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To the women (and men) in the permaculture community  RSS feed

 
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To the women (and men) in the permaculture community,

I recently had the amazing opportunity to attend Permaculture Voices 1 and during one of the presentations it was brought up that a group of women chose to boycott the event because of the lack of women presenters. I was shocked. I was, quite honestly, embarrassed for the women that made this choice. What a disservice to themselves and any potential friend they might have shared information with. My first thought was, how is this even an issue? How could anyone focus on something that has nothing to do with what this event is about? It never occurred to me that there were x amount of men speakers and x amount of women speakers. I only recognized that the speakers were amazing at what they studied and I, as well as others, had the chance to absorb priceless information from them.

These people brought to present at Permaculture Voices were full of knowledge that took years to accumulate, regardless of gender, race, sexual preference, religion, etc. I would feel confident saying that the presenters were selected because they were the best suited for the position, not to be politically correct for the masses. Knowledge is power. Why wouldn't a women (or man) that was concerned that not enough women were strong forces in the permaculture movement encourage ALL women that they could to come to the event and absorb the years of knowledge openly given to them at Permaculture Voices?? I would go as far as to say that women not coming to this were only punishing themselves as well as other women (and men, and children) through ignorance - knowledge is power. Knowledge is the gate way to greatness, any avenue you take it. To create any strong leader in any certain field it takes years of knowledge, why wouldn't anyone take each and every opportunity presented to them? We can't create big numbers without big exposure to knowledge.

I understand that some women connect better with women, and men with men and I support that. This event wasn't really about personal connections, it was about REAL information, REAL studies, REAL ideas that were freely passed on to EVERYONE in the audience equally. I was incredibly moved by how much everyone learned, and will take home to pass on. This event changed people forever, myself, and in turn my loved ones.

I can assure you that HUNDREDS of people went home fueled with an abundance of knowledge and an ignited passion for permaculture, spreading the word like pollinators, making new seedlings, and nourishing them with information to make new guilds, having a well observed plan, and creating new key lines in the community promoting all ages, races, genders, etc. to become saturated with permaculture, forming deep roots and future leaders that will continue to attract pollinators of ALL kinds.


 
steward
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To me, it is a pity that some chose to boycott the event for 'sexist' reasons.
By doing so, they are actually harming their cause by denying themselves the opportunity to learn, therefore prolonging the time that it will take themselves to become part of the permaculture voice: those that others will follow.

If we are allowing ourselves to let petty differences stand in the way of our progress, we are not only hurting ourselves, but we are also harming those that would have benefited from our increased knowledge.

The expansion of permaculture is too important to let egos get in the way of progress.

 
gardener
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I wonder if they have a list of well known, qualified women who wanted to present but were denied. Without a list, the whole claim seems pretty empty.

I didn't go, and the reasons are purely financial. I suppose the next time I don't do something, I could draw attention to myself with a claim that the event is flawed. I didn't go to the Voices thing, the Olympics, Live Aid or Mandella's funeral. None of them were held in Victoria. On second thought, I boycotted those events. That'll teach them.
 
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Rachel, thank you so much for your thoughtful letter. It was wonderful to meet you at the conference and discuss this complex issue.

Dale Hodgins wrote:I wonder if they have a list of well known, qualified women who wanted to present but were denied. Without a list, the whole claim seems pretty empty.


I am confident that no women were denied based on gender.

From being around many conversations between Paul and Diego, I think Diego could have been selective about content, so he might have turned away some more "purple" topics or presenters, though that has nothing to do with gender.

Diego mentioned in an e-mail yesterday that the initial sexism charges seem to have faded away. Even so, I think it's very important to prevent and refute (as Rachel has so eloquently done) that sour criticism when there is absolutely no basis for it. It's a small part of what becomes divisive within permaculture. The little nagging (or sometimes not so little) digs and jabs at each other. This holds us ALL back.

We have too much to do for that. Let's celebrate each others' accomplishments and efforts (even failures!) as we all express permaculture in our own way try to build a better world. We are stronger and will propel permaculture forward much faster if we support each other.

PV1 was a genuinely inspiring, groundbreaking event. Diego did a fantastic job and I am convinced this will continue to grow to be a premier permaculture event world-wide.

As Rachel said:

Rachel Wittenberg wrote:I can assure you that HUNDREDS of people went home fueled with an abundance of knowledge and an ignited passion for permaculture, spreading the word like pollinators, making new seedlings, and nourishing them with information to make new guilds, having a well observed plan, and creating new key lines in the community promoting all ages, races, genders, etc. to become saturated with permaculture, forming deep roots and future leaders that will continue to attract pollinators of ALL kinds.


Let's all make it so in our own circles (live or virtual) as well.

Thank you again, Rachel.
 
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I see a lot of "it's absurd to talk about sexism in Permaculture!" and not a whole lot of the other viewpoint, that of those concerned about representation in this wonderful world of permaculture [not being sarcastic]. This forum does not seem to be a terribly safe space to share that opposing position. Isn't that what Paul's arguing for? A safe space to discuss permaculture topics without reproach? There also is not a whole lot of people of color in the permaculture scene, is that too absurd to talk about too? I know Geoff and Paul briefly talked about it in one of the podcasts but beyond that I don't see much discussion. Rather than the majority simply telling the minority to "step up," why not take a moment to try to reach out to under-represented individuals in the spirit of inclusion and communal well-being?
 
Rachel Wittenberg
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It is definitely open to "the other side" to share their feelings. Sexism is okay and fair to bring up in any group if it is an issue. My main point was that if women were mad that there weren't more women presenting at the conference therefore protesting by not going, they are only hurting the potential that another strong women in permaculture may learn something or be inspiried at that conference. If sexism is an issue, then break that barrier and make it better. As Jocelyn said, there were no females that were told they couldn't present that were of the same skill level as the ones that were picked. I think paul was saying that it generally takes a strong personality to be a trail blazer, and so far it has generally been men in this particular field. He wanted to empower the gentle souls, my post had nothing to do with stomping on women that were gentle souls, it was mainly about my disappointment in women doing themselves a disservice by not including themselves in such an amazing opportunity to empower themselves as permaculture enthusiasts.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Here's a funny look at what can happen when people with a common goal split into competing factions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb_qHP7VaZE
 
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I am mostly a lurker on premies.com but appreciate all of the links and ideas and encouragement that change is possible.

I am very intrigued by this thread about women in permaculture. I am surprised that Paul didn’t come up with a few more names…Jenny Pell for instance….who I think hung the moon. And Jackie Cramer (I don’t think there would be a Beacon Hill Food Forest without her). And Jessi Bloom who just co-authored a book with Dave Boehnlein. Maybe you didn’t come up with them because they aren’t in the news enough…. But perhaps there is a more subtle force at work.

I think that when we discover that there is an imbalance, if we are really interested in balance, then we need to work harder at figuring out what redresses the balance. “Step-up” is a good encouragement. But there is a bigger reality that is often not visible to the dominant human. We experienced this in the 60s and 70s when working on women’s liberation. Men just didn’t view the world the way we did. And they often didn't even _see_ women or hear them when they were there. This became real for me when I began to work on issues related to racial equality….suddenly I began to see that I was the dominant human, and my view of reality was really really different from those people of color that I wanted to be colleagues with. I often didn't hear or see people of color. I don't know why it works this way but it is very very difficult for us to see the ways in which we select who we listen to and who we do not.

I would challenge you Paul, and any others who are the current leadership in this movement, to think of 20 ways that premies.com could encourage women in the field. What about posting an article at least once a week from a women…you might have to do some work to get them to write them. For that matter, maybe we also ought to figure out how to encourage the people of color as well. Women have unique gifts to offer permaculture.

I am not a big fan of having a “women only” permaculture gathering, which I understand is being planned or considered, but maybe that is what women need to figure out how to make their way in an arena that is currently dominated by men. But I am hoping that as many women as possible do find a way to “step up” and are encouraged by all of the male and female passionate permaculture enthusiasts in _practical_ ways to “step up”.
 
pollinator
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Perhaps there should be an Alternative permaculture convention, for those voices excluded from this convention. Keep on mind that one thing these voices will have in common will be thier marginalization.
Those who feel excluded should run their own show.
It could end up being more popular in the end.
 
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Privilege can be subtle. The big names in permaculture are white men, I think, because of something about our culture more than something about permaculture.

I am a woman in permaculture busting my buns to learn and experiment and build as much as I can so that in ten years I will be an "expert". Put me down for Permaculture Voices X.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Very good thoughts from Matt and Patricia about people of color in addition to women, and good replies from Rachel and Dale, too.

I'm with Patricia in that I'm not interested in a "women's only" permaculture event. I think women hold other women back as much as men might. An alternative convention, as William suggests, is always an option, and if it turns out better - good on them! Though in general, I think the more we separate, the more we become "us versus them" within our own group.

Paul and I have been talking more about this around base camp. I just want to add that I know I have cultural biases. I try to rise past them. Being a white, middle-class woman, I mentioned to a black woman friend that I thought I probably still had some racist tendencies lurking in me from how I grew up; but that I was attempting to fix and move past them. She was horrified and said that if I was a racist, she could no longer be my friend. I had hoped we knew each other well enough that we could see more shades of gray in each other than black and white labels (double entendre unintended but welcome).

This is to say that I would never knowingly discriminate based on gender, color, religion or sexual orientation. It's also to say that I know I make stereotypical judgments far too often in my daily life - sometimes subconsciously. The more I "out" my tendencies, I think, the more conscious and intentional my judgments and therefore my decisions and actions become. I desperately want and intend to value people for who they are and what they do.

What makes a leader? What makes people (more) comfortable in any group? I think that Paul is onto something with this keynote topic. The less we throw stones, and the more we know when we ourselves are throwing stones, and the more we support each other, the more we nurture each other, the more fertile we can make permaculture for all people.
 
pioneer
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Patricia Newkirk wrote: What about posting an article at least once a week from a women…you might have to do some work to get them to write them. For that matter, maybe we also ought to figure out how to encourage the people of color as well. Women have unique gifts to offer permaculture.



I've no way of checking who is male or female or black or white or whatever. If anyone has something of interest to our community to share, please just write it and post it!
 
steward
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The tree of permaculture is maturing and producing fruit. It's reaching for the sun and absorbing more and more energy all the time. This is good, but as the canopy spreads, some branches fail to develop and the tree self prunes. Sometimes dead wood gets stuck in the canopy and you need to get it out. It's a process. Take from that what you will.


Now onto the sad part:


Seriously? Really? Is this what it comes down to? Penis/Vagina Black/White?

Ugh... Every time a community gets to a certain size, somebody goes all "inequality" and starts a flame war. It only ever becomes a distraction and takes valuable energy from the end goal. I know that in-fighting is part of the growing pains of any community but I really have a higher standard for THIS community. We have far better things to fight about.
Can't we just do permaculture without comparing the ratios of sex organs and skin tones? WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT!

I also think that it's important to remember that in a lot of places around the world, women of color are doing the bulk of the lifting in implementing permaculture designs. They might not be getting famous world wide for innovation in permaculture, but they are the HEROES of their local communities because they made a REAL IMPROVEMENT. They are making a real difference and passing along the knowledge to children (boys and girls). Does it matter who brought the knowledge, as long as their lives are better? It seems like it's mainly in rich white places where these trivial differences always seem to present themselves.

Let's stop this self deprecating, hero worship, penis envy, white guilt BS and just take the info and do something with it.
Forget about all the other nonsense. It's just holding us back.


Of course this is just opinion.
 
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I'm also mostly a lurker here, and partly because of another thread long ago where a man shared his righteous indignance about the women-only workshops being offered, and seemed to flat out reject that there could be any value in "conscious segregation" for the purpose of greater integration on the whole.

I may (or may not) have an unpopular view of where the problem of sexism comes from. I do not claim to speak for all women, any men, or very much of the race at all. I aim here to share the views of myself, the many friends I have made in my treks up and down the east coast (from NY on down to AL and much of the space between).

Whenever I find myself in a new place, I feel the need to seek out my "crew". Most of the time, though this is not my intention, I end up with a group of women who are seeking to "live well". Here are some of the things I have had (hopefully relevant) conversations about with these groups of (mostly) women:

- Men and women ARE different, and avoiding the differences, glossing over them, or pretending they don't exist is more sexist than trying to understand them, or falling short of that, to accept and embrace them. Many of us have come to the conclusion that we live in a culture where equality is valued more highly than freedom, and the overwhelming evidence that we are not equal (maybe equivalent) is no match for the popular dogma. I make no claim as to the reason or source of the differences (social, genetic, etc.) between the sexes, or the relationship sex has to gender. This is a matter of diverse opinions, although I can't claim it has garnered much debate among these groups, as most of us are more interested in "now what" rather than "why".

- Most women, and most men, do not neatly fit into any sort of "category" although there are things that can be pretty accurately stated about most women, and most men. Gross generalizations may not be completely accurate, but they are often very useful and helpful in integrating diverse groups, so long as those who do not fall into those generalizations aren't dismissed or devalued. In fact, those who fall outside the generalizations are often the most valuable. This might include women who are driven to "step up", depending on whether you agree with me that "stepping up" is something a man is more likely to do in the public eye.

- Most of the people who become part of my "crew" believe that men are more likely to seek wider approval for their actions, and that this is good. Most of these people believe that women are more likely to try and make their own situation as good as possible, and share with others partly by inviting them to share in what they have accomplished at home - and that this is good. For my own part, I work towards living well, making better choices, BEING HAPPY AND HEALTHY and LOOKING GOOD DOING IT. This is one way we influence others, through envy. If I have good health, free delicious food growing right outside my door, and an attractive home, then people who see my home, who visit me, who meet me, talk to me, they are going to want to have what I have. They will start the conversation with me, and I don't even need to try and convince them that what I have is better than what they have... as I don't even believe that that is true... but they decided that they want it, and they will try and get it on their own.
True, I don't post on many forums, I don't have a blog, and I don't teach classes (yet). I feel that "homemaker" (in the sense of one who modifies their home to suit their ideal) is a role that many women will fall more easily into than the more typically masculine role of a public face/voice. I value the work of Sigi Koko (in the realm of natural building), Rosemary Morrow and the other women who, honestly, have slipped my memory for the moment (that happens with Paul too, I often forget his name at the exact moment I want to reference something he's said or done). Reading what a woman writes on the same topics as men who are more widely recognized has been incredibly useful for my own work and life, *because* men and women are different. Being taught a class for women taught by a woman has also been incredible. The value of women leadership and presence is incredible, but I don't know that saying "step up" is the way to approach most women about doing anything, at all. That sounds like a masculine call to action, lol.

((I also am personally struggling with what I will label as an addiction to technology. I am in recovery, and I am proud of how I have been dealing with it. It can be an excellent tool, but for me (and many others I have run into) it's mostly a distraction from what I can DO.)) The fact that men are more widely recognized for their work and efforts has more to do with the common traits of men vs. women than it has to do with any high-drama sexist claims. This is ok, too, it's part of the transition from where we have been to where we are going. So long as the women who do "step up" aren't damned from the start, and the men who don't "step up" aren't damned for that, then we can make some real progress without bringing in the drama that labels like sexist, racist, etc. often stir up.

- The people who begin to become part of the crew and don't remain so are often those who take personal offense at the ideas of others and hold onto it unless and until they get "satisfaction" that their offense will be mitigated. Those who remain are those who, even if they take personal offense, don't hang onto it past the point that it might be useful or helpful. Folks who are less entitled are more ready to learn, accept, and live in harmony. Entitlement is anti-permaculture, I believe. Maybe, entitlement is part of what makes the word "vegan" so dirty these days, that is the militant vegans are harboring a sense of entitlement for the animals. The sense of entitlement does seem to fall along certain lines, which I won't go into.

- The women in the "crew" are more interested in "living well" than in changing others' minds, and it may sound selfish, and maybe it is, but I think it's A-OK too. These particular women are sick of drama, and many feel that ANY label can and will be a source of drama in time. The ones who feel this way don't even like the label "permaculture". One even pointed out that calling a way of life by any name makes it immediately not the norm. Her point, which I have considered over and over, is that what she considers living well might actually BE permaculture, but calling it that makes people who want to "fit in" avoid it. Simply living it, doing it, and sharing the bounty, is the way to reach the people who are "asleep" in the mainstream, she said. And if that will happen, it will happen quietly. It does seem that this is "women's work" if one accepts that women are more likely to work close to home and less likely to seek public view. Many of this group have included home-schooling as part of their living-well. The children are learning from their parents how to live close to the earth, and close to home.

I guess what I'm really getting at is this: In my opinion, the people who are most likely to cry "sexist" are the least helpful. Ignore them, or accept them, but trying to cater to them is probably more sexist than what they were crying out about in the first place. Equality isn't "real", equivalence might be more realistic, but they are ideals, and ones that I'm not even sure of the ultimate value of, so long as we are able to avoid the types of horrors that brought about the fear of inequality in the first place... and I think that the permaculture ethic (with or without the "extras"), if followed would never allow those sorts of gross situations to arise.
And as far as sexism in permaculture... maybe it's there, maybe it's not, but the only way for us to be non-sexist is to accept the unique nature of each individual, value what they have to offer, encourage every voice to find it's song, and not to look down on any song just because it's too loud or too quiet... so long as there is harmony and consonance.

I hope that last bit about songs wasn't too "purple" for you, and as always, I hope I have been coherent and relatively non-offensive.

-Zinekenides
 
steward
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well I have been following this sexism issue form far away, and even the permaculture voices event. I live in Italy, and did'nt have the money to fly to the states to attend. anyway if any women did actually feel to not attend because of the few women presenters I think it was a mistake: you can't stand for your ideas (if you think that sexism is an issue in permaculture), if you miss out from the place where they can be put forward and discussed.
permaculture should be about including, connecting together, not about excluding yourself.
 
pollinator
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William Bronson wrote: Perhaps there should be an Alternative permaculture convention, for those voices excluded from this convention. Keep on mind that one thing these voices will have in common will be thier marginalization.



An Alternative Alternate Nation? You would wind up with even more sub-groups feeling marginalized.

I could start a Permaculture group for Jewish Women who raise Pigs but I probably wouldn't join such a group. To quote another member of my tribe, "I'd never join a club that would have me for a member."
 
William Bronson
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Lol, think Lilith Fair.
Schisms don't destroy movements, they spread them.
Think Christianity. Thousands of denominations.
Now if the goal is to maintain the purity of a movement, this doesn't work, but that's not the goal, is it?

 
Cj Sloane
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William Bronson wrote: Lol, think Lilith Fair.



Lilith Fair with a side of bacon.
 
Cj Sloane
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William Bronson wrote:
Schisms don't destroy movements, they spread them.



I suppose that's true. And Paul has suggested there is room for hundreds other permaculture forums.

I'd prefer not to see hate in the name of love though. No permaculture crusades, thanks anyway.
 
Craig Dobbson
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Are the people who claim to be marginalized actually suggesting that they were not welcome at voices based on something other than permaculture data sharing? I was under the impression that the speakers were "chosen" based on the data they could bring to the podium. Specifically they sought out EXPERTS who were WILLING to speak about permaculture on a strictly factual/evidence based manner. They leaned towards data and experience rather than emotion and "purple". From my understanding it went off amazingly. So what's the big deal?

For those people who thought that Voices was sexist/racist: If you were to put together an ALL ________ permaculture conference, to the exclusion of well-off-white-guys(or whoever), how will you handle the criticism that would come your way? I mean, nobody said you couldn't go or weren't welcome at voices. You chose not to go based on your idea of what it should be. But if you hold a permaculture meeting only for people with certain anatomical features, you ARE being exclusionary. Maybe it would work. Maybe not. From where I stand it seems like a reactionary douche-maneuver that's likely to make people look foolish. No matter which group of people you select, if you're excluding others based solely on race, gender or number of teeth, count me out. I don't dig on exclusion. It just comes with a bad feeling in my heart and it makes the air thick with angst.
I just want the data and information in the clearest, most compact, rich form I can get it. I want it from respectable people in a respectful honest way. I don't care if it comes from a baritone or a soprano, I just need to hear it. I won't support any group (even white males with loud voices) if they pull that childish crap of exclusion.



Food for thought: 90% of the world's prison population is MALE. Based on the discussion so far:

A. There are too many men in prison.

B. There are not enough women in prison.

OR

C. It's more complicated than that.


 
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I think I don't understand what is inherently sexist or misrepresentative about permaculture. It's a movement about growing food in a more sustainable way and it follows a certain set of ethics. Leaders emerge and leaders fade. Some are more charismatic than others and their voices dominate a conversation. In the end though permaculture couldn't care less what you are, it's an idea. It seems to me the under representation of certain groups has a lot more to do with society in general than it does with permaculture. We can sit here and debate it all day and nothing will change. Forcing the change will only take away the validity of those trying to change it. I know there is some censorship here but I doubt it has anything to do with anyone's sex or race.

In college I was co-chairperson of our school's environmental club (SEAC). This topic came up over and over and never got resolved. When I lived in a commune style living condition this topic was brought up over and over and never got resolved. The best we can all do is to be as open to everyone as we can and like Jocelyn said, confront our own prejudices.

If we want to get really large about it, a lot of problems of why certain segments of society don't feel empowered come down to things that permaculture can solve like a connectedness to the land, a surplus of food, an environment that doesn't poison its poorest residents, jobs, happiness, and so much more.
or so i think.
 
joseph wittenberg
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Paul's whole talk focused on inclusion, that seemed to be the primary purpose of it. He was encouraging those who feel like their voices aren't being heard to make them heard. He addressed the charges that were thrown at Diego that he was being sexist because there weren't many women presenters (though as Diego pointed out in another thread he did reach out) and that caused some women to not go to the conference. He spoke about how in these forums people can get vicious and it causes some gentler souls to leave or stop sharing, and that sucks. I'm sure everyone here wants everyone to participate, that's the point of forums. We are all learning from each other and we don't know what each other looks like or what our convictions are, just that we all love permaculture and want to learn from each other, that pretty much seems inclusive to me.
 
Kenzie Greenwood
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"A Hispanic woman makes $0.63 to the $1.00 of a White male in this country, For The Same Work. In a patriarchal and White dominated country where most of the people in positions of power (political, religious, and corporate, etc) are White, heterosexual, men. So yes, having a penis and being White does grant you a huge number of privileges that many White males are unaware of. When people of color, or women, or disables peoples, or any other marginalized group says “hey! Let's talk about inequality,” how about we listen to them rather then bully them.
I don't think anyone is saying sexism is inherent in permaculture, the conversation is that it's present here. In this beautiful thing we call permaculture, is there not also room for equity? Under-representation exists outside of permaculture as well as inside, why not strive to make permaculture part of the social justice solution rather than treat permaculture as some vacuum that somehow doesn't interact with the larger world, or worse, does not address issues of social sustainability?"

At minimal risk, as I'm already mostly a lurker, I present you with this (again, possibly unpopular) response:

Yes, these things may well be present in permaculture, and yes, white males do have all sorts of privileges they may or may not be aware of at any given point, and bullying people who say "let's talk about it" is certainly not a healthy response...

The only bullying I have seen in this thread is very subtle, and it's a common one when talking about "social justice", and it's the "you should be ashamed for bullying" or "why not just listen to them?". We ARE talking about it, we ARE listening. We DO NOT understand those who would boycott an event INSTEAD of having the conversation. Again, I'm not a very active member of the permies.com community, or any online community, but I haven't seen anywhere where the conversation was started BEFORE voices, rather there was kind of a snarky comment here, or a grim silence there in regards to the representation of female voices.

I use the ethic, every day, to make better decisions. I am a woman. I live well below the poverty line, but manage within my means (that is, I am a peasant, a term I do prefer). I have an invisible illness (but I hate that term). I am white. I have privileges and I have the opposite. I am curious as to why those of us who suggest that women who were hurt by underrepresentation and made what we feel was a poor choice because of it are called bullies? Why is that?

 
joseph wittenberg
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It was addressed in this thread when Diego was still planning the convention. I hope at some point Paul's keynote will be put up on the web so everyone can see it.
http://www.permies.com/t/24006/southwest-usa/Permaculture-Voices-Conference-March-Temecula
It wasn't much of a discussion, but it was pointed out there were a lack of women presenters and Diego said he was reaching out to more.

Here is a summary of Paul's keynote
http://www.permies.com/t/34441/tnk/permaculture-velocity
 
pollinator
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Kenzie Greenwood wrote:I'm also mostly a lurker here, and partly because of another thread long ago where a man shared his righteous indignance about the women-only workshops being offered, and seemed to flat out reject that there could be any value in "conscious segregation" for the purpose of greater integration on the whole.

-Zinekenides



That sounds familiar. Ah yes, here we go...... I invite every person to read the thread and draw their own conclusions.

http://www.permies.com/t/21549/eastern-usa/Women-NAtural-Building-Apprenticeship

It would have been nice for the man in discussion (myself) who shared his "righteous indignance" to be mentioned more in a positive light. He was speaking for the interests of his wife who would be disallowed to accompany her husband and a father wishing to express desires for his disabled daughter. I had no idea this would have dwelled for so long. On this specific charge;

Kenzie Greenwood wrote:....seemed to flat out reject that there could be any value in "conscious segregation" for the purpose of greater integration on the whole.

-Zinekenides



I have to admit that at least how it was presented in the thread we appeared to have a consensus on the situation. It is understandable that at times, a diplomatic response is used to skirt our hidden unease. I do think it unfair to speak for my motives in such a caricature. I believe this is why it is generally more fair to speak for oneself and not for others. My perspective, overall I am against gender bias because it is a toxic attitude.

- It was said that I am partially responsible for preventing this intelligent and articulate woman from participating in this inciteful online community due to passing objections I made relating to a gender biased situation. On a similar level, a group of women have boycott the Permaculture Voices conference because they were displeased by the lack of women speaking in the event. Is it fair to make a connection between the two attitudes? In my opinion, there is a pattern of behavior that approaches a militancy. Personally, I like to avoid the separation of people based on how they were born because it creates an awkward and imperfect exchange in the greater environment.

As seen from the views of opinions given, for the health of this community I think the moderators should continue to not encourage a divisive culture of gender separatism.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Some people will never accept people who rise up as leaders. They suspect wrongdoing, and then set about finding an explanation for that person's success that downplays their hard work and natural aptitude.

A few years ago we had a mayor in Victoria who is of Chinese descent. He served three consecutive terms, then retired without running again. Mr. Lowe was a conservative and didn't cave in to every demand from various groups who were seeking more support for those who do not work. On many occasions, I listened to people complain about him and his administration. It was sometimes mentioned that he had huge support amongst the Chinese community and that this gave him some great unfair advantage. His detractors needed some way of explaining why their candidate was soundly beaten and for whatever reason, race was chosen. People of Chinese descent make up a little over 2% of our population. To me, this kills their argument completely. He won by some pretty good margins. The vast majority of those who worked with him were white. The vast majority of the city's population is white. Still, some mathematically challenged fools insisted on playing the race card, rather than admitting that their cause and candidate did not enjoy widespread support.

We now have a woman of East Indian descent who is doing well politically. Indians make up an even smaller proportion of the electorate. I suppose that if she wins, it could be argued that she captured the female vote and thus enjoyed an unfair advantage. Women make up about 52% of our population. No matter who wins, the losing side often makes senseless claims that the playing field was somehow slanted in favor of that person.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This came up 7 months ago when the conference was being planned. The women of permaculture --- http://www.permies.com/t/27734/tnk/women-permaculture

I'll bet that Paul's accusers saw it. Where are their responses ?

 
Burra Maluca
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I'm getting a little nervous on this thread that some posts are getting out of our comfort zone.

I really, really don't want to start deleting stuff or having to put posts on probation.

I'd like all members, especially newer ones who aren't used to the way we work, to have a look at this thread - How permies.com works - links to useful threads. It's a live link - just click on the words and the link should open. On that page there is a list of threads with guidelines on our publishing standards, how to be nice, how to leave room for other people's ideas, all kinds of stuff.

Please, take some time to browse those links and get a feel of how we like members to communicate.
 
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Here's what I wish would have happened instead of having some women boycott the event.

I wish that there would have been a request made about how we, as the permaculture community, can grow more leaders from those groups who are currently underrepresented. And/or how we can value ALL people's contributions.

 
Amedean Messan
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Burra Maluca wrote:I'm getting a little nervous on this thread that some posts are getting out of our comfort zone.

I really, really don't want to start deleting stuff or having to put posts on probation.

I'd like all members, especially newer ones who aren't used to the way we work, to have a look at this thread - How permies.com works - links to useful threads. It's a live link - just click on the words and the link should open. On that page there is a list of threads with guidelines on our publishing standards, how to be nice, how to leave room for other people's ideas, all kinds of stuff.

Please, take some time to browse those links and get a feel of how we like members to communicate.




Thank you. This is the type of attitude which naturally manifests from political arguments including victimization or empowerment type discussions.
 
steward
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I see a lot of "it's absurd to talk about sexism in Permaculture!" and not a whole lot of the other viewpoint, that of those concerned about representation in this wonderful world of permaculture [not being sarcastic].



And yet the conversation has been happening for years. On this forum. The concern has been raised in podcasts as well. I think you owe us an apology.



This forum does not seem to be a terribly safe space to share that opposing position.



And yet people do. So, therefore, it must be safe.

Of course, it is not a safe place for people to be hostile to others. Which you have done. So those things are removed from public view until you can clean them up a bit. Please state your position without bashing other people.

Isn't that what Paul's arguing for? A safe space to discuss permaculture topics without reproach?



I am attempting to create a safe place for the kind and gentle people to share their positions. According to my definitions.

A lot of hostile people seem to want to beat people up and then say that they are the "kind and gentle people". It has happened so many times that we are pretty much on auto-pilot weeding that sort of thing out.

There also is not a whole lot of people of color in the permaculture scene, is that too absurd to talk about too? I know Geoff and Paul briefly talked about it in one of the podcasts but beyond that I don't see much discussion.



I think it would be a great topic to bring up in the cider press forums.

Rather than the majority simply telling the minority to "step up,"



Is that happening? Who are the majority and who are the minority? And this "step up" is on the lips of the majority? I very much wish to see this and I have not seen it. Could you please help me find where this is happening?

why not take a moment to try to reach out to under-represented individuals in the spirit of inclusion and communal well-being?



My impression is that a lot of people are working very hard to reach the under-represented. Your words seem to suggest that people are not trying - which is different than my understanding.



 
paul wheaton
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Patricia Newkirk wrote:
I would challenge you Paul, and any others who are the current leadership in this movement, to think of 20 ways that premies.com could encourage women in the field. What about posting an article at least once a week from a women…you might have to do some work to get them to write them. For that matter, maybe we also ought to figure out how to encourage the people of color as well. Women have unique gifts to offer permaculture.



First, it is my impression that PDCs are typically more women than men. Here is a picture from the PDC I attended.



17 female students
5 male students

My impression is that this is pretty typical for a PDC, to have a lot more women than men.

So, as we start to explore the problem space, let's be clear in figuring out what the problem is.

Perhaps we need to do more work to encourage men to take PDCs?

Further, my impressions has been (and I could be wrong) that when there is something with a gender imbalance favoring men, there is concern over a gender imbalance. But when the opposite happens, there seems to be no concern. This, in itself strikes me as a problem.

And when we have events that specificly exclude people based on the gender they were born with, that also strikes me as a far more serious problem.

So as we are trying to consider the problems we face, I would like to examine all of the problems. And I would want to start with the most serious problems.

As for me highlighting the work of women - this seems to suggest that I don't already do that. I think you owe me an apology.


Women have unique gifts to offer permaculture.



Is it just me or does this seem like a sexist statement? It sorta-kinda-maybe says that men don't have unique gifts to offer permaculture. It just strikes me as part of the problem - but maybe I'm not enlightened enough to truly appreciate the value of this.

- - - -

Sexism is a VERY serious problem. And I think the people in the world of permaculture are very passionate about doing the right thing. Thefore, a FALSE accusation of sexism is EQUALLY serious. Let's make VERY sure that if we make that accusation that we have ALL the proof first.

I think what we are seeing is AN IMBALANCE (as you, Patricia, rightly pointed out), which is not the same thing as sexism. The solution set is more about nurturing and less about torches, pitchforks, tar, feathers and nooses.
 
paul wheaton
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William Bronson wrote: Perhaps there should be an Alternative permaculture convention, for those voices excluded from this convention. Keep on mind that one thing these voices will have in common will be thier marginalization.



I'm baffled. Who was excluded?

 
paul wheaton
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I've seen some reference here surrounding the concept of "bullying". Even the suggestion that somebody on permies is bullying - and I am not comforable publishing anything that suggests that anybody on permies is anything less than perfect. People need to state their position without bashing others. And, frankly, calling somebody a "bully" is a form of bullying in itself.

 
Rachel Wittenberg
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Thank you, Paul. Well said, as usual
 
Matu Collins
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- The women in the "crew" are more interested in "living well" than in changing others' minds, and it may sound selfish, and maybe it is, but I think it's A-OK too. These particular women are sick of drama, and many feel that ANY label can and will be a source of drama in time. The ones who feel this way don't even like the label "permaculture". One even pointed out that calling a way of life by any name makes it immediately not the norm. Her point, which I have considered over and over, is that what she considers living well might actually BE permaculture, but calling it that makes people who want to "fit in" avoid it. Simply living it, doing it, and sharing the bounty, is the way to reach the people who are "asleep" in the mainstream, she said. And if that will happen, it will happen quietly. It does seem that this is "women's work" if one accepts that women are more likely to work close to home and less likely to seek public view. Many of this group have included home-schooling as part of their living-well. The children are learning from their parents how to live close to the earth, and close to home.



It's a lot of work and a lot of joy living as a mother on a farm. Our children will let us know how we've done. One of my main crops is the next generation and this is vital! The mother is often well situated to observe and interact with the home, farm and its inhabitants. The women are in permaculture. We are walking the walk. It is my hope that in the coming years women will be writing books and giving talks and teaching courses about what they are learning and doing.

Sexism is real and pervasive (I like that my name is often misinterpreted as a man's and I feel like I get a bit more respect when that is the case) and still not of very much interest to me. I want to focus on solutions to all sorts of issues besides sexism. If women can solve society's problems maybe we'll get more respect.

For example:
I hope one of us gives a ted talk some time about permaculture environments to educate people on the autism spectrum and reap the benefits of their brilliance. The problem is the solution. The instant and passionate response I got to this post about permaculture and the autism spectrum gave me a lot of hope. The CDC recently came out with a remarkable statistic

1 in 68! up from one in 88 two years ago!

I'm not saying women are the only people who can work on developing strategies for permaculture solutions for people on the autism spectrum. I am saying that because mothers are often the primary caregivers we may be well situated to build some great projects. I am hoping that we can get some academics to produce research on the effectiveness of well designed permaculture outdoor classrooms for children on the autism spectrum, and the relative cost when compared with what's happening in the schools.

That's the kind of stuff I want to be giving my energy to!



 
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