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Andrew Millison, Toby Hemenway and David Holmgren walk into a bar ...

 
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The bernal brothers made a cool video that I posted here and then Andrew Millison commented here.  

Some back and forth and then Andrew says

where's David Holmgren in your level 9?  I mean, I love Toby Hemenway, rest his soul,  but if there can only be 10 at level 9 then Holmgren deserves the spot.



Of course, the default answer is that I encourage everybody to make their own scale and put their own favorite bits in the scale.   But I think this would be a healthy exploration.  

I say

i think it would be good to get the top 20 permies out and make lists of their accomplishments - and then I would be glad to modify my list.  It is possible that I am wrong about a lot of things and need to right some wrongs.  For the moment, Toby, even after his death, is convincing a lot of people to make the permaculture leap.  Maybe the numbers I see are different from reality?



Toby's book is bringing permaculture to a lot of people.  And helping permaculture become more of a rock solid reality for a lot of existing permies.  

David was there at the beginning and ...   then did other stuff ...   and when permaculture got rolling strong he came back.   If I am wrong about any of this, I would very much like to be corrected.  If Mollison had not put his whole life behind permaculture for many years, then my guess is that none of us would have ever heard the word.  Since I have pulled off a lot of projects despite a list of people leaving me high and dry when the work got hard - I suppose that this reflects more of a personal issue within my own skin than anything David may or may not have done.  

I enjoyed the Melliodora book.  

I bought his book "Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability" a very long time ago.  I struggled with it, although I didn't struggle with any of the other permaculture books at the time.    The push was for the ethic and principles guiding one to the techniques:   here are the problems of the world, add in the ethics, and then the techniques become obvious.   Only that line of reasoning didn't seem to follow for me.  I'm an engineer.  So I see the monsantos of the world using this technique to justify their monsanto-ing.   At the same time, I think that for each person, like me, that is not grooving on this path, there are 20 people who are grooving on this path.   They love this stuff!  I am, therefore, a weirdo - and should shut the fuck up.

It is my impression, and maybe I am wrong, that Holmgren is the one coined the ethic "fair share."  Whoever came up with that has, I think, set permaculture back about ten or fifteen years.  There is a lot of unethical behavior happening under the "permaculture fair share" flag.  And these people demand that people like me endorse their unethical behavior as ethical, because of "fair share" or else ....  

There are many schools of thought under the permaculture umbrella.  And clearly a huge number number of permies love, love, love David Holmgren's path.  

I can never teach a PDC because the foundation of the PDC is to start with the ethics, like David does.  

I like the holzer approach better:  do these techniques and when you are done, you are following a collection of ethics without having ever had a conversation about ethics.  

When I first made the scale, I think I listed six people and the left a "..." to show where the other four names would go.  When Olof made the graphic, he wanted there to be exactly ten people, so I left it up to him to pick.  Those four people seemed fine to me and I think Olof's graphic is really amazing, so, sure, let him have his four.   Clearly, if you had been in Olof's shoes you would have picked differently.

Holmgren not being on the list probably says a lot more about me than about Holmgren.  I suspect that if we had a poll about it for the top 1000 permies, then Holmgren would probably be on that list.  

Did you see the other comment on the video where somebody was asking why Joel Salatin wasn't on the list?

In fact ...  Andrew ...   make the leap.   Who is at level 10 on your list, and who are the ten people at level 9?
 
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Thanks for looping me in here, Paul

In support of Holmgren I'd say:
1) he has an long standing epic site where he stayed home to prove many of Mollison's theories while Bill globe-trotted.
2) I loved "Principles and Pathways" and at the time it came out in 2004 he rooted Mollison's 80's work in the new millenia context
3) He coined the "12 Principles" which are now the standard and widely accepted and easily understood
4) He doesn't travel much but he's super active in his area

As far as a top person and top 10 most impactful permies, that's really tough. Back in 2016 I made a "top 36" list, which also sought to include international folks:
https://open.oregonstate.education/permaculture/chapter/the-people-of-permaculture/
(Most of your list is included there)

However in the last 5 years, I have had a couple of extended visits to India and because there are sooo many people there, the impacts of their projects are at a whole other scale entirely. So I would definitely have Rajendra Singh (the "Water Man" of India on there:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajendra_Singh

I'd include Sadhguru, whose known as a spiritual leader but has a massive river-basin wide project in South India:
https://www.ishaoutreach.org/en/cauvery-calling

Aamir Khan (the Bollywood star) who spearheaded the Paani Foundation:
https://www.paanifoundation.in/


and I included him on my original list but definitely top 10 is Narsanna Koppula, Bill Mollison's  student of Aranya Agricultural Alternatives:


Also, Darren Doherty has had a huge impact as far as acres regenerated and people educated. He's more understated then Geoff Lawton for example, but he's the direct source of so much of the proofs that people point to in permaculture and regenerative agriculture:
http://www.regrarians.org/about/darren-j-doherty-cv/


For that matter, P.A. Yeomans himself invented the modern basis for regenerative agriculture with the Keyline system and he'd be at a similar level of influence with Fukuoka I'd speculate.

Now this is all very male-heavy, and if you look at my 36 list, you'll see plenty of women like Rosemary Morrow, Penny Livingston, Robyn Francis. Definitely right there with Vendana Shiva. In the modern day, I'd add Natalie Topa who has blown up permaculture in the international aid and relief world:
https://soundcloud.com/user-193856180/episode-016-natalie-topa-permaculture-for-resilient-refugee-camps

So top 10? Impossible for me. But top 50? That'd be an interesting exercise. What I found from diving into India was that in the US we just don't hear about a lot of crazy cool sh*t going on in other places around the world, but each region has these mega-permaculture activators that you find out about when you're there or at International Permaculture Conferences (IPC - next one in Argentina 2022), where they don't necessarily speak English or have good internet. I only heard of or met John Nzira and Julious Piti at an IPC for example, but they are mega activators in Southern Africa:
http://ukuvuna.org/ukuvid.php

http://poret-zimbabwe.org/about/org/julious_piti.php


The list goes on and on. Part of my personal mission is to share epic permaculture work and people from around the world that we just don't know about in N. America. So check back with me in 10 more years and I'll give you my top top 50

 
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I came to permaculture through the practical path.  I had physical problems in my surroundings that needed solutions.  Every time I found a solution that worked, it was combined with the word permaculture.

After a few years, I looked up what this permaculture thing was.

I'm still busy with the solutions for making the world physically better.  Yes, I have an ethical code, and yes, it agrees with the permaculture one.  But I ain't got time to sit and ponder and talk about the ethics of permaculture.  There's too much I can do to make my small corner of the world a better place and help others on their journey.  

But that's my path.  
 
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John D. Liu?
Jean Pain?
Rachel Carson?
Ruth Stout?
Ben Law?
Allan Savory?
Dick Proenneke?
Mike Oehler?
David Pagan Butler?

Damn good call on Darren Doherty and P.A. Yeomans.

I wonder if we get a list of the "top 100" and then we each sort them ....  and maybe resort them.   And then maybe get some bigs to chime in with their sorted lists and why they chose that order ...  and over and over and over again ...  that after five years of information exchange and list nudging - who would then be the collective top, and would be the 10 people to fill out the "level 9".

I will favor people like the people in your recent movies in india.  And you will favor, perhaps, the persuasive philosophers.


 
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paul wheaton wrote:
I wonder if we get a list of the "top 100" and then we each sort them ....  and maybe resort them.



This makes me tempted to make an "Apple Poll" and people can have, say 10 apples (votes) to apply to a giant list of names. Maybe some people would give all 10 to their favorite person. Maybe some people would give out one apple vote to 10 different people.

Maybe this would be one fun way to sort of sort the people. I really like the idea of seeing everyone's differently sorted lists, too!
 
paul wheaton
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Maybe start off with a poor man's poll.  That way everybody can add their favorite person.   And then we might be able to build a list up to 100 people.  

And then we can do something a bit more manual.   Simply ask those 100 people to make up a number from 0 to 10 for all of the other people on the list - to reflect the weight of .... influence?   contribution?  accomplishment?  Then we add up those numbers.  



 
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If we are succeeding  then hopefully our progress will bring us 100 at level 9, 10 an level 10, and someone at level 11....or, of course, we just adjust the scale to match the new reality of progress.  I suspect that if we didn't adjust the level meaning that we could get to level 100 due to how very much we have to learn.  That excites me a lot, but makes a scale unwieldy, so holding to 10 is great.  
 
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Suppose we create a list of 100 permies.   Each will have a different set of values.  Some will favor social justice, some will favor philosophy, some will favor greening deserts, some will favor gardening, some will favor community stuff and some will favor innovation.  

What might you call it when willie smits gives permaculture-aligned work to 10,000 people?  Or when he plants trees and increases rainfall - and carefully documents it?

What about when Starhawk writes a fiction book that causes greater global conversion to permaculture than Toby's books?

Maybe something with an angle on whitepapers and scientific rigor?

Maybe something on having the greatest impact on level zero people (jack spirko)?

 
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I agree with so much here that's being said because this planet's a bit of a mess and it is going to take all sorts of people and techniques to fix it.
I was always told that "permaculture is a design theory", so it's not supposed to give you a "cookbook". But so much of what I'd read or been told didn't relate to my eco-system or resources so when I tried to apply those theories, I tended to grind to a halt. Then one winter I visited my mom and her library had a copy of The Earth Care Manual. (Patrick Whitefield) His ecosystem and mine have parallels and his examples seemed to be so much easier for me to picture on my land or at least variations on his examples, than examples from Australia or deserts or even eastern USA.

So my vote is that we need all these people! We definitely need the people who will inspire newbies to go from 0 to level 1 and 2. We absolutely need people inspiring locals all over this planet in all sorts of languages and at all sorts of skill level (Sepp didn't start out at level 10 - he may not have started at level 1 as he was raised in a situation that gave him access to nature that many humans can only dream of, but his books clearly show a progression of skills and understanding.) People at least trying to demonstrate scientific rigor helps some people "believe", although simply documenting rigorously over years as changes are made needs to be respected as too many "scientific experiments" simply aren't capable of tracking all the variables real-life nature requires for a healthy environment.

Paul Wheaton wrote:

What about when Starhawk writes a fiction book that causes greater global conversion to permaculture than Toby's books?  

A fiction book that my library would classify under, "Young Adult" - in other words, aimed at age 13 and up - would be truly awesome if it took off like Harry Potter did - we'd be getting the group that would be moving into adulthood with care of the earth central to their goals in life. If it was a book "set" in a "Permaculture world" the way the Potter series was set in a Magical world, as if responsibility to the planet simply is "expected" - only how you go about it is optional! And if I were to wish for even more perfection - it would be a book series written in different places on this planet with different ecosystems. That guy in Russia who's trying to rebuild permafrost with herbivores as an example of one setting, vs someone else greening a desert vs someone else changing a city into an edible garden etc, etc...  The amount of genuine science as related to soil, plants, insects etc that could be deviously snuck into a well-written fiction book can not be underestimated.

If we have a list of "top 100" and what each one's skill sets are, think of all the people who might be inspired reading just 1 book, instead of reading ten and still thinking - "this is for other people to do".
 
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If we do a poor man's poll, maybe each post needs to have a micro bio.  Listing off a few things they are known for.


 
Nicole Alderman
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I find a poor man's poll kind of hard to scroll through, because the things could get rather unwieldy. With 100+ posts, there will likely be a lot of people on page 2 or 3 that don't even get seen because their post wasn't one of the first few. If we have an apple poll, we can make it auto-sort by alphabetical order, and then change it at any time to sorting by the amount of votes.

We can also make the names in the apple poll link to a post in the replies, and that post with the bio cold also act as a poor man's poll.

And, we can make the apple poll such that any pollinator or staff can add a name to it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is,

 
paul wheaton
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Maybe we start with just a giant thread of nominations.   And from that we can do some sort of apple poll.

 
Nicole Alderman
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Well, I took the 50+ from this thread:

John D. Liu  
Jean Pain  
Rachel Carson  
Ruth Stout
Ben Law  
Allan Savory  
Dick Proenneke  
Mike Oehler
David Pagan Butler
Rajendra Singh  
Sadhguru  
Aamir Khan  
Darren Doherty  
P.A. Yeomans  
Bill Mollison  
David Holmgren  
Robyn Francis  
Rosemary Morrow  
Narsanna Koppula  
Penny Livingston-Stark  
Geoff Lawton  
Maddy Harland  
Mark Lakeman  
Starhawk  
Eugenio Gras  
Alias Mulambo  
Roberto Perez  
Julious Piti  
Patrick Whitefield  
Masanobu Fukuoka  
Scott Pittman  
Peter Bane  
Tim Murphy  
Darren Doherty  
Warren Brush  

And made this thread: https://permies.com/wiki/163164

It doesn't have the bios of everyone in the comments yet, but I can work on that if you think this is a good direction to go in? Or I can hold off on that thread until we've done a thread of nominations?
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Well, I took the 50+ from this thread:

<clip>

And made this thread: https://permies.com/wiki/163164


Cool! I added Wangari Maathai to that thread here.
 
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Thanks for showing us your list, Andrew.
Thankfully it has actual permaculture women on it, not just women that Paul  and the rest of us admire.

 
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I've started making my top ten votes and it is so hard!  I think I need two lots of top ten: one a personal top ten that have been the biggest influence on me, and a second top ten for those who have made the biggest influence on the world (not neccessarily people!)
I shall have to do a lot more resaearch, since many (most?) Of those names I am unfamiliar with.  I suspect anyway we (with the best will in the world) will end up with a western dominated top ten, just because of Permies demographics.
 
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Is there a reason why Mark Shepard is not on the list?

He seems to me to be one of the people who is really showing people how to do permaculture, not just talk about permaculture.

John S
PDX OR
 
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Nancy Reading wrote:I've started making my top ten votes and it is so hard!  I think I need two lots of top ten: one a personal top ten that have been the biggest influence on me, and a second top ten for those who have made the biggest influence on the world (not necessarily people!)
I shall have to do a lot more research, since many (most?) Of those names I am unfamiliar with.  I suspect anyway we (with the best will in the world) will end up with a western dominated top ten, just because of Permies demographics.

Paul has always said, "if you don't like my scale, make your own" and this is exactly why - the only language I'm functionally literate in is English,  and I'm reading to improve my ecosystem, and those of my friends when I can convince them that little changes could help them a lot (like putting punky wood in the bottom of their raised beds, or adding some biochar to lighten their clay soil, or using a bed-warmer instead of electric baseboard heat to conserve electricity). So I'm equally suspicious that the "permies top 10" would be totally different than an equivalent organization in India's.

However, if people like you take the time to research some of the other names put forward and learn something from that research that can help people in your community or on your own land, this thread will have done a service to permies, and I'm really glad that Paul started it. If nothing else, reading about some of the great things happening elsewhere, inspires me to keep trying even as the local council tries to suggest a draconian "Tree Protection Bylaw" and a dangerously pro-development "Official Community Plan".  
 
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What about this idea. You have a few groups like: pioneers, pollinators and people to watch. So in the pioneers group would be people like Ruth Stout, Bill Mollison and others who worked to get Permaculture going. Next pollinators who have been working to make a mark in Permaculture like Toby Hemenway, Geoff Lawton. Last people to watch are doing cool things like Paul Wheaton. I know there are many people I am not listing, my bad.

I would then in each group rank my top 10 or 20 people. I feel that trying to have just one list of every Permaculture person would be hard. In some ways this is like asking someone what is there favorite dessert. Every time I read or watch a video on Permaculture and see a new face I ask myself  "I wonder what books and videos they have done?"  and "Where can I get they books and videos?".

 
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T Blankinship wrote:I would then in each group rank my top 10 or 20 people. I feel that trying to have just one list of every Permaculture person would be hard. In some ways this is like asking someone what is there favorite dessert. Every time I read or watch a video on Permaculture and see a new face I ask myself  "I wonder what books and videos they have done?"  and "Where can I get they books and videos?".



I was just chatting with Paul about this, and his goal is to take the list we create and pass it along to the top 40(?) people from the list, and have those permaculture greats rate each person from 0 to 100. 0 = I've never heard of this person before. And 100 = This person has influenced permaculture most.

Then, we'll take the ratings from these top people and average them out to find out who's the Top 100 People of Permaculture for 2021!

Once we have that list of the  Top 100 People of Permaculture for 2021, we'll make a thread with their bios/pictures/links. And, if someone is on the top 100, they will also be able to make their own thread in the permaculture artisan forum with links to their books, videos, websites, etc.
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:

T Blankinship wrote:I would then in each group rank my top 10 or 20 people. I feel that trying to have just one list of every Permaculture person would be hard. In some ways this is like asking someone what is there favorite dessert. Every time I read or watch a video on Permaculture and see a new face I ask myself  "I wonder what books and videos they have done?"  and "Where can I get they books and videos?".



I was just chatting with Paul about this, and his goal is to take the list we create and pass it along to the top 40(?) people from the list, and have those permaculture greats rate each person from 0 to 100. 0 = I've never heard of this person before. And 100 = This person has influenced permaculture most.

Then, we'll take the ratings from these top people and average them out to find out who's the Top 100 People of Permaculture for 2021!

Once we have that list of the  Top 100 People of Permaculture for 2021, we'll make a thread with their bios/pictures/links. And, if someone is on the top 100, they will also be able to make their own thread in the permaculture artisan forum with links to their books, videos, websites, etc.




Cool! I like it.
 
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To r ranson - Amen. We need both - theoretical and practical - to maintain balance as the future unfolds. Each feeds the other.
Though I would also suggest that moving the overarching mindset and attitude from 'dominion' to 'stewardship' is the ultimate answer.
 
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Jay-   this idea of a fictional work that is aimed at impressionable teens ( and other books in series aimed maybe by single subject at 4th-6th graders as well) about to enter adulthood is pure genius 👏👌.  

I was a young adult when I started the "Clan of the Cavebear" series.  I was already minorly interested in "alternative" herbal healing and it was Ayla's training in this that began a more serious interest for me. "The Valley of Horses" kicked me over the top as it described more uses and descriptions of the medicinal plants. Jean Auel did alot of research on so many subjects in order to write from a place of knowledge and understanding.

Now we just need to find/inspire the authors who can intelligently write these permie stories.
 
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