When I received a review copy of this book, I felt a little troubled. Surely I'm not the right person to review a book about people. I'm a hermit. I spend all my time avoiding people, so there's no way I'll find enough of interest to me in this book to be able to give a proper assessment.
Which just goes to show how wrong I can be about things. This book has been the most humbling and empowering book I ever remember reading.
The book is divided into 6 parts, moving from principles, to our personal being, then out to the bigger picture.
Part 1, Thinking Like an Ecosystem, contains a detailed introduction to permaculture design and principles as applied to people.
Part 2, Looking Deep into the Centre, looks at the tools and techniques we can use in our own lives; how we can transform our internal landscape, enhance our well-being and be at our best.
Part 3, Hearing Each Other, investigates ways of creating harmony in our relationships and groups, through our communication and decision making.
Part 4, Living in Society, explores a wider vision for our social systems, in particular health and education.
Part 5, Feeling Connected Globally, moves on to explore how to expand our feelings of connection across the globe.
Part 6, Sensing Our Futures, focuses on how we can manifest a positive future with the use of a new design framework specifically created for people-based designs.
At first, everything felt familiar - permaculture ideas and principles were introduced, systems thinking was explained, the importance of design was emphasised and the foundations were laid. Then Looby made it personal. I'm not even sure how she did it, but all those things that I thought I was so familiar with suddenly got turned around. Instead of inspiring me to go out onto my land and become part of something bigger, everything was pointing back at me telling me to put my own life in order first, to get my own health and emotional issues under control before going out to put the rest of the world to rights. It felt as though the book had slapped me across the face into realising that if I insist on hiding myself away, then I'm going to have to take full responsibility for myself and get myself as strong and healthy as possible before I can expect to have enough to keep giving to the wider world. The slap was a shock, but immediately Looby was there to soothe things over and guide me through a seemingly endless supply of new ideas and ways of looking at things to enable me to build myself up stronger than ever before, and yet behind those new ideas were all the familiar concepts of permaculture which I thought I knew so well. I think the word 'gobsmacked' pretty well describes how I felt.
But there was more to come. Almost seamlessly, Looby teaches you how to rebuild yourself, then moves on to your immediate environment, your family, then gradually out to the rest of society, all in the most inspiring and yet practical way possible. She provides an amazing toolkit, from advice on clearing clutter in the home to mindmaps, discussions of right livelihoods, ways of communicating, conflict resolution, maintaining relationships. working in group, and then building that all out into the wider perspectives of healthcare, education, inspiring other people, connecting with nature, and working towards the future.
Looby's website describes her book like this - Including over 50 practical activities, People & Permaculture empowers readers with tried and tested tools to initiate positive change. It is a hands-on, powerful guide to creating a sustainable world.
In my opinion, that description doesn't even begin to convey the importance of this book. This book goes right back to the very heart of permaculture and rebuilds it anew. It nurtures the soul in the same way that permaculture nurtures the soil. And from that base we can build our ecosystems and our societies alike.