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master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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In the last two months, the question has been put to me about six times: who is the leader of permaculture in the US? Or, who are the primary leaders?

At the same time, somebody contacted me and suggested that I had responsibilities because I am that person. I'm pretty sure that is not the case.

How do you hold a ruler up to that? How do you figure out who are the bigs?

With the upcoming permaculture conference in missoula, who might be drawn on to be the keynote speaker? Who are the keynote speakers at the other permaculture events? I know that Geoff Lawton is being flown in for one in california. I met with Toby Hemenway and asked him - and there wasn't a clear answer.

I ended up putting a bunch of names into the google tool that tells you how often something is searched for each month. I asked for the exact name and it came back with global searches and local (USA) searches.

It looks like it is Paul Stamets and Jack Spirko. Then I'm tied with Doug Bullock and Brad Lancaster (although when I google for doug, a different doug bullock comes first). Then Toby and Ianto.

Who did I leave off of this list?

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steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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There are so many facets of permaculture, it would be hard to pick one.

I don't think of Joel Salatin as a permaculturist, but more as a a man with animal husbandry techniques that fit well into permaculture. His primary strength is in 'marketing', rather than agriculture.

Jack Spirko is more of a survivalist than a permaculturist, but permaculture could be a key to survival if/when TSHTF.

Brad Lancaster is more about making it happen in arid regions.

The Bullock brothers are icons in this region

Skeeter, also a local, always seem to 'get it done'

Hemenway has opened the doors for people without large acreage.

You forgot Ernie and Erica, who shine in keeping your house warm and habitable.

You are the voice...the communications venue.

Lawton, Fukuoka, Mollison, Holtzer are certainly not 'locals', yet all have a tremendous influence on the locals.

Just as permaculture is a variety of tools/techniques/disciplines, I think its leaders cover the spectrum of its facets.

There are many who might not be considered permaculturists, but who have perfected, or are working on ideas and practices that lend themselves to a permaculture end product. Examples would be Willie Smits, Colin Seis, and Greg Judy, even though none of them qualify as local leaders here.

 
Posts: 53
Location: USDA Climate Zone 9, Central Florida
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Will Hooker, north carolina
 
pollinator
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I' think that Mark Shepard deserves to be on that list.
 
Posts: 50
Location: Tonasket, WA
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You have a good list, I also was going to mention Ernie and Erica, they are on the list in my book. And in Nevada, Neil Bertrando should be on the list, actually even outside Nevada.
 
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Two leaders in the permaculture field here in the US that are missing from your list, Penny Livingston in Bolinas, CA and my favorite Warren Brush down in Quail Springs near Santa Barbara.
 
paul wheaton
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Ernie Wisner 28 16
Willie Smits 720 110
greg judy 320 260
will hooker 58 46
neil bertrando 0 0
penny livingston 91 58
warren brush 73 28


Mark Shepherd has a lot of matches for other people, so the numbers don't count.
 
Leo Horthy
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The real answer is, of course, that there is no one leading the permaculture movement here in the US. There are many people working in various ways to promote and spread the goodness that is permaculture, but it is a scattered movement, each unto their own domain. No one person is leading or coordinating this. We do not have a figurehead.

Something tells me that this is as it should be. We have modeled the movement on nature. If it dies out in one place - no problem - efforts will continue elsewhere and in the end it will spread everywhere as the soil of human consciousness is ripe for the germination of this movement.

Without a "head" we are hard to kill (ask anyone who is struggling to eradicate the star thistle).
 
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Location: Eugene/Roseburg
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Considering our PDC with Toby Hemenway, which is going on right now, I would say that Tom Ward has been the best guest instructor so far. I didn't see him on your list. He was definitely inspiring and seems to be really good at earth works and surveying.
 
pollinator
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I like Bill Mollisons answer to this dillema: No one is in charge. No centeral figure head.

( Personally I still consider Mollison and David Holmgren to be the figure heads as long as they are still living.)

Edited to add: ** As usual I am not paying attention - I see that you said "in the U.S."

In that case I would vote for Pilarski or Pittman or Hemenway
 
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Hello - You left off Bill and Beckie Wilson, http://midwestpermaculture.com/. They also do Transition Training workshops and I attended one in Berkeley Springs, WV. They were excellent.

Ellen Smith
 
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Location: Dallas TX
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One of the strengths of permaculture is redundancy. The fact that we have so many people working towards resilience is a very good thing. Having said that, I think the single most effective strategy we have is permies.com and again I thank you, Paul.
 
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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Is there anyone lobbying in the US that is changing government to a more Permaculture friendly environment? Like raising animals in urban areas or changing the laws to ban CFLs?

Even though Al Gore is not a permaculturist, do you think he had an impact on the permaculture movement at all? If you were to use the Paul Wheaton scale, would Al have elevated enough people up one level moving them from eco level 0 to eco level 1?
 
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Edward Mendosa in Arizona

Rafael Aguilera in sacramento

Derek Downey Davis,ca

Winona Laduke momenee nation

Tutskwa Permaculture First Mesa Az

I'm sure there are more tribal Permaculture based folks in this nation. I find it hard to believe that the indigiculture has been wiped away from this continent.
 
steward
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Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
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I would say that Jack Spiko is definitely more than just a survivalist as he talks about permaculture all the time on his podcast, The Survival Podcast. He also has many videos about permaculture on YouTube.

I would add to the list Ben Falk of Whole Systems Design in Vermont.
 
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I inherently flinch at "who is the best" or "who is boss" type questions. One of the reasons I am drawn to permacuture is that it is a culture. No one is in charge of culture, no one decides what is "in" and what is "out". The simple rule that honors [one of the] founders - Mollison, by taking a PDC is about all I would want to see. Not because it is a "have to" but because culturally it is a way to honor the honorable, and to keep a tradition that makes the community strong.

I liked the list for a different reason: it is a directory of people who are pioneering innovation and helping the discovery process along, and are cultural contributors. There is no top artist, but there are many artists who build a vibrant community that artists and non-artists benefit from. So Paul, your list should be enhanced with a short description of what each of these folks are known for: arid regions, water harvesting, teaching, fruit, worms, bees, livestock, etc.

Btw, I am an ardent Jack Spirko listener foir a billion reasons, a small part of which is his permaculture stuff. But Paul is my main go-to guy for Permaculture as a specific discipline.

So maybe we can start a directory / hall of fame with all the folks noted above, and put in their particular contributions or specialties. Then we can all explore and discover people we didn't know about before.

 
Adrien Lapointe
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Great idea Randy!

However, I do like the idea of "the bigs" in the sense that those people are great examples of what can be done or they contribute to a large extent to spreading permaculture. When I read Paul's post I interpretted it more in the sense of leaders as road blazers rather than dictators leading the permies. I might be wrong.
 
pollinator
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It seems to me this is a list of people who are influential -- celebrities, if you will. Not necessarily the best, but the best known for their influence on others.

Lonnie Gamble of Fairfield, Iowa and Paula Westmoreland and Daniel Halsey of Minneapolis belong on such a list, for their influence in Iowa and Minnesota. Also Dave Boehnlein.
 
Instructor
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Randy Bachman wrote:I inherently flinch at "who is the best" or "who is boss" type questions. One of the reasons I am drawn to permacuture is that it is a culture. No one is in charge of culture, no one decides what is "in" and what is "out". The simple rule that honors [one of the] founders - Mollison, by taking a PDC is about all I would want to see. Not because it is a "have to" but because culturally it is a way to honor the honorable, and to keep a tradition that makes the community strong.



I agree with you Randy. I would love to see a 'catalog' of what people are doing and who in innovating using various patterns, strategies and techniques in different climate types. at the same time, I doubt I will put time into creating such a list or database. permacultureglobal.net is a tool created by PRI that can serve this function if we use it well. both a map and user-updateable sites for people and projects.

i personally wouldn't put myself on the list of bigs, although I'm honored that Paul mentions my name. I continue to be grateful to be following in the footsteps of giants and graced with the connections and inspirations those kind people share with the world.

Permaculture is such an all-encompassing systems design science, that it is tough to say what is not Permaculture or at least would be excluded from the tool kit.

I would definitely consider Joel Salatin a Permaculturist and perhaps the most successful in North America. The Holistic Management movement has an amazing set of tools to compliment Permaculture and there are hundreds if not thousands of practitioners nationally.

So many doing great work and I support all the other nominations mentioned on this thread. people I know or know of that I would add to the emerging list of leaders, innovators, edge pushers and such are:

Owen Hablutzel
Craig Sponholtz
Kaitlin Bergman
Ethan Roland
Iginia Boccalandro
Penny Livingston
Brock Doleman
Erik Ohlsen
Nate Downey
Starhawk
...

and I'm sure there are dozens and dozens to add to the list, people whom I do not know or know of even, probably several others I do know should be on it as well. Everywhere I go I meet enthusiastic, well informed, permaculture experimentalists who are doing and learning and even making a living off of their endeavors of helping others and the earth. If we can increase our beneficial functional connections to each other and support the work we are all doing, we can get more examples on the ground running, learn more from our experiments and continue to store water and carbon in the lush productive human landscape.

I also think a new model is emerging where we all share the responsibility of leadership and have the opportunity to let each other lead when conditions shift and change to best compliment our human conditions.

So many of the issues we are concerned with as Permaculturalists also concern natural resource managers, fire districts, ecologists, agriculturalists, the BLM, renewable energy innovators and installers, and more. How can we develop these connections to improve and inspire ecological development towards bioregional resilience? Can we define pathways towards working with the people already on the ground and invested in the ecology where we integrate fire management, "invasive" weeds, water retention, flood protection, erosion control, productive human landscapes and economies and vibrant wildlife habitats? I think the Quivira Coalition work on this thread and Brock Doleman's OAEC Water Institute are vital examples towards moving forward on this pathway. Also, the Seattle food forest in a public park. and I'm sure there are and will continue to be more encouraging works.

I believe we are in a new regime state in the permaculture movement in N. America and worldwide, where the Pioneer species have really developed soils and water and even ecologies to support our emergence and development at a larger and more interconnected scale. For which I want to express my deep gratitude towards those who have laid these foundations, who have traveled internationally to share their experience and wisdom, to the people here who catch store and cycle that experience, to those who have stayed in one place and developed model sites, who have continued to push the edge and innovate, and to those who are just now germinating into the world of permaculture and regenerative earth living.

Paul thank you for continuing to document, to question, to share and conversate, to connect us and weave together our stories of hardship and joy.
 
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Not one of the bigs but has great material to view about sustenance and food forestry and permaculturesque systems. Youtube channel "sustenancencovering" he actually brought me to permies. I consider him somewhat of an idle. There might be things you don't care about, but sift through for anything dealing with his food systems and be amazed. He has over 600 fruit and nut trees planted on his property and in the woods behind it. He is hoping to stop shopping for food in 2 years.
 
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