Thanks Logan. I appreciate this topic being brought up.
Listening to countless hours of old recordings of Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Design Courses and reading his books
, I am always grateful when Bill cites the traditional originators of certain concepts: be they the Bimbaches of the Island of Hierro and their rain tree
or the Hawaiians and their sophisticated ahupua’a land
management system. Regardless of who it was, Bill always cited them with reverence as forming the foundations of what a sustainable
and regenerative future could be based on. To him, it was important when designing a location, to look to how people sustained and thrived in a given location for – in some cases – thousands of years
without fossil fuels, biocides and artificial, petroleum-based fertilizers. It is “permanent” agriculture with empirical precedent.
Bill also cited just plain ‘ol resourceful folks
born and raised in “Western” colonized societies who were observational design geniuses. He cited people such as Joseph Timothy with his low-tech sharpened shovel
and Percival Alfred Yeomans with his machinery and high-tech earthworks
After having studied Mollison and studied & practiced both permaculture and traditional ecological knowledge in-depth, I see permaculture as observation + resourcefulness + earthworks
grafted onto root
stocks of traditional ecological knowledge – TEK from any continent (yes, even traditional ecological knowledge from the European continent as well).
[Note: please correct me if I'm misunderstanding, however regarding the content of the OP it appears the concept of "appropriation" might be what's actually being referenced as opposed to "gentrification". Though I suppose gentrification can be descriptive in certain permacultural contexts. If so, just ignore this whole post. hehe]
I too have heard the “appropriation” comment made towards permaculture on more than one occasion. Though, because I see permaculture as observation + traditional ecological knowledge + resourcefulness + earthworks, I see these comments as based on an over-simiplification of what permaculture is. And at the end of the day, every horticultural/agricultural practice is in fact rooted in traditional knowledge from some time and some place on planet earth. We are all standing on the shoulders of our ancestors.
That said, these comments do contain a grain of truth when originators of certain ingenious and resourceful concepts are not properly cited with reverence by certain permaculture practitioners and teachers.
Therefore, some best practices for permaculturists might be: properly cite with reverence (cultural appreciation) not mockery (cultural appropriation) originators of concepts - as Bill Mollison
did throughout his entire life, when possible learn traditional design practices from traditional peoples and let them be the leaders on the education of yourself and others in that process (in other words, stay humble), lift up and amplify the voices of traditional peoples and their practices perhaps by inviting them to be hired to teach some classes within a Permaculture Design Course
context if they are so willing, continue to educate others about observation, (low-tech and modern high-tech) earthworks and plain 'ol resourcefulness as also being essential branches on the permaculture tree...