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Permaculture History - Sustainable Living Through Time

 
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I'm NOT writing this right now, BUT I wish someone would do it for me. (I will if no one else does

Some of the best parts of Geoff Lawton's OPDC, Bill Mollison's talks & all Permie talks/vids/articles in general are THE STORIES especially historical ones.

I'm referring to the Chinampas of Mexico City, the Ancient Aquacultures of Hawaii, the Gardens of Inuit... sustainable aspects of civilization over time.

What would you want to see explored & in a Permaculture History book?

If we populate this enough, I'm sure someone will make it happen.

Thanks!
 
pollinator
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Actually, most civilizations over time had sustainable living practices. It's only recently that a few societies have discovered UN-sustainability and how they can use it to explode their populations. The highlanders of New Guinea, who raise pigs and sweet potatoes and do a little fishing, hunting and gathering in the local forests, have been living in this sustainable fashion since they settled the island maybe 40,000 years ago. I'm not sure how civilized they are considered to be; cannibalism was practiced until into the 20th century, and they don't have a written language -- but they do have the sustainability part figured out.

If you look at any sedentary population, one that stayed in one particular location and adapted to the rhythms of that land, you will see permaculture principles at work. They took advantage of seasonal crops, encouraging the ones that tasted good and worked at getting them to proliferate. If they had settled in an arid area, they paid attention to how to have a dependable water supply, and that may have required moving some dirt. If there were animals that they came into contact with frequently and they could domesticate them, they did. In addition, their building materials and the fibers they crafted into clothing were of local origin, something that falls under the broader umbrella of permaculture. They were much less concerned with theories of economics and Competitive Advantage and how they could maximize their wealth by trading in the Free Market.

But now that Modern Industrial Civilization has taken over in a large part of the world, and it provides our food, clothing, and shelter on the factory model, our view has been distorted. We now see UN-sustainability as normal and it is permaculture and sustainability that needs to be explained. If you look at cultures as varied as the Inuit to the Chumash of California to the Polynesians scattered across the Pacific islands, you can identify permaculture activities being carried out. What you won't find much of is factory production organized to maximize quarterly profit statements.
 
Matt Powers
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Agreed on all points John. I think we should collect the Best of the Best examples throughout time & create a Permaculture History book that is for children. Yes it would have many global varied cultures pre-modern industrialized agriculture, but as you say there are plenty of examples. I hope this forum can help solidify those best stories, historical examples, to create a great, inspiring foundation for children before they tackle it in the "hard science" court.

I can see this being a great 4th or 5th grade book that dovetails with a world cultures group project (paper mache mexico city & the chinampas, etc).

MP
 
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A book from that perspective would help diversify the current landscape of history books, but I would suggest we consider taking it one step further. Perhaps it is worth considering the idea that this book already exists and it is the people's stories (oral and written), experiences, and travels, which nowadays includes virtual travel (internet). All this information is available to anyone who is driven to find and learn about it. We just have to re-think what it means to educate and be educated.

So, instead of a book, what about a personalized learning map that guides a learner in a process that simply and honestly presents community practices from a variety of perspectives, including but not limited to "permaculture" or sustainable living, and letting the child work through the approaches and decide for themselves what is the best practice in their life, for their place, for their time? Let each learner write their own "book" as a result and share that surplus of knowledge in whatever form is most meaningful to them. In this way, we potentially end up with hundreds, thousands, or more "books" that enlighten and inspire.

For me, it is more important that my children learn to think critically, analyze, reflect, evaluate, make decisions, and take action in their own life than to come to the conclusion that I (or anyone else for that matter) deem is "best" or "right." This is a different way of thinking about how to inspire new, creative, and evolutionary learning and practices that can transform the future of humanity.
 
Matt Powers
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While I agree there is no "best", we can find great examples that can be visual and can teach young children who cannot follow a map of learning through diversified media. I like the idea of a map, but that takes several layers of schema which will take time to encode. I was thinking of this for younger children.

Have you read The Way Things Work? It's a great visual book that compiles information from history and tons of sources. It can be found with research online, but it's more fun and focused to have it all in one place.

http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Way-Things-Work/dp/0395938473

My 7 year old will stare at the pictures and quietly read the explanations to himself. I just thought it would be fun to have a Permie version of this that was history-based.
 
Mother Tree
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I don't really have words to describe how good that book is!

I used it with my son when I was home-schooling. It's a complete, utter work of genius on so many levels. I remember a discussion I had on a science forum about how logic gates worked and I explained what I'd learned about it from that book and the whole place went kinda quiet and one of the computer science nerds was compelled to admit that he'd learned something a bit like that in university. No-one could understand why the werido hippy homeschooling mom who was into donkeys and growing organic veggies knew about such things. I have that book right by my side as I type, under a copy of The Earth Care Manual.

The really strange thing about it is that it works so well as a book, but the cdrom version was pretty well useless, and I wasn't overly impressed with the video series either.

I was particularly impressed with the little 'hidden lessons', like nuclear power and the trees that didn't bud that year, and the last mammoth who wanted to enter the digital age and was finally compelled to enter Bill's gates.
 
The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers: http://richsoil.com/cards
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