs.

Videos, drawings and books I see similar problems.

If you want it to be free are you participating in the process to make it free? Someone to host the teacher for a couple of days can bring the cost of housing down. Someone willing to do the work of making a video of the class and editing it can maybe make the video free online because the students already paid the cost of having the class.(assuming the teacher is okay with that) Someone to give their time away to cook the snacks and mid day meal for the class brings the cost down. Someone who can afford it subsidizes some of the costs that can't be covered other ways. Are you getting out and advertising the class because if you can double the number of students you can cut the per student cost almost in half? Or maybe you ran the handout materials on your home printer so there are no copying costs. There are hundreds of small pieces of this puzzle that those around can pull the load off the people with the information to impart.
 
paul wheaton
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Todd Parr wrote:
I don't think anyone ever said that teaching permaculture, Spanish, small engine repair, or anything else is a pyramid scheme.




Just a few posts up you say:

I am one of the people (maybe the only one) that thinks permaculture as it is being taught is kind of a pyramid scheme

 
Todd Parr
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paul wheaton wrote:

Todd Parr wrote:
I don't think anyone ever said that teaching permaculture, Spanish, small engine repair, or anything else is a pyramid scheme.



Just a few posts up you say:

I am one of the people (maybe the only one) that thinks permaculture as it is being taught is kind of a pyramid scheme



I did say that, in response to this:

paul wheaton wrote:I also read the suggestion that permaculture is some sort of racket, or pyramid scheme because people teach classes.



I used the wording I did, because I was responding to you and your wording. What I originally said, and I believe is what you were referring to is this:

Todd Parr wrote: I do dislike the idea of the PDC in general. It smacks of a pyramid scheme to me. I pay $2000 for a PDC, which in turn allows me to teach a PDC to 20 people for $2000, and then those people can teach a PDC.... That said, to equate permaculture with the PDC is simply wrong in my mind.



I thought I made it clear that I wasn't talking about permaculture, I was talking about the idea of the PDC system. If you, or anyone, took that to mean I was saying permaculture is a scam of some sort, I apologize. Perhaps I worded it awkwardly. Maybe I was wrong and you were talking about someone else all along. Regardless, my point stands that I don't like the way PDC is marketed as a way to get certified and then you are immediately qualified to turn around and teach it to other people.

 
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I keep suggesting that a bunch of people pool their money and send someone to a good PDC. That person comes back and teaches all those people so they now each have a certificate with which they can teach the PDC for free to a bunch more people. Now all those people can teach the PDC for free.

Problem solved.

I will happily contribute to a fund to send someone to get a PDC which they will then teach for free.

This could be managed easily through GoFundMe. But someone would have to be willing to get a certificate.
 
Julia Winter
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The problem is that very, very few people, maybe no people, could be ready to teach a PDC on the basis of having just taken one. Please, has anybody seen this in action? A person advertising their (paid) PDC and when you read their bio you find that they got their own certificate days to months earlier and have no other pertinent education or experience? I'm skeptical that such a thing could happen.

What Geoff Lawton said, repeatedly, was that once you finished his PDC then you could legitimately advertise yourself as a certified permaculturalist and find people to pay you to help them design their property. I've taken his PDC and I figure that's true. I could help someone plan out their property, I have done so. I'm not qualified to put in a pond in the Oakland Hills (California) but I can still help make a plan. I'm highly unlikely to ever try to get paid for such a thing, but I do think an ambitious young person could start with a PDC and with continuing self education, cultivation of mentors and reasonable acceptance of consultation gigs, end up very successful. After a few years of designing property they could maybe get a group of teachers together for a PDC.

I think the key phrase from Midwest Permaculture is "has the ability to deliver a quality 72 hr PDC. . . "
 
Tyler Ludens
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In one of his videos, I think "The Tipping Point," Geoff mentions that few of his students go on to be teachers. So, if the PDC is a "pyramid scheme" for teaching teachers, it's a big fail. I think "It's a pyramid scheme" is just a popular thing to bitch about.

I put my proposal out there as a solution to the "it's a pyramid scheme" problem, if anyone is interested in solving it.
 
Todd Parr
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Julia Winter wrote:The problem is that very, very few people, maybe no people, could be ready to teach a PDC on the basis of having just taken one. Please, has anybody seen this in action? A person advertising their (paid) PDC and when you read their bio you find that they got their own certificate days to months earlier and have no other pertinent education or experience? I'm skeptical that such a thing could happen.

What Geoff Lawton said, repeatedly, was that once you finished his PDC then you could legitimately advertise yourself as a certified permaculturalist and find people to pay you to help them design their property. I've taken his PDC and I figure that's true. I could help someone plan out their property, I have done so. I'm not qualified to put in a pond in the Oakland Hills (California) but I can still help make a plan. I'm highly unlikely to ever try to get paid for such a thing, but I do think an ambitious young person could start with a PDC and with continuing self education, cultivation of mentors and reasonable acceptance of consultation gigs, end up very successful. After a few years of designing property they could maybe get a group of teachers together for a PDC.

I think the key phrase from Midwest Permaculture is "has the ability to deliver a quality 72 hr PDC. . . "



Since you seem to believe that it is impossible for someone to take a PDC and immediately start teaching, I spent ten seconds on the Midwest permaculture site again, to find one example. Obviously you can say the person isn't teaching a PDC, she is just teaching permaculture classes, but I think it's a valid point. Anyway, I don't care nearly enough to argue about this. I have no intention of taking a PDC or teaching or doing anything other than trying to make my little chunk of dirt better than I found it.

Edited because the picture isn't showing up for me, so never mind.

Here is the quote “I just wanted to thank you and Becky for a wonderful week. I learned much more than I expected. I have been asked about giving some permaculture classes by our local community college in Cleveland. Thanks for the confidence you instilled in me!”
Sean K.-45, Homeowner with 2-Acres

perma.JPG
[Thumbnail for perma.JPG]
 
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Please forgive me, I'm just a simple person. I'm not understanding why this is a discussion at all. Isn't it pretty obvious?

Permaculture knowledge is already free. All it takes is a library card, the ability to observe and the willingness to try new things.

If you want to take a shortcut, by taking a course or buying a video, then by all means pay money for it. No one is stopping you. In fact, it encourages people to produce more useful things like that and charge money for it.

If you think it SHOULD be free, then go out and do something about it. Give away more stuff. Write a book and give it away for free. Teach a course for free. Make videos and podcasts about what you know and give that away for free. Spend your time writing tutorials and helpful posts on a site like this and do it for free. If enough people start doing it for free, then the people charging money won't be able to make money and free will be the new standard.

I think knowledge should be free, so I spend my time helping people learn, for free. It won't make me rich, but I don't think it should. Knowledge may equal power, but it doesn't have to equal money.
 
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It's a Free Market. If you want it and you can afford it, buy it. If not, shop somewhere else.

When I first discovered permaculture I watched every free Geoff Lawton video there was. There is a lot of free information there. I realized pretty quickly that the videos had a couple of purposes:
1) disseminating information for free, because the information can help people.
2) advertising, getting his name out there and trying to get people interested in signing up for his permaculture course, which definitely was not free.

I ended up, after much discussion with my wife, rearranging some priorities. I signed up for and participated in the course. I feel it was worth the money. Was the information available other places cheaper? Certainly! In the interest of time & trying to prevent holes in my knowledge I opted for the course. I don't make a lot of money and I have a lot of teenagers, which takes more money than I would have thought, but I valued the information enough to pay for it.

I fully believe that people deserve to be compensated for their efforts, whether it be fixing a car or collecting and arranging data. If someone wants to be compensated more than I can pay or think is fair, they will have to be compensated by someone else because I will take my business elsewhere. That is what a free market is, both the buyer and seller are free to do what they want with their respective money or product.

My general observation (admittedly not universal, but surprisingly accurate) is that folks who demand everything free in the name of justice generally come in 3 groups:
1) they don't work (or work very sporadically), don't have a pot to piss in and are used to people giving them stuff for free and resent it when people want payment.
2) very young, idealistic and possessed of some theoretical but not much real knowledge. Often these are students either taking out loans (don't know yet they are selling years of their lives), scholarships or their parents are footing the bill.
3) lastly, there are the genuine idealists (usually gentle souls) who are trying to live life properly and are frustrated by the fact that so few are doing so. (this group is actually very tiny compared with the other two groups and generally is a lot less strident in it's demands because they know the value of knowledge,time and work).

 
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This seems to be the same issue that people in the free software world deal with. Some of the problem stems from the nomenclature of how our language equates freedom and no cost as both being 'free'. The philosophy page at gnu.org goes into detail about the difference between freedom and cost:

Free software means that the software's users have freedom. (The issue is not about price.)


Replace software with permaculture or any other form of knowledge you think should be available to all people for the benefit of mankind.

Specifically, free software means users have the four essential freedoms: (0) to run the program, (1) to study and change the program in source code form, (2) to redistribute exact copies, and (3) to distribute modified versions.


Again, very similar to the freedoms people should have in other areas of information. I don't remember exactly where I heard it (I think it was Richard Stallman in an interview) where the information is presented as a cooking recipe. If you see a recipe then no one can really stop you from using it, changing it, or redistributing exact or modified copies. There is the issue where some people make copyrighted recipe books, but with something like cooking (or making furniture, or growing plants, or may other things humans have been doing for eons) it seems awfully naive to think you are the only human being in the history of the species to ever have the idea to put together a handful of components to create something.

This does NOT mean you should find copyrighted material and break laws redistributing someone else's work. But there are certain things you cannot get a patent on because they are common knowledge, such as cooking food, building a chair, or planting a group of trees together. If you want to reiterate an idea in your own words, then you are free to give that information away or charge a million dollars for it.

Another page at gnu.org goes into detail about selling free software. Once again, this could be any kind of freely available information. For me, the takeaway point of the article is this:

Distributing free software is an opportunity to raise funds for development. Don't waste it!


It is important that people with the skills of creating or distributing free information (be it individuals or collaborative efforts) are able to earn an income doing their work. If they can't then they will be busy earning an income elsewhere and have little or no time to devote to creating more free information. If someone has worked hard and you are gaining benefits from it, then it might be nice to donate to them, buy things from them, or spread the good word so that others might be able to benefit and help fund the effort.
 
Deb Rebel
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A tangent on free: RIPAA was out sueing random people for downloading digital music files 'illegally', and. One band decided to put a song out 'for free'. You could download it and pay for it, or not pay for it. It was free if you didn't want to pay. If you did pay it was 99c. Some paid. A lot didn't. The pirate system was so huge and entrenched that in 24 hours they had more bootleg copies of FREE download out there downloaded than their own site, giving it away. (like 1 million free, 1.4 million through the bootleg channels). It was so rampant by then that even though you could have the content for FREE, it went faster and more volume through the other channels. Opened a lot of eyes in the music industry, and highlighted what the war on the bootleg system was really like. After that I didn't hear any more about RIPAA taking a private citizen to court because their daughter a few years before illegally downloaded something (one woman in Minnesota decided to FIGHT and it cost her a quarter of a million, instead of a few thousand. RIPAA was returning random cases for a few thousand per person, at the time.) This points out the end limits of 'free vs pay' in my opinion.

The point is, some go to the extreme about everything should be 'free'. I feel if you have knowledge or goods or both, that you can share with others, you do have a right to charge for that, you have a right to make a living. I wish I could afford to come to the Lab for one of the big seminars/weeks of hands on; at least I have DVD's and podcasts that others made of the time to capture that knowledge and be able to share it with those that couldn't be there. I have no problem with if I want that, it's available, but I have to pay for it. There's also enough free content that at least I can get pointed in the right direction, and determine that the rest is worth investing in (as I mentioned, my ongoing journey on RMH ... my next step is probably making a 1000 mile round trip and picking up a load of firebrick from the source, cheaper than freighting it) but. I have educated myself over time, invested in some books and plans as I went. I would LOVE to afford to go and have an expert teach me, hands on, how to make one before I build. ... so. There is a large mixed pool, at least I can choose from the options, and there is enough of a mix, to get what I need. I have no problems in paying an expert that did all the errors and knows how to do it right, to guide me. Cash money is the easiest medium, but. Where I live and how I live now, barter is alive and well too, and I often do trade goods and services, and my labor, for stuff that I need (friend needed computer work, I envied their blackberries. I traded 3 hours of work for three blackberry plants...).
 
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Daniel Schmidt wrote:
It is important that people with the skills of creating or distributing free information (be it individuals or collaborative efforts) are able to earn an income doing their work.



Very glad you brought the point about free software (where freedom does not equate to zero money, especially when we are speaking about support costs.)
But redistributing? Sure it does cost money and effort to write and publish a book; but when reprinting, shouldn't it become considerably cheaper?
Especially when we a speaking about e-books.

I see a reason not to give stuff away without charge: in my experience, it is not valued as much as something you have paid for.
But it should be affordable, and $40 book hardly is.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Seva Tokarev wrote:
But it should be affordable, and $40 book hardly is.



Who decides something is "affordable"? Compared to what?

A book can last dozens or even hundreds of years.
 
Seva Tokarev
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Deb Rebel wrote:Where I live and how I live now, barter is alive and well too, and I often do trade goods and services, and my labor, for stuff that I need (friend needed computer work, I envied their blackberries. I traded 3 hours of work for three blackberry plants...).



I am curious if those people are paying tax on their barter transactions... because, if I interpret it correctly, IRS thinks that they should.
(I suspect they don't; and I fail to understand how it is different from obtaining a "pirated" copy of a soundtrack, other than difficulty of detecting.)
 
Tyler Ludens
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I prefer gifts to barter, personally. Gifts are not taxable except in large individual amounts (something like $14,000 per person per year).

 
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I am curious if those people are paying tax on their barter transactions... because, if I interpret it correctly, IRS thinks that they should.
(I suspect they don't; and I fail to understand how it is different from obtaining a "pirated" copy of a soundtrack, other than difficulty of detecting.)



There are laws and then there are LAWS. How much we buy into a particular law will vary with each individual, but I think it's safe to say everyone has certain laws they support and obey. There are other laws they don't support or respect and violate whenever it's convenient and safe to do so. When the vast majority of society respects and supports a certain law then it becomes a societal norm and violation is rare and swiftly punished.

When Jesse James was robbing trains and banks in Missouri he was viewed by the locals as a hero because he was mainly robbing the railroads and other big businesses that were viewed as predatory towards the locals (there was also lingering local resentment about the Civil War). As long as he was in Missouri he evaded capture easily. Once he and his gang went up to Minnesota where they were viewed as thieves and outsiders who were robbing the locals. In their only bank robbery in Minnesota, 2 of the gang members were killed before they could get out of town and 1 more during the following manhunt. Both of the Younger brothers were wounded several times each before they finally surrendered and went to prison. Jesse and Frank barely escaped, badly wounded, the only members of the gang to get out of Minnesota alive and free. That is the difference between a population who buys into the law and one that gives lip service only.

I am all for law, but I reserve the right to withhold my cooperation and support if I view a law unjust or foolish. Just because some jackass in a suit declares something to be illegal doesn't mean I have to support him. Of course, I understand that my lack of support may have consequences, because the jackass in a suit is free to try to enforce his 'law'. In order for it to stick, he has to convince most of the people that his law is fair and serves a real need. Failing that it will eventually become a 'blue law'.

When they first started going after pirated music, I think it's safe to say that most of society didn't really agree with them or view it as serious enough to worry about. Over time, more and more people have come to have at least some respect for an artists right to profit from his music. I believe the enforcement has been less effective in changing the public perception than the continued reasonable message that the creaters of a product should get some profit for their efforts.

I don't think the IRS is widely respected (it is feared). It has not really attempted to convince people it is right, it relies on brute force. Brute force is feared, but only when it is immediately present as a threat. Because of this I think IRS rules will be continued to be ignored or worked around (i.e.a gift exchange rather than barter) whenever it is safe to do so.
 
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Seva Tokarev wrote:

Deb Rebel wrote:Where I live and how I live now, barter is alive and well too, and I often do trade goods and services, and my labor, for stuff that I need (friend needed computer work, I envied their blackberries. I traded 3 hours of work for three blackberry plants...).



I am curious if those people are paying tax on their barter transactions... because, if I interpret it correctly, IRS thinks that they should.
(I suspect they don't; and I fail to understand how it is different from obtaining a "pirated" copy of a soundtrack, other than difficulty of detecting.)



Aside from whether someone is paying taxes or not, the difference would be in the willingness to trade or barter. By definition 'pirated' stuff is without the originator's permission.
 
Seva Tokarev
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Who decides something is "affordable"? Compared to what?



I decide what is affordable for me.
Compared to how much money I can set aside for the books, divided by the number of books I can read.
However, I suspect that a book not affordable to me won't be affordable to a considerable percentage of people.
Which, seemingly, excludes yourself. Good for you!

When I said "should be affordable", I implied "otherwise people won't be buying it (as much.)".

Tyler Ludens wrote:
A book can last dozens or even hundreds of years.



It doesn't have to do with affordability. E-book will last forever, but information (on an evolving topic like permaculture) will be outdated.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Seva Tokarev wrote:information (on an evolving topic like permaculture) will be outdated.

No, not generally.

There will certainly be new discoveries, but old discoveries [by those who care enough to first make sure they're right, then go ahead and write their findings] are never really invalidated.

Heck the Big Black Book itself [likely the most expensive single book any permaculture practitioner is likely going to want that's dedicated specifically to permaculture] is more than 30 years old and still contains tons of valid insights into sustainable/regenerative systems.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I wonder if books might not be the best medium for rapidly-changing information. I wonder if websites and message boards might be more appropriate.

I buy very few books. I have the Designer's Manual which I think I paid around $100 for, which is a typical price for a large textbook. There's more in there than I will ever be able to apply. I think the most recent permie book I purchased was Gaia's Garden. I'm thinking of trying to get a couple of Eric Toensmeier's books through inter-library loan.

I mostly rely on free info from the internet. Thanks everyone who puts stuff out there for free!

 
r ranson
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Seva Tokarev wrote:

... but information (on an evolving topic like permaculture) will be outdated.



Um... are you sure we're talking about the same thing?

Permaculture
Permanent Agriculture

The information is at the end of your eyeballs.

Never having taken a PDC here, but isn't the first thing you do in Permaculture is to look around you? Observe nature. Observe systems that work in your area, then emulate them.

If one can't do that, how could they possibly set up a system that works? Every area is different, thus, every area needs a different approach. We learn what approach is appropriate by observing. The information you learn from observation doesn't have a price tag.

Everything else is just window dressing.


Getting the textbooks from the library is fun when the weather is inclement. But half that stuff isn't applicable to my area. I've probably learned about 100 times as much information from this site alone, then I have from books. A thousand times more than that, from watching nature and doing permaculture. Library is free for me and affordable for most people. You probably pay for it with your taxes anyway, so why not take advantage of it? This site is free, thanks to Paul. Well, I say 'free'. I do choose pay for it by adding content. For every answer I receive, I make it my duty to give two back. By posting helpful content, I pay for my use. Nature charges nothing for the information she gives.

I don't understand how natural knowledge can become outdated, especially when we are setting up a permanent agricultural system.



Why are we asking if it should be free? Permaculture knowledge always has been, is, and always will be free.

If you want to spend money on books, videos, or other things you feel help you learn, then go for it. People produce them, they have a right to charge what they like, and you have the right to choose if you pay it. But in the end, these are just shortcuts for something you can learn by observation.



 
Mo-om! You're embarassing me! Can you just read a tiny ad like a normal person?
One million tiny ads for $25
https://permies.com/t/94684/million-tiny-ads
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