Andrew Mateskon wrote:Trade has been necessary for human cultures since the beginning, why would you characterize permaculture as somehow only successful if it can eliminate trade from human endeavors? Why is success measured, for you, by how independent the farmer becomes with permaculture? What kind of permaculture designer implements a (in this case cultural) system thinking that the system is closed, and no parts should be interconnected?
Kyrt Ryder wrote:There is a middle ground, Eric, of producing much of one's food but having a few specializations for the sake of trade [aka commerce.]
Tyler Ludens wrote:I've never seen any claim that permaculture demands the practitioner to provide every single thing they may want, that they can never buy or trade for anything with anyone.
Eric Brown wrote:The trouble, as I said, is that so much of what most of us are used to eating isn't available to buy/trade except from the likes of Walmart (maybe sometimes with classier brand management and misleading marketing gimmicks to appeal to eco sympathies but still representing the very same system of agriculture), and since so many people would rather trade than grow (and process, etc.) most of these things for himself, no one does them, no one develops alternatives to any of these things (and the few that do are considered too expensive or their products are considered too time-consuming in the kitchen or too different from the corporate-industrial food people are used to), and so there's no one to trade with that represents a level of agricultural responsibility substantially different from Walmart.
Eric Brown wrote: Secondly, the 90% of your own food metric wasn't my metric; that was Paul's metric. Am I to understand that most permaculture people would take issue with Paul on that metric of advancement?
Kyrt Ryder wrote:Can you please list these products you mention being unavailable?
A major difficulty/challenge I see with common notions of trading, though, is that the idea of trading frequently seems to wind up being an excuse to abandon responsibility for our agricultural footprints altogether. In other words, it's mostly not as if Pemaculture-Bob is growing permaculture barley and trading (or buying and selling) with Permaculture-Joe for permaculture beer and with Permaculture-Sam for permaculture acorn flour, etc. Most of the food items I asked about aren't available for trade/purchase in hardly any of the locations where the people on this forum (myself included) live, not grown to standards that can so much as compare to USDA organic, and they represent a huge portion of most people's (in or out of permaculture circles) calories.
If commodity organic is good enough, why concern ourselves personally (or as a community) with any questions of agricultural responsibility at all? If there's a lot more that's worth working for, how and where are we ever going to begin? How are we going to change the world if we're not going to seriously change our own agricultural footprints?
Lifted from Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_leverage_points
"The following are in increasing order of effectiveness.
12. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards)
Parameters are points of lowest leverage effects. Though they are the most clearly perceived among all leverages, they rarely change behaviors and therefore have little long-term effect.
For example, climate parameters may not be changed easily (the amount of rain, the evapotranspiration rate, the temperature of the water), but they are the ones people think of first (they remember that in their youth, it was certainly raining more). These parameters are indeed very important. But even if changed (improvement of upper river stream to canalize incoming water), they will not change behavior much (the debit will probably not dramatically decrease).
11. The size of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows
A buffer's ability to stabilize a system is important when the stock amount is much higher than the potential amount of inflows or outflows. In the lake, the water is the buffer: if there's a lot more of it than inflow/outflow, the system stays stable.
For example, the inhabitants are worried the lake fish might die as a consequence of hot water release directly in the lake without any previous cooling off.
However, the water in the lake has a large heat capacity, so it's a strong thermic buffer. Provided the release is done at low enough depth, under the thermocline, and the lake volume is big enough, the buffering capacity of the water might prevent any extinction from excess temperature.
Buffers can improve a system, but they are often physical entities whose size is critical and can't be changed easily.
10. Structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport network, population age structures)
A system's structure may have enormous effect on operations, but may be difficult or prohibitively expensive to change. Fluctuations, limitations, and bottlenecks may be easier to address.
For example, the inhabitants are worried about their lake getting polluted, as the industry releases chemical pollutants directly in the water without any previous treatment. The system might need the used water to be diverted to a wastewater treatment plant, but this requires rebuilding the underground used water system (which could be quite expensive).
9. Length of delays, relative to the rate of system changes
Information received too quickly or too late can cause over- or underreaction, even oscillations.
For example, the city council is considering building the wastewater treatment plant. However, the plant will take 5 years to be built, and will last about 30 years. The first delay will prevent the water being cleaned up within the first 5 years, while the second delay will make it impossible to build a plant with exactly the right capacity.
8. Strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the effect they are trying to correct against
A negative feedback loop slows down a process, tending to promote stability. The loop will keep the stock near the goal, thanks to parameters, accuracy and speed of information feedback, and size of correcting flows.
For example, one way to avoid the lake getting more and more polluted might be through setting up an additional levy on the industrial plant based on measured concentrations of its effluent. Say the plant management has to pay into a water management fund, on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on the actual amount of waste found in the lake; they will, in this case, receive a direct benefit not just from reducing their waste output, but actually reducing it enough to achieve the desired effect of reducing concentrations in the lake. They cannot benefit from "doing damage more slowly" -- only from actually helping. If cutting emissions, even to zero, is insufficient to allow the lake to naturally purge the waste, then they will still be on the hook for cleanup. This is similar to the US "Superfund" system, and follows the widely accepted "polluter pays" principle.
7. Gain around driving positive feedback loops
A positive feedback loop speeds up a process. Meadows indicates that in most cases, it is preferable to slow down a positive loop, rather than speeding up a negative one.
The eutrophication of a lake is a typical feedback loop that goes wild. In a eutrophic lake (which means well-nourished), lots of life can be supported (fish included).
An increase of nutrients will lead to an increase of productivity, growth of phytoplankton first, using up as much nutrients as possible, followed by growth of zooplankton, feeding up on the first ones, and increase of fish populations. The more available nutrients there are, the more productivity is increased. As plankton organisms die, they fall to the bottom of the lake, where their matter is degraded by decomposers.
However, this degradation uses up available oxygen, and in the presence of huge amounts of organic matter to degrade, the medium progressively becomes anoxic (there is no more oxygen available). In time, all oxygen-dependent life dies, and the lake becomes a smelly anoxic place where no life can be supported (in particular no fish).
6. Structure of information flow (who does and does not have access to what kinds of information)
Information flow is neither a parameter, nor a reinforcing or slowing loop, but a loop that delivers new information. It is cheaper and easier to change information flows than it is to change structure.
For example, a monthly public report of water pollution level, especially nearby the industrial release, could have a lot of effect on people's opinions regarding the industry, and lead to changes in the waste water level of pollution.
5. Rules of the system (such as incentives, punishment, constraints)
Pay attention to rules, and to who makes them.
For example, a strengthening of the law related to chemicals release limits, or an increase of the tax amount for any water containing a given pollutant, will have a very strong effect on the lake water quality.
4. Power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure
Self-organization describes a system's ability to change itself by creating new structures, adding new negative and positive feedback loops, promoting new information flows, or making new rules.
For example, microorganisms have the ability to not only change to fit their new polluted environment, but also to undergo an evolution that makes them able to biodegrade or bioaccumulate chemical pollutants. This capacity of part of the system to participate in its own eco-evolution is a major leverage for change.
3. Goal of the system
Changing goals changes every item listed above: parameters, feedback loops, information and self-organization.
A city council decision might be to change the goal of the lake from making it a free facility for public and private use, to a more tourist oriented facility or a conservation area. That goal change will effect several of the above leverage points: information on water quality will become mandatory and legal punishment will be set for any illegal effluent.
2. Mindset or paradigm that the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arises from
A societal paradigm is an idea, a shared unstated assumption, or a system of thought that is the foundation of complex social structures. Paradigms are very hard to change, but there are no limits to paradigm change. Meadows indicates paradigms might be changed by repeatedly and consistently pointing out anomalies and failures in the current paradigm to those with open minds.
A current paradigm is "Nature is a stock of resources to be converted to human purpose". What might happen to the lake were this collective idea changed ?
1. Power to transcend paradigms
Transcending paradigms may go beyond challenging fundamental assumptions, into the realm of changing the values and priorities that lead to the assumptions, and being able to choose among value sets at will.
Many today see Nature as a stock of resources to be converted to human purpose. Many Native Americans see Nature as a living god, to be loved, worshipped, and lived with. These views are incompatible, but perhaps another viewpoint could incorporate them both, along with others."
Tyler Ludens wrote:it would be great if everyone were practicing permaculture!
... to me the essential value in local isn't about how far something traveled to get to me but rather the connection between the producer and the consumers that shapes how the farmer farms.
Tyler Ludens wrote:I started a thread to try to find permie sources of those products: http://www.permies.com/t/53420/resources/Permaculture-sources#436015
Benton Lewis wrote:Doesn't the earth itself meets all the permie goals of self-sustaining food production. So isn't everyone doing permaculture?
R Ranson wrote:You give some great examples of what that diet looks like, and the challenges to acquiring the ingredients.
I'm completely oversimplifying the issue, I know. I would love to understand the heart of the issue in two sentences or less.
Tyler Ludens wrote:he was rejected as an example by a previous poster because he doesn't yet produce the maximum tonnage of food that his acreage could possibly produce, or something.
Tyler Ludens wrote:But as I mentioned, he was rejected as an example by a previous poster because he doesn't yet produce the maximum tonnage of food that his acreage could possibly produce, or something.
Eric Brown wrote:
And so my question, then, to put the heart of the issue in one or two sentences is this: I want to hear/read about clear (but not necessarily super detailed/lengthy) examples of people that have reached the 90% mark following self-identified permaculture principles.
Fukuoka's philosophy is his method, though many don't see that and see the specific techniques he uses as his method.
R Ranson wrote:Just look at all the people who poo poo Fukuoka's work because his METHOD doesn't travel well. His PHILOSOPHY, however, can be universally applied. It is almost as if, by recognizing the theory and the doing are very different. And yet, one falters without the other.
Speaking from experience here, seeds are a MUCH better return on foodstamps than food, though gardening does require some [not necessarily a lot] or time.
Jonathan Rivera wrote:There are movements in Detroit that show real promise, but most sustainable movements are happening in wealthy white cities, where they can spend the extra time and money on gardening.
Kyrt Ryder wrote:Speaking from experience here, seeds are a MUCH better return on foodstamps than food
Jonathan Rivera wrote:...and enough money to buy some potting soil and containers.
Jonathan Rivera wrote:J we often fail to directly address the problems that our society is facing, and how permaculture can create solutions.
Kyrt Ryder wrote:That film is really reminding me why I hate the concept of cities.
Jonathan Rivera wrote:I want to see it escape these stereotypes to be practiced all over the cities and the country sides, and help design our new infrastructure and mature our society.
Tyler Ludens wrote:I hope you'll post about your own efforts in overcoming these stereotypes.
Jonathan Rivera wrote: I tried creating a permaculture "awareness" group with some local gardeners and anyone who was interested, but I wasn't quite experienced enough but have that turn into a success.
Jonathan Rivera wrote:
I've been learning as much as I can and practicing on my plot in West MI. There's a ton more experience, living examples, and credentials I would need before I can attempt to become the permaculture evangelist to my community and my extended community. Eventually I'd love to get there, but it would be pointless until I can create a thriving example of permaculture that would show it's efficiency and superiority to other one dimensional growing systems. I'm not there quite yet, I've only been doing permaculture for 3 years now. But I'm starting to see some promising results.
I've attached some photos of where I'm currently at in my permaculture journey. It's small, but I'm learning a ton and hope to be able to get my PDC eventually and start community gardens and education in my town. I tried creating a permaculture "awareness" group with some local gardeners and anyone who was interested, but I wasn't quite experienced enough but have that turn into a success.
Tyler Ludens wrote:
Anyone else ever get discouraged you might never be "doing permaculture?"
R Ranson wrote: That's why I'm such a fan of the Wheaton Eco-Scale, and other ideas that embrace permaculture as a sliding scale.